What’s your biggest challenge with writing your book? For my students, it’s the writing, once the initial enthusiasm wears off. You’re happily writing along, and then you take a day off. And then another one. You tell yourself you’ll write next week… Next month, when you have more time… Before you know it, your book’s vanished in the rear-view mirror of your life.
Tip: this is normal. Writers call it “hitting the wall.” Every book hits a wall at some stage. With fiction I slam into the wall at page 100. With nonfiction, I usually run smack into the hall after the third chapter. You WILL hit a wall at some stage. It won’t hurt as much if you expect it.
Writing shorter books, as you do when you’re writing ebooks, helps. As does having a process.
The best way to write your book is to make it a habit. Dripping water wears away stone, and you can accumulate words by working on your book each day.
Want some easy ways to accumulate those words? Here you go: five ways to sneak up on writing your book.
1. Choose Your Writing Time: 5, 10 or 25 Minutes.
If you write every day, you’ll complete your book. It’s inevitable. If you’ve hit the wall, tell yourself that you’ll work on your book for five minutes a day. Heck – you don’t even need to write. Just sit in front of your computer for five minutes a day, and think about your book.
Sooner or later you’ll get so bored with sitting, that you’ll write a few words. Then a few words more. The sitting is important. Sit. Write. I use Repeat Timer Pro on projects I’m “not in the mood” to write. I set the timer for 25 minutes, and write. You can put up with anything for 25 minutes.
If you sit every day, your inspiration will come back. Then you won’t be able to keep away from your book. (Inspiration will leave again. When inspiration flees, turn on your timer.)
2. Create an Outline, Even if You Hate Outlining, or Created One And Think It’s Crap.
Many writers hate outlining, especially when they’re writing fiction. However, your outline is your “zero” draft.
You don’t need to create an outline as an outline. You can write snippets – write a snippet while you’re sitting in your car, or at a boring meeting. Then compile those snippets into a list, which is your outline. Here’s what I do. I write a snippet a day. Here’s an example of a recent snippet: Mystery. A woman’s adult daughter disappears. Protagonist was never close to her daughter. She knew her daughter was in danger, but from what?
By the time I’m ready to write my next book, I’ve got enough material to create a list outline. Then I create a couple of characters, making them as different from each other as possible – think The Odd Couple.
I throw everything into Scrivener’s index card view, and I’m ready to write.
If you’ve hit the wall, create a list outline of the scenes of your novel, or if you’re writing nonfiction, the main points you’ve made. Then look at the outline and create what’s missing.
3. Use Evernote, or Any App or Service Which Lets You Write Anywhere.
I love Evernote because it lets me write anywhere, any time. Try writing on your phone, or in everyone’s favorite, the coffee shop. Or on the sofa, while the rest of the family’s watching a movie.
Tip: save your work in progress to Evernote too, even if you keep backups. Backups fail more often than you’d think.
4. Blog Your Book. You Need a Cheer Squad.
I’ve written about book marketing and blogging your book. Although a blog’s a great marketing tool, it has a more important purpose when you’re writing your book – it gives you a cheer squad.
If you’re blogging about your book, or tracking the number of words you write, and that’s visible on your blog, you’re accountable. You’ll also find that when you write about your book, it gets your book out of your head, and onto the page. I keep extensive book journals for that reason. I can muse about the book, and that provides inspiration while I’m writing.
(You can read an expurgated version of my writing journal here.)
5. All Out of Inspiration? Create Word Lists.
Try this. Before you start writing, create a word list. Any words you like off the top of your head. Then start writing. It’s a super-simple prewriting exercise, and I’ve no idea why it works, but it does. You can use the words in your writing, or just forget about them. I usually delete them after a writing session. It’s just a way of priming the pump – opening the communication between your conscious mind, and your subconscious.
Article revised and updated on September 7, 2016.
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