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)

I’ve just finished my first traditionally-published book and recently released my first eBook. The hardest part of both these endeavors was the writing process.

Looking back on both these projects, I’ve learned some things. 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.

Need help writing a book? Check out my free, 31-day writing challenge. Click here to get started.

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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  • MinuteMade

    I think endlessly before doing anything, too; it always has to be perfect. The plot line I’ve got right now took me months of thinking on before I’d decided it was ”ready.” I really want to do this but I’ve already got hundreds of unfinished bits of stories that I’m ashamed I never finished writing.

    Perhaps my biggest problem, though, is that all the major stuff I want to happen ends up spilling out onto the page too quickly and I’ve got a manuscript that was supposed to be 60 pages on only 5 because my character matured too quickly and everything happened to fast. (<— that was an extremely long sentence) It's like, instant novel, just add water – only problem is that it's too short. Suggestions?

    • Logan

      While I’m writing, I usually highlight certain sections (I write on the computer) that I know should be elaborated. Then when I get stuck, I go back to those sections and redo parts, that way I’m always working to improve it.
      Try to add more descriptions, and extra dialogue adds a lot of length(because each unique speaker adds a new line).
      However, don’t just put fillers in your book, if you like it how it is, then leave it how it is, fillers might bore the plot.
      Have you finished the book? Or is it still in progress? Sorry if my tips suck, writing my first book.

    • Original Bey

      You are referring to what they characterize as pacing. This is one of the bigger challenges for a writer. You know what you want to say, what you want to happen and as inspiration flows you put it down in the simplest way possible. You have to flesh it out so your readers can appreciate the story as it develops. Readers need time to bond with your characters. Our job is to take them on a journey. Think of it as dating before you get serious about someone versus a one night stand. Dating can be a roller coaster ride filled with excitement, ups and downs, thrills and fears. A one night stand can be exciting as well but leave you unfulfilled in the end. We don’t want our readers to feel cheated.

  • Venna

    I always wanted to write a book, and writing is something I really love! But, here is my problem: I’m a pretty good writer (or so said anyone who read the things I wrote), and I have good plot ideas, but I can’t write those little details, I never remember them! That makes my chapters really short. I’m only 13, but I want to finish a book before my 15th birthday. Any suggestions?

    • Jess

      Do it! I just finished my first (I’d written several before, but never finished) literally a few minutes ago and I’m 14. Just take a week during the summer and say okay… I’m really into this plot. Just sit down and write it. I didn’t leave the house for about a week because I was so wrapped up in this book. This was the fastest I’ve ever written anything. Just know what you want to write. Don’t start with no idea where you’re going to end. If you have trouble remembering little details, just make a separate document for notes. I do that all the time! However, I wouldn’t recommend writing out an entire outline because that will make your head spin.

      Lastly, never settle for anything less than your best. Thesaurus.com has just become your Bible. If you can’t imagine saying a line of dialogue out loud, rewrite it, because nothing sucks more than reading a book that reeks of fake.

      Good luck!

      • Venna

        Thank you so much!

  • KimPossible

    OK, so of course you first need a good idea for your book. Once you have that the best place to start is your “Book Blurb”. That few sentences or short paragraph on the book jacket that gives your customer/reader a brief idea of what your book is about. You want to have a good hook and make it as exciting and intriguing as possible, (something that catches the readers attention and makes them want to read on), so that they will spend their hard earned money to buy your book.

  • Evelyne

    I find that to write, you need discipline. You need discipline but you can’t force out a story. If you are truly inspired, then you will find a balance between making yourself write and letting fall out of you like , ahem, throw up. Don’t be afraid to tackle ideas that you think will be shunned. Writing is about spreading ideas or telling a story. It’s a form of self expression that comes from the dark places inside you but can be beautiful if you really want to. You shouldn’t write just because all your friends are writing, or because it’s the easiest medium to use. Write because writing makes you fell happy.

    If you are a writer, I suggest watching the movie ‘Whisper of the Heart.’ It’s the story about a middle schooler who is trying to figure out what she wants to do in life. She chooses writing. It’s a very good film and incredibly inspirational.

    • CircusMonster666

      i was inspired by the movie whisper of the heart it is a great movie

  • Irish Joy Perez

    Hi Jeff, thank you or such a very good info. This is a good guide for beginners out there who loves to write like me :) i am planning to make an infographic out of this would it be ok? I’ll start on it once you confirm. Thanks man!

  • Tim

    Hi Jeff, thanks for this…it is useful and I am encouraged to soldier own with my first book.

  • Dee

    I wrote a short story once and it was good as it got printed out on an anthology but finding it hella difficult to write again.hoping these will help

  • Ronnie Santucci

    This was great, thank you Jeff. However the most frustrating thing for me (that really holds me back) is the editing part. I don’t trust myself to edit my work but how do I go about getting someone else to do it for me? How do I know they’re qualified and where do I look for one?

    • mleebee

      Hi Ronnie, did you ever get a good answer for this?

      • Ronnie Santucci

        Unfortunately not. I’m no where near needing an editor yet but I’m still very confused!

  • gilliania

    Thank you so much, this is a great set of tips. Very simple. I am about to write a short nonfiction ebook. I’m now confidant 20 000 words is plenty.

  • HeWhoMustNotBeNamed

    This is great advice! I’d also recommend using Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method, which is basically a way to get all your ideas on paper by summarizing it in a sentence and slowly expanding on it. :) I’ll be sure to keep this in mind when I dive back to the keyboard.

  • mleebee

    Really great tips. Im a 21 year old college student, starting my first “book” I guess you can say. It is sort of a where I am in life and how I got here, not following stereotypical college normals and the aftermath of having a very mentally ill mother and drunk/abusive father growing up. Not so much a sympathy read, but more of a self betterment, look how far you can get, self confidence sort of book. Im worried it will suck, but hey at least its worth a try :)

  • Deb

    Hi Jeff, Does memoir fit into your shorter0 nonfiction book? I am writing a memoir and am at over 50K words. Thanks – great advice!

