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.
What if nobody reads it?
What if your writing is terrible?
Who are you to think you can write a book?
When you start writing a book, these thoughts are more common than you might think. For many, they’re the default, actually. But then how can so many people succeed in publishing? How do so many new authors face their fears?
It takes some grit to start writing a book (and to finish it), but we know that every person is capable of making it happen with the right tips and tools.
I’m sure you have amazing book ideas to share with the world, and no matter the genre, your book could be one that changes someone’s life.
Believe it or not, writing a book isn’t as difficult as it’s made to seem. At least, learning to start writing a book isn’t. Maybe it’s because we’ve successfully coached 1000s of new authors on the process.
This complete guide will cover easy and actionable tips to start writing a book ASAP – even today!
This Blog on How to Start Writing a Book Will Cover:
How do you start writing a book for the first time?
Once you start writing a book, you may realize that writing a book is hard work.
You may ask yourself questions like:
- “How do I even start writing a book?”
- “Do I need to blog first?”
- “Should I start without an outline”?
Take a deep breath. You can start writing 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.
But first things first, let’s focus on writing the darn thing. If you want to learn how to start writing a novel (fiction), we have a separate blog post for that. This post will primarily deal with nonfiction writing (although you can use these tips for any kind of book).
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.
If you like the idea of having a bestselling coach walk you through each step of the process from idea to completely published book, check out our Become a Bestseller program.
But you can also begin right here with these easy steps to learn how to start writing a book.
How to Start Writing a Book in 7 Simple Steps
If you’re feeling demotivated when it comes to how to start writing 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 ensure 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!
1. Set Up Your Book Writing Environment
If you want to start writing a book, it’s crucial to design 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 the ideal space for to start writing a book:
- Have collections of inspiration. Decorate your work area with inspiring quotes or pictures that house references to deep work.
- Declutter your space. Create a decluttered 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. (Like a tree house, coffee shop, or even a graveyard!)
- 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 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 to learn how to start writing a book and put together your writing environment:
|How to Start Writing Tip
|- 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
|- 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. Develop a Writing Habit
The number one reason authors fail to publish a book is that they never finish their project. Why?
Because they didn’t form a good writing habit.
Feeling overwhelmed when you start 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.
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 start writing 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!
Your writing habit can start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself by 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 that keeps you on track and ensures you have all your ideas organized when you start writing a book. (And it helps you write a lot faster, too.)
There are many types of outlines you can use, but we highly recommend starting with the mindmap outline.
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:
- Brainstorm: List every thought and story idea you want in your book by creating a mind map.
- Organize: Combine all related ideas together.
- Order: Arrange ideas into subsections from general to specific.
- Label: Create main and subheadings that will eventually be your chapters.
4. Work on ONLY Writing
We know your mind is full of amazing book ideas, but you should only focus on one project at a time.
Although enticing, division of attention can spread your energy thin and produce bad writing or worse, a 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.
When you start writing a book, you can be fully committed 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 start writing a book and get into the flow, you want to remain focused throughout your writing session. Any break to your concentration can set you back 20-30 minutes (or more).
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 stay 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 be less likely to 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.
- Get a Task Management app. Task Manager apps, like Todoist, help 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 a 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. Deal With Distractions
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 figure out how many words is one page. You don’t have to edit or publish. 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 prepared to write.
What to do Next
So there you have it! You know exactly how to start writing a book.
Of course, if you want to become a published author, you must take ownership of your writing habits. And you also need to remember that editing, marketing, and publishing are equally important parts of a finished book.
By following the strategies above, you can have a completed book within months and be on your way to becoming a successful writer. But if you need help along the way, you can reach out to our team for guidance.