The best piece of advice – IMHO – for someone writing a book for the first time, is to commit, and the quote below is my motto in life. The message also applies greatly to the process of writing a book. Keep reading to find out how you can develop the writer’s mindset.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Late President of the Bi-Lo Stores
[This post is the 4th in my series about how to write a book – start to finish. If you have not read the others, please do so first.]
Knowing your reasons for writing a book for the first time and being motivated is a good start. Actually getting to work is another. In this post, we’re going to up-cycle your discipline levels.
Earlier, we spoke about telling people that you’re writing a book. Remember, you thought I was nuts for a minute there? Well, I told you to do that because “… your thoughts, they become your words” and “… your words, they become your actions.” By telling people that you’re writing a book, you make a commitment, and if you’re a reasonably decent person, you will be inclined to want to stick to your word, which is writing a book for the first time.
Now, I’m going to guide you through turning your actions into habits.
Habits for Committing to Writing a Book for the First Time
Habit 1: Set aside time every day to write
I’ve started many a book, and finished few. I tend to be much more successful at finishing projects for clients, because they pay for it and have certain expectations. When you’re writing a book for the first time, you need to be your own motivator and driving force. I recommend that you make time to write every day, even if it is just 30 minutes. Book that time out in your diary, lock the door and demand that everyone leaves you alone for that period of time, and just write. Set a timer if you must. You may start off slowly, but you’ll soon be impressed with your progress.
While I suggest 30 minutes above, if this is your first attempt, I recommend that you sit down until you complete 500 words. It’s not a lot really. It’s about 1-1.5 pages on Google Docs. Time yourself to see how long it takes, and commit to doing that daily. This is sufficient time to get a short ebook written in just over a month, but if you’re writing a novel, you may want to commit to a minimum of 800 words a day.
Expert Tip: At this point, just WRITE. Don’t worry about how it reads or about typos. Just get those words written down. We’ll edit later on.
Create a schedule that will work for you, based on your goals and available time. No time available? Perhaps you can cut back on other activities that are less beneficial than writing a book for the first time:
- 6 x 5 minute smoke breaks = 30 minutes
- 1 episode of mindless reality TV = 30 minutes
You could even incentivize yourself by putting away a $1 reward for every 500 words you write. Imagine how much money you will have at the end of the month. You could use that to do something fun, or save it towards your editing, book cover or publishing costs. We’ll discuss the options in more detail later on.
Use a daily schedule to help you stay on track when you’re writing a book for the first time.
Writing a book for the first time is a big commitment! Shouldn’t I just hire a ghost writer? No! Ghost writers don’t know what’s going on inside your head and can, therefore, not do justice to your brainchild. Also, hiring a good ghost writer costs a small fortune.
“Do NOT sit there like ‘Oh I don’t feel like it today. I don’t feel like it tomorrow’. Feel like it! Do it! Force yourself.”
Best (selling) Author on Earth
Habit 2: Find a regular spot
Human beings, especially the creative types (read: writers), generally perform best when they stick to a routine. Going on from regular writing sessions, you should find a comfy spot to work from. Whether you’re writing in your office, by the dining room table, or curled up on the couch – find a spot where you’re comfortable and inspired. My personal recommendation is to work by a table with a comfortable chair. I write in my office, because I feel disciplined here.
Habit 3: Break out the old notebook
Experienced authors don’t go anywhere without a trusty notebook. Why? Because you may feel at a loss for words right now, but – trust me – once you get going, ideas will come to you at the worst possible times. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a marvelous idea. My ideas come to me in the shower, but evaporate as soon as I step out. It’s terrible to try remembering, and most often, those ideas are lost to me – what a waste of insight, talent and inspiration!
If you don’t like carrying a notebook, get an awesome mobile app to help you take notes. Voice notes are great, because it’s quicker to talk than to type; which means that when you review the notes later on, vital information won’t be lost in shorthand. Also, hearing the excitement of the light bulb moment will be contagious.
Habit 4: READ
One of the worst things you can do in the process of writing a book for the first time is to stop reading. Successful authors are all avid readers. Read books in the genre for which you are writing, because it will give you valuable inspirations for your book. I’m not talking about ideas to steal for content, but more about the specific style you’re after. You’ll see how other writers structure their thoughts and books.
These are just some of the habits of successful authors that you should employ while you are writing a book for the first time. As you get into the groove, you will develop your own habits, but for now, borrow from the successful people.