Seven Blocks to Writing Your Book

Seven Blocks to Writing Your BookPhoto license

There are plenty of reasons you’re not writing your book. They won’t all apply to you. Everyone has different holdups and hangups. I’ll do my best to put the problems in their likely historical order of your evolution as a writer. And, speaking of evolution, that’s the first block.

1. Your definition of yourself as a writer hasn’t evolved far enough

The earliest that you might define yourself as a writer is when you only want to become a writer. You haven’t written anything except e-mails and papers required for school and work. But you want to become a writer and think of yourself as one anyway.

Once you stop thinking and start doing, you’ll be looking more like a writer. But you need to get something to the point where it’s worth publishing. Then you might call yourself a level two writer, but you’re still not really a writer.

When you finish some writing work and put it out there where others may read it, then you are tentatively a writer. In the olden days, you could only send your work to publishers. If they didn’t like it, nobody would ever see it. With the web and blogging, you can get published even if your writing sucks. The same rule still applies at this stage. You’ve made it this far if someone buys your work. Either a publisher literally buys your work or your web writing attracts an audience.

A word of caution about that audience. If you only write one article a month, you’re not going to attract an audience even if your writing is fantastic. Visitors won’t bookmark it. You’re also not going to attract an audience if nobody knows your work is out there, even if you post an article every day. Post at least one article a week. Spread the word about your articles on social sites and by commenting on similar sites. Then you’ll know if you’re good enough to attract a following.

The final stage, the one where there is no doubt you’re a writer, is when you keep writing and are able to turn it into a profession. If you haven’t written your first book, keep writing and turn yourself into a writer through hard work. The book will come.

2. You don’t think your book is important or interesting enough

It’s important to you or you wouldn’t want to spend the time to write it. Your friends and family may not be interested in what you’re writing, but that’s not who will be reading it. You need to get feedback from a larger audience.

Do you have 500 friends on facebook, 2000 Twitter followers, and/or other social media sites where you could get opinions? If so, ask a few questions related to what you’re writing.

A more labor intensive method, but worthwhile, is to write some articles related to your book and put them up on a blog. You’re writing the book anyway. Articles are a good way to get important ideas clear before writing a chapter. If you’re working on fiction, you could write a series of short stories about different characters. Write 30 or more articles or short stories first and then create a blog at WordPress.com or another free site. Then, post daily, let your social media crowd know about every post and comment like crazy. You’ve already got the articles written, so you have time. What kind of comments do you get on your posts? Are you starting to feel more positive now?

3. You doubt your book will be marketable

Research what is selling. Go to Amazon and search for books similar to yours. If there are loads, that means there’s a demand. If there are only two, your doubt is confirmed.

4. You keep delaying the work

It’s easier to work on short stories and articles than a book. There’s a satisfaction in finishing a project. You can take an article from start to finish in a couple of hours. A book may take a couple of years; at least a couple of months for most writers. How can you get around that?

Break your book project into milestones. Corporations do that with their big projects. So can you. The completed outline is a milestones. Each chapter completed is a success. And not just once. Each first draft chapter is one success. Each second draft chapter is another success. Each read through for final draft can be a milestone too. And once it’s ready for publication there will be more milestones as the publisher requests changes.

I know you also want to have something to show for your work and chapters don’t fit the bill. Between all of these milestones, you can still write articles and short stories. Just make sure it’s between the milestones and get back to the book.

5. You fail to plan your book

If you come up with a book idea and just sit down to write it, you are doomed to failure. A book is a huge writing project. You’re not going to write one as fast as you can read one. You need to work on a synopsis that tells the story briefly or, for nonfiction, runs through all of the main topics you will cover. Once you have a synopsis you’re happy with, you need to create an outline for every chapter. Once you’re at the outline stage, you’ve done enough planning that you can write your book with good chances of success. If it’s your first book, it may not come out the length you expect. That’s how we learn. You’ll adjust the amount of content for the next one.

6. You overplan your book

You don’t need to create a plot that covers every single detail. You might as well be writing the first draft if you’re going to do that. Follow the steps described in the last tip. The synopsis should be less than 10 pages long. The outline should be around 10% of the final length you desire for your book.

7. You’re trying to go it alone

Writing is a solitary activity. Nobody can argue against that, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t get others involved. You have family and friends that support you in other things. Talk about your book project. Bounce ideas off of them. Describe scenes from your novel to see if they’re believable. Once they know what you’re working on, they will be asking questions about your progress. That’s one more reason to keep forging ahead.

Article by Ivan Izo.

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