How to Write a Book (and avoid distractions)

Person writing a book on their laptop

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

If you’re reading this, you know the draw that writing a book has on us writers. We long to unleash our creativity and share our stories with the world. But, there’s no denying it: writing an entire book can be overwhelming. If you’ve never written one, it can be challenging to even know where to start, let alone how to navigate the entire book-writing process. Never fear. We’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re an aspiring author or an experienced professional writer, here’s some advice to help make your writing journey a fulfilling one — and one with a satisfying end.

Establish your writing space

Creating a dedicated writing space is essential for productivity and focus. Find a quiet and comfortable area where you can immerse yourself in the writing process. It could be a home office, a cozy corner in a coffee shop, or a peaceful spot in nature. Make sure your writing space is organized and conducive to creativity.

Eliminate distractions

Writing requires focus, so minimize distractions that can derail your progress. Turn off notifications on your phone or computer, close unnecessary tabs, and create boundaries to protect your writing time. Consider using productivity apps or website blockers to stay focused and avoid temptation.

If you can’t escape the noise around you, I find this website great for drowning out the conversations of others or the sounds of a TV playing too loud.

Assemble your writing tools

Having the right tools can enhance your writing experience. Invest in a reliable computer, a comfortable keyboard, and writing software that suits your needs (e.g., Microsoft Word, Scrivener, Google Docs). Consider using tools like grammar checkers or productivity apps to streamline your writing and editing processes.

Settle on your big idea

Every book starts with a compelling idea. Brainstorm different concepts, explore genres, and find a story or topic that ignites your passion. Consider what message or experience you want to convey to readers. Your big idea will be the foundation on which your entire book is built.

Conduct careful research

Once you have your idea, you’ll have to do some serious research to make sure no one has written about your book idea before.

But assuming your book idea is good to go, research will add depth and authenticity to your writing. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, invest time gathering accurate information and understanding the world you’re creating. Consult reliable sources, interview experts if necessary, and immerse yourself in the subject matter to create a compelling narrative.

Construct your outline

An outline serves as a roadmap for your book, providing story structure and direction. Outline the main plot points, main character arcs, and key events in your story. For a nonfiction book, organize your ideas into coherent sections or chapters. A well-constructed book outline will keep you focused and help you maintain a logical flow throughout your writing.

Try pantsing

Of course, not every professional writer likes to outline their books. Some people’s brains just don’t work that way. Some prefer to write on the fly, or “pants” their books.

Break the project into small pieces

Writing a book can feel overwhelming, especially when faced with a blank page. Break down your book project into smaller, manageable tasks. Outline chapters, create a writing schedule, and set achievable writing goals. By focusing on one step at a time, you’ll make progress and build momentum throughout the writing process.

six months to publishingPersonally, I like to write the parts of my books that excite me first — even if they occur later on in the story. I don’t worry about how this sequence might fit into the larger narrative, I just focus on writing the parts that make me happy — the parts that got me excited about writing this book in the first place. If I can do that, I’ll have a better sense of my characters and the world I’m creating. This works well for my nonfiction books, too. This gets me past any feelings of frustration or of being overwhelmed. I just take my books one step at a time.

Set a firm writing schedule

Consistency is key when it comes to writing a book. Set a regular writing session schedule that fits your lifestyle and commitments. Dedicate specific blocks of time each day or week solely for writing. Treat it as a priority and make it a habit. By establishing a routine, you’ll train your mind to be in the writing zone during those dedicated hours.

Establish a sacred deadline

Setting a deadline adds a sense of urgency and accountability to your writing process. Determine a realistic timeline for completing your book and commit to it. Whether it’s self-imposed or tied to a publishing goal, having a deadline will motivate you to stay on track and complete your manuscript.

Embrace procrastination (really!)

While procrastination is often seen as a hindrance, it can also be a valuable part of the creative process. Allow yourself to step away from your writing session at times, giving your mind space to breathe and recharge. Go for a walk! Engage in activities that inspire you, such as reading, exploring nature, or indulging in hobbies. Sometimes, the best ideas come when you least expect them.

