The “Idea-to-First-Draft” Formula
How to Start and Finish Writing Your Book
By Michael D. Marani, M.Ed.
Copyright © Michael D. Marani
All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without express written permission from the author.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, or transmitted by email without permission in writing from the publisher.
Although all attempts have been made to verify the information provided in this publication, neither the author not the publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretations of the subject matter herein.
This book is for entertainment purposes only. The views expressed are those of the author alone, and should not be taken as expert instruction or commands. The reader is responsible for his or her own actions.
Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, including international, federal, state, and local laws governing professional licensing, business practices, advertising, and all other aspects of doing business in the U.S., Canada, or any other jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the purchaser or reader.
Neither the author nor the publisher assumes any responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of the purchaser or reader of these materials.
Any perceived slight of any individual or organization is purely coincidental.
Chapter 1 ~ The Writer’s Journey Begins
Chapter 2 ~ Determining What You’re Going to Write About
Chapter 3 ~ Outlining Your Book
Chapter 4 ~ Word Output
Chapter 5 ~ Write Consistently
Chapter 6 ~ Staying Inspired and Focused As You Write Your Book
Chapter 7 ~ First Draft Finished…Now What?
Before You Begin
If you read this book and complete your final draft successfully, you’ll be ready for , which helps authors through the self-publishing process all the way to launching and promoting their e-book for sale on Amazon Kindle.
If you finish this book and you’re still struggling to complete your first draft, I recommend you read , which helps people to overcome obstacles in the way of achieving their goals.
Wherever you are in your process, do not let your doubts or obstacles take over. Do not give up on the goals you’ve set for yourself!
It was about 10:00AM. The windows were open and the autumn air was flowing through the house. My wife and I were finishing our coffees, after which we planned to take our baby on a hike. It was a lovely morning.
At about 10:01AM all the plans changed. Seemingly out of nowhere, I was struck with an idea for a book. Now by this point, my wife was very used to me getting struck by some sort of crazy story or business idea. I would verbalize it, to her then we’d move on with our lives.
Today was different.
I decided that I was going to finally write a book. I had always wanted to, but for some reason, never took action.
Today was different.
I asked her if she minded if we delayed our hiking plans for an hour so I could just get started. She could see how anxious I was and, as always, was understanding and accommodating.
Immediately upon her approval I grabbed my computer, opened Microsoft Word, and began typing. I literally wrote the title page with my name as the author, then went to the next page and wrote Chapter 1…
After about a half hour or so, I found myself struggling to keep my thoughts and ideas organized. There was plenty I knew I wanted to include but a ton of gaps needed to be filled, and they hounded my thoughts like a construction site just outside the bedroom window.
I hit a standstill. I kept losing focus because ideas were flooding my head. I couldn’t keep track of them so I decided to take a break from the book and just start writing a summary of each key character, as well as the vital actions they were going to facilitate at pivotal moments throughout the story.
My wife announced that it was now 11:30AM and that if I wanted, we could do our hike another time. She’d take the baby out on some errands so I could stay home and just work on the book. I thanked her and took her up on her offer.
From the second she left, what I wrote about was a blur. All I know is I wrote for another two hours. My wife came home and asked me how it was going and whether or not I wanted to take a break.
I told her I would once I finished up. I remember genuinely believing I just had a few more paragraphs until I could be done for the day. I look back and wonder why I thought that. I had no predetermined sections that I was working on.
I was simply writing from Chapter 1 to the end.
How could I actually believe that I had just a few more paragraphs, after less than one day of writing?
Finally, after another hour or so my wife decided enough was enough. “Mike, you’ve been writing all morning and afternoon. You need to take a break.”
Annoyed, I complied with her request and stepped away from the computer. But I couldn’t get the story off my mind. Later that night when my wife and child were asleep, I snuck out of the bedroom and wrote for a few more hours.
When that day was all said and done, I had a couple chapters completed as well as a character summary. I was proud.
The next day I chose not to write since I was so happy with my output the previous day.
The day after that, I sat down to write and confronted the fact that I had written down everything I had already imagined for the story, but it wasn’t finished.
I was stuck. I didn’t know what to write.
So I wrote garbage for an hour or so until I became too frustrated to continue.
That was the last day I worked on that story.
I justified quitting by convincing myself that I was just an “ideas guy”. I decided I just really wasn’t the type that could sit down and write an entire book
To add to this experience, fast forward a couple years and throw in a couple of incomplete screenplays that I started and never finished. (I had thought that screenplays would be easier to write, given that they consist mainly of dialogue.) After all that, I had myself convinced that I could never follow through with writing a book.
Fast forward to the present: my wife and I added two more little ones to the mix, yet I currently have six published titles to my name.
Now, you might be wondering what changed that enabled me to go from believing I couldn’t ever write a book to writing six (with many more to come).
That is what this book is about. The change began when I decided to stop making excuses and adjust my approach as many times as needed until I could create a writing process that worked for me, my schedule, and all the variables that existed, exist, and will eventually exist in my life.
Throughout this book we’re going to cover quite a bit. It is a quick read, but don’t let that fool you; there is an abundance of information on strategies that other procrastinators like me will find useful.
Specifically, we’re going to learn the following:
Despite the long list of areas we’re going to cover throughout this book, I intentionally made this a quick read. The idea is that you can read this book in a day or two, then be on your way to completing your first draft.
Upon completion of this book, do not allow yourself to become stuck in “analysis paralysis.” Instead, refer back to the suggested actions here and apply these ideas to your writing process.
With that said, let us begin.
Generally speaking, as writers, we’re responsible for choosing what to write about. Obviously if you’re a freelance writer this may not be the case, but if your goal is to write a book, you are immediately confronted with the question of what to write about.
There are plenty of authorpreneurs today that would recommend finding a market that is looking for information or a solution to a problem. From this viewpoint, the next step would be to write to that market by giving them what they want and/or need.
This is a logical perspective. One that I completely agree with.
Until you determine that your goal is to be a successful, self-published author.
In other words, to be a successful author you need to be able to grow an audience. To do this you really need to understand who you’re targeting. So far this aligns with the values of the authroprenuers mentioned above. However, if we target a group of readers that have a particular interest and we’re successful with that group, then in order to increase return readers, chances are we’re going to be writing often within that particular niche.
If this is the case, which I believe it to be, then it is imperative that we make our own interests and passions a priority.
How can we write high value, helpful/entertaining content if we’re only moderately interested in the subject? Moreover, how can we write multiple books on a subject that doesn’t excite us?
