How Do You Start Writing a Book?

writing a bookThinking about writing a book?

Welcome to the neighborhood. A lot of people are. There are people who have either been thinking about writing a book for years, or who have been writing a book for years. Or, at least, someone has been telling them they needed to be writing a book, for years.

At every business conference or networking event that I have ever attended—and there have been quite a few of them—I would say, on average, that at least 70% or more of the people I meet are either writing a book, or know someone else who is. And, remember, that’s only the people I meet at these events. I’m not a speed networker by any means. I like to take time and chat with the people I meet and get to know them. And, let’s not forget to mention the business gurus who are holding these conferences: Almost all of them are telling their entrepreneur attendees that they need to write a book. Even if they don’t want to.

But book writing is not just for entrepreneurs. There are people out there with real life experiences or fictional stories that they want to share with others in book form.

But, why?

The reasons are infinitesimal. If you are an entrepreneur, you might want to write a book to gain more visibility, establish, credibility, or gain more clients. You might be a motivational speaker who wants to do a book signing after your talk. You might have found a solution to a problem and want to help others. You might feel your life experiences could help someone or save a life. You might want to enlighten or entertain others with your fictional story. Or, you simply might be hoping you can hit it big and write a bestseller, make your book into a movie, sell t-shirts and movie posters and replica dolls.

So, how do you get started?

First of all, writing a book is not like writing an article, or a blog, or an email, or a text. It has to have a formula, a plan, an outline. The problem is that sometimes you won’t know what that formula, plan, or outline is until you actually start writing.

In other words, writing is discovery. You have to write to discover and you have to discover to write more.

That’s why the act of writing is so magical, and no one can ever truly tell you how to do it.

What I can tell you, however, is that if you impose an outline, form, or structure onto your book before you even know what you want to write, you may already be stopping your story in its tracks before you even start writing, and finding yourself coming down with an acute case of writer’s block which requires long walks on the beach, glasses of wine, and naps on the couch for days to get rid of it.

Or, you can try a different writer’s block cure, and that is called, “more writing”!

How can writing cure the inability to write?

Because while you are writing, you are actually going through the creative process of finding out if you have a story to tell. Because you can’t write a book without telling a story. Let’s say you’ve had an interesting life, a lot of hardships, or experiences from which others might learn. But, if you can’t weave any of those into a story, well, then you haven’t got a book. Every book, fiction or nonfiction, is comprised of an underlying story. Whether that story is intrinsic or overt, there’s an underlying thread that weaves every element together.

That is your quest as a writer…to find that golden thread!

So, keep writing until you can “see” your story. Keep filling that blank page, even if you don’t feel satisfied with what you have written. Then, put aside, delete, or throw away anything that doesn’t fit. Once you have your “story”, start writing again and enjoy writing to make it come to life!

Writer’s Block “Rehab” in 3 Easy Steps

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By now, you have not only developed a writing routine, but you have also experimented with your writing environment. Right? If you haven’t, please refer to the first two posts in this series of chipping away at Writer’s Block.

So, here’s the million-dollar question: How do you create fresh, new, and invigorating content for your writing?

Most folks don’t associate the word “invigorating” with writing. Come to think of it, when I hear the word “invigorating”, I think of diving into a fresh cold water spring on a hot summer day. That certainly sounds inviting, doesn’t it?

Well, that is exactly how your readers should feel when they read what you wrote. They should feel refreshed after reading what you wrote. They should feel amazed. Like they have gained something valuable from you that they could have never received on their own.

So, let’s discuss three things you can do this week to generate, fresh, new, and invigorating content.

First of all, you need ideas. Great content always comes from great ideas.

Just to refresh your memory. There’s no need to write what someone else has already written. No need to argue the same arguments. No need to regurgitate what’s been written before. Got it?

STEP 1: Make lists.

In 20 minutes, make a list of at least 75 things about your topic. I know, this sounds ridiculous. However, forcing yourself to come up with an seemingly infinite (not really) amount of ideas in a very short period of time forces you to reach inside your heart and mind and find what is within. The beginning of your list will most likely be the most obvious things that everyone else will have thought of too. It’s the end of the list where the real creativity reveals itself. Once your list is complete, go back and scratch off every point that you’ve heard, read, and spoken about before. And, write about the most unusual and exciting things you’ve come up with.

STEP 2: Argue for and against your topic.

Now, arguing for and against a topic seems to assume that there are only two sides to a story. Actually, there are three, or five, or maybe even more. Force yourself to come up with as many angles as you can. Do this on your own before without doing any research or reading what anyone else has to say. Force yourself to come up with a list of ten arguments. Some of them may overlap and that’s okay. Now, pick the best five and write cogent arguments for all of them.

STEP 3: Brainstorming.

Brainstorming involves connecting your mind to other minds (but not like Mr. Spock)! Pick a friend, neighbor, family member, even your kids to learn new perspectives and insights about or related to your subject matter. Chances are that there will be several that you have not considered. You are not looking for arguments here, per se, but rather as many ideas related to your subject matter as you can. At this point, we can’t write in a vacuum and need to know what other minds are thinking. Plus, because we are already subconsciously influenced by a variety of factors and rules that we impose upon ourselves, it can be refreshing to listen to others. This is an exercise in open-mindedness. So, we need to listen with a third ear. List the new insights you have gained and do a timed 5-minute writing about each.

If you have followed this advice for the past three weeks, you surely have broken out of your writer’s block conundrum. Post a comment and let me know about the new and interesting things you have been writing about!