  • Edwin Elliott

    Hello Jeff,

    I’ve taken your advice and with that, just started writing my first book. As I’m working on the book I’ve started a blog which I’m expecting will add to the books content. I have a book launch date set at January 5th, 2014.

    I’ll not mention my blog on your blog, but I would like to get your opinion on my blog and my book’s subject matter.

    Thanks

    Ed

  • Lucy

    Hi Jeff, my name is Lucy. I am 13 and am writing a book. Great advice. I like it. Thanks. :)

  • Naomi

    Great advice! I’m only 12 and writing a series for kids my age to kids at about 15. It’s kind of a sci-fi/adventure/romance kind of thing. So far it’s about 7 pages long. I started it 3 days ago and have had it edited and re-edited but I’m starting to have some trouble with writers block. If you could write a segment for writers block it would be a lot of help. I really appreciate the tips! They’re great. Here’s my own tip; writing can be a whole lot of fun but be sure your 100% devoted and interested in the topic or it will feel like more of a chore than something to have fun with, and of course be confidant you book will succeed!

  • Irene Bateman

    This will involve a great deal of discipline for me. I am 71years old and your tips has given me inspiration. I just hope I will be able to complete it. Thank you.

    • Terri

      Aloha Irene,
      Good for you. I have talked about writing my life story for twenty years. I just finished and it took me nine months and its 73,000 words. It was a lot like child birth, the hard part is still to come

      • Irene Bateman

        Hi Terri, I’m plodding on and do so much writing each day, The thing I am finding a pain is sorting out the appropriate Chapters now. I write as it comes only to find that could had been put in a different chapter. I aim to be more methodical. You appear to be doing very well. Thank you for your help.

  • Reem Maforth

    Well , I’m a 12 year girl writing a very small book, my goal is 80 pages, now i wrote 14 pages out of 80. And I’m stuck on the 15th pages which i wrote nothing on it, for 7 days, thinking fr what t write ,,, and i guess this helped me a little but i still didn’t wrote nothing !!

    • Amanda Pina

      Do a little bit every day, I think it’s help. If youdon’t know where to go on your story, think about it before you sleep, it’s the better time to great ideas.

  • TheGrem

    Hi Jeff,

    I really appreciate these 10 points. THey may be ridiculously simple yet they may just be the key to unlocking the book I have only ever written in my head.

  • householdgossip

    Hello, I am 12 years old. Much like Reem Maforth. Lol, what a laugh, but I am writing a fantasy book, it has a christian underlining like Lord of the Rings, if you have ever read that. It’s not mocking Lord of the Rings, nor even like Lord of the Rings, but it is fantasy like it. My goal: 400 pages.

  • Irene Bateman

    Hi Jeff, What sort of person should I contact to give me feedback on my book writing. Thank you for the Manifesto. I have written almost 5,000 words. thank you.

    • Michelle Tijerina

      Pay someone to read it, someone you don’t know. That way it is not bias. I am in the middle of writing mine. I own Writing Expressions in San Antonio.

      • Irene Bateman

        Thank you Michelle for your reply most helpful. Now it’s a question of how do I get hold of someone to do this, for example would it have to be a writer? I suppose that sounds silly but there could be other options?. Thank you.

        • Cisse

          I’m sure you can find someone on Elance.com or Odesk.com. Perhaps Fiverr.com too depending on its current length.

  • Amelia Hay

    Thank you for writing this post. I am currently writing a non fiction book, the word count advice has really helped me. :)

  • Timothy Lambert

    ‘Finding Forrester’ is also a good, inspirational movie. I agree with Evelyne… Discipline is key. Coming from a man who doesn’t do Today what he can put off ’til tomorrow, this is the most daunting hurdle for me. Thank you, Jeff for your encouragement.

  • Amber

    I want to write a book about my life. How do I kno w what to leave out, or in what person to write it?

  • Jessica Ramsey

    I am 12, I have written a book but this will help me write more in the future. Thank You Jeff

  • Mason K.

    Thanks this is VERY helpful!!!!!

  • Jess

    Thanks! This post was really helpful. I’m working on my first book – creative nonfiction – and I have been trying to find some good tips for this last section of work for the final draft. So thanks and keep writing inspirational posts for people searching the web!!!

  • Tizzo-Friizzo-Jessica Li (ME!)

    Hey. I am only 11, but this makes my writing very easy! Thank you so much, Jeff!

  • Zoe Gill

    My name is Zoe. I’m only 13, ever since I was 6-7 I’ve wanted to be an author. I’ve been writing stories for years, but I’ve just finished the book ‘No one left to tell- Karen Rose’. It was a really great book about murder, and it’s inspired me to start getting serious about my writing. Thankyou Jeff, this could help me out.

  • Kaya Rao Shetty

    my name is kaya, i’m 13 and im from India. ever since i was seven i’v loved writing. i write alot of poetry. i am now writing a book :) finally. and i just wanted to say this really really really helped me :)

    • JunBoy

      great work.. keep going.. support from India :)

  • Mark Jude Solis

    i am only 14. a filipino citizen, actually iam hoping to be an architect someday but the book hunger games inspire me to write my own book. and i called it ace of angels . Many of my classmates thinks that i am crazy but, they dont know that i have a big imagination, bigger than what you think. i really think that your suggestion will help me

    • Summer Owens

      I am the same way. And if your classmates don’t like your work, they are stupid. Because if your book is anything like the hunger games it will be a hit and then everyone will read it and you’ll be a millionaire… so let them be mean. Never let no one tell you that your book sucks because I’m writing a book called Bitten and i don’t really care what anyone thinks. They jealous. This comment goes for EVERYBODY!