In my opinion, we can’t. It will lead to inauthentic work that readers will see right through. Therefore, any potential successes based on market appeal alone will be short-lived, despite their high market demand.
Alternatively, I propose that we first identify topics, subjects, niches, and categories that we’re genuinely interested in and passionate about. After we compile a list of these items, then we’re finally ready to take the authorpreneurs’ advice about appealing to a niche market – one that aligns with our identified interests.
If you agree with this approach, then it’s time to identify your interests as potential writing topics.
To do this, think about your hobbies and day-to-day routines.
Are you a neat freak to the point where you love decluttering?
Do you love cooking? Exercising? Learning languages? Reviewing products? Movies?
Give yourself time to think of questions such as the above. Reflect on what you enjoy doing and how you enjoy living. These are the topics you should be considering.
To reiterate, if the goal is to be a successful author (which I assume it is), then you don’t necessarily need to be an expert. Instead, you need the insight to ask the right questions and find the answers (if possible). This insight is most likely to be attained within your genuine interests and passions, not within a random high demand niche that you aren’t particularly excited about or knowledgeable in.
Some might disagree, but I stand firm.
Knowing where you stand, whether you agree or disagree, will help you through the idea derivation process.
If you’re unsure, take some time to ponder this before you begin coming up with and pursuing your ideas.
Before delving further into this chapter, I should let you know that I am a huge fan of creating systems for everything, and this of course includes systems for generating and evaluating writing topics
If it has to happen more than once, whatever it may be, then I am encouraged to approach it in a way that defines the steps, allows for fine-tuning any steps at a later point, and completes the necessary task efficiently.
The other added benefit of establishing a systematic approach to repeated tasks is that it promotes viewing each approach to the task as an experiment. In other words, take strategic and thoughtful action, observe results, and adjust accordingly until desired results are achieved.
Rather than blaming yourself for poor results, you’ll have the luxury of blaming your system. This can pay dividends when you begin feeling down on yourself as you inevitably fall behind on your writing productivity at some point.
Why am I talking about all of this?
Simple: because I believe as writers we need to create a system that helps us easily and quickly generate ideas. Once we have our ideas, we then need to develop a method to effectively filter these ideas so that our chances of creating content that is helpful and valuable increases.
As a result, I am going to share a two-part system with you.
1.) Idea Generation
2.) Idea Filtering
It is important to point out a couple of thoughts before sharing. First, it is helpful to have a general topic to implement these systems. For example, when I generate ideas for books that I want to write, because my target audience is comprised of writers, I’m going to focus on topics that potentially align with the needs and wants of writers. Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that this should not be a limiting attribute throughout the process. When in doubt, record the idea. We will determine the value during the idea filtering portion.
Second, each part of this system works for me when I need a jolt of ideas. This is in no way a guarantee that they will work for you. In fact, I would argue that it is likely that this system (as is) will not work for you the same way it does for me. Therefore, you need to be open to adjusting each system to make it fit for your lifestyle and schedule.
I believe in providing step-by-step instructions because there is tremendous value in carefully laid out steps as an introduction to a process; however, do not feel married to these steps. Adjust them and tweak them as you need to.
Make each step work for you.
Part 1: Idea Generation (a.k.a. Brain Dump, Brain Storm)
Required Supplies: Writing utensil and a large piece of white paper (think poster board for sizing). Secondly, a timer. I recommend your smartphone.
Step 1: Take 15 minutes or more but not a second less to write down any and every potential subtopic you could write about within your general topic.
In my experience, I often hit an idea lull after 5 minutes or so. If you encounter such a lull do not let it stop you. Continue to write as many ideas as possible. Do not worry about them being good or bad. Do not even worry too much about whether or not these are relevant within your overall topic. For now just write it down.
Part 2: Idea Filtering
Required supplies: a word processing document, preferably a cloud-based tool (i.e. Google Docs, Evernote, etc.), but if you opt to do this step on paper, you’ll also want to grab a highlighter.
Step 2: Highlight the ideas you like.
Step 3: Categorize each highlighted idea into one of the following three categories: Excited, Neutral, Not Ready. These categories represent how you feel, so it is important to follow your instincts as you go through this process. When you look at a potential book idea, do you feel excited, neutral, or not ready at the thought of writing an entire book on the subject? Listen to that inner voice to answer this question for each idea.
Step 4: For now, ignore the ideas that fall into the Neutral or Not Ready category. Narrow down your ideas that fall within your Excited category. To do this, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to assess the demand for that topic. Simply see which topic has the greatest average monthly search volume.
Step 5: Pick the idea within your Excited category that has the highest search volume.
There you have it. You are now equipped to come up with a book idea that hopefully has a decent number of potential buyers making related searches each month on Google.
It should be noted that this strategy makes your interests the priority in topic selection. Some people might disagree with this and only pursue ideas that have a huge potential market. Though I do understand why a person might do this, I personally believe that if you’re going to invest your time in something, you should be excited about it.
I write on a regular basis in addition to working a full-time job. There is no way I could stick to such a schedule if I felt as though my writing time was a sacrifice. I love the process of writing and genuinely enjoy discussing writing strategies, so writing on this subject is something I look forward to.
So maybe you’ve tried the whole brain dumping process and your experience was less than positive.
Or maybe you just don’t buy into the thought of sitting in front of a blank piece of paper with the hopes that you’ll magically begin producing high value ideas.
If this is you, no problem. There are other ways to trigger your creative mindset to help generate some ideas with real potential.
I’ll offer you two idea-generating methods to utilize when you need to begin coming up with ideas for your next book and you really don’t feel like brain dumping.
The first approach is the Category approach. The idea is that we’re going to use books that are currently available on Amazon to get our creative mind active, and then we’re going to prompt ourselves with guiding questions to enhance and improve upon these topics.
Before moving onto the next strategy it is important to point out that the topics you’ve identified within a table of contents could be the sole topic of your book. In other words, just because a particular author chose to only offer one chapter of information for that topic, it does not mean a further in-depth look would not be helpful. Moreover, this indicates that there is a potential audience as well.
Secondly, we will discuss the Keyword Approach before coming up with guiding questions because both the Category and Keyword Approaches will bring us to the same step of generating question to draw out potential topics.
Between the two approaches, you should have no problem coming up with a list of potential topics to write about. However, if you’re looking for a third option you can always do a combination of the two.
