So you have jotted down a few story ideas for your notebook. It’s seated somewhere in your bedside drawer, maybe the second or even the third drawer. Your book ideas sometimes pop into your mind, it bounces around for a while and floats away, It comes back at you later at night when you lay in bed, It nags at you when you smile while reading other people’s books. It’s always in your mental clouds somewhere, It wants to be TOLD.
You are fed up with the hunt, so what do you do, you get up and write. But you start writing without any clear idea of what you are writing or why you are writing it in the first place. You have a vague idea shimmering in your head and that’s about it. You end up writing 10,000 words that go nowhere which leads to disappointment in your self.
To save yourself of heartbreak, it’s crucial to think before you write. This is the key step that will help you make the mental shift to becoming an author and not just someone who thinks about how to start writing a book someday.
1. WHY ARE YOU WRITING THIS BOOK?
Many people have different reasons for writing a book, some people write to share a message with others, some write to share knowledge on a subject important to them, some write to earn a living, to make some big bucks, some write to express their creativity. The list goes on and on. The bigger picture is that knowing your WHY helps you create something that is real and authentic. When you don’t know your WHY you write pages that drive along the surface of things, and that’s one thing your readers don’t need.
Books allow readers to go deep and that starts with the writer knowing why they are writing the book. Your readers will read your book because of WHY you wrote it not because they like your skin tone or your height. As writers we want someone to see value in the story in our books, we want readers to buy that we have something important, interesting, educating, entertaining or exciting to say.
Listen to Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk and write a paragraph on why you must write your book. Be truthful to yourself as much as possible. Write down and stick it somewhere you can see it every day.
2. WHO IS YOUR IDEAL READER
Not everyone will read your book. Read that again!!! You have to come to terms with this to proceed. The lesson here is that while you can hope that everyone will love your book, you start to consider a much smaller, narrowly defined group of readers who have certain needs and desires that you can meet. Your ideal reader wants one thing from you, entertainment, humour, escape, insights, inspiration or information. It’s your job to deliver 100%.
Create a demographic of your ideal reader. This questions will help to create an avatar of your reader.
Now you know who your ideal audience is, it’s time to move onto the next step, which is.
3. WHAT IS YOUR POINT?
Every reader picks up a book for one reason or the other, they could pick a book because they just liked the book cover or the backstory. So what are you trying to say in your book, in other words, what’s your point and why should we pick up your book at the bookstore amongst thousands of beautiful and well-written books on the shelf. So be very clear with your point. A good example is the hunger games, the point is that love always triumphs over evil.
- Make a braindump of several possibilities of your book.
- Choose the one that best resonates with you most and align yourself to this concept every time you sit down to write.
- You can choose to write it down on a sticky note and stick it by your workspace as a daily reminder.
4. BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Before this pandemic, it’s most likely you hear stories every day as you commute to your destinations daily on the bus, on the streets or even in a cafe and on social media as well. The difference between those stories and the one you read in a book is the shape. Think of your book idea like wet clay. You can craft it into anything of your choice. It’s your full-time job to decide the shape. So how do you craft the shape of your story? The first step is to choose your genre, each genre has basic concepts to follow, so be sure to choose one that resonates with you and stick with it. TIP: Pick a genre that you would love to read about.
Write for yourself, not the marketStephen king
5. WHAT IS YOUR WRITING VOICE?
Every book including fiction and non-fiction has a narrator, who has the voice of your story. This is a tricky concept for writers to grasp. To completely understand your narrator, you have to understand who your narrator is and their goals and purpose in your story. All this is what forms part of your narrator, to completely decide on your writing voice, here is a good place to start.
- Create a narrator map to track your narrators’ journey, How?
- Write about your narrator, define their agenda and goals.
Now you have found your writing voice, what next? Write out the outline of the whole book, it doesn’t have to be overly detailed, just details from point A to B is just fine. Use bullet points to break your plot into parts, to do this you have to;
- Brainstorm: write every single idea or thought you have for your story down.
- Organize: Organize your ideas into parts for easy referencing.
- Order: Use bullet points to put each part in a particular order.
- Label: Be sure to label each part with chapters or sections
Read this to get started with your outlining.
7) SET YOUR WRITING ENVIRONMENT
Heads up, it’s almost time to start writing, so what next? You need to set up your writing environment.
- Inspiration: Be sure to stay around things that inspire you, you could have a set of inspiring frames on your work table or hanging on the wall, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy you can use a sticky note as well to stick some quotes or affirmations around your workspace in a neatly arranged order.
