Category Archives: Write a book

Writing A Book? Create A Writing Habit With These 3 Tips

Writing A Book? Create A Writing Habit With These 3 Tips

In Team Up I’ve been working with a writer who’s started writing a book more times than she can count. She says that she has a dozen false starts on her computer. Those books never went anywhere.

“I start out great,” she said. “Then something comes up. I realize that I need another idea, or that what I have isn’t strong enough. I’ve made up my mind that this time I’m am writing a book — I’m finally finishing a book. No matter what.”

She’s got the right attitude.

However, she needs more than that. She needs to turn writing a book into a habit.

Make writing a book a habit

Writing a book is intimidating, if you allow it to be. Your biggest ally is the disposition we all have to create habits.

Currently I’m reading Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. He reveals that we form habits, both consciously and unconsciously. Those habits, once formed, can be cued at any time; we don’t realize it’s happening. This is great when you form habits for writing a book. Not so great with habits like procrastinating, and eating junk food.

It turns out that creating a habit is easy.

Researchers have discovered how habits work. When a habit is cued, we follow the habit’s routine in expectation of a reward. When rewards occur, over time the cue, routine and reward process becomes a habit fueled by craving. This is an unconscious process.

Writing a book has long been habitual with me. I don’t think about it. Over 30 years, it’s just become a habit. Although I developed the habit unconsciously, I can see that I followed the cue, routine and reward process.

You can do it too. Here’s how.

1. Cue yourself to get words onto your computer screen

Start by lowering your expectations. Your goal isn’t to write a book. It’s to get words onto your computer screen which will, in time, become a book.

You need a cue to sit down at your computer every day. Your cue can be simple. For example, many runners cue their exercise habit by setting out their running shoes beside their bed. When they wake up, they lace on the shoes, and they’re out the door. It’s a habit. The cue enables them to follow their routine for a run. Their reward is runner’s high: the endorphins which their body creates.

What would cue you to sit at your computer each day?

My cue is simple. It’s coffee. I wake up, make coffee, sit down at my computer and start writing. One of my friends has a crossword puzzle cue: he opens his crossword puzzle app, does a crossword, then opens Scrivener and starts writing.

Keep your cue simple.

2. Form a routine: meet a daily word count goal

I love Scrivener for many reasons, especially because it allows you to set word count goals. Let’s say you’re aiming for 60,000 words for a novel. If you wrote 1,000 words a day, you’d complete the novel in two months. Or, if your goal was 500 words a day, in four months.

Set any word count goal you like — just 50 or 100 words, initially.

When you’re cued, sit down at your computer and write those words. You’ll find that if you start at 100 words, on some days you’ll go over that. Extend your daily word count goal only when you’re regularly going over your current goal.

3. Reward yourself every day for following your routine

Completed your routine for the day? Excellent. Reward yourself. Essential: keep your reward simple. Save the champagne for your book’s publication day. Small daily rewards are enough.

For most authors the satisfaction of being done with their word count for the day is sufficient, but you might like to reward yourself with a little treat.

Once you’ve created a habit for writing a book, you’re set

The beauty of habits is that they become unconscious: cue, routine, and reward. Form a habit, and soon you’re writing a book automatically, without any will power at all.

Have fun. 🙂

Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

eBook: $5.99
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Series: Romance Writing, Book 1
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
Love makes the world go round, and of all the genres in fiction, romance, with its many sub-genres, is the most popular. More info →
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A Simple Self-Publishing Process: Write Well, Publish Faster

A Simple Self-Publishing Process: Write Well, Publish Faster

“How do I know that I’m doing it right?” This concern underlies every question my writing students ask about self-publishing. I respond with a variation of “if you published your book, you did it right. Fix it later if there’s a problem.”

It might be useful to share a VERY simple process I’ve developed over many years of writing books; I teach it to my students.

Firstly however let’s look at the biggest challenge facing self-publishing authors.

Self-publishing today: your biggest challenge is YOU

Sadly, you’re your own worst enemy.

We all are. I’m not immune — I find new ways to torture myself and procrastinate each and every week. I tell myself about things I “must” do, but most of these “musts” are simply new ways to procrastinate.

We all have 24 hours in each day. Depending on how long you’ve been writing, it may take you between an hour and two hours to write a thousand words. But a thousand words of new content every day might not be possible for you. Perhaps you can only manage 500 words, or 200 words. That’s OK.

Set a word count goal for yourself. Keep the count low. You should be able to achieve this goal even on your worst and busiest day.

Self-publishing in six steps

Here’s the process.

1. Get an idea, write a blurb (description)

As soon as you get an idea for a book, whether fiction or nonfiction, write down your idea. Expand on the idea to 300 words. Look on this description as a mini-outline. It stops you wandering off-track later, once you start writing.

You may or may not use parts of this initial blurb later, when you publish.

2. Expand on the blurb: create a quick list outline (or two characters for fiction)

Without thinking about it too much, spend five minutes writing a list of what you intend to cover in the book if you’re writing nonfiction.

Writing fiction? Create two characters — just a job, and an attribute:

  • Bored accountant — for the mob;
  • Self-confident female surgeon.

You’ll find that the job plus attribute quick character-creation process sparks ideas. I had no idea that the “bored accountant” would be working for criminals, that just sprang to mind.

3. Write, while developing a more extensive outline

Start writing. When I write fiction, I focus on the major scenes; I want to know what these big scenes will be by the time I’ve written 10,000 words.

With nonfiction, avoid doing research until you know the slant/ angle you’re taking on your topic.

