Are you having difficulty in completing your write-ups? Do you find it extra-challenging to finish one story or novel? Whenever you are suffering from a writer’s block, do not worry because there are still so many things that you can do to overcome it.
The essay is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a short piece of writing on a particular subject.” There can be many purposes for writing an article. It can be written as a requirement for a college application, or it can be an official entry for a writing contest. It can also be used to convey one’s thoughts or ideas about a particular topic. Notwithstanding these different purposes, an essay always follows substantially the same elemental composition or structure.
So you’ve finally decided to write your first book, huh? Well, Congratulations! That’s the first step. It’s not easy to take this decision. There must be a reason to write a book, so what’s yours?
Are you writing a biography? Do you have a message you want to send out to people? A great idea that an article won’t give justice to? There are many reasons to why you should write a book but the question is now how?
Writing a book isn’t easy and the thought alone is intimidating. You’re thinking whether or not your idea is good enough if it will ever be read or published, and what if you invest time into it but then never finish it?
Here are 10 steps to use as a guide to get you through this and help you finish your first book. Ready to be the proud owner of a book?
Have an idea
Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, you have to have an idea for your book. You may even have a few ideas that you’re considering. Start researching each idea separately to check originality and likability.
Think of an idea you would like to read, hence be easy to write about. If you’re writing a topic just because it’s a best seller idea, it’ll fail. You have to know everything about your idea and have a strong passion for it because if you don’t, it won’t go very far.
Create your characters
Coming up with characters for my idea is one of the most amusing parts in my opinion when writing a book. There is no limit to the number of characters you can have but try to limit them to 20 or less because you want your readers to easily remember your characters.
Your characters have to be believable for your readers to react to them, so remember, they must always be flawed because they’re humans and that’s okay. Know, love, and befriend your characters. Create backstories for them with a list of traits, flaws and the role of each character. Define who are the main and side characters, and their roles.
Map your outline
Now that you have your idea, it’s time to start organizing your thoughts. Each book has a beginning, middle and ending. Break down your story into chapters and what will happen by creating plot points, characters roles in each scene, challenges they’ll face and how they’d overcome it.
The outline should have all your book’s events, keeping your thoughts organized, and giving you a clear guide to follow. It shouldn’t be too long, one or two pages so you can hang it in front of you while writing.
Set a writing schedule and deadlines
Writing a book requires time and dedication. You have to be willing to make the time in your busy day to do nothing but sit down and write.
You can’t wait for inspiration to hit, that will never get anything done. Set at least 7 hours a week to write, that’s an hour a day or you can split sessions into two, 3 hours and 4 hours. Once you have your hours set, you need to set a goal per session, a number of words to write. Start with a small number, say 300 words then slowly increase them as you get more into the zone.
Now you need to come up with a deadline to get your book writing done. Think rationally and choose a realistic date, taking into consideration days of procrastination of course.
It’s time for research
You need to be sure of everything you’re writing. All details, logic, historical facts must be validated and believable.
This is also the time to look up locations for your book, character details, whatever you need basically. Don’t overdo the research though and get stuck in that, just gather enough details to satisfy your readers. Doing the right amount of research adds to your credibility as a writer.
Eliminate all distractions
When it’s time to write, that’s all you should be doing. I know sometimes it’s hard to stay focused and you want to check your Facebook or get a snack but this will only consume time and make you lose focus.
Designate a specific room or spot to set yourself to write and eliminate any distractions by closing the door or shutting your phone, anything that can take up any of your writing time. Prepare everything ahead of time so you don’t need to get up until your hours are up. Set your writing tools, get your coffee, and snacks and get to work.
Write your first draft
Once you start writing, don’t stop. You may not love everything you write but don’t fix it just yet, any clichés or long structured sentences can wait. It’s okay to drift a little from your outline and improvise as you write by adding events or changing things. Your characters will develop throughout the story and may surprise you.
You can edit by chapter or wait till you finish the whole book’s first draft then start editing. The opening scene is vital in a book because that defines if the reader will continue reading or not. The start has to be compelling and catch the reader’s attention.
But everyone believes the beginning and ending are the most important and hardest parts of a book. However, I think the middle is the tricky part and here’s why.
Don’t get stuck in the middle
The middle part can be frustrating for all new writers. You’ve already caught your readers now you have to keep them interested. This is where the conflict is at its highest and tension is established between characters, the actions take place.
Some writers stretch out this part and drag it too far so it turns boring, others feel like they don’t have enough events happening in between and stuff it with useless events which are very wrong. This part needs to be well thought of and organized so you don’t lose interest yourself and then lose your readers.
