So you want to write a book and you just simply are unsure of where to start.Getting to this point to sit down and actually begin the process probably wasn't easy. You likely overcame a great deal of mindset barriers that initially were holding you back from believing that your story was worth telling. But you're here now, and that deserves a huge CELEBRATION!
But now what?! How do you go from blank page to page-turner? Here's a complete step-by-step guide for actually getting your book written.
Find a place & set a schedule
It's first and foremost important that you commit to the time it takes to write. With a busy schedule that may include a regular 9-5 job or caring for your family, serving the community or attending to other day-to-day responsibilities, it can be very challenging to actually sit down to rest, let alone add another "responsibility" to your plate, such as writing a whole book. But if it's something you feel you've been called to do, committing to it is imperative. So this looks like finding or creating a space that allows your creative juices to flow and setting a schedule for your writing activities. Using your home office or getting out of the house and checking into a hotel (I actually had a client who would do this often to work on her book) may be beneficial. The space should be quiet and interruptions limited. Once you have a space, set a schedule. Will you write daily/weekly? At a specific time (probably after the kids are asleep or at the office an extra hour after clocking out)? How long will you write? Put the day(s) and time(s) in your phone's calendar. Set an alarm. And don't ignore it when the alert pops up. Remain committed.
Formulate an idea
What are you writing about? What is your book idea? When it comes to nonfiction books, it's always beneficial to write about what you know. What field are you educated in? What problem can you help a reader resolve? What has been your experience in life? What major trial have you had to overcome and how has it changed you for the better? The goal is to leave your readers with something that they can apply to their own life and theirs no better way to do that than to write about something you are familiar with yourself.
Outline your book
Once you have your idea, it's time to decide what you want to include. Again, let's focus on a nonfiction book (ex: devotionals, memoirs, self-help). Your idea is simply a topic and from that topic, you need to develop a transformative message (a theme statement or universal truth that will witness to everyone who reads the book). Once you have that message in mind, you can identify (from your personal experience or expertise in your given field) what should be included in the book. Keep it simple. How will your readers get from Point A to Point B, from trial to triumph, from despair to determined, from setback to success? What parts of your personal narrative can you include to help readers relate to the journey toward transformation? Create a map of sorts that will take your readers on this journey and use that map to outline your book with the most important pieces of information necessary for transformation.
Just start. You've literally done the foundational work to set the atmosphere for a stress-free writing session. The best way to go about this is to set a goal for each session. Maybe your schedule allows you time to write for an hour, so you strive to finish a chapter or write a specific amount of words in that time frame. You can also set up writing dates with other aspiring authors. Join a writers group (check out The Publish + Profit Community on Facebook)and look for accountability or post about a writing session you'd like others to join. If you find that writing sessions are draining for you, consider using a strategy called the Pomodoro Technique. This technique allows you to manage your time in the most effective way. You set a timer for 25 minutes and start writing. After that first session, take a 5-minute break. Then repeat this rotation for up to 4 times. After the fourth time, take a longer 10- or 15-minute break. Stick to it and it'll allow you to focus in on your writing goal and give your brain a break when necessary.
Finish your first draft
Just finish! Think about Dory from Finding Nemo..."Just keep writing! Just keep writing!" You're going to question a lot of what you're putting on paper. You may encounter some setbacks, mentally and emotionally, especially if you are writing from a personally traumatic experience. I always encourage all of my clients connect with a mental health professional during their writing journey because it does result in the unpacking of a lot of buried memories in many cases. Don't let that be something that stops you from finishing. Have conversations with your loved ones so they understand your goal of writing and will honor the space you create to do so. Don't allow distractions to deter you from your work. Keep writing and finish the first draft.
While I do not recommend your eyes being the only set to review your draft, it's completely okay for the first draft to be edited by you.
A few things to consider, in addition to grammatical errors:
Are you using a consistent tone or voice?
Is your writing readable? Will your readers comprehend what you are saying?
Is your message coming across in the end?
Are there gaps in the logic or inconsistencies in your storyline (Even when writing nonfiction, your storyline is important!)
Complete your second draft
After you've finished your first read-through, make corrections and edits as needed. Make sure your voice and tone is consistent. Re-write parts of the story that are not communicating a clear message or take out parts that contradict the message you would like to transfer to readers. Add anything that will enhance the story and clarify your message.
Get a professional editor
Your second draft and final edits should go directly to a professional editor, even if you have professional experience in editing. Your eyes are biased and while a self-edit may be able to suffice in the first round, when you're preparing for publication, it's time to get a new set (or two) of eyes on your work. Be sure to shop around for the right editor as there are many different types. One who specializes in developmental editing, proofreading and line editing would be most beneficial so you can receive feedback on your actual storyline, as well as gain support in fixing grammatical errors.
Prepare for publishing
Before running straight to Amazon KDP to publish your book, do a little research on the various types of publishing available to you. While Amazon is the most used company for self-publishing, there are other options out there that may benefit you on the back end when you consider what your publishing goals are. Don't neglect to consider that your book may be properly positioned for traditional publishing, and in that case, you would develop a proposal based on your ideal publisher's guidelines and submit your book for review. You can also invest in having your own book cover designed, your book typeset and then returned to you so you can upload it onto platforms like IngramSpark. Whatever route you take, ensure you have copies of your book printed (if your budget allows) because you'll want to make sales wherever you go without sending people to a website they may forget about later.
If you require coaching support on your writing journey, please check out my course, Story from Scratch, which will walk you through all of these steps, plus provide more strategy on the writing, marketing and publishing process, bringing you closer to your published author dreams!