To elaborate on this, you could begin taking the Keyword Idea Generator steps to come up with a bunch of keywords that have potential. Armed with these keywords, you would begin searching these terms in the Amazon search bar (within the Kindle eBooks and/or books department) and follow the steps from the Category Idea Generator for books that come up that intrigue you.
Whichever method you choose, you will put your ideas through a filtering process via the following prompts/actions:
Note: if you’re feeling like your highest average topic isn’t the right one and there is another specific topic pulling you in another direction, then follow your instinct.
Along the same lines, if you’re feeling like your highest average topic isn’t the right one but you don’t have any particular topic pulling you in a specific direction, then accept that you need to commit. Choose your greatest average topic and move forward.
So there it is. A specific set of steps that can help you derive high value ideas without having to use your own mind to do a brain dump.
Do you have to make some subjective choices?
If you struggle with that thought, then you need to ask yourself if your focus should be writing. In other words, if despite going through these two approaches, you still find nothing that you want to focus on for a whole book, then maybe you could focus your goals instead on guest blog post writing.
Doing so can result in great networking opportunities, help you hone your writing skills, and validate whether or not you have a genuine interest in a particular topic. After a month or two of actively guest blogging (or writing on Quora.com or Medium.com) I believe you’ll know what focus you want to take as you establish yourself as an author.
The keyword idea generator technique mentioned above incorporates the use of the Google Keyword Planner. This particular tool is recommended here because it is free, and unless there is a clear difference in effectiveness, I’m always going to point you to free resources when possible. It is important, however, to note that the Google Keyword Planner tool is not the only resource out there. In fact, I don’t think it is necessarily the best option, because it only focuses on Google searches. Granted, Google holds the clear majority of searches, there are other search engines to consider.
Therefore, it is important to recognize other options for keyword research if you have some capital to invest. This book is going to offer three options with a quick summary for each, but be aware, depending on what date you’re reading this, there might be better options out there so always keep your eyes open for new resources as technology evolves.
– This is essentially the same thing as Google Keyword Planner with the exception that you can pull more specific information about high page ranking websites for specific keywords and more importantly you can pull data for search engines other than Google (i.e. DuckDuckGo, Bing, etc.). Some people ignore these particular search engines but I believe that is the exact reason why you want to consider them. If everybody else is only looking at Google, there may be an opportunity within other search engines. Do not ignore Google, but consider the others (particularly if you ever plan to purchase some ad words).
– This is a very basic tool that pulls data from the Amazon search engine. This is obviously important if you’re planning on writing Kindle eBooks. MerchantWords.com will provide you with monthly search volume for specific keywords (as well as related keywords) within Amazon. Be aware that there appears to be some speculation as to the accuracy of these numbers but in my personal experience results appear to be proportional to one another. Moreover, even if the numbers aren’t exact, they give you a sense of what terms are searched more than others, and what the difference would look like.
– In this case, you’re not pulling any search data; rather you’re using the Amazon search bar to see what Amazon suggests. Furthermore, Amazon is going to suggest terms that people often search, so as you type letters into the search bar, terms will show up below. Be aware that if you’re an Amazon shopper some of these results may be skewed because they’ll also include your recent searches; however, if you can differentiate between terms you’ve shopped for and all the other auto-suggested terms, you’ll develop a sense of what people are searching for within Amazon. One activity I like to do every now and again just to get a sense of what people are looking for in Amazon, is typing in a letter or two and seeing what comes up. I’ll start with A, then Ab, then Ac, and so on. Another day I might do the same pattern but begin with B. If nothing else, it is fascinating to see what terms are being searched.
Before moving on to the next chapter, it is imperative that I reassert how important it is to prioritize your passions and interests. If you’re going to write a book, shouldn’t it be about topic that you care about? I ask this because with all the data research information above, it is easy to let the numbers dictate your chosen topic. I urge you to avoid this. There are people out there who write one book after another with different pen names that are completely unrelated. This may seem like a good idea because you’re writing to an audience that is currently searching for your chosen topic. I counter this notion by asking a few follow up questions.
What happens when the demand fades or the market becomes saturated?
How will you grow an audience if you continue to write about unrelated topics?
If you are sticking to one topic, are you prepared to write about a topic that doesn’t mean much to you?
These are the questions I strongly suggest you consider if you’re leaning towards becoming an author simply for the extra money. I’m the first one to admit that I’m always open to developing additional income streams, but I believe this should be done in a way that aligns with our passions and interests. Doing so enables us to be authentic authors who can genuinely relate to our readers.
Assuming you’ve landed on a niche topic, you’re ready for the next chapter which will discuss techniques and strategies to best develop an outline for your book. It is important to create a tentative outline before you begin writing. When I first began writing, as you know, I would just start writing from the first page and work my way through in the order I thought made sense. Though I do believe in allowing the natural flow of your thoughts to influence the order, it is still suggested to develop a sense of what each chapter will include.
As you move through your book and ideas come up, you can insert them into the outline thus ensuring that no key idea is lost. Moreover, creating an outline enables you to slowly chip away at your book. Instead of writing a 30,000-word book, you’re breaking a 2,000-word chapter up into three or four manageable writing sessions. Each time you finish a section, you can cross off an outline item. This is extremely motivating. We’ll end this chapter with a cliché that I believe every author should ponder.
How do you eat an entire elephant? One bite at a time.
If you’re like me, then inspiration hits you at random. I might be at work, playing with my kids, going for a jog, and bam – something I see or hear triggers an idea. I try to equip my life in a way that enables me to easily and quickly record these ideas no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
When you’re in the process of writing a book it is easy to become distracted by these ideas. Conversely, when these ideas don’t seem to be occurring, it is difficult to sit down and begin writing.
In my experience, inspiration comes in waves. I’ll have a day or two where I seem to be an idea machine, and then a few days where my brain takes a vacation. The inconsistency does not lend itself to writing a book. Moreover, if I have two or three ideas and only an hour to write that day, I become overwhelmed when determining which idea I should focus on.
To address these problems related to unpredictable inspiration, I recommend creating a book outline before you begin writing. This outline is tentative, and as inspiration strikes throughout your book writing process, you can insert any new idea wherever it seems to fit.
This creates an organized list of topics that, when written about at length, join together to form your book.
Before you begin writing your book I recommend you take the following steps.
Step 1: Complete a 15-minute brain dump of all potential chapters, topics, and subtopics to include in your book. Do not limit yourself in anyway. If it pops in your head, write it down.