  • Richard_D_Stanton_Ph_D

    Thank you, Jeff. I shall return to your site. But, as for now, without a Kindle, I am unsure what I can do with eBooks? Good fortune in your career!

    RDS

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You can read any eBook on a computer. All the platforms, including Kindle, have free reading apps.

  • Mel

    I am already in the process of publishing my first book, which is a children’s book. Which is difficult in its own way as a starter project, though I have been writing the same novel since I was 16. (I stopped from writers block and life) I am now 34 and very close to completion. Mind you after the book is done I have to go back to the beginning and elaborate on surroundings and thoughts. Anyhow, I found your advice to be very helpful, and may just do the self-publishing with Kindle. So thank you.

  • June Mohd Som

    Thanks for this ridiculous simple tips…. What a relief to know that “most authors are embarrassed of their first book” So… I am not alone with this poor thought of mine? That’s new to me… Thanks Jeff.

  • Swati Hegde

    The problem that cripples me as a writer is that I have too many works-in-progress! There are at least five novels waiting to be written, but every month a new idea grabs my attention. Currently I can only work on my blog and my fanfiction. The rest of my MS Word documents just lie there on my PC, gathering dust!

  • May Belle

    I’m only nine and me and my two friends are working on this book called the candy shop

    • frank

      good luck !! I wish the best for you

  • May Belle

    :-)

  • frank

    IM working on a book that will tie rich , poor & middle class America together would you believe I was 13 and white move into the ghetto or projects more known as, you may know being a white minority is tough and by me surviving with about 10 scars 2 on the neck two on the face the other 7 is crazy, been on my deathbed twice, same priest read me my last rightsboth times, didn’t remember me, I was always classed as a loyay m.f. but that’s just me my preference black & latina chicks but this has nothing to do with nothing so if you where exspecting something different sorry

    • john wrona

      wow Frank….you’re just one hell of a guy. Why do you think anyone wants to read your boring mundane life? There are thousands of shitty books out there just like yours….get a grip. poor little frankie….lived in ghettos…..got some scars (we all do you buffoon), almost died…too bad boo-hoo-hoo, likes chicks (who the fuck cares?). You are not going to sell even ONE book…except to your family. What an arrogant frickin’ idiot…. boring boring boring….why don’t you write about how the grass grows in the ghetto…hahahahahahahahahah….idiot

      • frank

        wow people are dumber than I thought. if you cant tell a totally fake statement . by the way I wouldn’t read it either. but I did make it sound like I was excited about my non existing book. sorry you have the dumb gene no cure for that.

        • Rae Marie

          frank just keep working towards your goals, and I can promise you that people will listen to your story, and they will feel for you. I can’t say I’ve had it bad but I do have experience with kids from bad situations because I’m in foster care and have met those kinds of people. I’m only 17 myself but I think that your work can be inspiring. Some of the most amazing people have come from backgrounds like yours, and you will help a lot of people.

      • Dodie

        John kindly refrain from swearing. You can get your point across without using every four letter word in your vocabulary. There’s children on this site as well and, while they hear this kind of language everywhere in the world today, we can still try and set a good example. Thank-you

        • john wrona

          A couple things ….. first you’re afraid to use your name because then everyone would know how ignorant you are. second, your mama and sister and wife taught me those words (and more) at a time i had them in a compromising position….

        • Kyle Cooper

          Totally agree, I feel sorry for those who use words that show their intelligence. I am a child and I would never want to listen to it or use it. Thank you for protecting the public. :)

    • john wrona

      couple extra ideas…you could add a chapter about when you picked that blackhead out of your neck…… you could write that time you had the bad shits…… or the time you took a walk to the 7-11, or that time you saw a dog running, or that time you were in a friends car and ran low on gas so you had to stop and gas-up – but it was a harrowing experience, or that time you didn’t get home in time and got rained on…. pretty interesting stuff! hahahahaha WHAT A LOSER

    • john wrona

      ???Would I believe it????? Don’t know because I sure don’t care enough to think about your boring-ass life. Here’s a start to your book: Hi, I’m Frank and this book is about my incredibly boring existance” hahahaha

    • Lucky

      Learn proper English or be marginalized. It’s all about choices.

  • Erin Lee Adams

    Jeff, you are truly a blessing..you have no idea. Thank you for following your calling

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      My pleasure!

  • Lucky

    I have never thought about writing a book but if I were to do so it would be one about the moral insecurity of modern America. From simply purusing chat forums on the internet to engaging in conversation with most so called “average” people to even watching the politacally slanted “news” on any network, it becomes clear that our society is missing something that is very simple at it’s basic level but also profoundly guiding our future into prideful societal fractures. The need to be “right” and the aversion to respecting the rights, beliefs, ideas, feelings, etc of not just others but of anything that makes us feel uncomfortable is not just short sided or rude but a failure to evolve, and I propose, a step backwards in the evolutionary procession of modern society. It seems in this modern age of communication that information is rampant and ideas are aflourish but the sad reality is that the substance is lacking and any idiot can chime in with his or her drivel and disrespectful verbage elevating crude ideas and dark images into the same arena as innocent and while possibly naiive ideas, ideas nonetheless that may be based in fantasy and pleasure and not violence, ego gratification, sensationalism, or grotesque dislays of ignorance. There is a difference.
    The truth is we all want to feel good about ourselves and some will do so at the expense of others and in any way they see fit. There is very little accountability for someone who has a belief system that is encouraged by strength in numbers or any mob that has like designs or for that matter any creep in his underwear on the internet throwing his mental crap at others to get his jollies. To me it is obvious. And while I will now have to go look in the mirror and see if I am writing this to feel superior as I sit here at the end of a small investment of about 20 minutes my intention is not to reach or teach the masses but to throw out this idea that we are better than that. That even the lowest level of thinking and ideas can be elevated by the example of just one good story. From Mark Twain to George Lucas to even the political pundits who believe in not knocking down the opponent but in elevating their ideas based on their own merit, leadership in the realm of ideas and decorum is what we need most. Good ideas and good manners. I could go on and on but it would need to be in a book as I am not wanting a diologue here just a hope that someone will realize that there is such a thing as good and evil and we should choose good.
    Peace, out. Lucky Tanner

