I’ve always wished I could write a book, but I got stuck somewhere between organizing chapters and finding an audience. I got stuck on the process instead of focusing on the first part: writing. I constantly asked questions like: “How do I start? How do I find time to write? How do I outline?”. When I couldn’t find answers that worked for my lifestyle, I gave up. Finally, I realized I needed to just sit down and start writing something—anything. Here are four simple ways I’ve made writing my first book easier.
1. Use what you already have.
One of the easiest places to get stuck is finding a topic to write about. I thought a lightning bolt would strike me with the perfect idea, or maybe I would dream the perfect scene. I got nothing. Forced to come up with a topic while conscious, I made my journey as easy a possible by using what I already have. You can too.
You’ll be shocked at the material you already have to pull from. You can use any of your work that hasn’t been published before, such as old college papers, journal entries, blog posts—even ideas, thoughts, or plans you have rattling around in your brain. Also, you can pull from your interests. Think about things you’ve read about, projects you’ve worked on, or even subjects you like to watch on TV. Did something come to mind? Great. Now you have a jumping off point; maybe even an opening chapter.
At this point, you can stop thinking about starting a book, and focus instead on finishing the book you’ve already started. See, easier already!
2. Use your time.
I can’t force myself to sit down and write for long periods of time. First, I get stressed, and then I wind up surfing the internet for cool info graphics (like this one: How Beer and Coffee Affect Your Brain). To curb my stress level, I’ve found ways to seamlessly fit writing into my life. The more I can just open up my laptop and start writing, the better. I try to write for 30 minutes a day, usually on my lunch breaks, before meetings, and after work.
You need to figure out what works best for you and then make a schedule—even if it’s a loose one like mine. Think about how you like to work. Do you like short, intense projects? Try to set aside a few small blocks of time every day. Do you like having a lot of time to mull over new ideas? Try setting aside larger blocks of time. After you figure out a loose schedule you will be able to easily integrate writing into your life.
3. Use your talent.
Write! Don’t let anything get in the way of writing your book. Some writers have to outline and organize their ideas before they write, but I used outlining and organizing as an excuse not to write. Now I’ve scrapped outlining, and I’m just writing. It’s not the most organized book, but I’ll clean it up during the editing phase. If you need an outline, go for it, but don’t let the outline or the organization of your book get in between you and writing.
4. Use who you know.
Find someone who will check in on you and make sure you’re writing. Whether it’s a writing group or an accountability partner, you’ll need encouragement and support to reach your goal. In return, you can help others finish their goals. It’s a win-win.
Finding simple ways to write is essential to the process. Don’t forget to use what you have, use your time, use your talent, and use who you know. I know you can do it. I’m with you working through the same simple steps, and this will be the year we won’t just wish we’d written a book; we will finish writing a book.