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.

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 of my best tips.

10 MORE BONUS TIPS: I actually have 20 ridiculously simple tips for writing a book. Want the other 10? Get them free here.

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.
  • Have an outline. Write up a table of contents to 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 Do the Work by Steven Pressfield.
  • 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.

Every writer started somewhere, and most of them started by squeezing their writing into the cracks of their daily lives. The ones who make it are the ones who show up day after day.

You can do it, too.

Beating overwhelm & staying creative

Click here for 10 more ridiculously simple tips for writing a book. Tips that help you:

  • Beat feeling overwhelmed.
  • Stay creative so you never “run out” of ideas.
  • Stay focused, so you get your book done faster.

Get these 10 bonus tips here or by clicking on the image below:

10-more-tips

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

It’s Not Too Late to Become a Writer

Download my free eBook on why now is the best time to become a writer.

In this book, I share everything I’ve learned bout what it takes to start writing for a living — and how you can get started today.

Click here to download the free book now.

  • Daniel

    I don’t speak english very well but I would like tô Shear my ideal the frist book u want to write write about u real life story the good and bad time u passa thr belive some where for some one it well make sence

    • Robotcyborg

      Mmm no sorry..not sure what you are saying. Please learn English.

  • Daniel

    Have ever watch a movie FREEDOM TO WRITE

    • Ashley

      no

  • lorna

    Hello.

    I have already written one chapter but my problems is that feedback or help from a writer. i do not know hwere at the end of my writing i can publish i dnt know the process. can you help me with that.

    • Nico Wonderdust

      Hey, join reddit and head over to reddit.com/r/WriteWorld give you all the feedback you require and offer you all he help and support you need as well as sharing some great resources.

      • Michelle

        This doesn’t even make sense all he help and support? I think you mean all the help you need also after your link say for example: (my link) will give you all the help….
        So (…writerworld) will give you all the help…

    • Robotcyborg

      Are you writing in English?…because your grammar is terrible. Maybe start with fixing that…but keep writing anyway..you will improve with each page!

  • Sanya

    Hey
    Can you please tell me about how long a chapter in a book should be?

    • Nico Wonderdust

      Hey, join reddit and head over to reddit.com/r/WriteWorld and we will answer any question you may have and offer you all he help and support you need as well as sharing some great resources.

    • Robotcyborg

      Go to the library pick up a novel…read it..count pages in chapter..pick up another book…rinse,wash,repeat.

    • Yoongi’s Tongue Technology

      I don’t think there’s a specific number to how long a chapter should be, but I, personally, like my chapters to be between 2500 and 4000 words.

  • Yoongi’s Tongue Technology

    This was very helpful. I started writing when I twelve, and so far I finished writing five novellas, and a lot of short stories and one shots. I haven’t written anything in months, I just can’t choose which story or idea to tell. Should I show the ideas to a bunch of friends and ask them which one’s the most interesting?

  • Deborah Starling

    I LOVE THIS BLOG! This particular post really inspired me. Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful and informative tips with your readers. My writer’s mantra is “do not let self-doubt diminish that gift.” I recently read a writing guide that I have been recommending to my writer friends called “Creative Visualization for Writers.” The author Nina Amir delivers on so many levels with this book, and has come up with a truly “holistic” approach to writing. Without sounding condescending, but rather quite consultative, she almost provides a handbook on how to tap into one’s creativity and writing innovation. I actually have made more progress on my own novella in the month since I read her work than I had made in the previous 18 months. I applaud you, Ms. Amir! Anybody that is feeling stuck should give this a try. It’s hard not to gain momentum after taking this one in. Hope you will check it out. Her website is super information too: http://ninaamir.com/

  • Dana Winkler

    A writing coach can help. There’s a couple of great ones at http://www.heart-of-roses.com. Check it out.

  • Kitaab Deals

    “Hello Jeff Goins”,
    Thank you for sharing such valuable article and all of these wonderful and informative tips with your readers .really you Are too Good Plese keep continue and connected with us

  • Jake Koenig

    Hey, great blog, or whatever this is, it’s really inspirational- despite the fact that I have no writing talent- but some people have asked “What word do I start with?” I belive that it depends. Some genres might start with an onimonipia (sound, like putting BOOM!) and some might want a dialog that describes how the book is going to be like (if it’s about some middle school kid’s life, then maybe like[as I’ve heard before {and yes this is how you parenthisis within a parenthisis}] it was a hot summer, or cold spring) and some should be an action without dialog for a while. (I quickly strided down the boardwalk, in pursuit of the suspect….) and, as this blog, or whatever this is, states, MAKE AN OUTLINE FIRST, this can make the actual writing easier, help the title be easier to make, and as some of you readers/writers wanted, the genre, so, as above, ^ you can decide your firs word(s). And as this suggests, the first word doesn’t matter as much as the words that follow them, therefore, don’t stress on that first word, you can just stress out about those next words! 😀

  • JOHNSON JOSEPH ROZARIO

    I have a unique style in writing stories/novels. I will have the full story (from beginning to end) in my mind before writing it. Then I start writing some key dialogues or situations, followed by other parts.

    Its like covering an entire paper with blue ink using a dropper. First put some drops here and there. A large area will be covered like this. Then fill in the gaps by putting smaller drops.

    It is really interesting to write in this way.