Beginning the process of writing your book and presenting it to a worldwide audience is very exciting. You have amazing ideas that you want to share with the world, and you’re more motivated than ever to educate your readers about them!
But 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 write this entire book?”, “Do I need to blog first?”, or “Should I start without an outline”?
Writing a book shouldn’t be this hard! But many get overwhelmed because they lack a writing process.
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 overcome these hurdles.
Here are seven effective strategies 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.
1. Set Up Your Creative Environment
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.
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.
Action Step: Spend 30 minutes to create your ideal space for writing. You will feel more inspired to show up and write.
2. Develop a Writing Habit
The number one reason authors fail to publish a book is because they never finish the book they intend to write. Why? Because they didn’t form a good writing habit.
Feeling overwhelmed when writing is natural, but you must remember that the journey of writing a book always begins with the first page. And in order to write your first page, you must take action. This is why having a writing habit will develop your writer’s flow.
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 everyday until it has become second nature.
Action Step: If you don’t have a writing routine already, get one started! Momentum begins by taking that first action.
3. Create an Outline
A clear outline provides clarity and direction to your story. It is also the road map for your book that keeps you on track and makes sure you have all your ideas organized in a natural flow. When you get stuck, 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.
Before you write, spend some time creating your outline with these steps:
- Brainstorm: List every thought and story idea you want in your book.
- Organize: Combine all related ideas together.
- Order: Arrange ideas into subsections from general to specific.
- Label: Create main and sub headings that will eventually be your chapters.
Action Step: Spend a good portion of your time constructing an outline. If you want more on creating it, be sure to check out our guide.
4. Work Only on One Project
One challenge many authors experience is taking on multiple new projects when they should be focused on one. Although enticing, the division of attention can spread your energy thin producing bad writing or worse, failure to complete your book.
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 your project 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 writing, 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 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.
- 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 Plan: 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. Stay Accountable with the “Calendar” Strategy
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 have your book written faster than you can imagine.
Action Plan: 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 Resistance
Resistance is a common obstacle that holds us back from creating. It is a form of fear that intimidates you from writing and can throw you off your writer’s flow. 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 vs. typing into a document on 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 Plan: Create a resistance plan! Figure out which methods best filter out negative noise and get you to prepared to write.
If you want to become a published author, you must take ownership of your writing habits. By following these seven strategies, you can have a completed book within months and be on your way to becoming a successful writer.
Your next bestseller is closer than you think.