Writing a book has been a dream which many people have seen and want to fulfill. But for most people, it’s always seemed out of reach. As a rough estimate, 80% of Americans have dreamt about writing a book and publishing it at some point in their lives. Shockingly, only a handful of people, less than 0.1% of the people have actually done it. Every writer’s journey is unique and different from others. Most successful authors who go on to become bestsellers generally have effective writing patterns which aid in their success. To become a successful author, it is very important for you to look at these patterns and other habits that successful writers have and almost emulate them to some extent.
This article will help you in achieving just that, I have put together a list of steps to help you write a book from scratch. It contains advice and information from prolific and successful writers in the business. Writing a book requires a lot of meticulous work and determination to power through and finish the book when at times it might seem difficult or even impossible.
So, without any further-a-do, let’s look at the steps that you should follow which will help you in writing your own book:
1. Finding Your Idea
The first and arguably the most important step of the whole process of writing a book. Without an idea, getting past even the first page will seem like quite a challenge. Asking yourself simple questions will help you in getting all the answers to help you in finding that idea. Write about what you want to write about, what you feel is important to write about and if it is something that you feel people will want to read, then base your idea on that thought and start writing. You can also take influence from previous books that you’ve read, the ones that left an impact on you, are the ones you’ll most likely take inspiration from and write in a similar vein. There are tools that will help you in finding your idea, creative writing prompts and plot generators can get the ball rolling for you if you are still struggling to find an idea.
2. Researching Your Genre
After finally deciding on your idea, researching about that particular genre is the next step that you’ll have to follow. If your idea is based on the type of books you like to read, you’ll already have a basic understanding and most likely will have the knowledge about that particular genre. Yet, it is crucial to do your research on the genre and then have an even better understanding of what you want to write in your book, and if you can even write a book with the elements present.
Finding out what people are reading nowadays and keeping up-to-date with the latest trends and knowing which type of books are becoming best-sellers provides excellent insight and helps in figuring out what people are wanting to read. The market is highly-competitive and to give your book the best chance to succeed, doing your research is paramount.
3. Creating a Basic Outline
A basic outline is extremely important to write a good book. It is absolutely paramount if it is your first book because this is how you reel in your readers and leave a solid impression. The essential points to follow when creating an outline for your book are the following:
- Outlines are of various types, so choosing what type of outline works for you is important. If you get stuck on an approach and can’t figure out what to do, try a different one. Having a plan is much better than having none at all.
- No matter what the format is, having a proper beginning, middle and an end is crucial. A number of authors start off strong with a clear idea of how they want to start off their book. But sometimes, that’s all they focus and it results in an average book with a gloomy middle and an inconclusive and at times even non-existent ending. It is beneficial if you take out the time and figure this out and connect the three to each other before you even start writing.
- Conflict is present at the core of any great book; it is what creates tension, drama, agony and other emotions which will ultimately reflect on and conveys the message that you want deliver through your book. Conflict is what draws people’s attention and it aids in keeping the reader interested in your book.
- Character development is one of the most crucial points to remember and work on when you are outlining your book. Characters are what people connect with and can relate to at times, so working on character development is almost a no-brainer.
4. Starting Off Strong
Now that we’ve discussed about how you should approach your book, let’s get into how you should start writing. Saying that the first few pages of your book can make or break your book, would be an understatement. Starting your story off in a strong manner is the only way to keep readers interested in your book. If the opening pages of your book are good enough, many readers will undeniably lose interest and it could prevent them from reading the whole book. Starting off with an excellent hook will undoubtedly grab the reader’s attention and get them hooked. From here, you build your story, amplify the plot, give main characters distinct personalities and motives. But the key is to introduce the minimum number of characters at any given point, especially in the very start. To make the opening of your story perfect and finding the right balance will require a lot of experimenting and trial and error but, it is all worth it because this is what sets up the rest of your book.
5. Always Focus on and Prioritise Substance
If you also believe that the key to writing a great book is style, immaculate vocabulary, complex sentences or anything else of this sort, then I want to dissuade you from this particular thought process. Even though style is great and it makes your book look good, substance is by far the most important aspect to work on when writing a book; this makes it critical it to focus primarily on your plot, character development and themes. A good book has layers, much like an iceberg, the layers build on each other, even when all the layers aren’t visible. Here are a few tips that will help you in making substance a top priority:
- The first tip that I am going to give you is something straight form the great writer Kurt Vonnegut, and it is the fact that if a sentence does neither, reveal a new character nor does it advance the story in a helpful manner, try leaving it out.
- Slowly paced books are usually a result of excess description, if you feel like your book is very slow paced, it could be because you are prioritising style over substance. To prevent this from happening, being conscious of your own pacing is extremely important.
