In today’s culture, it seems like everyone is writing. There are so many books out there written by people who are not even writers in their day job. So, how do they do it? Do they have a team of people and connections that allow them so much success? And How do they even find the time to write their book? Well, the answer is simple. You just write. Getting a book published is super easy. You can even self-publish, so I won’t focus on that part of the process in this article. However, the hardest part of writing the book is actually writing it.
There are so many people out there who dream of becoming writers or who have great ideas for a book and end up not finishing it for some reason or another. These are books that are full of ideas that could have helped, brought beauty or wisdom into the world but didn’t get out there because the author quit. Maybe you’ve been through this. I know I have. I’ve started projects and because I didn’t just put in the work to get it done, so much time passed that I got bored with the idea. The way to start and finish a book is to have a plan you can trust and are committed to. Here is the process that I use and it works for me. With each individual, it may require some tweaking, but the major points will definitely still apply.
1. Plot – What do you want your book to be about? Great writing always has a point. The same goes for books. All the greatest books have some major message they convey. So, think about what you want your book to say to your target audience, then build on that. Start with an outline. Once you have that, write out a table of contents, then start breaking the chapters into smaller sections. But don’t think about how many chapters you have. Instead, think of it as a beginning, a middle, and an end. Otherwise, it’s too easy to become overwhelmed and give up.
2. Set a daily goal – setting a daily word count for yourself is a great way to stay motivated. Now, you don’t have to start off writing ten pages a day if you already don’t write every single day. There is nothing wrong with writing a little bit every day. Three hundred words is about one page and if that’s all you can do to start off with, that’s fine. You can change your goal if you need to. It’s the same as working out. You wouldn’t keep doing the same exact exercise for the rest of your life. Once you’ve gotten yourself into the habit of writing every day, try writing a little more every day. You’ll find that writing gets easier (and it will get even easier if you just let the words flow out and not worry about editing while you write). My daily goal at the start of any project is 5 pages a day. That’s an equivalent to 1500 words a day.
3. Dedicate time – Most people think that being spontaneous breeds creativity. But it’s been proven that consistency will help your creativity flow much easier because it’s use to the conditions. If you set a daily deadline to write, you’ll find that writing gets easier and you’ll finish your book. However, it is okay to take a day off, but make sure to schedule that ahead of time and don’t take off too many consecutively. You don’t want to lose your writing habit. Whatever you do, DO NOT let a deadline pass. When it’s time to write, make sure you are writing.
4. Be consistent – Pick a spot and write there every single time. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it’s in a different space from where you normally are for regular activities. It’s important to make sure that you feel ready to work when you enter this space and it reminds you of your commitment to finishing your book. Just sit down, don’t think, and start writing.
5. Set an overall goal – After you’ve started writing, think about how long you’d like your book to be. It will be easier if you look at it in ten thousand word increments and divide the chapters at roughly equal lengths. Here are just some general guidelines for you in case you are unfamiliar with how long other works are.
Classification Word count
40,000 words or over
17,500 to 39,999 words
7,500 to 17,499 words
under 7,500 words
"Word Count." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Feb. 2017. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.
6. Ask for feedback – This is a difficult part of the process because no one likes negative feedback. To me, it feels like a personal attack because my book is a my very own product. However, I have to force myself to not look at it that way. I need that feedback to make my story better. So, I have my friends and other writers look over it to offer advice. Then, I decide which advice/suggestions to apply and which to respectfully decline. Ultimately, it’s about creating a better story and making sure I produce the best work possible.
7. Share your story – It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, focus on finishing your book. Set a deadline, send it to publishers, release it on Amazon, or things like that to make sure other people have the opportunity to read it.
8. Embrace failure and rejection – If you send your story out into the world, don’t be discouraged by failure. Failure can be one of two things. It can be the thing that makes you or breaks you. If you think of failure as the end of the world, you won’t get very far. However, thinking of failure as a way to grow and get better at your craft will not only make your story better, but it will make you a better writer. I mean, J.K. Rowling’s infamous “Harry Potter” was rejected by a ton of publishers before one accepted it.
9. Repeat – Do this all over again. Keep writing. Pick a different plot with different characters or create the sequel. Who knows where your creativity can take you if you just keep writing.
Remember, every writer has to start somewhere. Most of the greats have started off just trying to fit in writing time between their jobs and families, so don’t feel ashamed if that’s what you have to do, too. Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from achieving your dream of writing your story. Just do it.