A satisfying ending
Now that all the action is played out, it’s time to bring your story to an end. Your readers have stuck with you this long so they deserve a satisfying ending. Take your time with the ending, don’t rush it and leave no loose ends.
This is the part where your protagonist finally overcame all the obstacles and reaches her goal. This doesn’t mean it has to be a happy ending; you can give your readers a surprise just as long as it’s logical and acceptable.
10-Edits and re-edits
It’s finally time to read what you wrote and change it all! (Just kidding, well, sort of). You need to read your book from the reader’s perspective, if a sentence doesn’t flow easily, it needs fixing. Don’t try to use big fancy words to complicate it and keep the structure of your sentences short and clean. If a sentence isn’t adding value to the scene, cut it.
Put your writing through online grammar, speller, and readability checks then go after it again yourself. Don’t trust machines with your work, do your own checks just in case! Two main points to remember in editing is using active voice is always better than passive voice, and using strong verbs instead of adverbs. Your writing should flow smoothly and easily, keeping your readers wanting to finish it.
Follow these steps and you’re guaranteed to start and finish writing that book. Now that you wrote, read and edited your book, it’s time for others to read it too. You can look for a publisher or upload it on online writing platforms to hear back readers feedback. Once your first book is out into the world, the rest will follow!
So you have the gift of writing, but do you have what it takes to be a great writer? Writing is a skill that takes time, practice and dedication. You didn’t just expect them to hand you the Pulitzer Prize, did you? You need to work for it!
It is vital in this industry to always challenge yourself to be better by enhancing your writing skills. Don’t just be a writer. Be an effective writer and master your craft. Here are the main components to a great writer, and a few tips on how to be a successful writer.
Read like never before. Reading is the second best exercise for your brain after writing itself. Whether it’s reading for your favorite authors, the newspaper, or online articles, it will always help. You get familiar with different writing styles, improve your vocabulary skills, and increase your overall knowledge.
If you’re writing a novel, you can get inspiration from other great writers. Try reading books in the same genre you’re interested in to get an insight on their impact. Read as much as possible, whenever you can. Make it a habit to read whenever you get a chance. Better yet, join a book club!
Practice makes perfect. Put writing into your daily routine, even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. Writing is a skill that requires daily practice, even if it’s just writing in your journal or a blog, it doesn’t matter. You need to keep your creative juices running and stay in the writing zone even if you’re not working on your novel.
Inspiration can be in all forms around you. It can be an ice cream truck, your favorite song, or just a street sign. I advise you to carry around a handy notebook (or you can use your phone’s notepad) to write down anything and everything you think may lead to an idea.
Be an organized thinker. Have a concept and a plot for what you want to write, before writing. You can even write an outline and the synopsis if needed to organize your thoughts. When you start writing, you shouldn’t be all over the place bouncing between thirty theories. All your thoughts should be focused and well strategized.
Use simple structure. The shorter the sentence, the better. Try replacing any adverbs with strong verbs and being concise. Of course, there will be a variety of long and short sentences and that’s okay as long as it doesn’t turn too long and boring to read.
Most importantly, use the active voice instead of the passive voice because it’s more direct and gets the meaning across faster. Every sentence and every scene you write needs to be essential. If it isn’t, cut it.
The dictionary is your best friend. Don’t overdress your writing with big fancy words. Keep things simple and clear so that anyone can read and quickly understand it.
The more words you know, the easier it is for you to express yourself through writing. Pick up your dictionary and skim through it, find a word then look at its synonyms and antonyms just to know how to use them correctly.
Whenever you’re reading, or watching TV and hear a word you don’t know, look it up! There are many vocabulary websites to look into and quizzes you can take to increase your vocabulary, or you can simply randomly open the dictionary every day and learn a new word, so one word in one day. Simple, right?
Proofread everything. Proofread everything and anything you write by running spelling, punctuation, grammar, and plagiarism checks. Don’t fully rely on online checkers either. Read your material yourself and fix any typos, spelling or grammar mistakes. Revise your work once and then revise it again. Having error-free and clear content makes your writing competent and polished.
Accept feedback gracefully. A good writer knows how to take criticism – the good and the bad. Once you finalize your book, story, or article send it out to a group of close friends to read (like your book club for example) and see what they think.
Be professional about all feedback given, the good you can focus on and try to do more of and the bad you work on and improve. All feedback is good feedback for a writer because it pushes you to do better and fix any weaknesses in your writing.