6. Writing a Book that Caters to the Audience
Writing a book can seem very difficult at times, in regard to whether the audience will enjoy reading the book or not. To make sure that you deliver to the audience, following the cardinal rule; think about your audience and trying to write reader-first. Some scenes might not seem very exciting to you, but they enhance the reader’s experience and serve the overall story’s progression.
7. Setting Word Count Goals For Yourself
Setting word count goals for yourself is a very practical way to improve your writing habits and they play a massive role in building an efficient and effective writing process. Especially if this is your first book or if you have just started the process of writing, taking your time and setting achievable word count goals are very important. This is because writing very large quantities continuously everyday can be a very gruelling experience for any writer. So taking your time and gradually setting bigger goals is the way to go. This makes for a great transition to my next tip.
8. Establishing a Healthy Routine
Hitting your word count goals can seem challenging too and the only way to match them is by establishing and maintaining a healthy routine. The easiest and arguably the best way to establish a routine is to look at your natural patterns and taking advantage of the schedule that you already on. The ultimate goal is to have a well-balanced routine that expedites productivity and creativity. If you are finding trouble in writing every day, space out your writing sessions and if you are having trouble at the beginning to match your word count goals, there is no harm in reducing them a tad. Having a healthy mental state is more important than writing and if you feel like you are burning yourself out, take your time.
9. Setting Up a Productive Workspace
This is a major aspect of writing a book, where you write your book is far more important than you would think. To efficiently write a good book, having a calm and focused workspace is absolutely vital. This could be anywhere as long as you can write and work there uninterrupted. The most convenient option is to work from home, the comfort of being in your room without losing productivity is the key though. Usually good writing spaces are quiet, clean and non-distracting. Make sure you feel comfortable in your workplace, because it is critical.
10. Using Writing Software
Writing a book nowadays is becoming easier with the invention of writing software which help you massively in writing your book. Let’s talk about some of the software and showcase why using writing software could be useful.
Scrivener is the writing software for numerous writers and rightfully so. It has a great user interface with multiple useful features that will help you in writing your book. It has a drag-and-drop system to help you outline your book/chapter. They also provide you with various templates to plan and format your book.
FocusWriter is a very simplistic software which is specifically designed to prevent you from any distractions. This is made to get you into your zone and get the creative juices flowing. It also makes for a very interesting interface, it is just a sheet of paper on a wooden desk, and nothing else on the screen, no distractions. Nothing can be more intuitive than writing on just a piece of paper, nothing else.
11. Keep Yourself Motivated at all Times
Getting distracted or discouraged while writing a book are very common among new writers. So how do you manage to stay focused and motivated? Here are a few tips that will help you in staying in the groove and keep you motivated as well.
- Having a reminder in regard to why you are writing a book in the first place is a great way to keep yourself motivated. A great way of doing this is by writing down all the reasons why you are writing your book in a list form and reading it when you want to motivate yourself.
- A great way to motivate yourself to do something is to get a partner/buddy to do it with you, and writing is no different. Joining an online writing community and exchanging progress updates are a great way of motivating yourself.
- Treating yourself every time you hit an important milestone is very important as it motivates you to achieve them milestones in the first place and work harder as well.
12. Don’t Rush With the Ending
Finding the right ending for your book is no easy task, a bad ending is often results in the downfall of good books and great authors. Many writers get exhausted by the time they reach the ending, and at times when they have great endings, they rush through it because they are just that exhausted. Do everything you can to resist rushing through your end, and take your time with it. You want to create an excellent reading experience for the reader and rushing through the ending will just not cut it. Just like we spoke about writing “reader-first’ content, your readers DESERVE a great ending. So take your time and write an ending worthy of your reader’s praise.
13. Get Feedback
It is paramount to request and receive feedback on your book, this is to know that whatever you have written is liked by the audience and not just you as the writer. Asking friends and family for feedback and honest reviews can be very helpful. After finishing the writing of the book, you are ready to get feedback, improve in necessary places and then finally publish the book. Hiring beta readers to review your book and share their thoughts can provide invaluable data and insight as to areas where you need to work on and improve to make the whole book and the reading experience better. It is important to take all the feedback in a positive manner and think of any criticism as constructive, since everyone is looking out for you and trying to help you.
14. Publish Your Book
It is finally time to publish your book, you are all set and done, you have done all the hard work, brainstormed an entire book and then extensively edited it as well based on feedback and you couldn’t be more proud of yourself. Publishing though can be a very rigorous process, so getting help from a professional publisher can make life so much easier for you. Invest smartly in cover design and marketing to get the best chance of success
All-in-all, writing a new book from scratch can seem like an impossible and exhausting task, but all the above steps will make your overall writing experience much better and also help you in figuring out how to successfully write a book. I hope this article has helped you in figuring out how you can write your own book and the important steps that you should follow!