Updated: Nov 21, 2022
If you're anything like me, you've probably dreamed about writing a book for years. You carry the story around in your head, playing with different ways to tell it and different ways to end it. But somehow, you just can't seem to get started.
Dreaming about someday maybe writing a book is fun. You get all the endorphins with none of the pain or risk. But you can't put dreams on a bookshelf, can you? Fantasizing about what your book might be is simply that: a fantasy. A facade to appease the creative part of your brain longing to tell stories, pass on your knowledge, and leave a legacy that might just live on long after you're gone.
Friend, you've dreamed long enough. It's time to wake up and write that book. Because guess what? No one is going to do it for you.
So, embrace the fear, sit down at the computer, and type out the words, "Chapter One."
I am with you. I understand the fear of staring at a blank screen as your heart rate begins to rise and your palms start to sweat. I know what it's like to sit down at the keyboard, intending to write only to have the voices of Resistance silence the story stirring in your soul. But you are not a slave to your fear. You are the captain of your ship, and it's time to set sail.
Here are three easy steps to get you started on your writing journey: commit, write, and publish.
That's it! Of course, there's more to each of these steps than meets the eye, but if you can focus on following these simple instructions, you'll be well on your way to writing a published book.
1. Commit To Finishing a Single Story
In a world where almost anyone can write and publish a book online, what separates those who want to write from published authors? Two words: decision and action.
It all starts with a commitment to finishing a story, no matter what. Studies have shown that people who commit to specific, achievable goals are much more likely to achieve them than those who don't.
The first step, then, is making the decision to write a book and taking action by setting a goal to finish it. This might seem like an obvious statement, but you'd be surprised how many people never get past this point. They allow their fears and doubts to paralyze them, convincing themselves that they're not good enough or that their story isn't worth telling.
Don't listen to those voices! You are the only one who can decide whether or not you're going to write a book. And if you want it bad enough, I promise you, you will find a way to make it happen.
Write a clear writing goal on paper
Author and time management expert, Brian Tracy, recommends that you take the time to write out a specific goal on paper. This is an important step because it helps to make your goal real and tangible. When you can see it in front of you, it becomes easier to commit to taking action. When jotting down your writing goal, get specific by including a deadline, a topic, a word count, and a plan of action.
Here's an example of a specific writing goal:
I will write a _______ -word manuscript about _______ by _______. I will write for at least _____ hours every day/week/month.
You don't have to start with an epic novel like War and Peace. In fact, it's probably better if you don't. Start small and commit to finishing a shorter story or a 3,000-word ebook. The important thing is that you get started and keep moving forward until the words "The End" appear on the last page.
(Plus, Amazon has an entire category of ebooks and audiobooks dedicated to short, 15-minute reads. Legit. You can actually publish a 9-page ebook on Amazon. Talk about achievable!)
At The Write Space, we've actually done this and we can tell you from experience, it's an incredibly gratifying feeling to hit that "publish" button on Amazon knowing that your story is out there in the world for people to read.
Include a deadline in your writing goal
One of the best ways to increase your chances of success is to include a deadline in your writing goal. Having a date to work towards helps to keep you accountable and on track. In a research paper on the Goal-setting Theory of Motivation, Fred C. Lunenburg writes, "Deadlines serve as a time-control mechanism and increase the motivational impact of goals." Your brain's reward system is likely to kick in when you're able to cross something off your to-do list. So, making incremental progress toward your deadline can help to keep you motivated.
The key is to set a realistic deadline. If you're working a full-time job or have other commitments, you might not be able to finish a 50,000-word novel in one month. And that's okay! Just because your deadline is a bit longer doesn't mean your goal is any less worthwhile.
2. Write Every Day
The second step to writing a book is setting aside time to write every day. This is non-negotiable. If you want to finish your book, you have to make time for writing. Even if it's just 500 words a day, those words will add up quickly and before you know it, you'll have the first draft.
Schedule writing time into your day
If you're really committed to finishing your book, you need to schedule writing time into your day like you would any other important appointment. This means setting aside a specific block of time that you will dedicate to writing and making sure that you stick to it.
It might help to set a daily word count goal to keep yourself on track. For example, you might decide to write 500 words a day. Once you've reached your goal, you can call it quits for the day. This can help to make the task of writing feel less daunting.
Find a writing routine that works for you
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding a writing routine that works for you. Some people prefer to write in the morning, others at night. Some people like to write in short bursts, others like to write for several hours at a time. The important thing is to find a routine that works for you and stick to it.
3. Publish Your Book
The third and final step to writing a book is publishing it. This is where the magic happens and your words are finally out in the world for people to read.
There are a few different ways that you can go about publishing your book. Publish it on your blog, on Amazon Kindle, or even self-publish it and hold a book launch party. No matter how you choose to publish your book, the important thing is that you do it.
Tips for Self-publishing Your First Book
If you're thinking about self-publishing your book, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First, editing is important. You want to make sure that your book is the best it can be before you put it out into the world. Hiring a professional editor is a good investment and can make a big difference in the quality of your book.
Second, design matters. Your book cover and interior design should be professional and well done. Again, this is something that you can hire a professional to help you with. Alternatively, use free ebook formatting tools. While you could opt to use paid software such as Scrivner, there are tons of free tools to help kickstart your book formatting journey, including Kindle Create, Draft2Digital, Google Docs, and Book Design Wizard.
Finally, celebrate your achievement. Once your book is published, take the time to celebrate your hard work and share your accomplishment with others. This is a big milestone and you should be proud of yourself!
A Barebones Approach to Writing a Book
Now, this is a dive into the deep-end approach to writing a book. I've purposely left out a lot of information, like designing a cover, which platforms to choose, writing book descriptions, and so on. The truth is, there's a lot to think about when it comes to writing and publishing a book. But if you're still stuck in the grip of fear, none of those things matter.
The most important thing is to just start writing. Get your words down on the page and worry about the rest later. I hope this article has given you the push you need to finally sit down and write that book. And remember, I'm here to help you every step of the way.
If you need more help with any of the steps I've outlined here, don't hesitate to reach out. I offer one-on-one coaching and consulting services to help you every step of the way, from idea to publication.