tips for writers: starting your book

as I've mentioned a few times, I'm currently in the process of writing my first book - which is just as exciting and terrifying as you might imagine. writing a book has been a dream of mine for years, but it took a lot of courage and motivation to actually put pen to paper [or really- fingers to keyboard.]

it was nearly one year ago that I finally sat myself down and wrote the first 3,000 words of my manuscript. to celebrate, today I want to give you some tips on how YOU can get started writing your own book.

Make a Plan.

if you want to write a book, you probably already have an idea what the book will be about. that's a good place to begin, but life will be much easier if your sit down and create an outline of your story. the book I am working on currently is a non-fiction travel memoir. I have a pretty good idea of how the plot goes [since I lived it!] but I still started out by defining a time frame the book would cover and a list of major events. this framework helps keep me on track and moving my plot forward.

Set Realistic Goals.

when I first started my manuscript, I thought I would be able to complete, edit, and publish it within six months. that was not a realistic goal for me. something that has worked better for me is to set a goal of writing X times per week, with my sessions being from 2-4 hours depending on how things go. I also like to set monthly word count goals based on my average output. you have to look at your available time and writing speed to figure out what will work for you.

Write What You Know.

or maybe a better way to say it is: know what you're going to write. use your existing knowledge and life experiences to help construct your story, or do the proper research. have you lived in or traveled to San Francisco? maybe that would be a good setting for your novel. always wanted to write a Victorian-era romance? better brush up on Victorian clothing styles, dialect, and architecture. this rule can apply to writing non-fiction as well. I have a pretty good memory, but both my journal and my blog have been indispensable resources.

Just Keep Writing!

a lot of people [myself included] get sidetracked by the end-details of writing a book. should I self-publish? do I need an agent? will anyone buy this thing? but all of those concerns will be irrelevant if you don't actually finish writing your book. other times, writers will get discouraged and quit partially through their draft. just remember that rough drafts are supposed to be rough. if you get stuck on a particular event or plot point, move on and come back to it later. you can always improve on a bad page, but you can't edit a blank one.

have you ever considered writing a book? hopefully these tips will motivate you to get started!

[this first appeared as a guest post on Hello, Neverland.]

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