Step 2: Sort through the brain dump by highlighting all the potential chapters. Create a list based on your highlighted chapters.
Step 3: One chapter at a time, start inserting the topics and subtopics that you thought of within the list under the chapter focus.
Step 4: Look at each chapter and related sub-topics and ask yourself what is unnecessary and what needs to be added. Cross out and add whenever appropriate.
Step 5: You now have your book outline. Be sure to include this outline on some sort of cloud-based word processing tool (i.e. Evernote, Google Docs, etc.).
Step 6: Whenever an idea hits you, record it within the outline. If you don’t have time, just place it underneath the outline so you’re not relying on only your memory, then insert it into the appropriate spot when you have a chance.
An additional step you can take if you’re feeling like the outline will not produce enough valuable content is to do a brain dump for each chapter before you begin writing it. This is a great way to combat the days where you’re staring at a blank screen and you have no idea what to write.
A few other thoughts about the importance of having an outline:
First, it gives you an overview so you can provide previews about where your book is taking the reader. Knowing this while you write can help you put your reader at ease. For example, occasionally there are circumstances where I bring up a topic that hasn’t been discussed yet. I can add reassuring statements saying something along the lines of “this will be covered in greater detail later on”.
Second, it allows you to work on your book in any order you want. If I have finished the first two chapters and I sit down for a writing session to begin another chapter, it doesn’t have to be the third chapter. Though I do believe it can be helpful to stay in order, it is not a requirement. Skipping around to different chapters can be particularly helpful when you’re feeling inspired towards a specific part of your book.
In other words, if your brain is coming up with gold for chapter seven, but you’re on chapter three, don’t fight it. Allow the inspiration to guide your process within the confines of your outline.
Third and finally, the outline allows you as a writer to chip away at your book. Rather than writing a whole book each time you sit down, you’re only writing a small piece of it. All these small pieces become your book.
This may seem like common sense, but when you’re in the middle of an inner battle that is making it very difficult to sit down and write, knowing that only a few hundred words could be all it takes to complete a section may help you gather your motivation and persist in your writing.
It was mentioned earlier that you can perform another brain dump to generate a structured format of valuable content within a chapter. This additional step requires further elaboration and instruction. Therefore, let’s briefly discuss an alternative approach to beginning a chapter with word one of sentence one from paragraph one.
If you are starting a new chapter, start by copy-pasting all the related parts into the document you’re writing in.
The next thing you want to do is look at each section of that outline and ask yourself a few guiding questions such as:
These guiding questions are just food for thought. Take some time as you reflect on your own writing to develop your own guiding questions that trigger creativity.
As you answer these questions, you should be writing your answers down. The answers can come in the form of paragraphs or sentences to be included in your book word-for-word, or short phrases that can be better articulated at a later time. Once this stage is complete, then instead of looking at a blank page and balking at the challenge of filling it, you’re now tasked with fleshing out a structured chapter outline.
To clarify, let us break it down into nice and neat steps.
Step 1: Copy-paste the related content from whole book outline.
Step 2: Insert more input into your chapter outlines based on guiding questions previously mentioned and/or your own guiding questions.
Step 3: Fill in the missing parts.
At the end of the day, you’re going to have sit down and write. There is no avoiding it. However, this is a much less daunting task when you’re adding to a thought-out structure as opposed to starting a chapter from scratch.
If you’re still not convinced, let us compare it to the construction of a house.
When contractors begin, they do not start on the left and work their way to the right. Instead, they pour the foundation, construct the frame, then add the plumbing, wiring, drywall and so on.
To be fair, this is only a suggested approach. If you have a method that works for you, once you get going, then you may not need to use these outlining strategies. If, however, you are a person who struggles to make yourself sit down and write, then you need to break it down into smaller, easier steps. The strategy offered here is one way to do it. If it works for you, great. If it doesn’t, then do not quit; just continue to look for an alternative approach.
Leaders within this realm that I look up to are Joanna Penn, Steve Scott, and Tom Corson-Knowles. As a writer, you must make it your responsibility to learn about different writing and planning strategies used by a variety of authors. I often include their work in my weekly newsletters which you can subscribe to for free at www.maketimeforwriting.com.
Even when you have something that was originally working, if you notice your productivity is decreasing, then utilize the recommendations from the leaders above. Seek out any other resources you’re aware of to avoid the complacency of putting off your writing goals.
To keep things practical and get back to the original point, I recommend you try each outlining step above using Evernote. Within one “notebook” that holds all the content of your book, you can create “notes”. One note should be your overall book outline, then each other note should be a chapter.
This is a great free way to easily navigate from book outline to a specific chapter rather than scanning through one large word document.
Evernote is certainly not the only option here, but it is recommended that you use a writing program that enables you to easily locate each chapter and your outline.
Throughout each one of my books and the majority of my blog posts, whenever I provide a set of steps or advice, it is followed or preceded by a disclaimer: I always strongly advise that readers should be adjusting this instruction to meet their own personal needs.
Too often we listen to podcasts, read books, watch interviews where some “expert” tells us what we should be doing. Now I’m not saying that we should be closed off to these opinions, but we must first recognize them as an opinion that is based on one particular person’s experience. He or she does not live our life, and therefore is not necessarily qualified to tell us what to do and when to do it without knowing all of the variables that exist within our daily lives.
Therefore, rather than tell you or even suggest how much time you should be devoting to writing, the goal here is to equip you with a set of steps you can take to properly analyze your weekly schedule and assess when and where you can fit in some writing time.
Step 1: Identify any repeated tasks or responsibilities that you have for each day of the week (i.e. Work from 9 to 5, bring the kids to and from school, etc.).
Step 2: Draw 7 columns (or use a spreadsheet) and label each column a day of the week (Monday through Sunday).
Step 3: Begin writing down your day-to-day actions for each day of the week and write down the times. Note: it is appropriate for times to be approximate and to be wide ranges because you want to include everything you do, from going to work to watching television.
Step 4: Look for gaps in your day where you could fit in at least 15 minutes of writing (preferably 30 minutes or more when possible). If it will be in a location other than your home, identify a method to ensure you have your computer or whatever equipment you may need to write.
Step 5: Based on this schedule of your known commitments, insert your writing sessions with specific times and desired durations. Time ranges are appropriate as well. In other words, if you know you have at least 30 minutes sometime between 5PM and 7PM, but the specific start and end time for your writing session will not be consistent, then just write 5PM to 7PM for 30 minutes. Highlight each writing session.