    • frank

      was going to reply to your comment but after reading this I’ll let it go. it seems you got a proper head on your shoulders , a little big , but sure your calves can handle that added weight. thanks for the comment and please don’t tip over it would take all of our military and possibly some of N.A.T.O. to stand you upright again . IF THATS EVEN POSSIBLE.

    • Dave

      Don’t listen to Frank.
      The number of people who understand what you’ve said here is depressingly low. He’s right everyone. As humans, we have the mental capacity for abstract thought. Therfore, we do not HAVE to let human nature dictate our actions. We can literally do whatever we want. Why wouldn’t we all want to be happier? It is time for us to evolve. Buddha knew it. Jesus knew it. Many have known it throughout time, and some of them even gained a following. Stop doing what your parents told you to. Stop doing what society told you to. Start thinking for yourself with your ego out of the equation. The results are life-changing.

  • Lucky

    Hey

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hi. :)

      • AGYEMANG

        i don,t care jeff goins

      • AGYEMANG

        what the heck

  • AGYEMANG

    HI GUYS

  • AGYEMANG

    HELLO

  • Geoff Hughes

    Great advice. I find procrastination is the big enemy. I believe we create our own writers block by just not getting on and doing the work every day. I agree with the ‘ship’ advice. We’re gotta put it out there. I really enjoy your blog, Jeff. You’re an inspiration to many.

  • Bones

    I have books, movies and games locked in my brain. Just have to get them out!!! Thanks for tips

  • MotherMary

    very interested, just lost in not knowing how to start and where to take it.

  • Satyajay Mandal

    ANYBODY WHO SECURES LESS THAN 50% OF MARKS IN THE SENIOR DIPLOMA EXAM IN HIS/HER FAVORITE SUBJECT SHALL GET THE JOB OF DISCIPLINE IN-CHARGE FOR THE PART 2 EXAMS IN HIGHER SECONDARY BOOK WRITING AND ANYBODY SCORING MORE THAN 50% OF MARKS IN THE SAME WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE POST OF ADVISOR FOR THE PART 2 EXAMS IN HIGHER SECONDARY BOOK WRITING

  • Anynomous
  • Nate Malec

    What’s excellent is that before I started writing my novel I took the time to outline like you have suggested here and have a 1,000 words a day goal until I reach 50,000 and if it takes more that’s what I’m aiming for. I’ve outlined the beginning, middle, and end in a 30 part outline as well as character profiles..but I’ve reached the 20,000 word mark and now I’m sort of losing the right words and feeling a little lost in my story!

    After seeing this post its motivated me that I’ve been taking the right steps and having goals is DEFINITELY helping me finish this one, quite unlike all my previous attempts.

    My question remains, though, what do you do when you feel a little lost in the throw of the storyline and feel that you’ve run out of the right words?

    • S.D.

      A tip that a friend of mine gave me (she recently just came out with her first novel called: How The City Fell by Katlyn Prince)
      Anyways, the tip was that when you are writing and get lost in your story, to either take a break and rethink exactly what you are doing and what’s exactly is happening in the story and how will everything turn our, and/or also: just stop writing for a little while and just start writing short stories. Just write down any and every idea for a shirt/story that you can and then process it and pick the good ones to practice writing on those first :)

      -S.D.
      Hope this helps

    • Andrew Orrow

      Just keep writing! Make stuff up as you go along. Take a walk, do not listen to music as you go and just think about your novel and how you can proceed forward. Think of interesting plot lines you could create in a different story and incorporate them into your current story. Taking a step back and brainstorming in your head different plot ideas can quickly eliminate the dreaded ‘writers block’.

      In addition, it may work for you or it may not but what I do is a very detailed outline. For my current story I have drawn a map that has almost every kind of geographical piece of terrain you can think of (Roads, mountains, forests, rivers, cities, villages, farm land etc.). I’ve wrote an entire history of this fantasy world, its different races, languages, culture, individual race’s history, the different political systems and their different gods. After all that, I have a pretty chunky timeline and I pick a story from there…Next…

      Brainstorm plot ideas, write about the major events, picks different characters in the story you want to develop. After writing out the major events continue to write out individual scenes for them and include a lot of detail….

      ….Basically, after all that and more, if your scenes are strong enough, you’ll know exactly how your story is going to shape out. Yes, a lot of people feel that that is too much a micromanaging job with little creativity but it is a sure way of getting a story written (With Only a couple of redrafts to do afterwards!)…Well I talk a lot, going back to writing now, tara lov.

  • Mason Williams

    Helpful site, really. About to hit 17000 words and could usr some filler chapters with character development aside. Any good ideas or tips?

