You’ve started to write your book. Relax. Writing is fun, if you just focus on the words. You do it day by day, and word by word. You’ll be amazed at how soon all those words turn into a book.
These tips will help.
1. Stop Thinking, Start Writing — and Keep Going
You have doubts. Do you have the time to write? What if... you think. Stop thinking! A book is just a book, a collection of words. It’s no big deal. In my ghostwriting life, I write books for clients, and the writing is pain-free, because I’ve learned to ignore my doubts. You can too.
Your doubts arise from your inner editor. He usually sounds like someone in your life who told you you couldn’t do something or other. He’s not only an idiot, most of his kvetches are recordings. They play over and over, until you give up the mad idea of writing a book.
Some writers picture the inner editor, then imagine locking him inside a box, or a bottle. Don’t worry, you can’t kill him, and once you’ve got a book, he comes in handy during editing.
2. Schedule Your Writing: It’s an Appointment
Here’s the solution if you have “no time.” Schedule the time, even if it’s only 20 minutes. If you write 250 words in 20 minutes, your book will be done in eight months. A timer’s useful too.
Try this. Write your book on your phone. Writers do it for various reasons, the primary one being that your phone is non-threatening. Try Drafts.
3. Write to Yourself: You’re Just Thinking on the Screen
“Writing a book”is scary. Don’t think about it. Instead, write to yourself. Just write down whatever you’re thinking — even if you’re whining: “I’ve got no time. I need to finish the presentation and rehearse it, and if we don’t get the contract I’ll get fired. This is a stupid idea…”
I’m serious. Write your whining — the exact words. Why? Because you’ll get sick of it. Whining isn’t pretty, and when it’s in your head, it tends to play on an endless loop of worries. One of the big benefits of journaling is that it gets all that junk out of your head: it’s healthy. So is writing what you’re thinking. You’ll delete it later of course, but writing it down externalizes it, and as we’ve said, you’ll get sick of it. Which means you can write your book.
I teach this trick in my book coaching practice; it works.
4. Map It: Create Lots of Circles
Early in your writing process, you’re exploring possibilities. Try grabbing a large sheet of paper, A2 size. I like Levenger Oasis pads. Brown paper’s fine, if that’a all you can find. Now grab some marker pens, and make a largish circle in the middle. Write “my book” in the circle. Make smaller circles and ovals all over the paper. Your creative self thinks in images; this is why you’re creating all the circles.
Write words in the circles and ovals — any words which occur to you. Write first thoughts, don’t think about it. Pin the paper onto a board or to a wall.
5. Outline It as Soon as You Can
Outlining a book too early has pitfalls, the big one being that you can choke off your creativity. Your paper-with-circles helps to avoid that.
With both fiction and nonfiction, I like to write a few thousand words just to get into the book. Then I create my “circles” diagram. Shortly after that I draft a preliminary outline.
You don’t have to outline, but it helps you to see where you’re headed at a glance. If an outline makes you uncomfortable, don’t bother with it. All that counts is that you keep writing.
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