Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

10 Ridiculously Simple Tips for Writing a Book

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.
–Mark Twain

The hard part for most writers, despite what we say, isn’t getting published. Now, there are more opportunities than ever to become an author. No, it’s not the publishing part we struggle with. It’s the writing.

Tips for Writing a Book

Photo credit: Boris Licina (Creative Commons)

Free Download: Want a free video on how you can establish a daily writing routine? Click here to watch the video.

I’ve just finished my first book. And the hardest part, to my surprise, wasn’t the difficulty of getting published. It was the writing process. Looking back, I can see how I learned some things. Important things worth sharing.

What does it take to write a book? Here are 10 tips worth remembering:

Getting started

  • Start small. 300 words per day is plenty. John Grisham began his writing career as a lawyer. He got up early every morning and wrote one page. You can do the same. (Need some ideas for getting started? Check out these book ideas.)
  • Have an outline. Write up a table of contents that guide you. Then break up each chapter into a few sections. Think of your book in terms of beginning, middle, and end. Anything more complicated will get you lost. If you need help, read this book: Do the Work.
  • Have a set time to work on your book every day. If you want to take a day or two off per week, schedule that as time off. Don’t just let the deadline pass. And don’t let yourself off the hook.
  • Choose a unique place to write. This needs to be different from where you do other activities. The idea is to make this a special space so that when you enter it, you’re ready to work on your project.

Staying accountable

  • Have a set word count. Think in terms of 10-thousand work increments and break each chapter into roughly equal lengths:
    » 10,000 words: a pamphlet
    » 20,000 words: short eBook or print book
    » 40,000–50,000 words: good-sized nonfiction book
    » 60,000–70,000 words: longer nonfiction book
    » 80,000 words–100,000 words: typical novel length
  • Give yourself weekly deadlines. It can be a word count, percentage of progress, whatever. Just have something to aim for, and someone who will hold you accountable.
  • Get early feedback. Nothing stings worse than writing a book and then having to rewrite it, because you didn’t let anyone look at it. Have a few trusted advisers to help you discern what’s worth writing.

Staying motivated

  • Ship. No matter what, finish the book. Send it to the publisher, release it on Amazon, do whatever you need to do to get it in front of people. Just don’t put it in your drawer.
  • Embrace failure. Know that this will be hard and you will mess up. Be okay with it. Give yourself grace. That’s what will sustain you, not your high standards of perfection.
  • Write another. Most authors are embarrassed of their first book. But without that first, they never would have learned the lessons they did. So put your work out there, fail early, and try again. This is the only way you get good. You practice.
Free Download: Want a free video on how you can establish a daily writing routine? Click here to watch the video.

What ridiculously simple tips for writing a book would you add? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • Anda

    I’m so glad that you mentioned 300 words.It seems resonable to me. My target is 500 words/day. I read the other days on a site that has some kind of a contest and they have to write over 50.000 words per moths. I was “Oh my God!I’m so lame.” I struggle with 500 words and there apparenly are people who write a whole book in one month. And then i did some more google and found your site. I’m a little more relieved now.

    • Henry Migingo

      I will be glad to read your book.

      • Anda

        Thanx for the vote of confidence, but I’m still a long way till the finish line. Till then lots and lots of inspiration to you and whomever needs it!

    • Johnlagaby

      Anda, the word count is meaningless. It is the ideas that are contained in those words that matter, not the quantity of words. For example, prior to Lincoln giving his “dedicatory remarks” at Gettysburg, the main speaker there spoke for three hours. Then Lincoln followed with his 200 words dedication remark, which now is known as the Gettysburg Address and is considered one of the best speech in history. The main three-hours speech was forever forgotten.

  • http://madridpig.com/ Sean Durham

    Good advice. nailing it down to the simple motivating factors, like word count and keeping it low, or being prepared to fail and try again is realistic advice. Writing a book isn’t the easiest thing in the world so it helps when understand why we are writing a book as well.

  • http://www.esomu.faithweb.com Dr. Solomon Esomu

    This is great!

  • Micki

    Thanks for the simple tips, Jeff! As usual, practical and informative, always giving to your readers! Happy to share with my followers!