Work on deadlines: Writing is a creative practice, but you can’t undergo deadlines because you don’t really know when your “muse” will come along, right? We’ve already agreed that you need to make a routine of writing at least 30 minutes a day. This means no distractions, just you and your notebook (or laptop). Set goals for yourself with deadlines and challenge yourself to meet them.
As long as you’re persistent and sticking with your writing routine, you’ll get things done faster.
Now that you have this handy list of writing tips, you are ready to conquer the writing world. Remember, there is no such thing as a bad writer, just an ordinary writer who is plain and a great writer who gets things done!
We’ve all experienced the joy of losing ourselves in a good, soul-feeding book. Staying up late nights mesmerized in it, holding on to your book like there’s nothing better in the world. And when it ends, you’re left speechless.
You want to write the novel that’ll have people thinking about it, talking about it and loving it for as long as possible! But what does it take to write such a captivating novel? There are key points to writing a novel that’s so exciting to read it’s hard to put down. I’ll let you in on a few of these points.
Write what you know
Stick to what you know best. If you’re a softie and get lost in romance novels like there’s no tomorrow, then write romance. If thrillers keep you up at night, then it’s probably not for you.
What are the books you loved reading, your favorite characters, and the novels that shaped you into the writer you want to be? You’ll only do great at writing what you know and love so start thinking!
Create Believable Characters
Readers need to be able to relate to your character. They want to see a little of themselves in the character. If you create paper dolls, there’s no way your audience will react to the character or care for them.
Characters need to be diverse, not mundane. Each character should have their distinctive traits, problems, and back story. Don’t create the Brady bunch! Make them believable by trying to add characters from your real world into your fictional world. Then you need to start studying your characters and grow to love them in order for your readers to do so too.
Remember, your readers want to believe that your characters are real people with flaws that mess up and learn from their mistakes, just like them. So never stop developing your character as the story unfolds. Whether it’s good or bad change, keep your characters interesting to the extent that they surprise even you sometimes.
A compelling start
The first line in your book can make all the difference with a reader. It can be the factor that defines whether they will continue reading or not. Some readers will be nicer and judge by the first paragraph. If that first page doesn’t tempt the audience in, the rest is a waste.
In a personal favorite of mine, Peter Pan, J.M Barrie started with “All children, except one, grow up”. Instantly the reader starts to wonder why that one child never grows up and wants to continue reading to find out.
Another amusing example is the 1992 classic, The Crow Road where Iain Banks started with “It was the day my grandmother exploded” and yes, he means it in the literal sense. The first thing that comes to mind is how did the old lady explode? This novel about a young man feeling trapped in the quirkiness of his family grabs the reader’s attention easily by surprise.
A good writer knows how to hook the reader from the start, but also needs to reel the fish in once it’s caught which brings us to the next point.
Plot is everything
Now that you have your characters set and hooked your readers, it’s time to work your magic! When working on a plot outline, you need to know what problem the character is going to face and how they’re going to overcome it. Keep your story juicy and full of events, like a roller coaster with ups and downs to avoid dragging it out in the middle.
Each scene you write needs to be towards the bigger picture, if the scene doesn’t make a difference, cut it! I know it’s hard to do but it has to be done.
We are all inspired by great novels and writers, and that’s okay. But at the end of the day, you want to write something that’s true to you.
Write out of your own experiences, memories and what matters to you. This will make your writing unique and avoid clichés that have been written and rewritten many times before.
The little things matter too! You may think it’s boring describing the surroundings and environment before getting into the action but that is what sets the mood. You want your readers to fall into your fiction world and see what you see. There’s no way they can do that if you give them small details here and there, so don’t be shy. Speak your mind.
Also, try to use smart metaphors and adjectives to season your writing and add to your description.
End with a bang!
You’ve made it this far, don’t slag on your book now! Your readers have expectations on how it’s going to end. You don’t necessarily have to reach those expectations as long as you can provide a satisfying, memorable ending.
Don’t leave your readers hanging with loose ends. Even if you plan on making a sequel, they deserve closure. That doesn’t mean everyone can’t get their happy ending. Just be sure to resolve the main problem and maybe leave some lingering questions taunting them for more.
A captivating novel is one that has an enticing plot, strong settings and descriptions, a diversity of meaningful characters, and an ending leaving you in awe. Before writing a novel, do your research, make clear outlines and lastly, write what’s close to your heart.
