Updated: Apr 24
Do you have a story that you've been dying to tell? Are you tired of not knowing where to begin? Well, I don't want to waste time so let's jump into 5 tips to jumpstart your first book!
Tip #1: Let your words flow! If time isn’t spent writing or speaking your idea into existence, then you won’t have any physical content. Words on a page matter. Editing will come later. Release your ideas from your brain into the physical realm!
"What if I'm stuck? How do I combat writer's block?"
Below is a list of REAL ways to combat writer's block:
Take a long walk. The best ideas come when you least expect them.
Listen to podcasts or videos about your subject
Talk to more people. Pick a friend, coworker, partner, family, or random cashier and talk to them about your story.
SPEAK instead of WRITE. Download Google Docs on your phone and do talk-to-text. It's okay to word-vomit! Save the editing for later.
If you feel overloaded with stories to share, pick your absolute FAVORITE. This needs to be the story you are most passionate about. This story will be way easier to write.
Side tip: you're going to have writer's block, so don't be discouraged. You might even have it for 2 months like I did. That just means you're not inspired...yet. Never force anything, your inspiration will come. Following the steps above will help.
Google Docs and voice memos will become your best friend. I found myself in the passenger seat on the way to vacation "writing" the first two chapters of my next book. If you work a 40+ job, take a lunch walk and talk-to-text all of your ideas.
Tip #2: Create a mindmap! Go get a huge piece of canvas, whiteboard, piece of paper, or notebook and start with a word or phrase that best describes what you want to write about, and let those concepts take shape. Connect ideas, people, events, themes, everything. Just let it flow. There are no rules!
It doesn’t even have to be perfect because perfect doesn't exist! I looked at my mind map a year later and some things are on there that aren't even in my book! But it was important that I released my ideas into a visual format.
Tip #3: Study the recipe of a book! Books have a recipe. Go to a library or bookstore and begin skimming through books that are most similar to yours. You should find at least 3-5 books minimum to use as a template. Study the table of contents, dedication page, acknowledgments, and the beginning, middle, and end. Is it split into themes or sections? Is it chronological?
After you study the recipe, try to formulate some sort of outline. But one important thing about this: don’t start outlining until you’ve done the first two steps. What you don't want to do is move back and forth between writing, editing, and organizing.
Identify major themes or sections
Summarize your book in 2-3 sentences
Develop a "pitch"
At the end of the day, you’re going to be selling this book. You need to develop a quick summary and/or marketing pitch. As an example, this was my quick summary of my first book:
“Homeless kid defies the odds and graduates valedictorian.”
Now, that was super simple, however, it wasn’t perfect nor was it close to good. That sure wasn't the MAIN idea of the story. So then I started thinking about how my story can provide value to others. So then I came up with:
“This book will help change other people’s perspective of education, inspire people to never give up, and help them gain insight on how to build a growth mindset.”
Okay, NOW we're cooking with fire. When people buy books, especially self-help, non-fiction, or memoirs they need to know what's in it for them. Why should they give hours of their time? Think about that question often, but don't let it defeat you if you can't answer it immediately. As a reminder: your story MATTERS.
Tip #4: Tell your friends and family you’re writing a book! It makes it that much more real. It’ll hold you accountable and give you something to work towards.
I made a Facebook post and told all of my friends and family. Throughout the weeks, months, and years they would always ask me how it was coming along. It continued to push me to accomplish my goal because I felt like I had to deliver.
Tip #5: Set a gameplan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. A goal is great but in order to accomplish a goal you need some sort of direction. The gameplan helps provide that direction. If you’re serious about writing, immediately draft a gameplan for what you intend to do.
It could look something like this:
6 am to 7 am: write down 3 stories you would love to share
7 am to 8 am: create a mindmap
5 pm to 6 pm: take a walk and voice-record stories
Being able to cross these small victories off your list will feel so good that you’re going to be hooked. The best time to write a gameplan is right before bed to get you prepared for the next day.
Just write your dang book, and quit making excuses for yourself! The longer you keep saying "I'll wait until tomorrow," the higher the probability you'll never get it done. If you don't have time, create time. Wake up earlier. Work in the evening. Avoid weekend benders and take long walks with your Google Docs open. I wouldn't be surprised if you had 4 hours of screen time on your phone, so convert those leisurely hours into production!
Once you create your mind map and outline, I'd love for you to share it with me!
If you found this helpful, feel free to give a comment and like.
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