- Unclutter Your Space: If you are anyone like me, I can’t work in an untidy space, so the next thing to do is unclutter your work table or writing desk or surface.
- Be Flexible: inspirations can come from anywhere, your writing environment isn’t tied to a particular spot, so be sure to move around to a new place this can also help your creative juices flow like a river as a change of scene helps to keep you refreshed, so be sure to try different areas such as the cafe, library but this shouldn’t be done too often.
- Get Comfortable: While moving around be sure to be comfortable because you will be seating for a long time, you don’t want to get a muscle strain after just 3 pages, do you?
- Choose Your Style: Every writer has something that gets him super comfortable and ready to start pushing out ideas. Personally, I love to listen to music with my headphones while I write, that’s my style so be sure to choose whatever gets your creativity turned on.
8) Develop A Writing Habit
Every best selling author of today has one thing in common, a plan. This is a strategy used to get to the last page of your draft. So, you need to have a clear plan to write your book firstly;
- Define Your End Goal: You want to actually write the big goals for your book down. Write down 5 big things you want to achieve for your book.
- Reverse Engineer Your Small Goals: Break your big goals into small actionable goals that will help achieve your big goals. A small goal could be how long you want to write your book. A good example is this; if one of your big goals is to write 60,000 words on your book the small goal to achieve this would be to decide the number of weeks or months you want to write and divide it by 60,000 words. If you want to write your book for 6 months which will have an average of 168 days, you will have 60,000 divided by 168 so you have 357 words every day, in other words, to achieve your 60,000 words in 6 months you need to write at least 357 words every day. If you decide to write 3 times weekly you break it down like that as well.
- Schedule Your Writing: Set a timer for however long you want to write each day, and write until the time is up. To be able to maintain your writing streak you have to schedule your writing by blocking off time in your calendar daily, weekly or 3 times a week and write during that time
- Tell People Your Schedule: If you are a busy mum and the only time you have scheduled is your kid’s nap time you don’t want to be sidetracked by something or someone, so you want to actually tell close people in your life your scheduled sacred time, so they don’t call or come see you for one reason or the other.
- Follow Through Your Schedule: follow through your schedule for at least 3 weeks this is an average time to form a habit so commit to writing at your scheduled time every day or however you set it for at least 3 weeks and after 3 weeks a pattern would have been formed, you would start to feel weird when you don’t do it.
- Let Someone Be Accountable for You: This is where your writing buddy comes in; be sure to share your goals with your writing buddy and be accountable for one another.
9) Flesh Out Ideas For Just One Book
So many writers have the problem of jumping from one book project to another this is due to the new book syndrome so be sure to focus on one project till the end. Learn to say no to additional projects, to achieve this, set deadlines for your current book project. Create action plans that break your project into parts.
10) Start Writing Your Book
For your story to start and move forward there is a slope moving from one change to another. You are taking your readers on a journey. So where should you start? Start from the why of the change, let me explain since your story is about something that changes from one point to another, you need to start with a scene that will lead to another scene with an intended goal or idea.
11) Deal with Writing Distractions
So, you finally decided to start but you are not laser-focused because of distractions flying at you from all corners of the room. Here are a few tips to tame them;
- Write by hand: I know this sounds crazy but writing by hand helps for the free flow of ideas and you won’t write the whole book by hand but be sure to write a little on paper when you lack focus.
- Turn off your WIFI: I am sure you know this already but your WIFI has all those social media platforms sending you notifications from all around the globe so turn it off!!
- Plan a night ahead! According to Brian Tracy’s book Eat the frog, he talks about the six “P” formula.
Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance
You planning a night ahead can increase your productivity and performance.
planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it nowAlan Lekein
12) Motivate Yourself to Keep Writing
We all lose our mojo at one point and losing your writing mojo completely can completely halt the writing of your book so be sure to motivate yourself along the way. Read this to get our mojo back up.
13) Where Will Your Book End?
Remember your story is taking us on a journey, so now where will the journey lead us to? Take out time to envision the ending of your book, this will give you something to aim for and make all the difference between losing momentum and actually finishing your book.
Show us how your story progressed so far, how has the story changed.
And this is exactly what I’ll leave you to do. I hope you enjoyed this post and now feel pumped and ready to start writing your book. If you have any questions about writing your book, ask me below and share with me in the comments section your problems of starting your book.
Happy Writing 🎉🎈🎊