Writing a book is not an easy task to tackle (more of that later though), and sometimes we need guidance and encouragement to get us through this phase and get us to finish that darn book. Who better to encourage us than the leaders of this challenging gift?
Bestselling authors gave us more than just great reads to love and learn from. They also gave us a good deal of advice on being better writers. Let’s us examine the different stages of writing through the quotes of our favorite authors.
On Coming up with an idea:
“You can make anything by writing” – C.S. Lewis
No one says it best than the marvelous creator of Alice in Wonderland! There is no limit to creativity through writing. A strange or rare idea you may have, with the right plot and work, can easily be turned into a book.
“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it.” – Herman Melville
However, your idea can’t just be any idea. It must be one you put thought into and verified through immense research. To write great, your idea has to be great. If it isn’t, not even a thousand pages can make it look good.
“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there will always be better writers than you and there will always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you.” – Neil Gaiman
“If there’s a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
The legends Neil Gaiman and Toni Morrison encourage originality and being yourself with your ideas. It’s okay to be inspired by other authors but always try to do something that hasn’t been done redundantly before.
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” – Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow believes those late-night ideas may just be your best yet.
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
Finally, once you’ve got your main idea, don’t doubt yourself and just go with your gut and see where it leads you.
On setting deadlines:
Before you start writing you need to have goals set and a deadline to when you’ll finish.
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” – Douglas Adams
Don’t let those deadlines whoosh by you because they’ll keep on going by and you won’t ever start or finish your book.
On starting to write:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway
The great Ernest Hemingway, the author of classics like The Sun Also Rises, understood the struggle of writing. He amusingly puts it as simple as can be – you just sit and bleed because writing is not an easy task and clearly takes up a lot of your time and energy.
“You can fix anything but a blank page” – Nora Roberts
Starting to write is maybe the hardest step to writing a book. A blank page can be intimidating that’s why Nora Roberts encourages you to write, write anything and not to leave the page blank. Whatever you write can be fixed, edited and made better as long as you START.
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London
Jack London knows best. Don’t wait for inspiration to come strolling along to get started. You have to find your own inspiration and go after what you need.
On writing struggles:
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” – Robert Forest
Always place yourself in the reader’s place when writing. If you don’t react to your characters and story, how do you expect the reader to?
“Write drunk, edit sober.” – Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway encourages you to write your raw first draft altogether and burying your inner perfectionist that’s itching to edit and fix.
“The first draft of everything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway
Clearly, Hemingway knows his stuff, don’t you agree? It’s okay if your first draft has typos, grammar or spelling errors, and confusing structures – that’s what editing is for. The point of writing your first draft is just to get your story out on paper.
On editing your writing:
“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Edits require a lot of work and a lot of cutting. You need to make your writing easy and clear for your readers which would require some sacrifices…
“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” – William Faulkner
William Faulkner refers to those sacrifices, cuts that need to be made like favorite lines or metaphors for a better reading flow.
“Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.” – David Ogilvy
Don’t overdress your writing in big fancy words, it doesn’t make you look smarter, it just makes it harder for your readers to understand.
“Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.” – Jonathan Franzen
Again, don’t overcomplicate it and stick with the simplest verbs possible.
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov
Anton Chekhov creatively refers to the “show don’t tell” theory. This is a concept many writers get confused with till today, it is always better to show how the moon is shining in details instead of just stating it is. Don’t be shy to explain what you need.
On finding a title:
“A good title is the title of a successful book.” – Raymond Chandler
Finding the perfect title is vital for your book, it’s a big part of defining if the book would be a success or not so keep looking, gather a few ideas and then choose your title.
On finishing your book:
“I hate writing, I love having written.” – Dorothy Parker
Finally, when all the hard writing and struggles are over, you’re left satisfied and proud of your work.
At the end of the day, we writers all feel strongly with the author of the bestselling classic American Gods when said…
“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” – Neil Gaiman
You’re staring at a blank screen or empty paper, whichever and nothing is happening. Your hands are lifeless, the brain is numb and you can’t get yourself to write down anything. Don’t panic. You’re not losing your knack for writing. You’re just experiencing a writer’s block.
Many, if not all, great writers go through writer’s block. Writer’s block is when your creative juices come to a halt. You can’t seem to come up with new or good ideas and each time you try to write, blockage.
Now, there can be more than one reason as to why this is happening. However, it’ll pass, just like everything else in life. Here are a few tips to help you get through this. First…
Why is this happening?
