How to Start Writing a Book When You’re Busy With, You Know, Life
A version of this article was originally published at Mirasee.
You’ve got a brilliant idea for a book that will blow your audience away — but you can’t seem to get the thing written. Why?
When the idea strikes, it seems simple. Then you see the hurdles.
You’ll encounter fear of what your ideas will look like on the page and overwhelm at the process of publishing. You may have to fit the writing around other obligations, like a full-time job or running your own business. You may have family or social obligations that demand your time.
Whatever it is, you might feel like you’ll never get these words on the page.
How to Start Writing a Book
So how do you start writing a book?
The key is to commit to a routine and a set of goals from the start, so you have a timeline and guidelines to help you focus on writing your book when it gets tough. Set daily writing goals, and create a workable plan to start writing around your unique obligations.
First, allocate time to get the project started.
1. Put It on Your Calendar
Set aside time in your iCal, Google Calendar, etc., or hang a paper calendar over your desk with reminders of your writing schedule.
You’ll want to:
Choose a deadline to complete tasks: writing an outline, completing each chapter, hitting word count milestones (e.g. the halfway point) and getting a draft to your editor(s).
Determine how much time you’ll need to complete each task. For example, if it takes you one hour to write 1,000 words, and your first chapter is 4,000 words, you’ll need four hours to finish Chapter 1.
Determine which days of the week and which hours of the day you’ll be able to dedicate to writing your book.
Block these times on your calendar with specific tasks and goals to focus on your book. Make an appointment with yourself, and don’t schedule anything else during that time.
2. Set Your Priorities
One major barrier to completing any writing project is having too many balls in the air at once. If you’re going to start writing a book, you have to leave room in your life — and brain! — for it.
Of course, you’re going to have other obligations and priorities: family, work, clients, hobbies, classes, etc. And new opportunities will arise as you work on this project.
You can ensure your commitment to writing your book by fitting it into your life as a priority now. That way, when you’re forced to make decisions about your time later, you won’t let it slip away.
Answer these questions to get your priorities straight — and to shave away anything that might get between you and your finished manuscript.
What are your daily and weekly scheduled obligations?
What and who in your life requires regular interaction or attention?
What projects are you working on?
What hobbies are you pursuing?
What can you spend less time on to make room to write your book?
As new opportunities arise: What are the benefits and drawbacks of these opportunities? Can they wait until your manuscript is finished?
3. Tell the World What You’re Starting
Nothing keeps you on track like public accountability — or the fear of a public failure. Either way, you’ll get it by sharing your goals with the people around you. Tell someone about the book you’re writing.
Keep it small and private by sharing your ideas and goals with a coach or mastermind partner; go all out by stating it on your blog; or try something in between, like tweeting about it or telling your best friend.
4. Then… Start Writing!
Committing the space in your schedule and life to write a book is an important first step — but it still won’t get the book written. You have to show up at your scheduled time and make progress toward your goals.
Faced with a blank page and your brilliant idea, writing a book can feel like a massive, overwhelming task. Break it down into bite-sized pieces, and focus on just one step at a time to keep it manageable and make progress.
An OK First Draft Is Better Than No Draft at All
Anytime you hit a wall writing a book, remember: This is your first draft.
Don’t strive for perfection yet. You have to get this on the page before you can move forward to create that brilliant book for your eager audience!