Step 6: Bonus Step – If you have a smartphone, set reminders for each of the days and times to prompt your writing session.
Notice that at no point during any of the steps provided was there a minimum amount of sessions or durations suggested. Personally I have four to five sessions each week, and each ranges from 30 minutes to an hour. This works for my life, but it may not work for yours. Maybe you can fit in more or less. It doesn’t matter, as long as you identify times in your life when you can realistically sit down and write so that you can set yourself realistic writing goals.
Once you have these times, outside of staying disciplined and sticking to each writing session, your next focus is going to be calculating how many words per hour you can typically produce.
To calculate your word output rate, you need to track your time and your total words produced per session. Do this for at least two weeks.
To clarify, for every writing session you should track the exact amount of time you’re actually writing and how many words you’ve produced within that specific amount of time in order to track and improve on your writing capacity.
Note: this is easier to calculate if you have a session for a number of minutes of which 60 is a multiple (i.e. 15, 20, 30, and 60 minute sessions are ideal).
For the purposes of clarity, let us take a look at a hypothetical example.
Joe Smith can fit three writing sessions within his week. One session is 30 minutes while two sessions are each an hour. For the next two weeks Joe is going to track how many words within each of those writing sessions he can produce.
Session 1 (30 minutes) – 402 words
Session 2 (60 minutes) – 943 words
Session 3 (60 minutes) – 928 words
Session 1 (30 minutes) – 463 words
Session 2 (60 minutes) – 1002 words
Session 3 (60 minutes) – 917 words
Now for the number crunching. First, calculate your hourly rate for each session. In this case Joe would just double his amount of words for each of his first weekly sessions in order to put everything on the scale of an hour. Second, now that all sessions are equated to an hourly input amount, we add up all of the hourly word count numbers and divide by the number of sessions (in this example, 6).
804+943+928+926+1002+917 = 5520 (total words produced in 6 hourly sessions)
5520/6 = 920 (total hourly word rate for Joe Smith is 920)
Why do you want to know this number?
Put simply, knowing this information can help you determine how long it is going to take you to chip away at your book. When you’re equipped with this information you can plan more effectively. The combination of your hourly word output rate and your book outline will position you to stay motivated as you tackle each section in an objective, manageable way as opposed to the daunting task of writing an entire book.
Lastly, if you truly want to ensure accuracy of your hourly word output rate, then continue to track your words written for each session and keep a spreadsheet documenting this information.
Over time, as you write more consistently, you’ll notice this number will likely increase.
Before we delve into each strategy, a disclaimer must be provided just so we can move forward together with this understanding.
I believe that the majority of people are relatively busy. Before my children were born, I remember feeling busy all the time, but now I look back on that period of my life and wonder what I did with all the time.
Moral of the story, we all have 24 hours per day. So if you are unable to make time for writing, then it is likely that your “full schedule” is a result of poor prioritization.
The key is to make small, subtle changes. Over time, the accumulation of said changes will be significant.
Below is a list of seven possible changes you can make to increase your writing time. Do not limit yourself to these changes exclusively. Keep your eyes open for additional, creative ways to maximize productivity without increasing your stress level.
Subtle change #1:
Wake up 20 minutes earlier. This allows you five minutes to use the restroom, grab a glass of water, then start writing. Before you dismiss this idea because you already wake up “early” or you aren’t a “morning person” consider easing into this. Start by setting your alarm five minutes before your normal wake-up time. Do this for a week, then set your alarm five minutes earlier. In four weeks, you’ll have slowly transitioned into waking up 20 minutes earlier. If it works well, continue this pattern until you create an additional hour of writing time.
Note: To maximize the 15-minute writing window, be sure that you have an outline on your computer ready so that all you have to do is pick a predetermined topic and start writing.
Subtle change #2:
Use your smartphone to record yourself during your commute. Choose a topic, hit record (before you begin driving), and start talking about all the things you would be writing about within that topic. Do not worry about saying things perfectly. For each recording, you can save them and have them transcribed. Look up transcription services on fiverr.com, look into dictation capabilities that come standard with most MacBooks, or check out rev.com. This will produce a written document that only requires your review and edits (which could be done during your 15-minute window created from the above tip).
Subtle change #3:
If you’re a reader, consider Audible.com. This enables you to multi-task, thus freeing up the time you would be sitting still reading. Personally, I listen to audio books when I exercise. Outside of my bedtime reading session, this is pretty much all the reading I need for the day and affords me greater opportunity to focus on my writing without ignoring the need to absorb information.
Subtle change #4:
Go to a library for a writing session. This may not be a great solution if you do not live near one because the time it takes to commute to the library might eat away at the increased time margins. However, if you can get to one quickly it might be worth trying. When I go to a library, I sit with my headphones on in one of those desks that have three walls around it. In other words, I eliminate all the distractions that exist in my home or a coffee shop. Do not underestimate how many more words you can write when you’ve installed yourself in such a distraction-less environment.
Subtle change #5:
Partner with another writer. If you are truly strapped for time, why not co-author a book with another author? You will most likely sacrifice half of the royalty potential, but you’re exchanging one currency for another, time for potential earnings. Moreover, you’ll likely double your word output. If you’re looking to find a writing partner, then I recommend you check out writing clubs via meetup.com or join a writing Facebook group (my favorite is Authority Self-Publishing).
Subtle change #6:
Eliminate a TV show from your life. Many experts recommend that you eliminate television from your life completely, and though I would agree that it is often a distraction that hinders productivity, I’m going to suggest a subtler approach. List the shows that you regularly watch. Pick your least favorite and stop watching it. If you don’t watch regular shows and just channel surf, then you need to control the amount of time you spend on this. Set a timer on your phone and stop watching once the time is up. I recommend no more than a half hour. Plus, TV doesn’t make you feel good about yourself like writing does!
Subtle change #7:
Read The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch and start analyzing how you prioritize your daily actions. As stated prior to this list of subtle changes, I believe people who claim they don’t have any time are really just struggling to prioritize effectively. To subtly address this problem, start by learning about a different approach to help you adjust your own mindset. Note: In the spirit of third subtle change suggested, I recommend you check out the audiobook.
So there they are, seven subtle changes you can make to help maximize your word output. Remember, do not limit yourself to these changes and also do not feel obligated to try all of them at once. Instead, choose one or two that make sense for you and start taking action.
As discussed in the previous chapter, it is important to have a true understanding of how many words you can produce on a regular basis. In order for this to happen, it is imperative that you write consistently. I intentionally did not say that you need to write every day, despite what many experts may recommend.
