Maybe your dream is to become a full-time fiction author. Perhaps you plan to use a nonfiction book as a launching pad for a business or build an online course. Maybe you have a story inside you and want to share it to leave a legacy.
Whatever your writing dream is, it starts with writing a book. While writing a book is an exciting first step, it can be an overwhelming prospect. That’s why in this article we will break down:
- Why Write A Book For The First Time?
- Tips For Writing A Book For The First Time.
- How To Start Writing A Book For The First Time.
- Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Your First Book.
Whatever you need guidance on, we’re here to help.
Let’s start with the basic question of why? Why write a book?
Why Write A Book For The First Time?
If you want to be a full-time writer or use a book for business purposes, it’s imperative to write a book to start this journey. Writing a book is a powerful tool and can be leveraged for direct impact with readers, potential clients, and individuals you would not be able to reach any other way. A book can span the continents and impact areas you may never physically be able to go.
(Resource: If you’re considering writing a book for your niche business, check out this podcast interview on how AJ Osborne used his book to grow his self-storage business.)
Words are powerful. There’s something about connecting a writer and a reader through black and white words on a page. It seems so simple, but words impact in ways that cannot be described. Words encourage, stories inspire, and the difficult life lessons you’ve learned could impact the trajectory of your reader’s life for years to come. Never underestimate the power of the written word.
Books can also act as a business card, boost your credibility, and inspire others to listen to what you specifically have to say. It takes time, persistence, and grit to take your idea to the final page. Many people talk about wanting to write a book but few actually finish their first draft. When you write a book for the first time, you become one of the few who takes their dream to a reality. That said, how do you actually go about the writing? Great question.
Tips For Writing A Book For The First Time
While there are seemingly endless writing rules, there are several tips that will help you get through, and even enjoy, writing your first book.
Identify What Type of Writer You Are, So You Know Your Tendencies
It’s crucial to first identify what kind of writer you are. Do you prefer to plot everything out prior to drafting (a plotter)? Or do you prefer to write to find out what happens? This is often called write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants (commonly referred to as a pantser). Maybe you are a hybrid of both. You outline the major scenes, your inciting incident, climax, and falling action, and write to figure out the rest. Whichever it is for you, identify the way you write most naturally.
This will allow you to utilize your writing time more effectively each day. More on writing routines in a minute.
After identifying if you are a plotter or a pantser, it’s important to surround yourself with a writing community to not only teach you the basics of writing but also encourage you on your journey. It’s easy to start writing a book, it’s another thing entirely to finish. Reach out to writers in your area, join an online writing community (like Self-Publishing School), or form your own writing group, but make sure to surround yourself with writers who will encourage and inspire you. Don’t forget to stay open to their feedback too.
These people will encourage you when you lose steam, don’t want to write, or are struggling with that pesky blank page and blinking cursor.
Hone Your Craft
And of course, the best tip and most obvious—keep writing! Practice daily.
Learn how to write better, too. Writing is one craft in which no one becomes a master. That’s part of the joy of writing. There are always more creative outlets to explore and ways of communicating to test out. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, mastering the craft is a goal to reach for but we’re all unlikely to attain. Learning the writing rules well can help you become a talented writer who impacts readers and changes lives.
Learn the basic writing rules such as:
- Show, don’t tell
- Avoid passive voice
- Layer in backstory rather than rely on flashbacks
- Use strong nouns and verbs instead of adjectives and adverbs
- Don’t overwrite—give the reader enough to create their own story world
- Choose a strong point-of-view character and tell the story through their eyes
The more aware you become of writing rules the more they will subconsciously come alive in your writing. The more seamlessly you incorporate writing rules, the more editing time you’ll save and the faster you will be able to write future books.
How To Start Writing A Book For The First Time
You want to write a book. It’s a short sentence but packed with hours of dedication, late nights, early mornings, and highs and lows. The dedication is worth it, so let’s walk through a step-by-step process to help you get started.
