How To Write A Book With No Experience
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So you want to write a book. That’s a noble goal. Writing a book is a significant accomplishment that takes concentrated effort and many hours.
There’s just one problem: you’ve never written a book before.
Trying to write your first book without any experience can feel completely overwhelming. There are so many things to do. How are you supposed to start writing a book with no experience?
Don’t stress. In this guide we’re going to walk you through the process of writing a book, step-by-step.
1. Get Clear on Why You Want to Write a Book
Before you do anything, it’s helpful to get clarity on exactly why you want to write a book. This will help you stay motivated throughout the process and remind you what’s important to you.
There are many reasons why people want to write books. Maybe you want to share your story, build your platform, or establish yourself as an expert in your field. Maybe you want to write the next great American novel. Maybe you just love telling stories and have one that you feel like you must tell.
Whatever your reason is, make sure it’s something that’s important to you and will keep you motivated throughout the process. Write that reason down on a notecard or Post-It and put it somewhere you will see it regularly.
2. Start With a Solid Outline
If you’ve never written a book before, it’s very helpful to start with an outline. This is especially the case if you’re writing a non-fiction book. Within the fiction writing community, there is some debate regarding whether you should outline your book. While that’s beyond the scope of this post, we’re going to recommend creating an outline for your book, regardless of whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.
Why should you create an outline? There are a few reasons.
First, it will help you keep your book organized and on track. If you’re not used to writing long-form content, it’s easy to get sidetracked or lost within your own story. Having an outline will help you stay focused and remind you of what needs to be included in each chapter.
Second, an outline can help you save time in the editing phase. If you know what needs to go into each chapter before you start writing, you can avoid having to do a lot of re-writing later on. This is especially helpful if you’re someone who tends to get caught up in the details and wants to make sure everything is perfect before moving on.
Third, an outline can help you stay motivated. Seeing the progress you’re making as you check off each chapter can be a huge confidence boost and remind you that you’re capable of writing an entire book.
So how do you create an outline? If you’ve never done it before, it can feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, we recommend keeping it as simple as possible.
Start by brainstorming a list of all the main points you want to cover in your book. Then, group those points into chapters. And finally, break each chapter down into a few bullet points that will serve as a roadmap for that section.
Your outline can be as detailed as you need it to be. Just make sure that you don’t get so bogged down in the outline phase that you never move on to actually writing.
3. Create a Regular Writing Rhythm
One of the best pieces of advice we can give you for writing a book is to create a regular writing rhythm. This means setting aside time each day or each week to sit down and write.
The great thing about creating a regular writing rhythm is that it takes the pressure off of having to write an entire book all at once. It can feel overwhelming to think about writing an entire book, but if you break it down into manageable chunks, it becomes much more doable.
Creating a regular writing rhythm also has the added benefit of helping you to stay focused and motivated. When you sit down to write at the same time each day or week, it becomes a habit. And as we all know, habits are hard to break.
So how do you go about creating a regular writing rhythm? The first step is to decide how much time you can realistically dedicate to writing each day or week. If you’re someone who works full-time or has a lot of other commitments, it might only be 30 minutes to an hour per day. And that’s perfectly fine.
The important thing is to be realistic about how much time you can commit and then make sure you stick to it. Once you’ve decided on a schedule, put it in your calendar or set a daily alarm to remind you when it’s time to start writing.
4. Create a Writing Space
In addition to creating a regular writing rhythm, it’s also very helpful to have a dedicated writing space. You probably don’t have a large enough house to dedicate an entire room just to writing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a small space in your home where you do all your writing.
A writing space doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be as simple as a corner of your living room or a spot at the kitchen table. The important thing is that it’s a space where you feel comfortable and can focus on writing.
If you have the means, we recommend setting up your writing space with a few key pieces of furniture and equipment. A comfortable chair, a small table or desk, a lamp, and a printer are all good things to have in your writing space. You might also want to invest in a noise-canceling headset if you find that outside noise is distracting.
Of course, not everyone has the budget or the space for a dedicated writing space. If that’s the case, don’t worry. You can still find places to write where you feel comfortable and can focus on your work. A local coffee shop or library might be a good option.
5. Write in Small Chunks
For many, the idea of writing an entire book is overwhelming. And we get it. It’s a big project. But the good news is that you don’t have to write an entire book all at once. In fact, we recommend breaking your book down into small chunks.
Writing in small chunks has a few key benefits. First, it makes the writing process less daunting. When you’re only focused on writing a few pages at a time, it’s much easier to get started and to keep going.
Second, it helps you to stay focused. When you’re only working on a small section of your book, it’s easier to keep your thoughts and ideas organized. You’re less likely to get sidetracked or lost in your thoughts.
Finally, writing in small chunks allows you to be more flexible with your time. If you only have an hour to write, you can still make progress on your book by working on a small section.
So how do you go about writing in small chunks? Try setting a simple word count. For example, you might set a goal of writing 1,000 words per day. This may seem like a small amount, but it adds up quickly. If you write 1,000 words per day for a month, that’s 30,000 words!