    • Summer Owens

      Okay, i use a file folder and put ALL of the characters i use through the book on one page. Then i put beside their names where they are, what they’re doing, and their problem, it starts a flow. Use twists through the book too… to hook the reader, to want more. Use romance(I think every book needs a little romance) but the book i read, not wrote had this girl moved to NYC for a boy but turns out she doesn’t like him anymore she likes the person she was tutoring. Okay back to tips at ends of books wrap everything up leave no loose hangers because there are people that detect this and get mad that you didn’t answer those cliffhangers(NOT GOOD) Make every chapter maybe 7-12 pages long. If it helps name your chapters. I helps a little. Use paragraphs. Don’t put random words in sentences it’s best to leave them out. Make jaw dropping twists like this the girl was best friends with this girl for ten years… turns out the girl was imaginary the whole time. That’s a nice twist. After you are about to finish the book make maybe the last few sentences mysterious like on the book i’m writing my last sentence is I’m back. It’s usually hard to come up with titles to books, don’t name it right away wait till maybe halfway through the book to do that, because if your book is about a girl who got bit by a vampire and just say her name is Emma, don’t call it Emma the vampire call it Bitten or Midnight Feast. Make sure the title is interesting cause that’s the first thing people see. Anyhow i need to wrap things up because you’re probably like way too much reading so i hope this helps!

    • Scubadaddy

      No filler chapters. That’s my advice. If it does not reveal new information about a character or move the story forward don’t add it.

  • http://twitter.com/antoniocesarm Antônio Cesar Moraes

    Already wrote 20,000 words. :)

  • cheryl fauntleroy

    I would like to take the 15 day challenge.

  • Jay wolf

    I have like 1,000 words. not much. I am writing about a half human that lives in the arctic, and is only in the second chapter is going to a small foster home. a good idea is to write a timeline for your book and write a book out of that timeline;)

  • Victor Jose Angulo

    I want to start writing but im not sure what language to use. My mother tongue is Spanish, though i’ve lived in USA many years so i’m fluent in English as well. My vocabulary is a bit broader in spanish, but on the other side i believe writing in English can give me more feedback from people online. Any suggestions?

    • Summer Owens

      I say use a little bit of both throughout your book.

  • Summer Owens

    I’ve got a problem… i kind of know how dialogue goes but not exactly… i need help. I use it as this. “Get this acorn” I threw it at him. “No you have it.” He threw it back. Is that how it goes?

    • Joanna

      I think you should put I said after “Get this acorn” so like this: “Get this acorn,” I said. Then I threw it at him. “No you have it.” he replied. Then he threw it back.

  • Joanna

    ok I have I question what size of the letters should be for word because I have them at 20 and they look huge???

    • Andrew Orrow

      Around size 12. Usually a page in a novel consists of approximately 250-300 words though it depends. If you’re writing for children then the size of the writing will be larger.

  • Joanna

    what size should the letters be*** sorry for my grammar

  • Nikki

    What length should a book be if your writing about a life event?

  • Rebecca

    I have my book all plan out except for the beginning, I don’t know if shouldstart it off with dialog or the people actions. Also if I’m putting someone’s thoughts in do I put quotations marks around it?

    • Andrew Orrow

      I usually put a characters direct thoughts in quotation marks and in italics

  • Stewart shim

    i just started to write a book. And, frankly, it is hard because it is not goes smoothlu than i thougjt, as planned.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      It never does. :)

  • Liv

    im writing a book but i cant figure out a problem to a story!!!!! HELP ME. It’s about a teenage girl but i still idk

    • Kmushbeauty

      What is the problem? maybe I can help

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Have you read STORY by Robert McKee?

  • cnorton

    I need direction. I am determined to write my book. It is a personal memoir with some education thrown in about neurodegenerative disease/disorders. I’m not certain where to begin. In the present and go back in time, in the past and bring it current, or at an interesting point somewhere in the process.

    • Melanie Fischer

      There are so many places that a book can begin. You could probably start it anywhere. If you do not choose a place to start though it will start nowhere :) My suggestion is that you begin with an outline of events in chronological order. You can then be creative with the outline and switch it up a bit or reverse it like you said, but don’t allow this decision to snuff out the flame of your passion to tell your story. The important part is that you make a choice of the layout then start connecting the outline with your stories. You may continue to hear that nagging “maybe there is a better way”… just write LOUDER than that voice and it will have no choice but to back off!! You can do it! Start and don’t stop until it is done :):)

      • cnorton

        Thank you for the good advice. I love writing but I like to keep it simple. I will continue to write only now I intend to make a lot of noise! Have a super day.

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          Yes!

    • Charlotte Hyatt

      @cnorton, we are at the exact same place! I find it difficult to write about my life and my disorder. I don’t want to come off as ‘whiny,’

  • http://askdrlee.wordpress.com ladybauthor

    I have written a book. I’m starting a second one while waiting for my edits. I can be certain that I’ll have plenty.

  • http://mywritersconnection.com/ Erin K Casey

    Really excellent tips, Jeff.

  • http://www.teenjazz.com/ Shannon Kennedy

    I think I need to come back and read this every single day.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hah! Well, I will be here.

  • Deborah Dills

    Excellent tips. I just decided to write a book about my life, and when I asked my friends how to begin, they said just start writing-let your thoughts and emotions flow, and the rest will fall into place.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Not a bad place to start.

  • Lucy Lemire

    Ok just decided today that I will redo my little book I wrote years ago as an ebook. Perhaps I can alsodo this and have a hardcover to sell i
    at the same time. Thanks for your input on writing Jeff. It is encouraging and helpful.
    I liken this project to answering the Question. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I like that too, Lucy :)

  • http://helenwashington.com Helen Gaskins Washington

    Perhaps because I am watching the semifinals of World Cup and sorry for any spoilers but Brazil is down big time and the announcer just declared that their World Cup is over yet it is still early in the first half. Yes it might be over but the players still play on. I guess my tip is to remind myself to write on no matter the obstacles, no matter the seemingly narrow and insurmountable odds. Play on…write on. I am determined to put my dreams on the field and not just in my head.
    Thanks for these tips Jeff. They are printed out and I will post them where my eyes can see them daily!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome!