Set A Routine
When writing a book for the first time it’s vital to set a writing routine you can succeed at. Second, it’s imperative to stick with it. If you’re a morning person, consider getting up an hour earlier than usual. If you’re a night owl, consider getting home an hour earlier than you usually do. Devote that extra time to writing your book. Set a deadline and determine how many words or pages you need to write every day to hit your deadline. Stay with the task and don’t let everyday distractions keep you from pursuing your writing dream.
Set A Timer
An important part of writing is actually typing words on the page. If you have dedicated an hour in the morning to writing, it’s important to honor that full hour. It may be helpful to set an actual timer to ensure you write for a full 60 minutes.
It’s easy to sit down to write and then get up to make a cup of coffee or tea, sharpen a pencil, or grab your computer charger. All of these little distractions take away from your writing time. Before you know it, you’ve lost a full 10 or 15 minutes.
Instead, set a timer for the amount of time you plan to write. If you need to get up and get something, stop the timer. When you sit back down and start writing, begin the timer again. This will ensure you set the precedent early on that when it’s time to write, you write.
Write, Then Edit
21-time New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins says, “I start every writing day by first conducting a heavy edit and rewrite of what I wrote the day before. Don’t try to edit as you write. That’s likely to slow you to a crawl.”
When writing your first book it’s important to simply get the words down. Anyone can start writing a book but it takes a certain person to write all the way to the end.
Day one, when you sit down to write, simply write.
Day two, when you sit down to write, start by editing the work you wrote the day before.
Follow this process until you’ve finished your book.
This will ensure you get the words down. When you follow this method, you’ll finish your first book and it will technically be your second draft. That’s a win!
Engage With Beta Readers
Beta readers are readers who read a book prior to its publication. When choosing beta readers try to find individuals who will not be biased toward your book. Resist the urge to ask your friends and family to read your book and offer feedback. They will likely tell you they enjoy it. If they don’t, they may feel uncomfortable telling you so. Instead, ask for several writers from your writing group if they would be open to reading your book and providing you with honest feedback.
You are the writer so you will make the final call, but having fresh eyes can help open your own eyes to issues that you may have missed. While beta readers are not absolutely necessary, they can provide timely feedback while it’s still possible to make changes.
Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Your First Book
Just as there are rules to follow when writing your first book, there are mistakes to avoid as well. Being aware of mistakes before you make them can help you avoid spending time and effort redoing your work. The clearer picture you have of the do’s and don’ts of writing, the less frustration you will experience on your journey.
While it’s important to read all the books you can in the genre you write, avoid comparing your first effort to someone else’s bestseller. We are all learning and growing in a craft that is impossible to master, and comparison will stall your creative capacity. Learn from the best, but let giving your best be enough.
Avoid Imposter Syndrome
On the topic of comparison, refuse the Imposter Syndrome mindset. Your first book may not be a bestseller (or it may!) but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a writer. Writer’s write. By default, if you write, you are a writer. Refuse the mindset that unless you’re the best of the best you don’t deserve the title of writer. You are not an imposter. You are a student learning the craft.
Avoid Following All Advice
We should be open to constructive criticism and embrace feedback, but don’t change your book every time someone suggests you do so. You are the writer and it’s your vision that should prevail. When you publish your book you want it to be with integrity to the story you set out to tell, whether that is a fiction or nonfiction story. Listen to feedback, but follow your writer’s instincts.
As You Begin…
You are about to start an incredible journey. Writing an entire manuscript cover to cover is no small task and it is inspiring that you chose to undertake it. your journey will likely have twists and turns you don’t expect, lows that catch you off guard, but highs you never dreamed could happen. Writing your first book is a monumental stepping stone to becoming an author.
Remember, after you get this first one under your belt you will never need to say you’re writing your first book again. You will already know what to expect and understand the rules better than you do today. You have found your own pitfalls and determined a way to get out of them. You will have pushed through writer’s block and days you don’t feel inspired, and come out winning.
This is a journey, so embrace every aspect. Set your writing deadline and commit to your goals. Don’t let distractions keep you from your dream. You’ve come this far. You’ve got this!