So you’ve been thinking about writing a non-fiction book and are excited to get started. Maybe you want to write a memoir, a travel book, or perhaps you have business experience that would translate well into a niche book. Are you wondering what is the best way to get started? Read on for some tips to get you well prepared for the writing ahead.
Test your idea – how do you know if your idea is strong enough to support an entire book? Well, let me assure you, you don’t need to hold out for a brilliant idea, you just need a clear, marketable one. Ask yourself these questions:
· Can I tell people what my book is about in 2-3 sentences?
· Will my book appeal to a specific audience? Who is that audience?
· What is the question that my book is providing an answer to?
· What is unique about this book?
Write an outline– be as specific as possible. This part can be difficult for new writers and involves a lot of scribbling and brainstorming before your ideas form into a clear picture. Break it down as much as possible – chapters, sub-sections, the take-away for each chapter, where to include case-studies and statistics. I like to do my initial draft by hand, using multi-coloured pens so I can get a visual of the different components. The more detail you include, the more you will see gaps.
Do your research– most non-fiction books, whether they are memoirs, self-help, travel, or business books, require a certain amount of research. Before you begin writing, conduct your interviews, collect information, create case studies, talk to experts, get quotes, and take polls or surveys. The reason you should do the majority of your research first is that the results may cause you to switch course.
It's much easier to re-do an outline than re-write half a book!
Create a plan: Set goals for when and how you will complete your book. Break this down into smaller daily and weekly goals. The more specific the plan, the more likely you are to get the book written. Do you want to write a 1000 words a day, or write every day for two hours?
Plan to write at the same time every day: create habits and routines
Identify your motivation: What is going to keep you writing to completion? Have you taken a month off work to do this? Is it a personal challenge? Will it enhance your career or boost your self-esteem? Borrow an element from writing fiction and ask yourself, what is at stake if I don’t complete the book? Set yourself up to succeed by knowing what is motivating you.
Believe you can write a book. If you have done your research, have an outline prepared, and writing time set aside, then there is no reason why you can’t reach your goals. If you start to feel overwhelmed, or negative self-talk creeps in, imagine what it will feel like once you are done. Picture yourself having a celebratory drink. Act as if you have already written the book. What does this feel like?
Find solutions for obstacles before they happen. This point is crucial. One of the main reasons that people don’t finish writing their book is that life is ripe with challenges and distractions. Make a list of potential distractions. Your list might include things like:
My mother frequently shows up unexpectedly
I don’t sleep well these days and often feel tired during the day
There is construction going on next door
I am on-call and my work schedule is unpredictable
My spouse doesn’t value my writing time and always has something for me to do
The day is full of useable pockets of time
Brainstorm solutions so you know exactly what to do when an obstacle presents itself. This might mean working at the library so the construction and your mother don’t interrupt your thoughts. If you are tired then force yourself to write anyway. Your goal is to finish a draft, writing 1000 so-so words is better than writing none. If finding time to write is your obstacle, then decide you will squeeze in bite-size pieces. Get up an hour early, write on the train, write at lunch, take a fifteen-minute coffee break. It all adds up. I wrote 30% of a draft on my phone, one-finger typing 10 minutes at a time. It was somehow liberating to write without the pressure of having to fill a bigger block of time.
Now you are ready to sit down and start writing with a clear mind, a solid plan, and all your research at your fingertips! If you find you need help with clarifying your idea or developing your outline send me a message!
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