In the last year, I’ve written two books and in April 2020 I plan to start writing my third. While it has taken me years to build up the confidence to write a book, it’s now one of my favorite creative outlets and passive income sources. If you haven’t written a book yet, you’re in the right place. From the outside looking in, the book writing process may seem overwhelming, but I’m hoping that by sharing my strategy, you’ll feel more confident about getting started sooner than later. By the way, I’m excited to hear that so many people are interested in learning my book writing process. Although I still consider myself a newbie, I’ve learned a lot and I’m happy to share what I know. Thank you again for asking me so many questions after reading the income sources I’ve built from home. Those conversations inspired me to write this blog post. So let’s dive in shall we? Here are five steps to writing your first book but remember, this is my personal approach. And I would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave me a comment with what works for you.
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How to Get Started Writing a Book
5 Steps For New Authors
Pick a Start Date
The first thing that I do when I plan to write a book is pick a start date in the future. Picking a start date two to three months out gives me the mental space to prepare to get into the writing mode. This also helps me wrap up any outstanding projects and clear out my calendar so that I have the time and space to dedicate to my daily writing practice.
How do I maintain my blog while I’m working on a book?
Since I regularly create content on both my blog and podcast, I usually spend less time creating new content on one of these platforms. I may take a seasonal break from the podcast or I may decrease the frequency I post to the blog (I publish a new blog post once a week). Alternatively, you can batch your new content and schedule them out in the future so you don’t miss a beat.
Write an Outline
The outline is critical to keeping you focused and on track when writing a book.
My outline serves as a road map listing out all of the topics I want to cover in each section. I usually spend the first week brain dumping, jotting down anything that comes to mind that would be relevant to include in the book. Next, organize that information with bullet points. Identify categories and group similar ideas together. Do not rush this process.
Especially since I write non-fiction books, I frequently refer to my outline so that I’m offering deep insights and practical information to help readers overcome a specific problem, improve their lives and reach their goals.
Outlining also keeps me from going off on tangents and getting off message. Sure, I may add things along the way but having a framework that I can reference throughout the book writing process keeps me organized and prevents me from having to remove large chunks of my book when editing.
While a lot of writers use index cards or sticky notes, I haven’t found the need to use them yet. Nevertheless, I encourage you to give it a try.
What platform do I use to outline?
I use Google Docs so I have access from anywhere and across multiple devices like my laptop, tablet or phone.
Press play to listen to this episode where I share the lessons I learned from publishing two books.
Determine How Many Words
As you can see, my first three steps to writing a book focuses on setting intentions.
After picking a start date and outlining, determine what success looks like for you. Set parameters by figuring out how many words you want to write, and how long you want to work on this project. I’ve found that setting a word count of 10,000 to 30,000 words could take me anywhere from 2-3 months at a relaxed pace. Or you can join a month-long writing challenge like NaNoWriMo where you spend the month of November writing a 50,000-word novel.
Having a goal to reach a number of words during a set amount of time can help you track your progress and celebrate milestones along the way.
Need help writing your first book? Get access to my book planning worksheets to help you brainstorm the 5 essential questions to ask yourself before you start writing. You’ll get 3 worksheets and a 7-minute tutorial video.
Finalizing the Book Tile
Surprisingly, one of the things that I’ve found that has helped me get started with writing a book is finalizing the book title. Once the book title is confirmed, I can then go ahead and get my book cover designed which ultimately means that I can start creating buzz and promoting it to my audience.
While I do not let finalizing the book title hold me back from getting started, it is certainly something that I’m thinking a lot about in the early stages. Having a book title makes my book idea more real.
When I’m stressed out about picking a title, my mom always encourages me to not get hung up on this. “It will come to you” she says. She is right.
Helpful Tip: Make a list of all of your title ideas and later eliminate the ones that don’t resonate with you.
Last but not least, start writing. While this may be easier said than done, here’s what has worked for me.
When are you most creative?
We all have times throughout the day when we’re most creative. Determine when would be the best times to write – in the morning, afternoon, evening or late at night.
Start by dedicating an uninterrupted hour for writing and try not to edit along the way. Remember, you can always edit your work later. At the onset, focus on expressing yourself clearly.
How I Do It: I feel most creative in the mornings but with a full-time job, carving out the time to wake up early can be challenging so I take advantage of the weekends to get a lot of my writing done. When I’m writing, I also don’t read any books so I don’t get distracted with other ideas, but I do continue to listen to podcasts and have found inspiration in them. I also workout a lot. Getting sweaty helps with my creativity.
If you have a story inside of you, I encourage you to get started writing your first book. The world is waiting for your ideas; share them.
Danielle Desir is a financially savvy traveler, 5x author, and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27, and has traveled to 27 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her terms. Listen to The Thought Card Podcast here.