  • Jody Noland

    Such wise counsel, Jeff. Thank you! That’s exactly what I’m getting started on, so this was a true gift. Approximately how many words are in your first few books?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      40,000

  • Grace Brown

    Crap! My book only has 2800 words.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That’s a good start. :)

  • Grace Brown

    I’m writing a book for kids. It’s basically a guide to everything. I’m gonna put it on Amazon so if anyone’s curious my book is called “The ultimate guide to EVERYTHING” Also my pen name is Katrina Renner.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Powerful title!

  • Maerahn .

    Currently squirreling my way through draft two of my first – FIRST! – completed novel, and I’ve found that exactly these ten tips were what made it finally happen. The only one I’d add is: set yourself mini-goals throughout the process and celebrate when you achieve them. Get to the halfway point of your book? Celebrate! Finally get that difficult scene in Chapter 11 written? Celebrate! Successfully cut 500 words from that overlong chapter? Do your happy dance, baby!

    ‘Cause writing’s hard enough as it is – it can’t be all stick and no carrot. (Although admittedly my ‘carrots’ tend to be somewhat chocolatey in origin…)

  • Charlotte Woods

    Fantastic tips!!

    I’ve finished 2 books and started around five others haha. The first one I wrote, which I started at 13 and finished at 16, was an absolute disaster and I am mortified by it. It was entirely too long, too cheesy and boring. Also as my writing style and skills progressed over the three years it all sounded very different.
    It made me feel like a failure and that I’d never write anything decent ever and I gave up on writing. Then I started another one.
    I finished it in six months (for an 18 year old and one also doing a Law degree at the same time that is a big feat). I was proud of it but I hate the editing process and it needed a lot of it even if I was happy with what I’d produced. Now I’m finally going through it and hating that I didn’t earlier. I will eventually send it off to publishers (soon hopefully). Fingers crossed.
    Now, after writing a book I’m happy with and really becoming dedicated and soaking up as many tips and tricks on writing as I can, I’m addicted to writing. This week I started another book and I’m 13,000 words in. I’m also working on another that is taking a while because its just one of those books that you need to write slowly.
    I can’t write 300 words at a time. I’m a speed reader and have discovered I’m also a speed writer. I either write three thousand words in an hour or nothing. This can sometimes be a great thing or a TERRIBLE thing.

    I really liked your tip about embracing failure because I know I didn’t in the beginning and it put me off writing anything again. I’m still very young so I’ve got a lot to learn but I’ve been dabbling in writing since I was nine and I know that it is possible to be a successful young writer. Plus my parents always say I’m an eighty year old trapped in a young persons body. This is not a good thing for my social life.

    I think the most important thing in writing is just not to give up. It’s so easy to get scared by all these ‘rules’ like planning or not using third person and needing it to follow a certain structure. You’re the writer, its your characters and your story and so you need to be the one to tell it, not a set of guidelines. There is no right or wrong, only opinions.

    Also don’t be afraid to look for inspiration. Nothing you write is ever going to be ENTIRELY original. You’ve lived a life and therefore have been influenced by much, even if you don’t know it. So don’t be afraid to go out and seek some good old fashion inspiration if you’re suffering from writers block or lack of creativity. For me that means reading one of my favourite books or watching a really cheesy movie (mostly to make me feel better about my own writing and knowing I will never be that cheesy). Whatever it is that gets your juices flowing do it. Most writers do and only the really, really good ones don’t ever need to take a step back and breathe in the world around them.

    Thanks for the great tips :)

  • Kyle

    Hi Jeff, firstly thanks for the fantastic article.

    I just started my first attempt at writing a proper book. I used to write many short story’s in Junior school – but somehow as I got older I stopped.

    Now 34, I am just so keen to get back into it. I have many ideas, however I am not sure on what is the best way to start. Currently I just have an idea and I just started writing – not exactly sure where the story will go, have not even thought about all the characters that will be in the book. Is this a bad idea? Am I just going to lose my way in the book?

    I would appreciate any advice you could give me in this regard.

    • Alexis

      I would encourage you to just do it!! Throughout life, you are forced to improv, so whats the reason to not di that in writing? Anyway, you can always come back and edit.. :)

  • Lela

    What advice do you have for people who can tell fantastic (true) stories but can’t seem to put it on paper correctly? It’s just not the same. It’s hard and very frustrating:(

    Thanks!

    • Rebecca Jean Purcell Ampuero

      Get a voice recorder and when you’ve told your story go back and write it down. You would have to add descriptions rather than act out some bits (instead of yelling, tell the audience the character is yelling, for example) but you’ll have your “rough draft” recorded, so you would have something to go by.

  • Alexis

    I am writing a book, I tried writing one before and just gave up on it. I was close to giving up on the second one, but reading all the tips were what conviced me to keep going. I am only 11 by the way and thank you Mr. Jeff for posting these wonderful tips!!

    • Victor Johnson

      You know? I have written two books and over 260 thousand words. Guess my age; 9. If you haven’t even finished your so called “book,” don’t presume you’re age.

  • Teresa

    hey I’m almost done writing a full novel and I’m 12 if you can’t finish it don’t force yourself to write then its usually crap if your stuck leave it for a week or a few days or even till next year as long as you want then when your in a creative mood or want to write more cause you got more ideas then take out the old manuscript all i can say is don’t force yourself to write

  • D’angelo Smith

    I’m writing 7 nonfiction books right now (not at the same time , mentally ) and I think Im doing well but I can’t be sure . I want someone to read them over and maybe tell me if I should change/scratch certain things and characters . I don’t wanna publish this since it’s one of my first but any kind of help would be appreciated . I’m almost finished with my first one at around 50k words and 35 chapters , it’s good but there is room for improvement .

    • Aidia

      Always good to get a second opinion. I would be happy to help. You can email me at lockescape@gmail.com . Can’t promise I’ll be to fast, but I will be honest

      • D’angelo Smith

        I will email all of it in peices . You can review the chapters and tell me what I should fix . My email is DNAngel013@rocketmail.com – I made that email address when I was 13 , dont judge me lol

        • Aidia

          Send away. I’ll be waiting.

