How Do I Get Started Writing My Book?
I get asked this question so often that I feel it’s an important addition to this book. I will start off by saying that most people don’t like my response because my answer is very straight-forward. They start making excuses as to why they “can’t” do it. I don’t believe in excuses. There are always going to be reasons why you can’t accomplish a goal. Successful people learn to take action regardless of those reasons.
I feel that a firm hand is necessary to begin but if you can follow me through the tough love segment I will provide you with several steps that make the process much easier. However, let’s start with the basic answer.
Use the ‘Butt to Chair’ Method
This is simple. Put your butt into a chair and write. Don’t go out with your friends. Stay in the chair and keep writing. You can take short breaks but make them brief. Then put your butt back into the chair and keep writing. When I tell people this, I normally hear several excuses but then I just repeat that same advice.
The truth is that if you want to write a book then you have two choices:
- You can outsource the work by hiring a freelance writer.
- You can put your butt to chair and start writing.
That’s it. The concept is simple; in fact, it might seem over-simplistic as a writing concept but what is always comes back to is that you have to make writing a priority in your life. There will always be excuses that you can make as why you can’t write your book. I want you to throw those excuses in the trash and make the decision that you’re going to write. It’s about making an active choice to write instead of going out with friends or bingeing your favorite show on Netflix. You cannot write and do something else at the same time. It’s just not possible.
I’m so sorry if I sound like I’m being impatient here because that is not my intent. I just feel strongly that if a person truly wants to write then they will not offer excuses. Excuses are normally a way to get out of doing something that we don’t want to do. If you don’t really want to write your book then you don’t have to. Just outsource it. However, if you picked up this book then a part of you wants to write it but you just don’t know where to start. Putting your butt in a chair and writing is how you start. Your book is not going to write itself.
Whew! Now that we have got that out of the way it’s time to focus on the process that will make writing much easier.
Step 1: Come up With a Tentative Title
Come up with a tentative title for your book. This can always be revised later but you need something now so that it’s easier to get started. Having a title helps you focus on the desired topic. Most non-fiction books have a subtitle as well so you should also create that as well. Don’t worry about being clever right now. Your only goal is to give yourself a starting point.
Step 2: Test the Significance of your Book
A common excuse that many people use to avoid writing their book is that they don’t believe it will sell. That’s a fair concern but there is a very easy way to test this. Test the significance of your book by asking yourself one important question:
“Is it relevant?”
In most cases, the answer will be “yes.” If so, then that’s one significant reason. You need three in order for it to sell. Once relevance has been established, you can move on to more specific questions.
- “Will the book provide useful information to its target audience?”
- “Can this information positively affect people’s lives?”
- “Is the idea lively?”
- “Is the concept unique?”
- “Does it provide a meaningful understanding to human nature?”
- “Does it answer an important question?”
Every “yes” to the above questions is considered a significant reason. If you can at least cover two of the above questions then you have an idea for a book that will sell. In my experience, most people will find that their idea is significant.
Step 3: Define your Target Audience
Every product or service on the market is designed with a specific audience in mind. Books are no different. Defining your target audience is a critical step in establishing the success of your book. You will need to answer as many of the following questions as possible:
- What gender is your prospective reader?
- How old is your prospective reader?
- What types of books does your perspective reader prefer? List as many as possible. (Hint: Your book must fall under this category.)
- What challenges does your perspective reader face?
- Is your potential reader an entrepreneur?
- Is your potential reader internet savvy? This is important information to know when you start to market your book later on.
Defining your target audience allows you establish the language and culture of the book. Save this information for marketing as well because it will be extremely valuable.
Step 4: Know Why You Are Writing the Book
More importantly, write down these reasons and post them somewhere so that you can see them anytime you need inspiration. Motivation is the reason most people recommend creating this list but there is another one that many people never even consider. Once you start marketing your book, people are going to ask you why you wrote the book. Instead of jabbering aimless from word to word, you will be able to clearly explain why you wrote it.
Step 5: Know Your Publishing Goals
Write down all of your publishing goals. Knowing these goals ahead of time will give you valuable insight into the length and scope of the book.
- Are you planning to give it away to your clients, friends, or members of your family?
- Is your primary goal to sell it or will that be a secondary goal? Some books are written with the primary purpose of supplementing a product or service.
- How many copies do you think you can sell during your first year? Be realistic.
- How much money do you want to earn on a monthly basis from your book? Again, be realistic.
- Are you going to self-publish or find a traditional publisher?
- What formats will your book be available in?
Step 6: Organize your Book
Set up several folders on your computer so that it’s easy to organize your book. For example, have separate folders for:
- Individual Chapters
- Miscellaneous (Request for review, dedications, etc.)
I also recommend that you print and file your manuscript as well so that you always have a hard copy.
Once you have all of this information in an organized format, you will find that it’s much easier to write.
Finding the Time to Write
Time is something that we all fight against on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the time to sit down and write but I firmly believe that someone who really wants to write their book will make the time. If you have a family that you’re trying to balance your time with, I’m sure they will be supportive if you ask for an hour of writing time every evening.
Another common misconception is that most people tend to believe that they need to be in a perfect environment in order to write. That’s simply not true. I could list examples of best-selling authors who did not write their book under optimal conditions. All that’s required to write a book is dedication and inspiration. With that said, being in an organized environment does make writing much easier, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
I don’t want to lead you to the false impression that writing a book is an easy task because it’s not. Less than 1% of people who have aspirations to write a book will follow through and finish it. Just imagine how you will feel once you write yours. It’s such a huge accomplishment. What are you waiting for?