Deciding to start writing a book is intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner.
When you’re not sure how to start writing a book, it can paralyze you. The fear of rejection and failure.
What if nobody reads it?
What if your writing is terrible?
Who are you to think you can write a book?
These thoughts are so common. For many, they’re the default, actually, but then how can so many people be publishing despite them? How do so many new authors face their fears?
It takes some grit to write a book, but we know that every person is capable of making it happen, even if you’ve never written before, and we have the tools to help you.
Beginning the process of writing a book and presenting it to a worldwide audience is very exciting but also a little scary—
It’s a fear we all have, trust me…
You have amazing book ideas that you want to share with the world, and you’re more motivated than ever to educate your readers about them! No matter what the genre, your book could be one that changes someone’s life.
This is how you can start writing a book today:
- Start by setting up your writing environment
- Develop a writing habit to start
- Create a book outline to start writing
- Focus on writing your book ONLY
- Maintain your focus at the start
- Schedule book writing time
- Deal with writing distractions
- Start writing your book!
Once you begin, you may realize that writing a book is hard work. There are many obstacles that can prevent you from writing and can create stress leading to anxiety.
For example, you may find yourself in front of a blank page unable to type and thinking of stressful questions like:
- “How do I even start writing a book?”
- “Do I need to blog first?”
- “Should I start without an outline”?
Writing a book shouldn’t be this hard!
But many get overwhelmed because they lack a writing process.
And we can help you with that.
But first things first, if you want to learn how to start writing a novel (fiction), click on that link to go to a blog post that will help much more with that book genre. This post will primarily deal with nonfiction writing.
How do you start writing a book for the first time?
This might be hard at first but really, you can write a book even if you’re not the best writer. Chandler Bolt (the man who started Self-Publishing School) was a C- English student and still wrote and published 6 bestselling books. Some of what you need is basic writing skills, but most of what gets books sold is marketing them successfully.
The truth is that if you’re brand new to this, guidance will be the most important thing. Having someone tell you what to do and what works best will help you be the most successful and learn the most during this process.
Learning from someone who has “been there, done that” will help tremendously. That alone will give you most of the knowledge you need to get it done.
If you like the idea of having a bestselling coach walk you through each step of the process from idea to book outline to ordering proof copies to a completely published book, check out our revamped and updated (2022) Become a Bestseller program here.
But you can also get started right here with these steps for starting to write a book.
How to Start to Write a Book Step-by-Step
If you’re feeling demotivated when it comes to starting your book, you’re not alone. Writing can still be one of the hardest parts for most authors even if they have been writing for a long time!
Fortunately, there are some extremely effective techniques for how to start writing a book and stay motivated.
We’ll cover what you can put into action to assure you show up with a game plan to get your thoughts out of your head, down on paper, and into the minds of your readers.
Ready to start your journey to becoming a bestselling author? Let’s go!
How to Start Writing a Book for Beginners
Believe it or not, writing a book isn’t as difficult as it’s made to seem. At least, getting started isn’t. Maybe it’s because we’ve successfully coached 1000s of new authors on the process.
We have a complete guide that will cover best practices to start writing a book asap – even today if you sit down and put your pen to paper, so to speak.
#1 – Start by setting Up Your Book Writing Environment
One of the most important things to remember if you want to start writing a book is designing a writing space that allows your creativity to flourish unhindered.
Create an environment that is designed to help you stay focused.
Whether you prefer noisy environments or absolute solitude, it’s up to you to determine which will get you into the writer’s flow.
What you want to avoid is a super messy environment, even if you think you work well in those types of spaces (like the one featured below).
If anything can distract you from writing, it’s not worth it.
Here are a few ideas to create your ideal space for writing:
- Have collections of inspiration. Decorate your work area with inspiring quotes or pictures that house references to deep work.
- Unclutter your space. Create an uncluttered open space to help organize not only what you need, but also your thoughts.
- Be flexible. Your creative space doesn’t need to be one spot, it can be anywhere. Even your favorite authors have discovered their best ideas in the most unexpected places.
