Writing a non-fiction book? Too many ideas? Don’t know how to tame them, pin them down and start writing?
Then keep reading!
Once you get it into your head that you’re going to write a book, you cannot escape. Chances are, you will write your book one day. Ideas will flood in at the strangest of times. You’ll have a writing splurge. Then you’ll stop for a while. Then you’ll beat yourself up for not finishing the book and talk yourself out of the idea again. This can become a vicious cycle. So if you’re serious about writing (and finishing) your book grab a notebook and pen and make some notes. It’s time to bring your idea to life.
So, first things first. What are the key ingredients for starting and finishing writing a book?
- regular writing targets (even a daily target of 500 words/2 paragraphs per day is better than nothing) – check out my article, 3 Powerful Reasons Why You Need to Set Daily Writing Targets here:
- commitment, drive and motivation: you’ll need plenty if you’re going to reach that chequered flag
- setting deadlines (and only bending them if you really really have to).
Accountability makes a huge difference, too.
If you’re 100% determined to write your book, but can’t always trust yourself to prioritise your writing or stick to your targets and deadlines, and you get bogged down with work/life/commitments – and who doesn’t? – then an accountability partner/writing group could bridge that gap. Having other writers supporting you can dissolve those feelings of isolation and nudge you through the wobbly stages, especially when you feel like giving up. Being accountable to someone other than yourself is often all it takes to ensure you keep moving in the right direction. Over in my free, private Facebook group, we commit to doing something each Monday and check-in with each other on Fridays – come and join us. The group is packed with tips, advice and support, and when you’re with like-minded people, your writing becomes much more precious to you – click here to join ‘The Writer’s Sanctuary’.
Making time to write your book is crucial
You won’t magically conjure up a spare few hours in your weekly schedule, so grab your diary and make some appointments with yourself right now. Keep this time purely for writing. Don’t let anyone steal it from you (regardless of sob stories/carrot-dangling/promises of money). If you think you don’t have time, give up things like watching TV, surfing the internet with no real objective, and snooping around social media. Get up an hour earlier, and/or cut back on client commitments/your time at work if you can. Try saying ‘no’ to things instead of your default ‘yes’. You’ll be surprised at how much time you can actually find when you do this. If you need more ideas to help you find time to write, you can check out my book here: Finding Time to Write: How to Write More in Less Time, Embrace Your Creativity and Grab Every Opportunity to Write:
So let’s help you off the starting blocks, shall we? And take a look at these 6 ridiculously simple steps to writing your non-fiction book.
Step 1: Before you do any writing, do your book research
You could spend hours, days, weeks, months, years writing your book, only to find that there isn’t a market for it. What?! Really?! Yes, this happens. So if you want to save yourself some time, go for a wander around the Amazon store and see what’s already been written in your genre. How can you create something similar but in your own unique way? Consider your USP (unique selling point) so your book shines amongst the competition. Don’t be put off if there seems to be a lot of books on that virtual bookshelf you’ve got your eye on. There are ways to make your book stand out on Kindle. Spend some time considering your ideal reader. What are their pain points? How will your book help them? Do you want to motivate them/build confidence/inspire or educate them/teach them a skill? Jot all of your answers down for future reference. You’ll probably build on these as well, once you start writing.
Step 2: Unleash your book ideas
Once your research is done, it’s time to download all those ideas that have been fizzing around in your head. So buy yourself a gorgeous new notebook (any excuse) and start filling it up with your ideas. Or if you’re a spider diagram kinda person, get your coloured pens and paper out. More techy? Choose something like www.evernote.com or www.trello.com. Forget about organising your ideas at this stage. This needs to be a raw exercise with no editing, no deep thought, just an unconscious (or semi-conscious) unleashing. Just allow the flow.
Step 3: Streamline your ideas
Now you can tidy things up. Categorise or colour code your ideas (or create different Trello boards or notes) into sections such as chapter content and headings, book title, the vision for your book, and publishing etc. This is where it gets exciting. You might think you don’t have many ideas, but once you’ve got them down in front of you, and the colour co-ordinating starts, it really does bring the whole book idea to life. And it’s very inspiring.
Step 4: Create your formula
Now you’ve set those ideas free, it’s time to think about your overall word count. 30,000 words is a great target for a non-fiction book, and to make it less overwhelming, you could break it down into, say, 10 chapters of 2500-3000 words each. If you want to whittle it down further into, say, 10 paragraphs of 250-300 words each then do it. The easier it is for you to think about, the more likely you are to look forward to your next writing session.
Step 5: Set your writing deadlines
Without a deadline, nothing gets done. So, set yourself a deadline – a realistic one, too, not one that’s going to put you off every time you look at it. Once you’ve committed to this timeframe, count how many days/weeks/month you have and work out your daily/weekly/monthly writing targets from there. Bite-sized chunks are incredibly motivating.
Step 6: The exciting bit – it’s time to start writing!
No excuses now, just do it. If you find yourself struggling with one chapter, put it to one side and focus on another. If you’re struggling with writer’s block perhaps you’d be better to focus on your writing as soon as you wake up each morning – before you do anything else. If you need complete peace and quiet to write, then stay up for an hour after everyone else has gone to bed. If a keyboard sounds too noisy, then grab a pen and paper and really let your muse go wild.
That’s it. Follow these 6 steps to writing your non-fiction book and you’ll be surprised at just how quickly and easily you can get started … and that, actually, writing your book doesn’t have to be that big, scary, overwhelming massive task you’ve made it out to be.
If you’d like to write a business book and follow this method in more detail, then my How to Write a Brilliant Business Book will really help.
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