When you think about writing your book, what goes through your mind? I should write that book, but… it’s too hard? I can’t write well enough? I don’t know where to start? I’m not moody enough to call myself a writer? Don’t worry, none of these things will stop you. In this article I’m going to squash some of the common reasons people use for not writing and publishing a book and share with you the secret (not so secret) way to start writing your manuscript.
The most common reason I hear is, ‘I have an idea but I don’t know how to start’. This seems to be a real problem for some people. But here’s the secret: just start. Start by writing out your idea, then build on it. Think about the topics or events you want to include as part of the book and list them, then think about what is involved in that topic or what happened at the event and write those down. Once they start brainstorming some idea, people usually go from struggling to start to having to choose between the 17 brilliant concepts they’ve come up with.
Another common reason is ‘I’m not good enough’. How do you know if you haven’t written anything yet? We work with a lot of first-time authors and this kind of thinking can often creep in. If you feel like you can’t go it alone, find yourself a writing coach; buy a book about how to write a book; sign up to a writing website; find a friend who’s published a book; hire an editor to help you through this stage; do a short course – there are all sorts of ways to get you writing and writing well. And your first draft doesn’t have to be ‘good’ anyway – that’s why it’s a first draft!
If your aim is to write a memoir, guess what? No-one knows your topic – you – as well as you do. And if you’ve been working in an industry or researching a topic for even just a few years you know enough to write a book about it. Here’s that secret again … just start: start planning, start writing, and when you need a hand, find someone or something that will help you.
Many of the people we work with take three to six months to write their book; some take two years (or more). It can happen quickly or it can take time, but if you give up before you have even begun then it won’t happen at all.
So once again, our secret for how to start your manuscript is … start!