To be clear, I do not disagree with writing every day; however, I firmly disagree with pressuring yourself to write when your schedule simply doesn’t permit it. Personally, I’ve written hundreds of articles and multiple books and I can honestly say that I do not consistently write every day. As a father of three little ones and a full-time educational administrator, writing every day just isn’t always in the cards for me.
I used to become discouraged if I was unable to write on a particular day. Such a feeling kills momentum. I noticed that I would put myself down for not being a writer simply because I missed a day here or there. Since then I have adjusted expectations for myself. Now instead of trying to write every day, I try to achieve a certain amount of words each week.
Every Sunday, I review my upcoming week ahead. If I have a significant amount of non-writing responsibilities, I might lower my goal for word output that week. I typically aim for 2000 to 5000 words per week, given a normal schedule.
This works for me because I have found a system to hold myself accountable in a realistic way that suits my schedule. This enables me to write consistently without writing every day.
Arriving at this conclusion for me was not quick and certainly not easy, which brings me to my point.
Give yourself time to reflect on your writing process. Your life will inevitably throw unanticipated variables at you and it might require you to adjust your process. Regular reflection makes this possible. Moreover, your writing process will evolve and change over time. This is a positive thing because it shows you are adjusting and adapting to sustain consistency and make writing a priority in your life.
As you reflect, I encourage you to focus on a few specific components of your writing process:
People have different preferences as to the setting that they write in. As you determine your preferred setting, I recommend you make your assessment based on which setting yields the greatest amount of quality and word output.
As you sit down to write, make a note of the where you are, the volume, what you hear, what distractions exist, what distractions don’t exist. Try to be detail-oriented as you determine your ideal setting for writing.
If you have multiple settings, make a habit of tracking the word output for each setting. This provides you with a quantitative metric to assess how conducive each setting is to your writing. Lastly, before moving on to timing, it is imperative to avoid underestimating the importance of each detail within your setting.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what music? Is it a particular song on repeat? Does it have words or is it just instrumental? Are you using speakers or do you have headphones on?
Do you sit on a hard chair or a soft chair? What surface are your forearms resting on as you type?
What do you have near you? A bottle of water? Your phone? A snack?
These are the questions you should be asking yourself as you determine your ideal writing setting. Some details may or may not matter to you, but they are important to at least consider. Moreover, you want to understand what helps and hinders your production. For example, when I started listening to music via my headphones as opposed to my computer speakers, I found it much easier to stay focused for longer periods of time and write without distractions. Having the music in my ears to drown out all other sounds enabled me to stay focused on the task of writing.
Additionally, I charge my phone in another room with the door shut. Between the notifications and the text messages, I can’t go more than 15 to 20 minutes without looking as a matter of habit. Removing it completely from the setting allows me to stay focused.
Notice, I’m not suggesting that you do the same things that I do; rather I’m suggesting that you take a deep look at each of these details within your setting(s) and test out small changes. If you always write with your phone nearby, try removing it and see if it increases your word count. If it doesn’t make a difference, you can choose to keep it nearby. Just because it made a difference for me doesn’t necessarily mean it will make a difference for you.
In addition to the setting where your writing occurs, reflect on the timing. Do you write more words in the morning, afternoon, or at night? What is the quality of writing like during each time of day?
Understanding the time of day that you are best able to maximize a writing session will help you schedule the rest of your life around your writing times. Likewise, if you learn that the time of day doesn’t make a difference in your writing output, this permits you to adopt a more flexible writing schedule.
Be aware that if there is a particular time of day during which you can hammer out high quality words at an impressive rate, but it is often interrupted due to other activities happening at the same time around you, then you may want to consider a different time that has less interruptions.
Are there days of the week that you seem to be a more effective writer? For me, it is earlier in the week. I personally prefer to complete the majority of my writing on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. By Thursday, I’m usually exhausted both physically and mentally, so though I still try to write on these days, I typically shoot for less.
As you reflect on your writing process and make necessary adjustments, I can’t overstate how important it is to think about the challenges you have encountered along the way. These include both internal and external challenges.
For example, I’m not a great writer at night for a few reasons. First, an internal challenge I encounter is increased exhaustion so my brain is functioning on suboptimal levels. Second, an external challenge is presented when I have to choose between writing time and the limited time I have to spend with my wife once my little ones are asleep. As a result, I complete the broad majority of my writing in the morning before I start work.
You should be identifying the external and internal challenges that each writing session surfaces and try to write during a time where those challenges are eliminated or at least minimized.
When a writing session goes well, make a note of it. Identify the specifics mentioned above. Focus on figuring out how to duplicate these details that you find lead to success. You want to identify why it was successful and shoot for that whenever possible. Additionally, you can gain great momentum from celebrating a small success, which can lead to further success as you feel good about what you’ve accomplished
Once you have a true sense of your writing process (schedule, setting, etc.) it is also important to take a look at different platforms. For example, some word processing programs you might want to try out are Microsoft Word, Evernote, Google Docs, Scrivener, etc. Personally, I use Evernote for two primary reasons:
First, for some reason I become distracted with a program that shows me the word count as I write, like Microsoft Word. I prefer to focus on writing high quality content. Then, when I feel like I’m burnt out or I don’t have any more time for that particular writing session, I copy-paste it all onto the Apple Pages software just so I can record and track my average word count. I’m sure other platforms allow you to shut the word count function off, so there is probably a much more efficient way of doing this, but it works for me personally.
Second, Evernote is cloud-based. If I’m in the grocery store and all of sudden struck with inspiration, I can grab my phone, open up the Evernote app, and start writing. Likewise, if my computer isn’t nearby, I can just grab my iPad with the keyboard accessory and start writing. The point is, I have multiple options to avoid inaccessibility.
Now you may not prefer Evernote, but I strongly urge you to consider the two reasons I use it. It minimizes distractions and is cloud-based. As long as you find a platform that meets this criteria, you should be able to write without any issues.
I should also add that though I do not use Scrivener personally, I’ve heard rave reviews from other authors. In particular, fiction authors seem to really benefit as you can write documents in notecard format and easily reorder the notecards. As you experiment with your story line, you can easily move large sections of your work around until you find the right sequence.
As much as I wish it weren’t true, as you know from Chapter 1, I am certainly guilty of starting a book and not finishing it. In fact, I have three incomplete books where I’ve actually finished multiple chapters. This number does not include all the books I started and never made another attempt at writing after the first writing session.
