Welcome back to this series on writing your first non-fiction book.
Now we get to arguably the most enjoyable part of the whole process—writing your book!
Step 3: Write Your Book
In some respects, this part of the process is the easiest part. Now you get to flesh out all the ideas you noted down in your outline, pouring all your knowledge and enthusiasm on to the page so you can help people with whatever problem your book is trying to solve.
If you have never actually written a book before, this stage can feel like a momentous task. I know it felt like that for me on my first book. Don’t worry though, as long as you have a good outline and a solid writing process in place (which I’ll talk about in a moment), you should be fine.
Don’t think about writing a whole book; think about writing just one chapter at a time.
That’s all you need to concentrate on. Take one chapter and write it out, forgetting about the rest. This is much easier than trying to “write a book” all at once. There is much less chance of overwhelm setting in if you take it chapter by chapter.
One thing you may struggle with here is the writing process itself. It can take a while to find what works for you and to find the most efficient way to approach the writing. Before we look into the mechanics of writing however, here are some points to keep in mind if you want the writing process to go as smoothly as possible:
- Set out a good writing space for yourself. Preferably somewhere quiet that’s free from distractions. Disconnect your internet and turn off your phone. The more you are able to concentrate, the better your writing will be.
- Try to write at the same time every day. You will find writing easier if you stick to a daily routine instead of trying to grab time wherever you can get it. Having a set time to write will help your writing brain kick in faster and you’ll find you get more done.
- Even though you may not have done much writing before, try to approach the writing process with confidence. You already know you have something to say. You should also have a good idea of how you want to say it thanks to your outline. Relax and trust that the words will flow.
If you get your preparation right by following the above advice you will give yourself the best chance of producing good work.
The Writing Process
Different writers tend to have their own process when it comes to writing. Despite this there are some commonalities, things that all writers do while writing, that will make the whole process go more smoothly.
Here is the process that I use, as outlined in my book, 1500 Words Per Hour :
As you can see, I have broken the writing process down into different stages, which makes it easier to cope with and prevents overwhelm setting in.
The first few stages of this process you should have already completed. You’ve come up with your idea, developed it and intended to see it through to the end. You’ve also planned the structure of your book and completed an outline to work off. Now you should be good to go.
The pre-writing stage is nothing more than taking five to ten minutes to jot down on a piece of paper what you intend to write about. So if you are planning to write your first chapter, you would write down the main points you want to cover in bullet form first and then perhaps write a sentence or two explaining these points, adding in anything else you think is necessary.
What this does is get into your head exactly what you have to write, in the order you want to write it. This means the information is fresh in your head as you write, also giving you a direction to go in. You can refer back to these notes as you write if you need to refresh your memory.
Pre-writing in this way will prevent you from floundering when you start to write. It is imperative that you learn to separate thinking from writing. This is where many writers go wrong, as they try to think at the same time as writing.
You can’t do this if you expect to get into any kind of flow while writing. You’ll just be starting and stopping all the time as you wonder where to go to next.
Pre-writing will save you time and much frustration in the long run.
The key to getting your book done without incurring too much frustration or headaches is speed. Many beginning writers believe they have to go slowly, agonizing over every word as they write.
That’s the quickest way for a writer to stall. It’s not the professional way to do things.
The professional approach is to work quickly, getting your ideas down in that first draft.
Don’t worry about grammar and spelling or how your writing looks at this stage. We aren’t aiming for perfection on the first draft.
Take each of your chapters and get them written out as fast as possible. Don’t stop to rewrite or revise until you have a full draft of your book.
Once you have a full draft, then you can go back and revise.
Revising Your Book
With revision, the first thing you want to look at is structure. Go through your whole book and see if it’s structured properly. Does one topic follow logically on to the next? Does each chapter steadily bring the reader to the final conclusion?
Play around with the structure of your book until it makes sense and you are satisfied with it.
Once you get the structure right, check it for flow and consistency. Does each point lead nicely on to the next? Are there parts that may need further developing, or cut altogether?
Next, look at the writing. Polish up your sentences, keeping them as tight as possible. Correct any grammar or spelling mistakes.
The key to revision is to work in passes. Go through your whole book in one pass, concentrating on one specific area at a time. Again, work quickly, trusting that if you miss something, you will get it in the next pass.
Once you think you’ve done as much as you can to the book, you need to pass it on to an editor. An editor will revise your book and make it better. They will check for proper structure, for flow as well as grammar and syntax mistakes.
A good editor will find all the mistakes that you have missed and make sure the final book is readable and ready for publication.
Take some time to find a good editor. Decide exactly what kind of editing your book needs first. If you think it needs heavy editing (or substantive editing), expect to pay more than if the book just needs a general copy edit. A good editor will tell you what the book needs once they look at it. It’s up to you how much you want to spend on it.
Don’t skip this stage. Your book will do far better if you get it professionally edited, especially if this is your first book. Whatever you spend on editing, it will be worth it, trust me.
After editing and you’ve made all the suggested changes to your book, you can also choose to have it proof read for grammar and spelling mistakes. Again, this is recommended if you don’t want reviewer’s picking up on silly mistakes. It makes you look like an amateur,not to mention costing you sales.
Once you’ve sorted all that out, your book will need formatting for whatever publishing platform you are going with. It’s a fairly simple process, but if you haven’t done it before, I suggest you get someone to do it for you, especially if you are going to publish as a paperback. Go on Fiverr and you’ll find people there who will format your book for you very cheaply.
Before you do that however, you have to get your cover done, and that’s what we are going to look at in the next article in the series.
Until then, keep on writing…