In these new days of technology and self-publishing options, anyone can write a book. For better or worse, writing and publishing a book is easier than ever. But writing better books is trickier.
If you’re here, it’s probably because you don’t just want to write *a* book. You want to write a *great* book — one that you’re proud of, one that connects to other people, one that makes an impact.
Putting in the work — just sitting down and doing the writing — will always be the most important piece to writing a book. But there are a few simple steps to take towards writing better books:
Refine your idea
In practice, you could be the best writer on the planet. But if you don’t have a solid idea, your book will fall flat.
Great book ideas don’t just fall out of the sky, into your brain, fully formed. They have to be worked on, tweaked, refined, sometimes extensively, before you’re ready to write. Your idea needs to be specific enough, not too broad, but also able to carry you for sometimes 50,000 words or more. Does your book idea have a clear story arc? Will it hold a reader’s interest for multiple chapters? Is there a clear beginning, paradigm shifts and character development throughout, and a conclusion?
(If you need help developing your book idea before launching into the writing process, check out our Book Idea Primer course).
Create an outline
Now that you have a fully fleshed-out book idea, it’s time to put pen to paper on… your outline. We know, we know: this isn’t the most exciting part of writing a book. If anything, it can be the most difficult part.
There’s a lot you have to think about when you create a book outline: where will paradigm shifts happen? What goes in which chapters? What do you leave out? How do you open and close story loops throughout to keep your reader moving through the pages?
But the good news is once you create a solid, detailed outline, the actual writing can be a breeze.
(For one-on-one help from one of our coaches in creating your book outline, check out our Prepare to Publish VIP program).
Create a writing schedule
One of the most common missteps from authors, both new and accomplished, is waiting for inspiration to strike. Writing is (many times, rightfully) considered a creative pursuit. But writing is also a job. It’s one you have to continue to show up for every day. That’s why it’s so critical that you set up a specific schedule for yourself to get the work done when you begin a project as big as a book.
A couple easy steps include setting up a specific time of day when you’ll write, and setting a daily word count goal. Whether you write best early in the morning before getting distracted, or late at night after everyone else has gone to bed, choose whenever you’re most productive, and treat that time as sacred. Your word count goal should be sacred, too. It doesn’t have to be giant: no one can write 10,000 words every single day and not burn out. Maybe it’s as small as finishing 500 words a day. Whatever your goal, stick to it.
Get feedback early in the process
So you’ve developed a great book idea. You’ve stuck to your writing schedule and churned out 50,000 words of a book. You send it to an editor and… they want a ton changed. There are holes in your narrative structure you never even thought about. Now it’s like you have to go back to the drawing board, even after doing so much work.
Getting feedback early on in your writing process can be a way to avoid that scenario. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for help and advice. And feedback doesn’t have to always come from a professional editor. Writer’s groups are a great way to get feedback on your work. You can also think about the ideal audience for your book, and find someone you know who fits that profile and that you trust to give honest, compassionate feedback. Have someone read a chapter or two, and start integrating constructive feedback into your writing early in the process.
(Joining our Prepare to Publish Group program is also a great way to get feedback from other aspiring authors, who are in your same shoes!).
Don’t get discouraged
Writing a book is a monumental process. It can often take years, and more than a few ups and downs. The key is to not let those low points discourage you from the journey.
There will be days when the words just don’t seem to come to your brain. When you don’t feel like sitting down at your desk at 6 am again to write. When someone reads some of your work and doesn’t love it as much as you thought they would. When you doubt your idea, or your ability.
But writing better books comes down to authors facing down those roadblocks—and always coming back to the belief that they are capable of writing a great book.