The decision to write a book is the first step, but the goal is to finish the book. It may seem overwhelming to begin this daunting task, or so exciting you don’t know where to begin. Writing a book can be compared to running a marathon. It takes some planning, training, and not a few missteps to reach the finish line.
Like running a marathon, the first step is to decide you are going to do it and make a commitment. The next steps will determine if you are prepared to complete the race. You wouldn’t expect to finish 26 miles without leaving your couch. When you decide to run a marathon, most likely you will set a training schedule, research which race is the best fit for you, and invest in the right gear to make it through the event. When you decide to start writing a book, there are necessary steps to complete your writing project.
Make a Decision
For a first-time book writer, selecting what your book is going to be about is the first step. If you only have one good idea, that may be better than having to select from all the ideas floating in your head. If you are trying to decide which topic is going to jump-start your business, and can’t focus because of all the great ideas you have, keep a list and narrow them down. You may even do a few rough outlines and see which one comes the most naturally. Once you complete your first book, you can always go back to your inspiration list for your next book idea.
Set a Goal
The ultimate goal is to FINISH the book. Set a goal of when you would like to finish the book, and work backward to figure out how much time, energy, and resources you will need to accomplish your goal. Like preparing for a big race, someone who has ample free time to train will likely find more ease in finishing than someone who works full time and has a multitude of other responsibilities.
Reflect on how much time you can dedicate each week and schedule that time to write. Everyone is different, so writing once a week may be the best you can do. Ideally, daily writing time will help you achieve your goal quickly. Don’t give up if you get off track, but try to carve out time to make up for missed writing. Be sure to check in each month to see if you are on track.
Select your Best Course of Action
Are you a type ‘A’ planner, or more laid back and willing to go with the flow? Don’t get so caught up in planning that you avoid or delay the actual writing. If you need to stay organized and on track to succeed, certainly plan to create a detailed outline as your base. If outlines are restricting or hold you back, simply start with a beginning, middle, and end. Allow yourself to work on the beginning and the end, then fill the gaps in between.
If you need a strict outline, follow it to guide yourself to the end. Like training for a marathon, many runners like to follow a specific training plan. However, sometimes you may get off track, lose momentum, or focus. If this happens, try to go to the end and work backward. This may not bridge the gap, but often will open your eyes and get you out of the monotony of writing chapter by chapter.
Overcome the Obstacles
Life always brings obstacles. Many runners face injuries that prevent them from running the marathon, or throw their training off track. For writers, there are even more obstacles to completing their first book. A major obstacle once you have been writing consistently is staying organized.
Some tips to stay organized are to plan ahead and take breaks if you are overwhelmed. If you are typing your book, be sure to use electronic folders and label items properly. If writing on paper, try to use separate notebooks, and have a designated space for all things book-related. Avoid editing or revising as you write and allow yourself to free write as much as possible.
Regardless of your writing method, at least try to keep the writing separated by the beginning, middle, and end. Keep in mind the time you spend scrolling or searching is robbing you of time to write.
Make it to the Finish Line
Staying organized and motivated will allow you to succeed in finishing your first book. Although the task seems large, breaking it down into small goals and setting realistic expectations makes the process simple. Lastly, try to find a local accountability partner or online support group to get feedback and stay on track. You are on your way to a best-seller.
Have you written a book? How did you get started? More importantly, how did you make sure to finish? Share some advice from your journey with our readers in the comment section below.