So you’ve decided to take the plunge and you need tips for writing a book. One thing is for sure, this process will not be a walk in a park, but it can be a very insightful and enjoyable journey if you take the right steps to make it happen.
Years ago, I wrote a short story as part of a Creative Writing module on my degree course. About three years later, I decided that I wanted to turn my short story into a novel. It was a long process of trial and error but below here are my tips for writing a book.
Are you ready for the journey of writing a book?
The first thing you need to realise is that this is a large commitment. Ask yourself are you passionate enough about your book to truly commit to the time needed to complete it? The first of my tips for writing a book would be to establish your commitment to writing your book. You need to immerse yourself into your storyline or subject matter depending on whether it is fiction or non-fiction. I write both and I personally find it easier to create a world with fiction and get lost in it while I write. Of course, running into issues such as writers block and writers burnout is inevitable but I have some highly effective tips for dealing with this.
Create a schedule for writing a book and stick it
This is probably the queen of all tips for writing a book. You must write regularly and to some type of pattern or schedule or you will lose momentum completely. Writing a book is like starting a car, you need to get the ignition started and keep the engine moving with fuel. How you fuel yourself in the writing process is dependent on the positive habits you take up surrounding your writing. Sticking to a regular schedule will help you get into a motivational rhythm which will make it more likely to achieve writing a book. You can be as strict or liberal with your schedule as you like depending on what is realistic for you; it could be three evenings a week OR 6pm to 8pm from Monday to Thursday each week. It is entirely up to you, though I would encourage that you create a writing schedule which will form a habit which will enable you to eventually achieve your goal of writing a book.
The great Maya Angelou had a little known routine that she stuck by for most of her writing life. Here’s what she said of her writing routine, which is illustrated in this Business Insider article:
‘I rent a hotel room for a few months, leave my home at six, and try to be at work by six-thirty. To write, I lie across the bed, so that this elbow is absolutely encrusted at the end, just so rough with callouses.’
Now it’s time to figure out what routine might be conducive to help you achieve your dream of writing a book.
Makes notes like crazy
Another of my tips to writing a book is to make notes. Lots of them! Knee deep writers will understand this all too well- one of the most effective tips for writing a book is making notes. Notes bridge gaps between scenes and chapters. Chapters bridge gaps between a work in progress and a whole book. Books don’t write themselves, you need constant material to write to and the most progressive way to do this is to make notes. I have previously discussed the importance of making notes in this article. In a Guardian article, writer PD James speaks of his tips for writing a book:
‘By the time I begin writing, the plot is there and there’s a chart which shows in which order the things come so that the structure is right. But that will change, as new ideas occur during the writing, which makes the writing very exciting.’
In writing fiction notes can be used to:
Create descriptions of characters
Write scene ideas
Convey the emotions of characters
Plot the next few events in a novel
Describe the scenery of a setting
Write about spontaneous plot twists
In non-fiction writing notes can be used to:
Create chapter content ideas
Write anecdotal pieces
Write case study ideas
Sketch graphical ways to present information through mind maps, charts etc.
Organise ideas with bullet points
Believe in Your Story
Do you believe in your story enough to see it through to the finish line? If your answer is yes, then you already possess a vital component to your potential success in writing a book. If you have the conviction and belief in your own work then you have already overcome a large part of the hurdle to writing a book. I achieve this by only embarking on writing projects that I am genuinely interested in and passionate about. This is what creates the buzz and fun which spurs me to keep writing until I have finished a project.
Take Your Time
An important thing to remember when writing a book is to pace yourself. Depending on what you are writing and word count, how you schedule your writing and other external factors a book can be completed in as little as a few months to years to complete. It took me many years to write my first book because not only did I keep putting it down for a few years at a time but also I was slowly learning the process of how to become a prolific writer and actually create the volume and quality of work that was needed to complete my story.
If you want tips for writing books used by some of the world’s most acclaimed authors, check out this Goodreads list.
Have you ever considered writing a book and which tips would you use to help you? Let me know in the comments below!
While I don’t have the ambition or confidence for writing a book, I appreciate your suggestions. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Jodie, I understand that writing a book is definitely not for everybody!
Some useful tips. How would you apply this to writing an autobiography? Someone suggested I write mine but I don’t have that kind of skillset
Hey, I would start by segmenting key parts of your life. Make bullet points of key events for
each period in your life and start from there. I hope that helps! I’ll probably write an article on this also.
I love that you share the ways notes are helpful in both fiction and nonfiction writing! I love keeping notes on everything I am writing in individual labeled files. My in the works fantasy books take up several sections devoted to the ever-unfolding world history.
A schedule is a wonderful way to tell your mind it is time to get something done! Sticking to it is the hard part, but it is worth it in the end. <3
I love that your notes tips are for fiction and non-fiction. I write myself little notes and pointers all the time, even for relatively small articles or pieces of text so I’d definitely need them for a task as huge as a book. A schedule is great, but as long as there’s an element of flexibility to it so you can write when you’re feeling inspired x