So you’ve been thinking about writing a book. But if you’re like me, between the decision to write and actually writing, there’s a huge chasm filled with ignorance, insecurity, and doubt. How do you get started? Well, everyone is different, but here’s a simple strategy that works for me (and I can be fairly A.D.D. when it comes to having to sit down for any length of time and do just one thing).
As a first step, start making a list of all the key points you want to cover in your book. Don’t worry about getting these all in order at this point. Just get them down onto a document. It might help to have a friend or two who knows you and has specific understanding or interest in your topic to join you in this process. Brainstorm a bit on all the things you want to see covered in your book.
Once you have a good list of subjects or topics that you know you want to cover, organize them in a logical flow. Think about what will be most helpful to your reader in terms of what you will tell them about your subject and in what order you will tell them. This is important because the order in which you present a concept is critical to how easily your subject is embraced and understood. Each of the items on your list will become a chapter in your book. For me, I like to come up with a one line catchy title for the chapter heading, and then type a simple one paragraph opening summary of what you want to cover in that chapter. This whole process can be done in as little as a couple of hours. But even if you devote the better part of your day to this process, it’s a critical first step that will make the rest of your writing adventure pleasant, rather than a chore.
Now that you have a chapter-by-chapter outline for your book, you are set to write. Before you start writing actual chapters, take time to write a letter to one person to tell them why you are writing your book, what you hope your readers will get out of your message, and then share some examples or insights on why you know that what you have to share is worthwhile. This will become the introduction to your book.
My suggestion is that you set aside time each day to write one chapter of your book. You don’t have to write in any particular order. In other words, you don’t have to start writing chapter one, then chapter two, etc. Use your outline and write whichever chapter comes easiest to you. As a guide, try to write roughly the same amount of text for each chapter. Shoot for anywhere from 800-2,500 words per chapter. I personally prefer more chapters and shorter chapters, but it’s really up to you. Each chapter is essentially nothing more than a magazine article in length. No big deal, right? But if you have a 30-chapter book and you write one chapter a day, you’ll have your entire book written in one month! Pretty cool, huh?
If you want us to critique your manuscript, we have professional editors who will provide you a formal manuscript review. Contact us. We can coach you not just on your writing style, but on how well your message connects with your target audience, how well-defined your message is, how marketable it is… and a host of other insights. So what are you waiting for? Get busy writing!