For me, this happened because I became distracted easily. One day I’d want to write a comedic screenplay; the next day I’d decide that I wanted to focus on science fiction. Each time I’d start anew, genuinely believing this was the time I was actually going to follow through.
If you can relate to this, take a breath, because you’re not alone and you can absolutely overcome this problem.
Throughout this chapter we’re going to discuss different strategies to maintain focus while ensuring that you capture ideas when inspiration strikes.
There is something about writing that causes the mind to become particularly creative. This is both a blessing and a curse.
When you’re in the zone, it is amazing how much can make it from your mind to the screen (or paper). The problem, however, is when ideas seem to be coming from every direction and very few, if any of them, are related to what you’re writing about.
It is this concern that causes me to write with two additional documents open so I can quickly record what is in my head and then get back to the topic at hand.
Before you begin writing prepare yourself for the possibility of an idea that can fall into one of three categories:
1.) Unrelated to current book.
2.) Related to current book, but unrelated to the topic/chapter you’re working on.
3.) Related to the chapter, but for a different section.
Let us take a look at how to handle each circumstance when an idea strikes during the writing process.
Before you begin writing, open up your book outline, a blank document (used as an ideas document), and the document you’re going to write within.
As you are writing, if an idea pops in your head and it has potential to fit in what you’re currently working on, but you’re not sure where to put it, go down a little below your outline and just write a quick statement or sentence that can serve as a writing prompt later on.
If the idea doesn’t appear to be related but it might have a place somewhere in the book, quickly pull up your outline.
If it is obvious where it fits within the outline, then insert a topic statement. If you’re not sure where to put it, just leave it at the bottom of your outline.
As a writer, it is helpful to have a document specifically for recording your ideas. If you do not have one, create one just before your next writing session so when something that might have potential pops up, it can be captured and stored for use during a more appropriate time.
As I have stated throughout this book multiple times, I highly recommend that the program you use for each of these documents should be a common repository that is cloud-based. In other words, use Google Docs for all three documents, or Evernote for all three documents. I would not recommend you use Google Docs for one of them and Evernote for the others.
When it comes to capturing ideas, the key is to give yourself instant access to your system in any setting. I have Evernote on my phone, iPad, and computer so when an idea strikes I am able to quickly pull up whatever device is closest and type it.
This works for me, but you need to find a system that works for you. Just be sure to prioritize quick and easy access to whatever system you develop and implement.
Unfortunately, ideas are not the only distraction or obstacle that can prevent a writer from progressing. Another common issue can be a lack of motivation to sit in front of a computer and write, particularly after you’ve worked all day and you’ve written on a regular basis for months. After a while, this can lead to boredom and will hinder your progress.
To combat this lack of motivation, I recommend you seek out different ways to write. More specifically, you should be looking for a different technique to help you record your thoughts onto paper. Below are some specific suggestions; however, be creative and try out your own ideas. Try to find a different way to switch things up enough to prevent getting stuck in a writing rut.
Approach #1: As previously suggested, when trying to create additional writing time, speak into a voice recorder. Record everything you would be writing down and do not filter yourself. You can then hire a transcriber on fiverr.com to put your words to paper. With that document, either you can edit your thoughts and make it book-worthy or, depending on your budget, you can use the same website to hire an editor.
Approach #2: Incorporate an activator before you begin your writing session. This primer can take varied forms, but ultimately you’re going to have to identify whether or not your chosen primer is effective. This can be determined by assessing your final word count of the particular session. Personally, I use two different primers depending on how much time I have.
More often than not, I’m short on time. So before I begin writing, as a non-fiction author, I identify the section that I’m going to focus on from my outline, then I write down two to three questions I hope to answer. In other words, I write as if I’m responding to a very specific question. This can work wonders when you’re struggling to confront a blank page.
When I have more time, I utilize an exercise to give my brain its much needed boost. The first thing I’ll do is look at my outline and identify my area of focus. With that in my mind, I go for a run or to the gym for approximately 30 minutes. On the car ride home and while in the shower I’ll make an audio recording and think out loud.
Once I’m all freshened up, I’m feeling good from the endorphins and I’ve got 20 minutes or so of audio that I can listen to throughout my writing session.
Alternative #3: Get a writing partner. To be clear, this is different than a co-author. A writing partner can offer feedback and a helpful ear when you need to verbalize your thoughts. Additionally, you two can trade a paragraph and challenge each other to elaborate further.
The key is to ensure that your tone remains consistent throughout the entire book which can occasionally present a problem if your writing partner cannot capture your desired tone.
Lastly, the golden rule of working with a writing partner is to reciprocate. Do not ask your partner to do anything that you wouldn’t do yourself.
Alternative #4: Take a topic from your outline and list all the key points you want to include. Once you have that list, the next step is to take each key point a little deeper by offering some quotes or sentences that might be a good fit. Armed with this detailed outline component, you hire a ghost writer. In this case I recommend you hire a ghostwriter through upwork.com.
Note: When outsourcing, always be sure to verify quality. A ghostwriter does not replace your task of writing; rather they provide you with content to tweak and expand upon.
Alternative #5: Depending on your budget, though I haven’t used it personally, I recommend you look into bookinabox.com. Co-founded by the author Tucker Max, this site claims they’ll be able to completely self-publish your book for you with only 13 to 15 hours of phone conversation.
Essentially, Tucker Max assigns you a writer who works with you to pull the words out of you and get them onto paper for you. They also offer book cover design as well as marketing services. Be aware though that the price is steep. However, it doesn’t hurt to look for similar companies that use a similar model if you’re interested in this service but do not have the funding.
These alternatives may or may not be for you, but the key is to be open to a different method if you find yourself losing focus. It may boost you over that hump that consistently holds you back every time you begin writing a book.
Moreover, don’t just be open to different approaches; become obsessed. Become a student with an unquenchable thirst for learning more about writing and the implementation thereof.
Jim Rohn once said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This is definitely applicable when you are a writer. If you haven’t figured it out yet, when nobody you know is a writer, then making time for yourself to sit down and write feels very challenging if not impossible.
To curb this obstacle, I recommend you start interacting with other authors. There are a few ways to do this:
1.) Join a Facebook group that focuses on writing or self-publishing
2.) Utilize meetup.com to start spending time with other authors
3.) Listen to related podcasts
4.) Read related blogs
In other words, become obsessed with writing. I know this sounds intense, but sticking to a writing schedule over a long period of time is equally as intense; therefore, it is an appropriate obsession.
