How to write a book

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Sitting down to write a book can feel very overwhelming. When it comes to writing, many might assume that getting published is the hardest part, but the truly difficult part is the writing itself. Despite it being a highly creative process, the best way to tackle creating such a large amount of writing is to get really organised.

I’ve created a list that should help you to get organised and get writing. It’s time to flesh out that big idea for a novel you’ve been thinking about for the past 6 years!

Getting started

writing

Getting started can be tough

Starting is arguably the hardest part of all. Make it easier by setting yourself goals and rules for your writing. Before you do though, make notes on what you want to write about — what is the story idea, how will it end, etc. Once you have emptied your brain of all your current ideas, it’s time to get to work.

Set a daily word count

Allocating a daily word count should keep you writing in the early days and help you to build up a momentum. Don’t edit as you go, as you can revise it later — the important thing right now is to get writing and create a routine. Don’t set a word count that’s too high though; it’s better to aim for less words and ensure you complete them daily, than set an unachievable number of words and fail at the first hurdle.

Have a dedicated writing space & time

Forming habits helps greatly with book-writing, so choose a place to write and stick to it — that way, when you’re in that space, your mind will automatically start to associate it with being productive. If you struggle to get motivated alone, go to a place where others are working or writing around you.

When writing a book, you need to be hard on yourself when it comes to deadlines. Decide on a time you will write every day and stick to it. The only time you should miss a day is if you have scheduled it in in advance.

Keeping going

Woman writing a book on her laptop and notepad

Keep writing

Once you’ve got past the first hurdles, you need to keep up the momentum. To do this, follow the tips below:

Set a total word count & weekly goals

Now you’ve got into writing, it’s time to set a total word count for the book. Take a look at books you own, think about the story you’re writing, and decide how long your book needs to be. 60,000–80,000 words is a standard fiction novel length. There’s a handy guide to working out your word count goal, here. Once you know your book goal, break it down into weekly word goals, but don’t forget to allocate yourself some breaks.

Seek feedback then finish the book

Before you get too far into your book, it’s a good idea to seek feedback from a couple of people you trust to be honest with their opinion. It’s better to get feedback now than when you’ve written more and therefore have more to change.

Eventually you will finish writing your book (a fact you may not believe when you first start writing!) Keep at it, stay dedicated, and stick to your schedule.

Edit & proofread the book

Once you’ve finished writing, it’s time to edit. And you thought the writing bit was hard! This is the time where you shape the book and fine-tune it into something you are happy to present to the world. You will never feel 100% happy with what you have produced — neither do best-selling authors — so get it to a level you are fairly happy with, and ask for feedback from a trusted individual, or several.

You may have spotted a few errors when you were editing, but now is the time to concentrate solely on proofreading the book and making sure it is free from mistakes.

 

Want some more tips? Here are 5 ways to keep writers writing. Want to know why you, as a writer, should keep a journal? Find out here.

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