5 Tips to Make Writing A Book a Million Times Easier
Some brilliant people on the planet, so I have heard, are capable of writing a book with the same ease as sipping a latte.
I am not one of those people. I count myself lucky if I write even one short story or novel a year, largely because…well, life.
But I have developed some strategies that make writing a manuscript a bit less nightmarish–and at least for me, more efficient. These tactics might be of use to you, too.
1. Don’t get too hung up on chronology.
If you can outline your whole book and then start pounding the keys in the order you’ve set, cool. You need to have a sense of how things are going to connect and flow. But I find that, as I think about a topic or idea, my brain will wander to one chapter, then another. Often, I’ll be able to picture one scene vividly compared to everything else.
In those moments, I write as the ideas come, even if it’s just a single paragraph, because I know I can work out transitions later. I understand that I might toss some of the writing no matter what route I take, so I just try to keep the juices flowing. Do that for enough days and pretty soon the manuscript as a whole fills in. Just get something on the page to get your confidence up, and remember it’s okay to revise later.
2. Think in terms of blurbs and quotes.
Publishers and agents often consider a book’s “hook” when deciding whether to publish or provide representation. Tweak this concept a bit and, instead of thinking just about your one-line pitch, imagine everything as if you’re pulling it out as a quote for the book jacket or in a review. What makes it gripping? Descriptive? Emotional? Does it have real poetry to it?
Now write every paragraph that way.
Yeah, tough, I know. But don’t get caught up in making it “perfect”, especially in the initial draft. You’re just trying to make sure that what you write is memorable and engaging or has a sense of point and meaning, and that it really represents your voice.
3. Format as you go.
Formatting as you go makes it tons easier to consider elements like pacing and word count. It also makes it a snap to go back and find specific elements if they need tweaking. You’ll also typically be able to pull from the draft easily to create proposals and queries, although some agents and publishers will ask that you follow specific guidelines.
4. Get feedback as early as possible.
Getting feedback early when you’re writing a book can help you determine whether the angle you’ve chosen for a chapter or the text as a whole actually works. They can help you brainstorm for parts of the text you’re still working on so you get a more well-rounded, thought-out approach and don’t waste time. They’re often essential for helping you “detach” from the writing and see alternatives you hadn’t considered.
5. Schedule yourself, but be flexible and self-kind.
I’m a big advocate for writing whenever and wherever you can. But for consistent progress, you also need to know you have a few minutes every day set aside for writing. So put your writing on your calendar. Be serious about it. But if you’re mentally fried or just have an “off” day, adapt. Readers can always tell when you’ve forced text out, so you’ll be better off to be flexible, give yourself a break, and come back at your next scheduled time.
Writing a book can be time-intensive. But it doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. By getting others to lend a hand and allowing yourself some wiggle room within a good plan, your draft will take shape without an absurd amount of stress.