Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How to Write a Book in the Simplest Way Possible

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Okay, I know the title of this post is a bit contradictory. Because "writing a book" and "simple" should never be used together in the same sentence.

No, writing a book is not simple. It's work--and a lot of it.

However, when you approach it piece by piece, it can become a lot less intimidating than looking at it as a whole.

When people ask how on earth I managed to write two books, I just shake my head. "I have no idea." Because it doesn't feel like I've written a book. It seems like such an enormous, strenuous task.

This is why I think so many people quit before they even begin. They look at the long road ahead rather than first focusing on how to get from point A to point B. And because of that, they fail to take that first step.

If your goal this year is to write a book, try to come at it from a different perspective so it becomes simple rather than daunting. Here are some ways you can do this:

      Chop it down and take it piece by piece. 

Often, when we have a major task ahead of us, we procrastinate. However, the task can become much more simple if we only focus on how to get from Point A to Point B, and so on.

There are about 5 stages of writing a book: Brainstorming, plotting/outlining, writing, rewriting, and editing. Only focus on the stage you're in, and write down a goal as to when you hope to have that stage complete.

      Force yourself to write a little every day,

whether that is 5 minutes or 5 hours. If you only write when you're inspired, it will take much longer than necessary. 

If someone wants to run a marathon, they have to prepare every day. Otherwise, their muscles might weaken. They can't just sit around and wait for the day to come when they are magically full of energy. They know how important it is to keep pushing themselves, even when they're tempted to give up. This requires self-discipline, and a lot of it.

      Feel free to have fun and make a mess. 

As I've mentioned several times before, first drafts do not need to be clean. Tell the perfectionist in you to be silent as you write the first draft. It is only during the editing stages can the perfectionist in you begin to nag.

Most of the time, when a kid is having fun, there is usually a mess involved: Barbies, building blocks, and toy cars scattered across the floor. When you were that age, did you constantly clean as you played? I doubt it. Because in order for a kid to have fun, there are usually messes involved. It wasn't until the fun was over did you clean your mom force you to clean (while singing the clean-up song, of course).

Similarly, when you write your first draft, have fun with it! If you're trying to clean at the same time, it takes away the freedom to just play. So make a mess. Then you can go back and clean it up.

      Only focus on what you have to get done today

Maybe it's a chapter, scene, or just a piece of dialogue/description. Whatever the case, don't get overwhelmed with big picture. Only take it one stage--and one day--at a time.

Where do you see yourself this time next year? The only way you'll get there is if you put one foot in front of the other. It doesn't matter how long it takes you. The only thing that matters is that you do not quit. Because eventually, you will have yourself a book.

And you will have absolutely no idea how that happened.

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

     ✎ Are you hoping to write a book this year? If you've already written one, how did you approach it?

photo credit: Î’ethan via photopin cc


  1. Thanks Tessa! I really needed this today (actually this week). I'll have to remember to just have fun and stop getting stressed. No, I have never written a book but I am hoping to. That's what I'm working on right now is writing my book(s). I'm working on two right now. Thanks again!


  2. Great post Tessa! I agree it has to be taken day at a time. I've written five books, but I must admit I slacked on the editing/rewriting for the first four of those. So it took me four tries to figure out a good process for writing a novel. I outline as much as I can first and then just take it day by day. I write some every day and try to at least write two chapters a week. Sometimes I may write two or three in a day, sometimes just half of one, but as long as I keep working on it daily, the ball keeps rolling and it eventually gets done. Editing is really where I lose motivation, but I tell myself I can't start a new story until this one is done!

  3. This is just the encouragement I needed! I've been working on a novel for just over two years now, and it's become quite daunting trying to figure it all out :/

  4. I really needed to read this. I'm definitely a procrastinator and I always end up getting overwhelmed by the big idea.

  5. Just the encouragement I need to hear today. Failed projects have been weighing me down with doubts and discouragement, making it hard to even begin typing. But I shall keep at it and dare to put my fingers to the keys! Just one step/word at a time… ^^


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