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10 Hacks To Get Started Writing Your Book

Starting a new writing project can be difficult for anyone. Getting those first words down on paper is a challenge for first-time authors and seasoned writers alike.

Whether it’s self-doubt, fear of failure or writer’s block then finding a solution is a matter of following some simple hacks.

Fear of failure is a tricky business. It gets into your head and messes with your self-confidence.

But, ask yourself, what is the worst thing that could happen if I fail with my book?

Fear of failure and writer’s block can wear the mask of procrastination and make excuses as to why you don’t have time to write your book. If writing a book is a priority to you then “not having time” is no excuse, because the time is available. Here are some time-saving tips that will have you putting words on the page immediately:

#1 Brain Dump Your Ideas

Have you ever given a speech, written a blog post, led a meeting, or taught someone to do something? Then you can write a book. It’s all a matter of having the proper structure through an outline, mind map, or brain dump to move you from one chapter to the next. 

You can use a mind map to generate ideas and start the outlining process. Some people use special software and others create a wall of sticky notes. Using a blank wall or bulletin board, create a post-it note for each chapter heading. On separate post-it notes, write each topic idea you have for your book. Move these post-it notes around until you have them under the chapter headings where they best fit. 

Now that you have a framework for your book you are ready to create your outline.

#2 Outline Your Book

 Say goodbye to writer’s block with a well-thought-out outline. It is the key to unlocking your book’s full potential. And if you have completed the above exercise then you are mostly there.

Take the post-it notes you organized in the last exercise and organize them on paper. Type out your chapter titles and create headings within those chapters based on the topics you wrote on your sticky notes. Now you are creating a container for all of your thoughts and ideas.

With your ideas on paper and a completed outline, you are ready to start writing your book. 

#3 Use Dictation to Take Notes

Do you have a long commute to work? Spend time in a carline? Or take long walks? If so, you are a great candidate for dictation.

Phone apps like Dragon Dictation and Rev Voice Recorder (and many others) allow you to turn your phone into a recording device where they translate your words into text. 

Here’s how this works:

  1. Open your book’s document and look at the next topic where you need to add content. For example: In a chapter about collaboration in the workplace you have a heading called “Empower Your Team”. 
  2. On your 30 minute drive to work, pull up your dictation app, and ask yourself the question: “How can you empower your team at work?”
  3. Now record yourself answering that question.
  4. The app will automatically create a text document that you can edit later.
  5. Extra Credit: When dictating your content make a comment about where you need to do more research. For example, say: “Find research on how empowerment makes a team more productive”.
  6. In addition, read up about the dictation app you are using. Most of them have ways you can have punctuation or paragraph breaks added to your transcription when you are talking. This will save you a lot of time later when you go to clean up the text.

#4 Research Your Book’s Content

 A well-written book will include research, case studies, examples, or additional material. If you are experiencing writer’s block or not feeling creative then doing research is a way you can move your book project forward during those moments. 

Many people will ONLY consume content related to their book’s material while they are writing their book. Consider only listening to podcasts, reading books, and watching videos related to the subject of your book. This is a way to keep your subject top-of-mind throughout the day.

#5 Repurpose Content You’ve Already Created

Have you written a speech, given a workshop, or written a blog post about your book’s material?

Chances are that if you are writing a book within your industry then you already have some content created for your book. Find anything you’ve written or said and add it to your research folder for your book. 

Remember: Your book is a representation of the message, expertise, and experiences that you are delivering to a wider audience.

#6 Time Block Your Writing Schedule

Do you write doctor’s appointments on your calendar? What about work meetings? Dinner out with friends?

Then you absolutely need to schedule your writing time too. Writing a book is not just a creative endeavor. It’s a major project, so you need to make it a priority.

Identify when you can consistently show up to write your book. Can you get up 30 minutes earlier, utilize a lunch break, or time sitting at your child’s sports practice? Do you write better in the morning or evening? Take the answer to these questions into consideration when planning your writing time.

Keep in mind that writing just 500 words a day will give you a 40,000-word book in just 80 days. 

#7 Interview Yourself

You can interview yourself or ask someone to interview you about your subject matter. This is a great way to get your ideas on paper. 

We can be excellent at communicating our thoughts and expertise to a colleague but struggle to get it down on paper. So, try asking yourself the following questions when you find yourself stuck and need a few prompts to get going.

  • If someone was to take you out for coffee to “pick your brain” what would they typically ask you?
  • What would your boss or someone who works with you say is your biggest skillset or asset?
  • What has changed in your professional industry?
  • What does the future look like in your industry?
  • If you were to mentor someone, what would you teach them?
  • What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your professional life? In your personal life?

#8 Interview Others

We can learn so much about our book’s topic by interviewing other people. You can use your interviews as fact-finding missions, research for your book, or include them in your book as case studies and examples. 

In a book I wrote about leadership careers, each chapter includes an interview with someone with a different leadership occupation. This gave my readers an opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences and get a first-hand look at their job. 

Think about how you can use interviews to add more substance to your book. Here are some examples of how interviews enhanced author’s books:

  • A book about depression that includes an interview with a counselor.
  • A book about environmental issues with facts and statistics from a government study.
  • A book about growing a business that includes interviews with people who have successfully implemented the author’s ideas.

#9 Get a Book Cover Designed

Nothing is more exciting than seeing the design of your book cover. This visual representation will inspire you to write on your most difficult days. It makes the big lofty goal of publishing your book more real.

And once it’s designed you can start sharing it with the world. You can use it on social media, begin creating marketing materials, and upload it on Amazon and start taking preorders.

A word of caution: Do your homework before getting your book cover designed.

It’s important that your book cover well represents the genre of your book. This takes some research and knowledge of the categories where your book will be listed on Amazon. In addition, you need to know the dimensions of your book, ISBN, and have the book description written for the back of your

book. This is a service that we here at WoosterMedia provide, so please reach out to us if you’d like some assistance. 

#10 Write Anyway

I am sure you’ve heard this before, but it deserves a repeat: Butt in chair and start writing.

Just like somedays you may not feel like going to work, doing laundry, or making dinner …. Some days you will not feel like working on your book. Do it anyway! With these hacks, you have no excuses for not being able to put pen to paper.

Common Excuses For Not Writing

Excuse:  I might sound stupid.

Solution: You can hire a book coach to help you with the writing process. In addition, your book will go through 3 rounds of editing, so your first draft is not your final manuscript.

Excuse: I am afraid my book will look unprofessional.

Solution: Hire professionals for cover design, formatting, and editing.

Excuse: Who will buy my book?

Solution: Create a pre-and post-launch marketing campaign. Start posting your writing process on social media, begin marketing, and begin educating yourself about Amazon ads.

Excuse: I’m afraid I won’t finish writing my book.

Solution: Set deadlines, find an accountability partner, and post your progress on social media in writing groups.

Excuse: What if no one likes the ideas in my book?

Solution: Spend time in the discovery process of planning your book. Ask yourself high-value questions about your readers, so you can deliver what your book promises.

So, there you have it … 10 Hacks to getting started on writing your book, and a list of common excuses with solutions. For additional support for writing and publishing your book, please join us in our Facebook group where we answer questions, provide on-air coaching, and come together to support each other while writing our books.