Start calling yourself a writer

Believe in your abilities and embrace the identity of a writer. Acknowledge that you have a unique voice and valuable stories to share. Overcome self-doubt and imposter syndrome by affirming yourself as a writer. Surround yourself with a supportive writing community or find fellow writers who can provide encouragement and constructive feedback.

Find your writing voice

Your writing voice is your unique style and tone that distinguishes your work. Experiment with different writing styles, explore different genres, and find the voice that feels authentic to you. Whether it’s humorous, lyrical, or introspective, let your voice shine through your words and engage your readers.

Write a compelling opener

The opening lines of your book are crucial in capturing the reader’s attention. Craft a compelling opener that hooks the reader and sets the tone for your story. Start with an intriguing question, a captivating scene, or a powerful statement that creates curiosity and compels the reader to keep turning the pages.

I wrote most of my YA fantasy, The Dragon Squisher, in one draft. But because I knew how vital the opening was, I rewrote the first 500 words of my book so many times I lost track. It took me two months to get it just right. But it was worth every second.

Fill your story with conflict and tension

If you are writing fiction, conflict and tension are the driving forces behind engaging storytelling. Create obstacles, challenges, and conflicts that your characters must overcome. This keeps readers engaged and invested in the outcome. Whether it’s external conflicts or internal struggles, infuse your story with tension that keeps readers eagerly turning pages.

The Do's and Don'ts of Planning a Book LaunchAdding conflict and tension isn’t just for fiction. Check out the work of Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Blind Side, etc.) to see how to employ tension and suspense into your nonfiction writing. Two literary techniques to employ that are great for adding tension are foreshadowing and red herrings.

Turn off your internal editor while writing the first draft

When writing the first draft, give yourself permission to write freely without judgment. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or perfect sentence structure. Let the words flow and focus on capturing your ideas. Editing can come later during the revision phase. And when you’re done with your second draft, hire a professional editor to fix all the mistakes you are unable to see.

Persevere through “The Marathon of the Middle”

The middle section of a book can be challenging to navigate. It’s where many fellow writers feel stuck or overwhelmed. Push through this phase by staying connected to your story and characters. Refer to your outline (if you have one), introduce new plot twists, deepen character development, and maintain the story’s momentum to carry you through.

Write a resounding ending

A powerful ending leaves a lasting impression on readers. Tie up loose ends, provide resolution, and leave room for reflection. Craft an ending that satisfies readers while still leaving them wanting more. Consider the emotional impact you want to evoke and create a memorable conclusion. The ending of your book is so important, it’s where many authors start their writing process.

Become a ferocious self-editor

Writing is rewriting, as the saying goes. Polish your manuscript by reviewing and revising your work. Ask friends and family to read your book and give you honest feedback, or hire beta readers. Once you’ve written your second or third draft and have all the essential elements — like plot and character arc — worked out to your satisfaction, you’ll want to hire a professional editor to fix all your spelling and grammatical mistakes.

Find a mentor

Finding a mentor can provide invaluable guidance and support. Look for experienced fellow writers or industry professionals who can offer advice, insights, and constructive criticism. Their mentorship can help you refine your writing skills, navigate the publishing industry, and gain a deeper understanding of the craft.

After you write, it’s time to publish!

Book writing is a rewarding journey that requires dedication, perseverance, and passion. Every writer’s journey is unique, so embrace your creativity, trust your voice, and enjoy the process of bringing your stories to life.

Once your book is done, BookBaby can help bring your manuscript to market. We’ve got self-publishing packages that include everything you need to design, manufacture, and distribute your book, and our list of author services just keeps growing! Call us at 877-961-6878 or visit www.bookbaby.com to learn more.

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Related Posts
How To Outline a Novel
How To Pants a Novel
Walking Is the Best Writing Exercise
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1 COMMENT

  1. This post is valuable enough to frame! It covers many of the issues important to read and remember when writing a book. I found myself re-reading many points and reflecting how I could jazz up my novel and make it a compelling read, not just sorta interesting. Thanks for the compilation – I’m using the points as we speak.

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