Writing a book is a huge project. Gigantic. Enormous. Intimidating. Fear-inducing. But, the truth is, even though you know that it’s entirely possible to write a book, you don’t really know what the process looks like. And what you don’t know about the book-writing process could keep you stuck in procrastination mode for years. I’m here to tell you exactly what you need to know about the book-writing process in a simple, step-by-step, streamlined way.
Break down the book-writing process into smaller steps.
This is the secret that every project manager, event planner, and entrepreneur will tell you is the key to success: taking big, intimidating processes and breaking them down into small steps that can be accomplished, one day at a time.
The problem is, you don’t know what those small steps are until you’ve actually done them, right?
I’m here to give you the shortcut. I’m here to show you what it takes to write a book, literally step-by-step. I’ve created one of the most thorough checklists I’ve ever seen, one that outlines each of the four phases of book-writing and breaks each phase out into small, measurable steps. The link to download the checklist is below, but here’s an outline of each of those four phases:
Phase 1: Organize your book
You need to collect all of your thoughts and ideas into one place. All of those digital notes, emails, and documents that you’ve got scattered over hard drive and cloud? You need them all in one space so that your thoughts can begin to coalesce.
If you have analogue paper notes, bring them into one physical space. Don’t worry about digitizing them, but do read through everything that you’ve written and gathered. Let it all steep in your powerful, beautiful brain.
In one sitting, quickly write down all of your book-related ideas into one document so that you can organize them—literally copy and paste those ideas into sections and chapters before you ever start writing. You end this phase with a list, a rough organization, of exactly what will be in your book.
Phase 2: Write your book
You’re not writing a giant, behemoth book. You’re simply writing out a list of ideas, which are broken into sections and chapters. And you can write them out in manageable chunks, one at a time. You can also break your writing time into manageable chunks. I recommend 25 minute chunks of writing. So, you’re writing one idea at a time, in one 25-minute writing session at a time.
Keep track of your writing progress, so you can watch as your word count increases and the amount of time you’ve been writing increases. It’s frustrating to say, “I’ve been writing this book for 6 months,” but it’s remarkably empowering to be able to say, “I’ve spent about 20 hours writing over the last 6 months, and I’ve written close to 20,000 words.” That’ll keep your momentum up!
Phase 3: Edit your book
Don’t just start at Page 1 and read through your entire book. You’ll probably give up on the whole book before you get through Chapter 1.
Instead, give yourself a bird’s eye view of your book by creating an outline of your first draft. Notice the places where you go off on tangents, where you start an idea but don’t finish it, where you tell a piece of a story but leave it hanging, or where you repeat yourself. Outline your entire book, make notes on what you should change, then you’ll be ready to go back to Page 1 of your book and revise intentionally.
Then, you’ll want to bring in a professional editor and beta readers to help you do the last rounds of revisions.
Phase 4: Publish your book
Ironically, this is the step that most would-be authors spend so much of their time stressing over, but it’s absolutely, 100% the easiest part of the entire book-writing process! Get a cover designed, get the book formatted, put it up on Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace, and—boom—you’re a published author. Seriously, these days, the publishing part is easy and fun. Look forward to this part!
Download this checklist, with each phase broken out into detailed steps.
I gave you the four phases, first, so that you’d see that it’s not that difficult of a process. It’s not mysterious or overwhelming. But you are going to need some more detailed action steps that you can use to get you progress from week to week. And I’ve put all the steps for you into this beautiful, printable checklist, which you can grab for free, right here:
Plan your STEP ONE.
You don’t have to know exactly when you’ll complete every step of the book-writing process, but you should know when you’re going to complete STEP ONE. The first step I recommend is choosing a note-taking software (like Google Docs or Evernote or Scrivener).
Don’t over-complicate it. Choose a time and date on your calendar, spend at most an hour looking through the options, and then pick one. Authors of all genres swear by each of them, so they all work equally well. Just pick one and start gathering all of your notes into one digital space.
And let me know. What’s been your “stuck” point in writing your own book? What do you keep getting hung up on? Leave a comment, and let’s chat it out.