Why can’t you write? It can be pressure or stress. Your mind is elsewhere or you’re having problems that are keeping your mind occupied. To write, you need a clear mind with the right mindset, when your mind is too fuzzy with other concerns, it’s not helping.
Fear is the number one reason for writer’s block. You put your all into your writing, so to expose that to everyone to read and criticize can be intimidating. This can also lead to procrastinating, constantly putting it off so it eventually never happens.
Lastly, worrying if it’s good enough. You want everything to be perfect, just like you imagined it. You’d waste too much time outlining, planning and doing research and keep delaying the actual writing.
Helpful tips to fix writer’s block
- Do other creative activities. Think of other things you can do like painting, doing DIY projects, writing poetry or music, playing an instrument and more. Do anything else other than working on your main project. I personally like to write music for a change. This will mostly help your creativity side stay wired and maybe help create ideas for writing.
Go for a walk. Get your mind off writing by going on a walk whether indoors or outdoors. Studies have proven that doing so will increase your creativity by 60% because this will tap into your deeper state of mind and provide you clarity. Other exercises like running, aerobics, yoga, or dancing will help you focus and boost your energy.
Coffee is your best friend. There is nothing better than the aroma of freshly brewed coffee every morning. Coffee helps you stay focused when you’re in the zone and when on breaks, helps you brainstorm ideas to get back to writing. Sometimes, all you need is a good cup of Joe to get the flow through your fingers.
Write anything, anything at all. Whether it’s an idea, a thought, an emotion or simply scribbling randomly, write it down. Try to do this for around 15 minutes just to get your mind on paper. You need to make writing part of your daily routine, even if it’s just random words being written. It may help evoke new ideas for you to work on.
Take a break. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. It can even be just a short road trip. Go do something new with a group of friends like hiking. Keep your mind off writing for a while and just relax and have some fun.
A change of scenery. Sometimes all you need is a different setting to get the wheel going. Instead of your usual desk at home, try heading out to a café, the nearest Starbucks or the library to write. Just being in a different environment and seeing new faces can help.
Work on other projects: This personally works for me. Sometimes when I’m too focused on my main project, I get too stressed and can’t do anything at all. So I try working on other projects. It can be another novel idea, a poem, a short story, journal entry or even a blog post. Just exercise writing in any way. This will keep you in writing mode, keep your brain active and boost your imagination.
Read a book. Reading can definitely help out! Not only does reading improve your writing skills but it will be a good chance for you to get into another world for a bit and maybe come out with some inspiration.
Getting over writer’s block isn’t a walk in the park (well, actually, I guess it is sometimes) but it can take one or all of these tips to get through this. But the point is, you will get through this. So go, get up, try out these few tips and get back in the game!
I’ve always loved to write. I’ve been writing since forever, although not so regularly these days. When I got something special for my birthday, I’d write down how happy and ecstatic I was when I received it. When I was scolded for not doing my homework or forgetting to make my bed in the morning, I’d put my sad thoughts into words. I continued to do so until my high school and college years, where my poetry and stories were appreciated, but my hunger to learn on how to be a great writer has never been filled. So, I continued to search for answers and here’s what I got – some wonderful tips from my favorite teachers, authors and a few useful snippets from the web. One is writing from the heart, telling your life story, such as this story which drew thousands of responses.
Writing a book is a wonderful achievement and it’s something that is truly your own. Taking your book to the next level and getting it published can truly be a major step and one that sends authors into a spin. However, while it might seem scary, it’s the next step for writers and it’s the only real way to know if people like what you write. Read on to find a few simple publishing tips that might prove useful for you today.
Have You Had The Book Professionally Proofread?
First and foremost, you need a new set of eyes to go over the manuscript and check for errors. Now, you might think you have looked over it a dozen times and it’s perfect but it’s easy to miss things, especially when you have written it personally. That is why you have to have someone look over the novel that has no interest in it, such as a professional proofreader. These are the ideal people to view the work with a fresh set of eyes and they know what they’re looking for. They can pick up on minor errors in the structure of the book as well as the grammar and spelling errors. This can help ensure your book is published perfectly and avoid negative reviews on the grammar and structure.
Love the idea of writing a novel? You are not alone! Thousands truly have a writer’s gene in them and getting the words down on paper can be magical. However, not everyone starts off like J.K. Rowling or the great Edgar Allan Poe! A lot of people can struggle with their writing, even though they have it perfectly set out in their minds. You can have a great and very unique story that interest people but getting it all down can be a troublesome factor. However, with a few hints, you might find them more than useful for aspiring authors. Read on to find a few tips that might help.