Studies show that 81% of Americans would like to write a book, but very few actually do. If you have a book you want to write, how do you become part of the small percentage who get it done? One of the biggest barriers is knowing where and how to begin. Take this process from daunting to doable by breaking it down into 5 small steps.
1. Forget about the publishing part. Worrying about the result or finished product will freeze you up. Focus on creating a first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Let your thoughts pour out on paper and don’t worry if it makes sense yet. It can be polished, reshaped and developed later.
2. Focus on your topic for others. Ask yourself what others will get from your writing. Do you have an interest you want others to explore, an expertise to share, an experience someone can relate to? Why is your topic important? How will it entertain/inspire/help others?
3. Focus on your topic for yourself. Why are you excited to write this particular story or subject matter? What will happen to you if you never do? Will the idea of writing a book keep you awake at night? Will it make you feel like you’re not fulfilling part of your purpose? Will it leave you wondering what it would be like to sit at a book signing with a pen in hand? Think about all the reasons you want to write, and how important it is to realize your dreams. Also, know that writing a book for the sheer pleasure of creating something new is reason enough.
4. Write for one person. It can be tough writing for some amorphous crowd “out there.” That’s why you want to picture one reader in your mind’s eye. She might be someone you actually know, or a composite of potential readers. When you sit down to write, imagine that you’re having a conversation with her. Imagine that she’s asking you questions and you’re responding to her. You can do this whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier your writing will flow as a result. Sitting down and writing may seem hard. But having a conversation with someone? You do it every day.
5. Set up a system of organization. While there are plenty of tricks and software packages to help authors, you don’t need anything fancy. Start a fresh Word document each time you sit down to write, give the file a descriptive name, and put all your files into one folder on your computer. This will help you create a catalog so you can see your material at a glance. By staying organized, you’ll avoid being overwhelmed by your material—one of the main reasons people start books but never finish them.
If you’ve been wanting to write a book but haven’t known how to begin, use these tips to get you started. Writing is a journey you can take one small step at a time. The key is to keep moving. And check back for more tips on what’s next.