4. Create a title, order a book cover, research keywords, start marketing

Do these basic self-publishing chores as soon as you can. However, avoid letting any of them cut into your writing time.

Tip: use premade covers unless you’re writing a series. (They’re cheaper.) When writing a series, get good covers, and make sure that the covers will identify your series instantly, at a glance.

4. Revise: re-vision — promises kept?

Your biggest challenge is ensuring that your completed book lives up to the promise of your blurb.

For example, let’s say you’re aiming for a Lee Childs/ Jack Reacher suspense novel. Read what you’ve written. Did you achieve that goal? If not, start revising. 🙂

With nonfiction, have you differentiated your book? Does it serve its audience? If you’ve written a “me too” clone of other books on the topic, revise.

5. Send to beta readers: edit, and edit again

Once your revision is done, and you’ve done some light editing, whip the book off to your favorite beta readers. While you’re waiting for them to get back to you, start your next book.

Then take your betas’ comments on board, and edit. Twice.

Edit once to ensure that there are no boring bits. The second edit is to make sure that there are no stupid bits. Fact-check yourself.

Do a final proof, and…

6. Publish it — ready or not

Upload it to Amazon. Going wide? Upload your book to the other major book retailers as well.

Start your next book while you’re revising/ editing etc your current book

Write your next book, following the same process, while your current book’s being edited.

Here’s why you need to do this.

If you’re enthusiastic about the book you’re currently writing, you won’t be overwhelmed by comments from your betas — or by your editor, if you’re going the traditional publishing route.

In your first few years as an author, even the kindest comments can throw you off track. Aim to be so engrossed in your new book that you’re insouciant about the book being edited. Eventually your “it’s done, I don’t care” attitude will be real.

Use this simple self-publishing process. Keep moving forward, and have fun with it. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →

How To Write A Book Without Trying

How To Write A Book Without Trying

You want to write a book but you have challenges. Maybe you have no idea how to start your book. Perhaps you can’t decide what to write about. Alternatively, you’re in the middle of writing a book, and say that “I can’t finish my book.”

Here’s the solution to each and every one of your challenges: stop trying.

Write a book the easy way: just write

Several times each week I suggest to a writing student:

  • “You’re over-thinking this…”; or
  • “You’re getting in your own own way…”; or
  • “Just start…”

Nothing happens until you stop thinking, and start writing.

It’s a lesson I learned many years ago, but here’s the thing: you (and I) need to learn this lesson over and over again.

The only way to get out of procrastination hell is to DO: right now, this minute

Procrastination masks itself so it takes time to wake up to what’s happening.

For example, I was happily procrastinating on a book I’m ghostwriting for a client. I kidded myself that I was doing research. It took the danger of the imminent deadline to metaphorically slap my face and wake me up. I was forced to realize that my so-called research was just over-thinking and procrastinating.

Let’s look at three ways to break free of deadly over-thinking and procrastination and write a book the easy way.

1. Break out a stack of index cards: one card equals one thought

This is my favorite method of getting out of my own way; it primes the pump for writing.

This method works well if you’re not sure what you want to write about, or if you’ve stalled out on a book.

Grab a stack of index cards; the 3 x 5 size.

Without thinking about it, write five thoughts, one per card.

Put those five cards away, and put 20 blank cards in your pocket, or in your purse. During the day, and before you go to sleep, write another thought on each of those 20 cards.

First thing in the morning, grab your stack of 25 cards and read them.

Today, you write.

Before you start writing, read the 25 cards again, and then just start writing. Chances are that a sliver of inspiration has managed to break through, and you’ll write easily for an hour or two. (Or whatever time you have: ten minutes, half an hour — the time you have isn’t as important as sitting down and writing.)

Keep using the index cards if you find them useful. If you don’t, just write.

Write nonsense if you like, but write. Within a couple of days, you’ll be inspired to write your book, or complete your book if you’ve already started.

2. Write the final scene (fiction) or final chapter (nonfiction)

I love this method.

Oddly enough, when you want to write a book but can’t get started, writing the end before you write the beginning helps. I have no idea why it works, it just does.

Sit down at your computer, and without thinking about it write the ending of your book. Accept whatever comes.

One of my students had been contracted to write a photography book for her client. She wrote the final chapter, and was shocked when it was the final chapter of a memoir. Not quite what she expected, but it was OK. Once she’d got that off her mind (she wrote an outline of the memoir in an hour after completing the final chapter) she started on the client’s photography book.

She told me: “I wrote my client’s book quickly — it just flowed. The client’s thrilled. She’s recommended me to a friend, and I’ve just committed to writing an ebook for the friend.”

Occasionally when your creative self needs to get in touch with you, the only way is to block you. With this method, you’ll unblock, and all your writing will flow.

3. “Today I finished my book — here’s what it’s about”

This method is quick and simple.

Set a timer for 20 minutes, and start the timer.

Write “Today I finished my book — here’s what it’s about”, and keep writing, without lifting your pen from the paper, or fingers from the keyboard, until the timer sounds.

Then start writing your book, or keep writing if you’ve already started.

Which method will you use? Use your intuition

Which of the above methods to write a book should you use?

Use whichever method appeals to you. Which method seems easiest, or most fun?

You’ll notice that none of the above ways of writing your book call for you to grit your teeth with determination, or force anything. They unlock your creativity and inspiration. Remember them, and use them.

Have fun. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 5
Genre: Writing
You're a writer. You need to make money from your words. What if you could create AND sell a nonfiction book in just a day? More info →
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