- Buy a calendar: Your book will get written faster if you have set goals for the week/day. The best way to manage this is by scheduling your time on a calendar. Schedule every hour that you commit to your author business. What gets scheduled, gets done.
- Create a music playlist for inspiration: Many authors can write to the sound of their favorite tunes. Is there anything that gets you working faster? Do you write better with deeper focus when listening to rock music or classical? Set up several playlists that you can use to get into the flow of writing.
- Try multiple locations. You won’t know how creative you can be if you don’t try different spots to write. Maybe writing from your bed is your ideal creative space. What about working in a noisy cafe? Change up your location frequently particularly if you feel creatively spent.
Here are some more tips for starting your book and putting together your writing environment:
|How to Start Writing Tip||Execution|
|Minimize Distractions||- isolate yourself from family/friends/even the family dog
- remind everyone it's YOUR time
- Turn your phone off
- Close ALL web browsers
- Close your email
|Get Comfortable||- invest in a GOOD chair
- or resort to using a stand-up desk for more energy
- fill the area with motivational quotes
- make sure you're physically comfortable for the next 30 minutes or an hour
|Choose Beneficial Background Noise||- turn off all sounds if it distracts you
- turn on lyric-less music to help you concentrate
- choose energizing music to help you focus
#2 – Start to Write a Book by Developing a Writing Habit
The number one reason authors fail to publish a book is they never finish the book they intend to publish. Why?
Because they didn’t form a good writing habit.
Feeling overwhelmed when writing a book is natural, but you must remember that this journey always begins with the first page. And in order to write your first page, you must take action.
For example, schedule your writing time daily so that you can stick to a solid writing routine that will allow you to make real progress.
This is why having a writing habit will develop your writer’s flow.
But before you can start your habit, you’ll want to know how much you need to write during each session in order to stay on track for your writing goals.
For example, want to write a book to grow your business?
You’ll need about 40,000 words and roughly 134 pages.
If you wrote 10,000 words a month, you’d be complete in 4 months.
If you scheduled yourself to write 3 days a week, for a goal of 10,000 words a month, you’d need to write 833 words per session. That’s pretty easy with talk-to-text tools!
Want to know the number for your specific genre or book goal? Check out our Word/Page Count Calculator here!
Your writing habit can start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking that you must write your every thought on the page. You can start with a few paragraphs, a sentence, or even just a word.
The purpose of this exercise is to commit to your writing session every day until it has become second nature.
#3 – Create an Outline Before You Start Writing
A clear book outline provides clarity and direction to your story. It is also the roadmap for your book that keeps you on track and ensures you have all your ideas organized in a natural flow. And that’s not even to mention that it helps you write a lot faster, too.
There are many types of outlines you can use here.
We highly recommend starting with the mindmap outline and then moving to the sticky note method, as our students find it the most helpful.
When you get stuck or suffer writer’s block, you can always go back to your outline to find what comes next regardless of whether the book is 100 pages or 300 pages long. It will help you see the overall picture.
If you’re not sure how to outline a book, we’ve got a handy video right here for you to learn:
Before you write, spend some time creating your outline with these steps:
#1 – Brainstorm: List every thought and story idea you want in your book by creating a mind map.
#2 – Organize: Combine all related ideas together.
#3 – Order: Arrange ideas into subsections from general to specific.
#4 – Label: Create main and subheadings that will eventually be your chapters.
We also recommend learning the plot or book structure for your specific type of book. Here’s some extra help with that:
Nonfiction Book Writing
#4 – Work on ONLY Writing
One challenge many authors experience is taking on multiple new projects when they should be focused on one because their minds are full of amazing book ideas.
Although enticing, the division of attention can spread your energy thin producing bad writing or worse, failure to complete your book.
But don’t worry. We’ve all experienced shiny new book idea syndrome before!
There’s only one clear solution to this problem: Cut the clutter and focus on one project until it’s finished.
Be fully committed to starting your book by doing the following:
- Create an action plan that breaks down the entire project into realistic portions to complete.