          • D’angelo Smith

            I sent the first part only , if you want the second part just reply after you’ve read all of the first one .

  • Latasha Wells

    I have started to write another about a month ago.. this would be my 3rd attempt. I almost lost interest because im not sure if im doing this right. .lol but reading Jeffs ideas and tips are motivating me thanx.

  • Rachael Langan

    Im 12 (13 in December) and I am going to start writing a book soon proberly tomorrow and it will be my second book. (My first book is on fiction press but it isn’t finished and I don’t spead much time on it because I either haven’t got any ideas or I haven’t got any time.) Any way the book I am going to start writing soon came to me in a dream. So if you have a dream you remember that you would like to turn into a book then go for it.

  • cecilia

    I wrote a 205-word short story that I’m super proud of. It’s really spooky though.

    • tushar sagar

      i wanna read, please give link.

  • Andrea

    I’m currently writing a book. I guess it could be fit in the genre of sci-fi, maybe. It’s not psot apocalypse or anything but it does sort of involve genetic mutation and a bit of immortality but not the one that is loved by everyone, where one simply lives forever (Vampire/werewolf kind).

    I have the outline and it’s all mapped out but I’m having trouble deciding the POV or even getting the first chapter out of my head. I have the prologue though, so I suppose that is something.

    I would appreciate someone’s help, I’ll even give out my email (just please don’t spam me, i wouldn’t appreciate it) :

    andie.harrypottergeek@gmail.com

    Would like to hear from some of you, fellow writers :)

  • Brandi

    I’m writing a book where I have to go back to two different times in the past of my main character. My problem is will it be confusing to go from 2014 to 2009 to 2004 then back to 2014? Should I have them go in chronological order or should I have flashbacks? It has me really stumped right now and I have nearly finished the book. Thanks for any help.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Good questions. I think it makes sense to stay chronological.

      • Brandi

        Thanks, Jeff! If I have more questions do you mind if I ask you?

        • Shannon

          you could also have the different times start in a different chapter. like at the begining of the chapter have a date like
          Chapter 1
          – 2004
          as long as the past part of the storm benefits what’s happening in the present there shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Amanda

    Hey Jeff I am trying to write a fantasy book, but I can’t figure out how to add dialogue and I know how it is important to have a lot of dialogue and also my sister says that I can’t use the word said a lot but I don’t know what else to say to describe someone talking p.s I am 11.

  • Mac

    @Amanda, I’m sorry but for most literature today, your sister is wrong. It is actually massively preferred to use the word “said”, if anything, rather than dozens of other descriptors. (“Get out,” Mike roared) is not as good as (“Get out,” Mike said, pounding his fist on the table), which isn’t as good as (Mike slammed his fist on the table. “Get out!”)

    • Shannon

      Also using none at all tends to be what most people like to see. for example
      “Get out!” Mike pounded his fist on the table.
      then you co go and and explain about his frustration and it doesn’t read dryly.

  • chris

    Currently working on a book where a kid finds a magic medal that switches his body with different people in his school helping them with their problems. How long do you recommend the story should be chapter wise?

  • Faiza A

    Hey! I’m planning a novel right now that’s going to be heavily based on the puzzle of the mind. It’s where a lonely boy creates a fantasy world (on paper) in his free time, but after a car accident he gets thrown into a coma…but he doesn’t know it. Instead, he gets tossed into his fantasy world as if it’s real, and in order to wake up, he must overcome his own villians/enemies and overcome his struggle with himself. This is an extremely simple summary and I’m still working on it… I guess my question is, any tips for writing an extremely complicated book or thoughts on my idea?

    • Shannon

      i like your idea! and there are quite a few things out there similar to it, so i’d suggest starting with them and see how others handle it. reading is the best way to become a better writer.
      Also research, do a lot of it, if you base thing on fact they will be more believable. look up stories of people who had experiences in comas. also i’d look into the psychological reasons behind him creating this world. despite the fact that he is lonely. Doing that should help you get ideas and it will also make it more believable to the reader.

    • Dmoore

      Hello, please finish the book. I cant wait to read it, lol. I am starting on my first book about marriage, or shall I say, “True Marriage.” Good Luck. I’m interested to know how your characters life was before the accident (in depth). It would help identify more with some of the struggles that he is facing while in a comma.

  • Dani

    I’m currently in the process of writing 2 novels. I have no idea how many words long the first one is, but after having “writers block” for about 5 months, I started another one. I’ve been working on this second one for about a week and it only has about 2,000 words. A close friend has read them both and claims that they’re really good and that I need to continue writing, but after re-reading both, I don’t like the way either one is going. I have ideas for both books, but I have absolutely no idea how to put them into words. If anyone would be willing to let me email them my books to get their opinion, that would be fantastic and extremely helpful (:

    • Nat_Noir

      “Thankfully, I have a lot of characters. So if I run into a Tyrion problem, I can write with Arya for a while. Then one day there’s a solution for the Tyrion problem, out of nowhere.” – George R.R. Martin

      Maybe if your stuck you could write in another character or take the story to another perspective. Hope this helps!

    • nadia

      Sure I’ll give your books a read. My email is joecaverly@hotmail.com.

    • MsLeapYear

      What’s your favourite storytelling medium? Books? Movies? Radio? Pick one or two that you like, and start watching/reading/listening to the stories that you’ve been looking forward to hearing. The ones that you remember have been on your to-hear list for years. Then make a document (I use Google docs- I can’t lose them [they're in the cloud] and they’re simple) to keep track of ideas you get when watching the ones you really love. I don’t mean steal their ideas- but note the way that the story unfolds. The way the characters stand, speak, look, act. I find movies particularly helpful to me, because the body movements are obvious and can be adopted in your own work quite successfully. Keep a notepad with you if you find you forget smaller bits of genius you think of while watching, say, The Lord of the Rings. I wish you the best of luck. Keep writing, but also keep reading and watching. They work well together.

