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Writing a book is a great dream for many people. In fact, it’s a lifelong dream for some, with the great novel or autobiography inevitably getting put off, and put off, for years at a stretch.
Perhaps you’ve decided that the time is finally right to let your creative side out of its box and tell the stories you’ve always had hidden within you. But what if you just don’t know how to get started?
Whether you’re writing a non-fiction book about a physical address, you’ve personally inhabited, or are crafting a fictional world full of elves and magic, here are a few tips that will serve you well.
Plan in detail before you begin writing
Different authors argue over the best way to go about writing a book. Some advocate that you just sit down and write whatever comes into your head, and deal with the (hopefully beautiful and artistic) mess once you’re done.
Others advocate that you plot out the details and structure of your book with absolute pinpoint precision before getting started.
There are benefits and downsides to each approach, but if you find yourself completely lost and with no idea of where to go, with regards to your book, doing some detailed planning can be a major help.
Firstly — what is your book about, broadly? If you had to write a few hundred words about the general outline of it, what would they be? What themes do you want to address in the book? Is it a work of fiction? If so, what does your protagonist look like, and what motivates him or her?
Plan an outline in detail before you begin writing. Make sure that it “feels right”. If you don’t like the direction that things are going in once you’ve started writing — never fear! It’s never too late to change course.
Don’t want for inspiration, brainstorm actively
The famed and renowned novelist Jack London reportedly said once that you couldn’t wait for inspiration but had to “go after it with a club”.
Many would-be authors get caught up with waiting for inspiration to find them. They delay writing their book for years, in no small part because they think or hope that ideas will just come to them of their own accord, until they’ve got a masterful, inspired plot lined up.
Sometimes ideas do just come to you, but much more often, good ideas are summoned up by active brainstorming. Never “wait for inspiration”. Get a pen and paper pad, and write whatever comes into your head, until ideas start forming. And have no doubt, ideas really will start forming.
Set yourself a daily writing schedule
Just as coming up with ideas for a novel is an active process, so actually getting the words out on paper is an active process, and by no means a matter of inspiration.
No matter how much you love the idea of being a novelist, or revel in the story you’re telling, on some days you just won’t feel like putting pen to paper.
But you need to do it anyway. You need a writing schedule.
To get a book written you need to apply consistent effort. Treat it like a part-time job. Have a daily writing schedule where you sit down and write for a set period of time, whether or not you’re in the mood.