In her book Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott says:
E.L. Doctorow once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.
When writing your book don’t look at how much you have to do. That will result in you feeling overwhelmed. Rather, focus on the small chunk you are writing that day. Focus on finishing that small amount and believe that you’ll be able to do the same thing the next day.
6. Use a Writing App
There are a number of apps that can make the writing process significantly easier. They won’t do the hard work of writing, but they can help with organization, editing, and other elements of the writing process. Some writing apps to consider are:
- Scrivener – This app is designed specifically for writers. It has a number of features that make it ideal for writing long-form projects like books.
- Evernote – This is a general note-taking app, but it’s also great for writers. You can use it to store ideas, outlines, research, and more.
- Google Docs – This is a basic, but effective word processor. It’s great for writing and collaboration.
- Storyist – This app is designed for fiction writers. It includes features like character and plot development tools. There are many other writing apps available, so explore a few and find the ones that work best for you.
- Grammarly – This is a great app for catching grammar mistakes. It can be installed as a browser extension or used online.
7. Get Support
Writing a book can be lonely business. It’s just you and your thoughts for hours on end. And while that can be a good thing, it can also be exhausting.
One of the best things you can do for yourself when writing a book is to find some support. There are a few different ways to do this. First, you could join or start a writers group. This is a great way to meet other writers and to get feedback on your work.
You could also hire a freelance editor or beta reader. A freelance editor will help you to improve your writing and catch any errors. A beta reader will read your book and provide you with feedback, but they won’t edit your work.
You could find an accountability partner. This is someone who will check in with you on a regular basis to see how your writing is going. It’s helpful to have someone who will motivate and encourage you as you write your book.
Finally, you can get the support of family and friends during the writing process. Let them know what you’re doing and ask for their encouragement. It can be helpful to have people in your life who are excited about your writing project.
8. Get Inspired by Your Favorite Books
There will be times during the writing process when you need fresh inspiration. When you feel like your creative juices are running low. When you lack the motivation to keep going.
One of the best things you can do in these moments is to read your favorite books. Reading is a great way to reignite your passion for writing. It can also help you to see how other writers approached their craft.
When you’re feeling stuck, pick up a book that you love and read a few pages. Allow yourself to be pulled into the story. And when you’re done, take a few minutes to reflect on what you’ve read. What did you like about the book? What worked well? How can you apply those things to your own writing?
Reading is one of the best ways to learn more about writing. So make sure to keep reading even when you don’t feel like it.
9. Write a Crappy First Draft
Perfection is the enemy of good. Don’t allow the pursuit of perfection to keep you from making progress on your book. Accept the fact that your first draft will not be of the highest quality. Anne Lamott encourages what she calls “Sh**** First Drafts”. These drafts are far from perfect. In fact, in many cases they’re quite bad. But that’s okay.
In Bird By Bird, she says:
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft—you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft—you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.
When writing your first draft, don’t focus too much on the quality of your writing. Just get your ideas down on paper. Worry about making them sound good later. You can polish things up in your second and third drafts. The first draft is all about just getting things out.
Setting a daily word count goal can help you keep moving forward. What matters most in the first draft is hitting that daily goal. It doesn’t matter how good the writing is as long as you hit the writing goal.
10. Revise, Revise, Revise
Once you complete your “sh**** first draft”, it’s time to start the revision process.
This is where you’ll take a look at your book as a whole and make sure that everything flows together well and makes sense. You’ll also want to add, delete, or change any parts that you feel aren’t working.
The revision process can be daunting, but it’s important to remember that it’s all part of the writing process. And, the more you revise, the better your book will be in the end.
So, take your time, go through each section of your book, and make changes as needed. Then, once you’re happy with your revisions, you can move on to the next step: editing.
11. Edit Your Manuscript
Editing is different from revising. Revising involves making large changes, such as adding or removing sections, or moving chunks of writing to different places in the book. Editing, on the other hand, is all about making sure your book is free of any errors, typos, or awkward phrasing.
There are two types of editing: copyediting and proofreading. Copyediting is when you edit for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Proofreading is when you read through your book one last time to catch any errors you may have missed.
It’s important to do both types of editing, as even the best writers make mistakes. And, the last thing you want is for your readers to be distracted by errors in your book.
So, take your time and go through your book with a fine-tooth comb. Fix any errors you find, and then move on to the next step: publishing.
You may want to hire an editor to help you with this process. You have been extremely close to the manuscript for months. This can make it hard for you to see errors.
A professional editor will have a fresh pair of eyes and will be able to catch errors that you may have missed.
12. Celebrate Your Wins!
It’s important to celebrate your wins, both during the writing process and when you complete your book. During the writing process, celebrate hitting specific milestones. For example, celebrate when you finish the first chapter, the first draft, the first revisions, etc. Celebrating milestones is a good way to keep your motivation high.
And, once your book is published, be sure to celebrate that accomplishment too! This is a huge achievement and you should be proud of yourself for completing the process. You wrote a book! That’s amazing. Not many people are able to accomplish such a thing.
So, take some time to pat yourself on the back and celebrate your success.