The other point that needs to be noted relates to the second suggestion above. Going to a meet-up on your own to connect with people you don’t initially know probably sounds daunting. I completely understand that and still struggle to attend these types of gatherings myself. However, every time I put myself out there I am always so happy I did. The value always seems to be more abundant than the other three suggestions above.
Despite this, if attending a meet up isn’t something you’re up for just yet, start with one or two of the other suggestions and branch out over time.
The key is to force yourself to confront your book even when you don’t want to write. You need to hear about how other authors overcome these struggles. You’ll learn that what you’re going through is actually very normal and that the key to writing a book is not actually being a great writer, or even a good writer, but rather the ability to write consistently and focus that writing on a particular piece of work until it is complete.
This is what I love about writing. It levels the playing field when it comes to talent. In other words, all the writing talent in the world won’t help if you can’t finish your work. This gives a persistent person an advantage.
The question is, what steps can you take to become a writer who can follow through and stay focused over a long period of time? Don’t overthink this. Moreover, don’t start drawing negative conclusions about yourself as a person just because you’ve struggled to stay focused in the past. I would bet the majority of writers encounter this inner battle on an ongoing basis. I know I do, but I also know that I am not going to let an off day or even an off week mean anything more than just a small bump in the road as I progress towards finishing my book.
You are a writer. You will finish your book. Do not allow yourself to believe that you can’t make it happen. Just get your first draft written down. Worry about nothing else until you get to that point.
The next and final chapter of this book will help you with the steps after you finish your first draft, but truthfully, none of it matters if you don’t believe you can finish your first draft.
If you’re reading this chapter prior to finishing your first draft, then I recommend you use it as motivation. Knowing what to do with the first draft when it is complete can be very helpful in terms of keeping you on track.
When I first pursued writing, I had the mindset that I would send it out to agents and hope for a bite. While I wrote, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was ever going to be read or just quickly discarded by an overworked agent.
This made it very difficult to keep writing.
Now, with the self-publishing options out there, your book’s destiny is much more in your control. Keeping this in the back of your mind as you write is much more motivating.
Secondly, when you do finish your first draft, which you will do, then refer back to this chapter as a guide to help you through the next steps.
View this chapter as a gateway into the self-publishing world. Don’t worry about it yet until you finish your book, because there is a significant learning curve and I couldn’t possibly cover it all in one chapter.
The topic of self-publishing deserves its own book. Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, I have already written a book on the subject. When you finish your first draft, check out The Kindle Publish Launch Formula. This book takes you through the entire self-publishing process, from first draft to publishing to marketing, but it operates under the assumption that you are starting with a first draft. Another way of looking at it is that this book is a prerequisite to The Kindle Publish Launch Formula.
Keep in mind that there is some action you should take once you finish your first draft that can help position you for a smooth transition into the self-publishing world.
Before discussing these actions, I need to throw out a disclaimer that I choose to be self-published because of the creative and marketing control as well as a strong royalty rate.
If you’re looking to go the traditional publishing route, I am not the author to turn to. I strongly recommend you seek out a book or additional resource that offers instruction as you embark upon getting your book published.
Either way, before you arrive at that stage or the self-publishing stage, let’s discuss a few more simple steps to take after completing your first draft.
1.) Celebrate. Go out to dinner or do something fun to acknowledge that you’ve just accomplished something that most people can’t seem to.
2.) Take a two-day break from writing. No more, no less. You don’t want to bring your momentum to a complete halt, but you do need to step away from it for a short period of time.
3.) After your break, read your book and edit as you go. Do this before you share it.
4.) As you read it, make a list of anything you think should cover but didn’t. Similarly, make a list of anything that is repetitive or unnecessary, then determine where to remove it.
5.) Make changes based on Step 4.
6.) If you haven’t already saved it in multiple locations, including at least one cloud drive, do so.
7.) Be sure to include the date in the file name. This will help you keep track of your most recent version.
8.) Begin the self-publishing or traditional publishing process.
You have accomplished something great here and it is important that you recognize just how helpful it can be to add “author” to your resume.
As you pursue your writing goals I hope you view me as a resource. There are a few ways to connect with me:
- Visit www.maketimeforwriting.com to subscribe to my self-publishing newsletter and a free five-day writing/self-publishing mini-course.
- Email me directly at [email protected]
- Follow my Twitter handle @maranimichael.
I wish you all the best as you realize your writing aspirations. If you’re willing to take a moment to share your impressions of this book, please review this book on Amazon.com. You’ll learn that self-publishing has a few hurdles and a crucial one is obtaining reviews.
You would be helping both me and potential readers determine if this is the book for them.
To do this you can visit the title page of this book on Amazon.com. Towards the review section you’ll see a link that says “Write a review”. Click on that and the rest is pretty easy.
Happy writing and remember me when you’re a famous author!
Have you always wanted to write a book but for some reason never started? OR Have tried writing a book but never seemed able to finish? If you answered yes then this book is for you For aspiring writers seeking easy-to-follow instructions on how to write a book (and finish it), this is the guide you need. Whether you’re just starting to write your first book or you’re ready to finish that draft you’ve been working on for years, this is the tool to help you finish your book and become a published author. Many people have a moment of inspiration that leads them to start writing a book, but most never get around to finishing it. If this is you, don’t give up – with these writing tips, you’ll be ready to tackle that next chapter, and the next chapter, until you have a final draft ready for publication. This writer’s guide offers a step-by-step approach to the writing process and outlines techniques for brainstorming and narrowing down a topic, creating an outline for your book, tracking your word output for measuring your productivity, writing consistently on a schedule that you can stick to, and dealing with writer’s block. In addition, first-time book writers will benefit from a brief overview of the next steps toward publication after writing a book. Throughout this book, we’ll outline steps to help you write your book from start to finish, including: Select a book topic that aligns with your interests Use keyword research strategies to determine where your interests align with market demand Develop a book outline using a six- step process Create chapter outlines within the book outline Draw on creative inspiration Plan your writing schedule so that you can commit to consistent writing sessions Calculate your average word production to better understand when and where you do your best work Choose a writing platform that limits distraction and is easily access Adopt a trial-and-error approach so that you don’t become discouraged if a writing technique isn’t working for you Listen and learn from other authors Start planning next steps for after the book is complete Celebrate your successes! This book is designed to be a quick read so that you can rapidly apply these strategies in your writing. Recommended for any writer who is struggling to finish his or her book.