Writing a book is hard. I am not going to lie to you. Some people make it sound so simple! Having the idea is easy! You come up with a topic, think about what you want to say. Then you sit down to write and nothing comes. It's not writer's block because, in your head, you know exactly what you want to write about. You may already have a topic. You just can't put it into the words that you want to convey, so, you just don't.
As I sit here and rock Munchkin, I am thinking of the books that I want to write; the blog posts I SHOULD write; the content I am ghostwriting for a client; the newsletter that I have to get done (since I missed last month)... The list is maddening. I act like I don't know where to start sometimes. Therefore, I decided to take my own advice and just do it. How am I supposed to edit others' work and give them ideas if I can't even come up with my own content?
Hence, this blog post. If I write it all down and organize the structure, I can visualize the progress. I am going to teach you, as I stick to it myself, how to write your own work of art.
Start with an idea.
First (obviously) you need an idea. What is something you are good at? What is something that you know better than everyone else around you? What is something you enjoy doing? Are you a creative thinker? Do you like to make up stories to tell your children? Are you a teacher who enjoys a certain subject? Are you experienced in teaching in a certain area?
These are all questions you can ask yourself to get an idea of what you should write about. It can be anything, even dreams you have or experiences that you have. Remember that everyone's experience is different. Your view of a certain topic, your retelling of a story, is uniquely you. Nobody can write your ideas like you can. Don't get discouraged by the fact that there are already books out there that may be competition. So what? You write from a totally different perspective.
Second, write your idea. Just one sentence. Name it. Write down your title. Remember having to fill out those brainstorming diagrams in school? Do it. It really helps with forming the ideas and reasoning behind your topic.
Once you have your idea and your title (which is probably going to change more than once, which is totally fine!) focus on subtopics. For non-fiction topics: Why are you writing this? What do you want to bring to your reader? What wisdom are you sharing? Do you have research to support you? Did you experience this? Who can help support your ideas? Do you have enough evidence to back you up? What problem are you trying to solve?
Obviously, fiction is going to need a lot more development than non-fiction because you need to make the story flow. You need a plot that makes sense, a setting, character development, description of the story as you go, etc. Questions to ask for fictional work: Where is the story taking place? Who are your characters? What is the timeline? What is the climax? What do you see happening? Can you fit it all in one book or are you writing a series?
It sounds like a lot but planning out your book is an important step that many writers miss and later regret it.
Now that you have an idea of what you want to write about, WRITE! Just sit down and write. Some people prefer pen to paper, some people type. It doesn't matter. Just let the thoughts flow. Let it all out. There will be time to fix errors later. For now, your only focus is to get everything down on paper. Don’t stop until your brain has been emptied of everything it was planning.
Once you are satisfied and feel like you have written all that you possibly can, read it. This is the time to correct any errors and change up the words. Does it flow? Did you miss some points? Now you just reorganize and clean it up. Have a few friends read it or hire a beta reader to read it and give you their honest opinion. Listen to them as they tell you how to make things clearer, where to improve, and how to make the story flow better.
Finally, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL EDITOR. I cannot stress this enough. Why would you put all of that work into your pride and joy and then just let it loose without a glance from a professional? A good editor will give you tips to improve, fix the errors that most people would never see, and can help you format the book for print. They are the unbiased eye that every author needs. Their job is essentially to make you look good.
Writing a book may seem daunting and unattainable, but it's not. Anyone can write a book. Anyone can share their wisdom, experience, and creativity with the world. Why are you letting fear stop you? Step up and go for it! I'm rooting for you, and there are many more out there who are too.