A few months ago I sat down to write a book, but I kept struggling to get started. I realized I was missing something and needed a better process.
After some experiments and thinking about what worked in the past, I came up with these four ideas. Because of them, I was able to write 30 chapters in less than 2 months.
Keep It Simple
I see a novel as a series of short stories within a big story. This process works for me because of this understanding. If you focus on the whole book it might seem impossible to finish. Huge ideas are daunting and difficult to get on paper. Even worse, if the challenge seems too great you might get discouraged and give up.
The best way to avoid this is to break your big story into smaller more manageable pieces. When you are thinking about what you want to write, write down each piece of the story in a list. If a single story ends up being too big, break it down into smaller pieces. Add each of these new stories as a separate item on the list.
The simpler each story is the better. This will make it easier to write each one and that will make you more likely to complete your book.
Checklists are super simple and an often overlooked tool for planning a book. In fact, they are the most important tool to help get your story finished.
The best way to make a checklist is with paper and pencil. The idea of using an app seems promising, but paper is superior. With paper, it will always be in front of you. Also, you won’t get distracted by your phone when you look at your list.
The first step is to think of every major event or story in your book and write it down. I try to write one sentence, and if there are more details I add them below later.
You can reorganize the stories if that will help with the flow. It is also helpful to separate your stories into different sections if necessary. This way you can keep track of the different parts of your story, rather than getting caught up in the whole book.
Another benefit of a checklist is that every time you finish a story, you get to check it off. This gives you a feeling of satisfaction and encourages you to do more. The good feelings and motivation compensate for the time it takes to make the list.
Make Writing A Routine
Rather than focusing on a single story and putting time aside when you can, it is much better to make a routine. A routine means dedicating regular time to focus on working on your book.
The ideal plan would be to set aside time every day, or during the work week. During that time, work on one of your stories. What I did was set a daily goal of getting one story done. So I would sit and write till it was finished.
The importance of a routine is that once you get your book or novel completed, you can start working on something else. A routine also helps, because you get satisfaction from the process of writing. If your only goal is to finish you won’t have a reason to write again.
Clearest Stories First
At first, focus on the stories that are already in your head. If you already know them, they will come out faster. It is useful to get them out because you won’t have to think about them anymore. It will also give you a chance to see what you have and what you need to fill in the gaps.
Knowing what you have you might want to reorganize your book. You may want to add new stories or change the order of the existing ones. This is why a pencil is best, cause you can erase and rewrite.
Getting the most important stories done is a great way to get yourself in the mindset for success. When you see progress with these stories, you will get the motivation to do more.
If you want to finish your book and be more productive, you need a system in place. The ideas above should give you a good starting point. But you may need to tweak or add to the process so it works better for you.
It is great to finish your book, and if you have a good process you can always write more. With each effort, you can improve your process and write better books.