how to write a book

How to write a book.

Almost every writer on the planet wants to write a book.

Some have finished a manuscript and others are already published, but many more dream, talk, and think about completing a full draft and seeing their name on a book cover.

Some already have a book in the works while others have several half-finished drafts floating around. Some can’t even get started. They have too many ideas to choose from, or they are waiting for the right idea.

You could spend your whole life waiting.

The world is full of inspiration. Think about what moves you. What gets you excited? What are your goals? That’s where you’ll find your best writing ideas for books and everything else you want to create, whether it’s short fiction, poetry, essays, or a blog.

Ideas for Writing a Book

There’s no mystery to writing a book. You just do it. You work on it every day, and you don’t let yourself get sidetracked or distracted. You don’t drop your project to chase tempting new ideas. You chip away at it, and then one day, you have a complete draft. That’s all there is to it.

But to write a book, you have to start with a concept. Before you can sketch characters, draft an outline, or select pieces for a collection, you need a vision.

Whether you have too many visions or not enough, there are a few creative strategies that you can use in your quest for ideas or in your decision-making process. Choosing the right idea is critical. If you pick a project that you believe in, there’s a much better chance that you’ll actually finish it.

I’m one of those people with too many ideas. I’ve started plenty of books that I never finished (and never intend to finish). Every half-finished project was a lesson in how to better focus my energies so I can finish a book, which I finally did (aff link). Here are some of the thinking strategies I’ve been using to decide which ideas for writing a book are worth pursuing:

Explore Your Passions

If you want to write a book, start with your own passions. Are you crazy about horror stories? Write one. Are you a political junkie? Write political essays. Do you like to grow your own food? Write a blog about that. Your passion for your project will keep you going, and it will come through in your writing. Once you’ve got enough written material, you can pull it together into a book by gathering stories, articles, or blog posts into a single themed manuscript.

Tip: Write a list of everything you’re passionate about. Spend a few minutes brainstorming ideas about how to turn each one into a book. Let your list marinate for a few weeks. Which idea haunts you the most? That’s probably the best one to choose.

Tell a Story

Are you full of stories? Do you love fiction? For most writers, the big dream is writing a novel and getting it published. Once you decide to write a novel, the trick is coming up with characters and a plot that you can’t stop thinking about.

Tip: Give yourself twenty minutes a day to work on your story and try to burn through that first draft as quickly as possible. You can revise later. If you come up with other story ideas while you’re working on it, jot them down in an idea notebook and then get back to work on your primary project.

Engage Your Imagination 

Some of the best art happens when artists experiment and take risks. If you’re juggling ideas or can’t seem to find the right one, take an abstract approach. Forget about form, genre, and structure. Just write.

Tip: Get a notebook and set aside fifteen to thirty minutes a day to write in it. Fill it up with whatever comes to mind. You can write about your own experiences, make up stories and characters, or scrawl abstract ideas and images. When you get to the end, harvest the notebook to gather ideas for writing a book.

Use Your Words 

I meet a lot of writers who want nothing to do with poetry, and that’s a shame. Other than reading and writing, poetry is one of the best ways to strengthen your writing skills, and to write poetry, all you need are words. While it’s difficult to get a book of poems published through traditional publishing, you can easily self-publish a book of poetry.

Tip: Write one poem a day for ninety days. Then give yourself three months to polish your poems. Look for a theme in your poetry, and choose poems that fit that theme. Finally, bring those poems together into a book. Makes a great gift!

Engage Your Expertise

Many authors find success writing about their field of expertise. You have a job or a career, and that’s one obvious subject for a book. But what about your hobbies and other interests? Have you spent thousands of hours playing video games? Attending the ballet? Perusing fashion magazines? Write a book about what you know.

Tip: A great way to write a book on a specific topic is to blog about it. You can use your blog to build an audience, and you can compile some of your blog posts into a book.

Get Personal

Readers are passionate about memoirs. There is something unique about your life and your perspective on life. Tell your story. Share your experiences. Express your thoughts and feelings.

Tip: If you’re thinking about writing a memoir, start keeping a journal. You can also write a series of personal essays, and these can be published separately or as a collection. And if nonfiction is not your thing, fictionalize your experiences into a novel.

Put a Collection Together

Have you already written a lot of short stories, poems, or essays? Were some of them published? Instead of writing a book, make a collection of your finest writing.

Tip: As an alternative, you can collect pieces of writing from various writers and act as the editor of a collection.

A Few Things to Consider Before Starting a Book Project

Here are a few final things to consider before you jump into a long-term book writing project:

  • Why do you want to write a book?
  • Do you intend to publish your book?
  • Will you self-publish or will you try to land an agent and get traditionally published?
  • Do you have a platform or an audience? If not, should you start building one while you’re writing?
  • How much time can you spend working on your book every single day?

Now You Know How to Write a Book

I hope you found these tips and ideas for writing a book helpful.

Have you written a book? Are you working on one (or several)? What have you learned about how to write a book? What’s your biggest challenge in sticking with a book project? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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