17 April 2024

#WritersLife: How to Write a Book in 14 Steps - Part Two


Welcome back to part two of #WritersLife: How to Write a Book in 14 Steps!

One of the first questions I get from people when they find out I'm a writer is: How do you write a book? This article is meant to take the mystery out of the process a bit one part at a time. 

8. Establishing a Balanced Writing Routine

Having a balance is the only way you'll actually hit those word count goals. Not to mention that it'll help prevent you from becoming frustrated and ultimately lose interest. In order to do so,  ask yourself these basic questions:

-What time of the day do I tend to be most productive? Am I a morning person or a night owl?
-When do I have free time during the day/week?
-Will I be able to balance my writing goals with my other obligations?

The best way to set up your routine is to incorporate it into your pre-existing schedule and natural patterns. In the end, you just want a sensible writing routine that promotes productivity, yet keeps you from getting burnt out. If writing for several hours per day every day is too strenuous for you, consider spacing out your writing sessions over the course of a week. And don't forget that it's okay if you can't keep up with your word count goals; just reduce them a little to make it work for you.

It's true, writing a lot is essential when the goal is a book, but it's not more important than your health! Do remember to take care of your mind and body. Take frequent breaks and move your body! You don't want to end up with a stiff neck, aching back, a migraine, or worse. 

Tracking your progress can be a great motivator. Some writers create a spreadsheet to log their daily writing output. Others keep track via simple handwritten notes or even just a sticky, writing the time they spent on each writing session and how many words they wrote. As the word count goes up and you figure out which daily routine works for you, you'll become more excited about your book!

9. Setting up a Dedicated Workspace

Another notable component of how to write a book is where you set up shop. If you are serious about writing a book, you really need a calm, focused space for your writing. This may be at home, a library, a coffee shop...wherever you can work productively and without interruptions. This place should be easily accessible, and somewhere you can go to often. There's no point in going to your perfect writing spot if it takes half an hour to drive there, and all you have available is an hour for writing. 

In that sense, working from home is the most convenient. However, it still may be difficult if you have family around, or if you don't have a designated place like an office, or at least a desk. You might want to try out different locations to see what works best for you, or maybe even keep a rotating your site. But no matter where you write it does help if you can:

-Find a quiet place, unless you're one of those people who thrive on constant background noise. Sometimes all it takes is a pair of noise-canceling headset.
-Keep your writing space clean. Clutter can be very distracting.
-Keep diversions to a minimum. Turn off your phone, maybe even close the door, if possible.
-Make it your own. Cultivate a pleasant atmosphere at your designated writing space. If you're one of those writers who thrive in livelier surroundings, maybe you can sit in the same seat every time you're at your local cafe (or wherever you prefer to write).

10. Remaining Motivated

Getting started on writing a book can be challenging. When there are a million distractions, how can you possibly stay motivated and keep up with your routine and finish writing that book?

Here are a few motivational strategies that have worked for me in the past:

-Make a list of the reasons why you want to write a book. Having that tangible reminder is a great way to keep yourself motivated, such as: Do you have an important message to convey? Do you want to reach a specific group of readers? Or do you just have a great story to tell? But no matter your reason(s), write them all down and keep them close by in case your motivation dwindles.

-Find a writing buddy. Getting a friend to write with you is another excellent way to stay motivated. While you get some fellowship, you can also hold each other accountable. So, don't be shy! Ask around among your writer friends if they'd like to meet frequently. If that's not an option, you could always join an online writing community. 

-Reward yourself when you reach certain milestones, like reaching the 10,000-word mark or finishing up the first round of self-editing. Sometimes the best motivation is the prospect of a special treat. 

11. Dealing with Setbacks 

At one point or another, you will get stuck. All writers do. But what are you supposed to do when it does happen? There is a myriad of ways to overcome what is often referred to as writer's block: Working on your book blurb, freewriting, developing your book's characters, cooking dinner, or even cleaning your house. Here are some of my most effective techniques:

-Revisit your outline. This can help remind you of planned story elements you might have forgotten.

-Writing exercises. It's possible you just need to jumpstart your word flow. Short writing exercises can help with that.

-Share your frustrations with someone. It doesn't matter if you unload your frustrations onto your writing buddy or one of your non-writing friends/family members. Sometimes it just helps to vent and bounce ideas off others.

-Take a short break. I think this is the one that helps me the most. Sometimes you have to take a step back from the keyboard and clear your mind. Often times, I end up taking my dogs for a walk, cook a meal, bake a cake, or just clean my house. It's all therapeutic to me and helps me clear my head. However, I don't take more than a day or two. Otherwise, I tend to lose my drive.

-In the end, just remember to take your setbacks one at a time and don't let them get to you. I know that sounds superficial, but it's true.  So don't freak out — you can get through this!

12. Don't Rush to the Finish Line!

Bringing your book to an end is no easy task, and one of the most common writing pitfalls is poor plotting. Just writing the words "The End." won't do! Hopefully, you had some solid ideas for your book's end while you were still in the outlining phase. But no matter which ending you choose, don't rush it because, by the time you actually reach the end of your manuscript, you'll probably just want to wrap things up and be done with it.

13. Searching for Feedback

It doesn't matter how much you write, if no one else likes what you've penned, you might end up crushed instead. That's why it's necessary to request feedback on your manuscript from as many sources as possible. Don't be shy! Go ahead and ask your friends, family members, and fellow writers to read a chapter or two. 

Once your manuscript is finished, it's ready for some more extensive feedback. Consider asking some people to be your beta readers, so they can review the book in its entirety and provide their input. You may also want to consider hiring a professional editor as well. And this might sound obvious, but all this feedback is worthless if you don't take it to heart. I know it's challenging to listen to things we don't want to hear, but although this book is your baby, you cannot take any of this feedback personally. 

14. Publishing your Book

You've have reached the end of your book. All this brainstorming, outlining, drafting, editing, etc. has brought you to this point. Your manuscript is finished,  and you have every right to be proud of your accomplishment. So now what?

Publishing is another grueling process, but if you've come this far to write a book, you should be able to manage this part as well! You might feel adventurous and want to give self-publishing a whirl. In this case, you need to design an attention-grabbing book cover or pay someone to do it for you. Then, learn all you can about formatting and uploading your manuscript to one of those self-publishing websites, and learn about writing a book blurb. Or you can always go the traditional publishing route,  and throw yourself into the art of writing an irresistible query letter that will get you that tempting publishing deal.

No matter which route you take, you've done what many people only dream about: You've written that book you've always wanted to write, and that in itself is an incredible achievement. Congratulations!

Have a few tips of your own? Since this list is not all-inclusive, leave them in the comments below.

Piper is the award-winning author of The Country Girl Empress series. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookMedium, and Goodreads.
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