10 Ridiculously Simple Tips for Writing a Book
Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.
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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.