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How to Start Writing a Book: 10 Tips for First Time Authors

If you’ve always wanted to write a book, here are 10 tips on how to start writing a book that will help make your dream a black and white reality!

Have you always wanted to write a book? Would you love more than anything to see your name in print, maybe even on the bestseller list, your words forever embedded in time, your place secured in history?

After I wrote and published my first book, Rock Solid ABBs (Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors) for Weight Loss Success, I was surprised at the number of people who came up to me, revealing that they had always wanted to do the same. That got me thinking. Why is it that so many people have this goal and don’t pursue it?

I believe that it is because people don’t know how to start writing a book. (Starting is the hardest thing!) It seems overwhelming to put together an entire book, so they do nothing. Well, not anymore because I am going to share some tips with you that I have learned that will help you take the next step toward becoming a first time writer and author.

#1 Read… A Lot

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The more you read, the more you’ll pick up on how to write. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to read books, articles, and blogs that are in the genre you want to write. There is something to be learned from all of them, so read a variety and read a lot.

Some writers learned how to improve their skills by copying their favorite authors word for word. The simple act of rewriting their content will help teach you how to write more effectively (just don’t publish it in your name or else it become plagiarism, which is illegal).

#2 Commit to Writing One Page Per Day

You don’t have to carve hours a day out of your time in order to write a book. All you have to do is commit to writing a certain amount each day, like a page, and you’ll get there eventually. After all, it is much easier to sit down for 15 minutes to half an hour than it is to get up hours earlier or stay up hours later in a quest to get your book down on paper.

#3 Don’t Edit, Just Write

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If you’ve ever suffered from writer’s block, it may be because you edit your words as you go, causing you to lose sight of what you’re trying to say. Instead of worrying about writing perfectly your first time through, just get your thoughts and ideas down.

Some authors find it helps to turn their computer monitor off so they aren’t tempted to play around with the words. Do what you have to do, but don’t reread your material or change it at this point or else you may severely limit your progress.

#4 Create a Visual Story

The most effective and well-known writers know that the way to write effectively is to create wording that elicits a visual picture in the reader’s head. The more you can get them to “see” what you are saying, the better your story will be – whether it is fiction or non-fiction.

Therefore, you’ll want to think about what details will help to conjure up the image you want to add life to your writing. It is like the difference between “a road” and “a long, winding dirt road that is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hundred-year-old trees on both sides, and fields of green beyond them.” See what I mean?

#5 Inject Your Personality

What makes certain writers so famous is that they inject their personality into their writing. You get to know them by the works that they publish. You learn where their mind goes and what makes them tick.

In order to help your readers get to know you like that, you’ll want to inject your personality into your writing. If you’re witty, be witty. If you’re sarcastic, be sarcastic. Be who you are and your readers will fall in love with you more easily.

#6 Before You Edit, Let Your Words Rest

Middle aged woman resting at beach near the sea

Although writing your first book is exciting and you want to get it out to the world as quickly as you can, you’re going to want to let your words rest before you edit them. This allows you to get a clearer head, which will help you pick out the things that don’t make sense or need more clarification as you read it through.

Personally, I let my shorter articles and blogs rest overnight. But when I am working on a book, I let it rest longer, like a week or more, before I go back to it and reread it again.

#7 When You Edit, Read Out Loud

One of the best tips I have learned when it comes to editing is to read it word for word out loud. When you read silently to yourself, you’re more likely to put words where they aren’t or miss critical errors.

However, when you force yourself to read aloud, you will have an easier time noticing when a word has been left out or if a sentence is difficult to read and should be changed.

#8 Don’t be Married to Your Words

Perhaps Stephen King said it best in his book titled On Writing in which he stated that you have to be willing to “kill your darlings.” In other words, you can’t be so married to your content that you’re not willing to change it. In fact, you have to be willing to mutilate it from time to time in an effort to end up with a better product in the end.

This requires that you be as objective as you can and when something doesn’t fit, remove it. You can always put it in a different spot or use it in another article, book, or blog but don’t leave it where it is simply because you’re afraid to let it go. If it doesn’t add to the book, take it out.

#9 Have Someone Else Read Your Work, but Take their Comments Lightly

Group of students sitting with a books on street

When I was finished with my first book, I sent it out to a couple of family and friends to have them take a look at it and tell me what they thought. Although their reviews were positive overall, some of their comments hit me over the head like a hammer. They made me wonder if I was a good writer and, more specifically, if I had what it took to succeed in this field.

Then I learned of other already famous authors who faced negative comments and prevailed nonetheless. Perhaps the most notable one is Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He was turned down by well over 100 publishers before finding one who liked his work and look at him now!

This is just a gentle reminder that all opinions and criticisms need to be taken in the proper context. If their advice is useful, then implement it. If it is not, let it go. Not everyone will like the way you write and that is okay.

#10 Believe in Your Work

Above all else, believe in your work and, if writing makes you happy, do it regardless. In the end, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of your works as long as you are enjoying your time writing (or typing) your way to a better life.

Writing a book is time consuming and takes a lot of effort, but it is time and effort that is well spent. Are you ready to write yours? If so, I’d love to read it when you’re done!

About the author

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Christina DeBusk

Changing careers mid-life from law enforcement to writing, Christina spends her days helping others enrich their businesses and personal lives one word at a time.

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