How to start writing a book, in 5 steps

You’ve decided to write your book! Brushed and pressed and dressed, you sit down at the computer, coffee at your elbow, rub your hands together, place your fingertips lightly but firmly on the computer, and… And… If you’re Thomas Hardy, you mostly end up signing your own name in front of a cheerful Bank Holiday crowd. With less narcissism, you might stare out the window, willing inspiration from open skies or cloud formations. If you screw your courage to the sticking place, you might make a bold assault on the blank page and write the words, “So, here I am writing my very first book, I know it’s going to be a very exciting journey ahead…”, which your editor will later tactfully delete.

Published authors can be amazingly unhelpful about how books get started. Novelists say things like, “I was staring at a droplet on a leaf, and this book just came to me…” Expert coaches say, “I realised I had this wealth of expertise and the book just grew out of that.” This may be true – but without the “just”. Writing a book on your expertise is like building an exciting new architectural project. With a building, you don’t start by laying the bricks and hoping it’ll work out! You start by doing some imagining, doing some research, and creating an amazing design.

Seoul Performing Arts centre design, Anna Ranova Lundstrom

Seoul Performing Arts Centre design, Anna Ranova

And this is how you start writing a book: you don’t start by writing. You don’t even start by planning, because you haven’t yet worked out what material you should map out. You start by thinking and exploring – mostly away from the computer. (Remember the power of paper?) To start a book on your expertise, follow these five steps.

1. Identify your expertise

We forget how much we know and take it for granted – so look at how much you know through other people’s eyes and by tunnelling backwards through your own timeline. Many of your early lessons will be core discoveries for other people.

2. Collect all your existing material

Collect all the written material that you already have. This comes from your blog, stuff you send your clients, your talks, presentations, and keynotes, your own working practice, your case studies, information you’ve collected, and anything else you’ve written. This dossier is a gold mine.

3. Target what your book will do for your business

Your book’s purpose will decide its shape, content, length, and publishing route. Plan what you want it to do for you and put those things in order of priority.

4. Rough out your book’s general scope

Look at what you have, who it’s for, why you’re doing it, and why you want to. By comparing those  aspects, you start to identify your book’s scope, aligned with your expertise, audience, purpose, and passion.

5. Look at what sets you apart from the competition

Once you have a rough idea of your book’s general scope, you can look at the competition – and make sure that they aren’t your competition, by identifying what’s unique about your idea.

Once you’ve done those five things, you’re ready to start mapping out your book’s organising principle and the framework you’ll use to write it. You’re ready to create the blueprint for your amazing design.

These 5 steps form my Find Your Book pack, which gives more detail on each one plus speedy exercises to whisk you through each step. That’s your free start to the Springboard Your Book programme, which takes you through to your complete first draft in 3 months, with one-to-one weekly coaching and weekly feedback.  Read your coaching process here then let’s start with a chat.

2 thoughts on “How to start writing a book, in 5 steps

  1. Pingback: My Christmas present to you: a free guide to find your book | Thought Leader Books: The Blog

  2. Pingback: Lay the ground for your book plans | Thought Leader Books: The Blog

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