  • Shannon

    i liked your post, though i didn’t agree with just one point. The shipping part. i get where you are coming from but there is a lot more to writing than just getting it out there many establish and published writer write things that they never have and never will get published just because. It’s not always best just to rush into it. it’s something new writer often do and i’d advise not to do this step until you are totally sure it’s ready. with publishers and agents you only get one chance with one ms, so it has to be ready. other than that this was a good post.

  • poop

    Hi

  • Addy

    Can anyone help me with my problem? I don’t have a huge problem with writing every day, the thing i struggle with is knowing what to write. Right now I’m working on a book. The working title is “Count it all Joy”. It’s about a girl who’s best friend died in situation that the girl, Lottie, accidently caused. Through a series of events and misunderstandings cause by his death, she also lost the friendship of another boy who was also her best friend. The book starts with a flashback to the day that Her best friend died and then the story starts four years after that. Lottie is broken and bitter and the book will go through her story through alcoholism, the sickness and death of her brother, and the eventual realization that she doesn’t have to live with the pain that her friends death caused. I wrote an outline and planned the story out, i just struggle with how to get at least 40,000 words for the story. I’m the type of writer who wants to go straight from dramatic situation to dramatic situation and i never have enough words to make up a whole book. Anybody else struggle with this? Any tips for me?

    • Matt

      Hi :)
      I’m in no way very much experienced with writing. I’ve only recently began to keep a journal, I do however read quite a bit.
      I find that a lot of authors tend to up their word count with plenty of description and if it’s first person, in depth character thoughts.
      Try not to focus just on the main plot, I think it’s perfectly fine to steer from it occasionally, as long as it contributes to the characters development or the actual plot.

      Hope this helps a bit.

    • Steph P.

      Hey there, Addy! I have the same problem with wanting to jump from one big scene to another when I’m writing. You could write all of the dramatic situations down and then fill in the blanks later. Creating a run down of all the important events, a synopsis of sorts, before writing the scenes can help you figure the direction of your novel out before writing everything down as well.

    • bE

      Hi Addy,

      I am not a published writer, but one of the best ways to get your word counts up is as Matt described in description and character development. When I’ve written short, fictional stories to send to friends, I loved being able to adequately describe exactly the picture in my head: The color of the scene, the mood of the characters, the emotional contexts in the protagonists/antagonists head, and the actions that they complete.

      Simply put: Detail the scene so that any reader can see the act of the scene EXACTLY like you do. If your outline is fully completed and confirmed by your standards, than this is really where the colors of your writing and the story can be incredibly detailed and prognosticated. You will find yourself coming up with new ideas and details that will only enhance the story even greater. Think of it as a painter creating a new canvas: most don’t have a specific design in mind, but as they move the brush, they find that different details lead to realms of creativity, which will lead to a product that is new, original, and specifically detailed.
      Good luck,
      bE

  • Jusright

    “Writing is hard work” each time I tell my self this, I end up not writing. However, I opened a kindle account the other day and just couldn’t resist that button that says “add new title” so I wrote a 6000 word book in about 24 hours… I’d really love someone honest to read it so I can finally prove the theory that often times writer’s block is simply lack of discipline. Thanks! For a sample of my book, send me a mail at penningsolutions@gmail.com. Book Title: You Deserve True Love, genre: non fiction

  • Steph P.

    Here is what I do.
    Step One: Pick a Genre
    Step Two: Create Characters
    -Basic Profiles: Who they are, their goals, extra information
    -Character Arcs
    -Struggles
    Step Three: Have a rough understanding of your plot
    Step Four: Create an outline
    -Though my outline includes the basics of setting, main characters, themes, challenges, and the conclusion, I write fantasy so I also include creatures and races.
    Step Five: Create a synopsis of major events
    -Sort of like an outline but you’re writing a few sentences about every major event that is important to the plot of your novel. The description should include the setting, reason/cause for the event characters involved, role of said characters, and outcome of the event.
    Step Six: Write a rough draft

    • Steph P.

      Step Seven: Edit
      -Minimizing adverb use, replacing dull words with synonyms, removing unnecessary passages.
      Step Eight: Rewrite
      Step Nine: Edit Some More
      Step Ten: Review
      Step ???: Edit and rewrite as many times as you feel is necessary. However, if you’re really struggling then it would be wise to seek outside help/opinions.
      ( Had to put the rest into a separate comment or else the formatting would have been weird)

  • Budda_Belly

    I’ve been “writing” for about 35 years. It’s always been technical in nature, e.g. equipment service manuals, equipment operation manuals, system procedures, training manuals, etc.

    I’ve recently decided to start creative writing which lead me here. Great pointers, they will be very helpful going forward.

    I don’t know if you could classify the following a tip as much as a philosophy but, as a writer I believe you should always strive to write right. I’ve run across “writers” on line that use ur instead of you are, incomplete sentences, no punctuation, misspelled words… Every word, every sentence is practice and practice makes perfect. I know I don’t always get it right, but I do at least try.

  • bE

    Hey Jeff,
    Thanks for the “gut check.” The biggest dissipater of great writers is procrastination, and I have found myself to be locked into doing something less beneficial to my goals simply because I don’t do it. This is a wonderful reminder that while writing is an art, it is also a dedicated investment into revealing the deeper natures of our minds for others to see. It only comes out if we are willing to partake in the disciplines to make it a realty.
    Thanks again! I have some great friends that need to see this as well, and will link them to this reminder.
    Sincerely,
    bE