- Set hard deadlines for each and every phase of your book.
- Learn to say “NO” to any additional projects no matter how intriguing they appear.
ACTION STEP: Create an action plan and commit to it. Learn to be selfish and practice saying “NO” often. It’s better to complete one book and get it right than to write two books with poor results.
#5 – Maintain Your Focus
Once you get into the flow of starting your book, you want to remain focused through the duration of your writing session. Any break to your concentration can set you back 20-30 minutes and disrupt your flow.
We become less efficient when we are distracted, and it can end up taking twice as long to complete our writing.
Thankfully, there are very effective techniques that can help you remain centered and in the moment.
Leave the distractions behind by doing the following:
- Create a writing schedule. Schedule your writing for the same time each day. This conditioning will develop your writing habit until it becomes as natural as knowing when to brush your teeth.
- Use the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management strategy that breaks down work into intervals separated by short breaks. With a clock ticking, you will less likely be distracted by email or social media.
- Turn off your phone. Your phone is the most addicting device that steals your precious attention. Don’t let it take that from you, turn it off. If you don’t want to turn it off, then download a writing software or app that limits distractions.
- Have a Task Management app. Task Manager apps, like Todoist, helps you organize your tasks by their time and priority, so you know exactly what to do in what order the next day.
- Disconnect from the Internet. Want to ensure you don’t get distracted by email notifications, Facebook notifications, etc.? Disconnect your computer from the Internet and enjoy distraction-free writing time.
ACTION STEP: Experiment with each of these productivity techniques and optimize your writer’s flow. By becoming a productivity expert, you will easily double your output and complete your book in no time.
#6 – Schedule Your Writing Time
Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most popular comedians of all time, and he attributes his success to his unbelievably strong writing habits. In the early days of his career, Seinfeld was asked how he managed to have such great content.
He said, “The way to be a better comic is to create better jokes, and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.”
Seinfeld used the “Calendar Method”, otherwise known as the “Don’t Break the Chain” method, and it worked like this:
- Get yourself a calendar, and hang it on the wall.
- For each day you write, draw an X on the calendar for that day. By the end of the week, you should have a row of Xs at the end.
- If you miss a day, start over and see how long you can go before breaking the chain.
If you can keep this chain going, you will write your book faster than you can imagine.
ACTION STEP: Buy yourself a calendar and get started on the “Calendar Method!” Being held accountable will keep you motivated and not “Break the Chain.”
#7 – Start by Dealing With Writing Distractions First
Distractions can hinder you and your desire to start writing a book.
Resistance is a common obstacle that has the ability to distract us for too long. It’s a form of fear that intimidates you from writing and can throw you off your writer’s flow.
Not only do you have the distractions of everyday life, but if someone in your life has qualms with you spending time to write, it can be extra difficult to concentrate and just write.
Everyone has encountered this awful feeling, but it doesn’t have to defeat you.
Here are a few ways to deal with resistance:
- Read morning affirmations. Affirmations are powerful snippets of positive words that set the tone and atmosphere for writing. An affirmation could be a quote from a writer, a motivational speech from a public figure, or an inspirational video.
- Free Flow for 10 Minutes. Julia Cameron, the bestselling author of The Artist’s Way, called these morning pages, and its purpose is to clear your mind of all the anxiety and junk rolling around in your head onto a piece of paper. Write anything. You don’t have to edit, publish, or have a word count, it’s simply a 10-minute exercise to clear out heavy thoughts and prepare you for a more productive day. This is best done with pen and paper instead of typing into a document with your digital device.
- Exercise. Exercising is not only good for your health but will help keep you mentally sharp. Working out will increase the blood flow to the brain which will sharpen your awareness and give you the energy you need to tackle your book.
ACTION STEP: Create a resistance plan! Figure out which methods best filter out the negative noise and get you to prepared to write.
What to do Next
If you want to become a published author, you must take ownership of your writing habits.
By following these strategies, you can have a completed book within months and be on your way to becoming a successful writer.
Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Self-Publishing School may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.