“I have a great idea for a book, but I wouldn’t know where to begin writing it!”
"I want to be an author but how do I do that?"
"How do I start writing a book?"
Many of us have creative spirits -- that means we are constantly generating ideas that would make for great stories. Whether they are short stories, novellas, full-length novels or a blog post, you just have to get started.
It seems daunting, right? The prospect of writing a WHOLE book, but it isn’t scary once you get started. If you stop looking at the project’s end and focus on the individual steps, it becomes more than accomplishable. It becomes manageable, which is something many of us need to know when we’re balancing a new project with work or school (or both) and having a general social life. Before we begin, I would like to point out that every writer has a different process. I am going to break down my process, but for you, it might be in a different order.
So, fellow book nerds, who's ready to begin their writing adventure?
Step 1: Outline
Write out the idea. Now for me, my inspiration is drawn from music. This means that my inspiration can be found in specific scenes or key moments in the story I want to write. I quickly draft those first, gaining a sense of where the plot will go. Then I do a rough character outline to remember names, basic appearances, and personalities.
Step 2: Write. Seriously, just go for it.
Don’t overthink it. You don’t need to spend forever reviewing your outline because this first run-through will not be perfect or publishing-worthy right away (I know, that can hurt). But that’s totally normal! Writing is the fun part where you can play with the storyline and determine which direction works best. My characters and settings fall flat in the first draft because I focus on the plot. Sometimes it’s better to prioritize one element at a time. This doesn’t mean you ignore everything else, but you give more attention to one particular aspect. The rest can be added and refined later. Enjoy it!
Step 3: Revise Character Outlines
As I write the first draft, my characters tend to change ... dramatically. It happens in every single book I write. I don’t know if this is just something I do, or if all authors do it, but I have to draft brand new character outlines with an innumerable amount of details after “the end."
Step 4: Editing Spree
This can be the bane of a writer’s existence. Although I enjoy editing, it can make you bleary-eyed and oh-so-tired after hours upon hours of it (you’ve been warned!), but it is worth it. This is where you explore character development and settings in a more detailed fashion. Each time you edit, you layer in missing elements. For example, my first edit will target setting and characters. My second run-through will focus on grammar, punctuation, and tenses. My third run-through is based on what my BETA readers say about it so I can make the story more appealing for them. To learn more about editing stages, click here.
Step 5: Research Publishers and Agents
This part can be the hardest. It’s not something you really need to focus on when you first begin writing a book, but if you want to learn about the 3 approaches to publishing, click here.
Best of luck on your writing journey and know that you can do this!