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Many writers wonder how to start writing a book. We’ve been writers all our lives, doodling in notebooks, the wall, furniture, anything with a surface really. And we used whatever medium we could find, from pencils to markers to mom’s lipsticks. However, we’ve never professionally published a piece of writing.
That doesn’t mean we’ve lost that spark of interest though. We’ve just put our writing dreams aside and done other things as we aged.
And now we want to pick it back up, and we ask ourselves, “How do I start writing a book?”
The answer is simple really: Just write.
Here are eight steps to help you start writing your book, and bring back out that childhood dream of yours.
HOW TO START WRITING A BOOK
- Generate a Story Idea
The most important thing you want to do first is come up with a story idea. What will your story be about? Who will the main character be? Who are the secondary characters? What is the takeaway or message for your audience? How will the hero of your story grow? These are vital questions to ask yourself as you come up with your story idea. (For a list of story ideas, go here.)
- Plan and Plot
Once you have your story idea, it’s time to plot out the storyline. What events take place that drive the plot? Who is the protagonist? Will there be a love interest? How will they interact with the hero of your story? What is the big climatic event? etc. Plot out your story using either a plot diagram, list of events, or a beat sheet. (Check out my Novel Writing Kit for all three plotting tools.)
- Create a Writing Routine
Having a writing routine is crucial because it gives you a schedule, keeps you accountable with your writing, and gives you the momentum you need to keep writing. Without a writing routine, you may fall astray, and a year from now wonder what life would be like had you finished that manuscript. Having a routine ensures you start and finish your book.
If you have children, like I do, make time to write either in the morning, during a break in the day, or after the kids have gone to bed. If you have a more open schedule outside of work, set aside time to write–I highly suggest 1-2 hours. And if you’re feeling Stephen King, make that 3-4 hours. And choose a usual writing spot to return to everyday.
If you are ready to start writing, grab my Novel Writing Kit and start writing! And persevere. Because there will come a time when the characters in your head stop talking to you. You’ll hit a block in your writing. Every writer does. But don’t let this hinder you.
Here are ways to persevere: Write a different chapter in your book, write the ending, change the point of view, write a better hook. There are many things you can do rather than give up when writer’s block hits you.
- Celebrate Your Success
Congratulations–you’ve completed your book! Now that you have gone through the hurdles of starting and finishing your novel, it’s time to celebrate! Take a break, go out with friends, go out for dinner at that expensive restaurant you’ve been pushing off due to inflation (cough~sushi)
You’re not done yet. Don’t get ready to publish. No. Now you need to edit. Edit your first draft. Edit your second draft. Edit your third draft even. Why? To make it better. There’s always room for improvement when it comes to your writing. Don’t forget to share your writing with a trusted friend, mentor, or editor for immediate support to help you edit.
- Gain Input and Feedback
If you thought writing your manuscript was hard, you’re wrong. Here’s the hardest piece–gaining feedback. Oh the dreaded feedback. Give a couple chapters to a writing friend, mentor, someone who’s feedback you respect and appreciate, and have them read it and give you input. Why? Because you’ve been staring at your writing for quite some time now, and you need a different set of eyes to spot the areas you may have missed.
And note: You do not have to take their full input. If you feel strongly against a suggestion they make, you don’t have to make that change. This is still your writing in the end. Don’t do something you may regret.
Another note: The reason I suggest a trusted friend or mentor is that they won’t be butt-hurt if you choose not to go with their suggestions. These people are here to guide you, not hold you by the hand and make you do something. You are still the writer here. This is your dream, your goal.
- Decide What You Want to Do Next
Do you want to get your writing in front of agents, editors, and publishers? Or do you want to craft a different story idea now? Not all your writing will be published or publishable. Many authors admit to scrapping some writings they’ve done, and moving on to another piece instead. It’s really up to you.
However, keep in mind that not everything is publishable. The manuscript you’re currently working on may never make it to the bookstore. If your writing gets rejected by your trusted friends, mentor, other writers, and publishers, it’s just not meant to be. Just put that baby away and open up your schedule for a new project.
Be open to failure, even if you’re crying on the inside.
Many of us have been writers all our lives, however we may not have professionally published before. But don’t let this stop you. Follow the steps above to get your book started and finished. Persevere and don’t give up. You got this!
Good luck, and have fun writing!