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How to Write a Book

It really is one word at a time

Writing a book is a huge undertaking! Which doesn't mean it can't be done. In fact, getting a book written is one of life's truly satisfactory achievements. Here are some thoughts and tips on how to write a book.

Start with getting the purpose of your book written down and created some sort of working table of contents before you begin actually writing the book. There's no "right way" to get the book writing done; every writer does it differently. But every successful writer finds a way to get the words on paper - if they don't, the book doesn't get written.

Write Your Book on Your Schedule

I get up early in the morning and write for several hours. Others write their books late at night. My son gets a lot of writing on his first book done during down times at his work.

Some set x-number of words or pages as a daily or weekly goal; still others work a specific number of hours each day or week. Most writers today write their books on a computer, but there are still those using typewriters and even paper and pencil. And some use all three!

The point is to find a way to get the writing done, however your do it.

A Book Doesn't Always Get Written Front to Back

My first book was actually a ghostwriting project and I replaced the original ghost when the book was about 30% drafted. I was so surprised to discover that the book wasn't being written from page #1 to the end, all in order! Now I'd be surprised to find a book was written that way.

Usually I find certain chapters are easier to write than others; I tend to start with what's easy and build from there. I no longer care where those first chapters fall in the table of contents, because I know it will all get sorted out in the rewrites.

On the other hand, if you work better writing in order, go for it. Just be open to other possibilities if you get stuck.

Turn Off Your Editor When First Writing A Book

Keep in mind that what you're doing now is drafting a book. Rough drafts are part of the book writing process. The only way I know to get a lot of writing done is to turn off my internal editor.

I actually talk to my internal editor, assuring her she is appreciated and will get a chance to work with the material I'm creating once the drafting is done. If that seems to weird, find another way to quiet that critical voice until you need it.

Exactly when you'll switch from drafting to rewriting and editing is up to you. Back in the days before computers and word processing, we pretty much had to draft the whole book before the rewriting and editing started. Today, it's often hard to tell where one ends and another begins.

Be careful that you don't get so stuck in the editing that you never finish a chapter or the whole book. If you let yourself be some sort of perfectionist, you'll never get done.

On the other hand, you do want to do a good job. I tend to at least start every chapter before I go back and start editing. Sometimes this means simply putting the chapter number at the top of the page and moving on; other times I'll actually write several thousand words. I do find, particularly in the beginning, that starting, for instance, Chapter 5, often leads to rearranging some of the information in Chapters 3 and 4.

When It's Time To Rewrite and Edit Your Book

Some place along the line it will be time to focus more on the rewriting and editing than the writing. There are really two goals in the rewriting and editing. The first is making sure your book flows logically and completely. It can be terribly difficult for you, the author, to judge this. Put your manuscript aside for at least a week or two, then begin at the beginning and read it through.

The second goal is to make your final manuscript as error free as possible. This means copy editing and it may very well make sense that you hire someone else to do it, or at least find a friend who knows both spelling and punctuation.

Writing a book is an organic process and, in many ways, so is the rewriting. Keep plugging away and eventually you'll be finished.

Write well and often!

Get tips on handling long manuscripts.

 

 

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