Have you ever wanted to write your first book but just weren’t sure where to start? Do you feel like somewhere deep inside you is the next Sunday Times Bestseller? If you’ve never written a book before, the whole process can seem a little daunting, but we’re here to share our top tips on finally putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys as it is these days!)
The first step when it comes to writing a book is determining what you want to write about (sometimes easier said than done). It doesn’t have to be ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ if that’s not your bag; although Tolkien didn’t do too badly, and neither has George R R Martin!
While it’s one of the first things people think of, writing a novel is just one type of book you can write.
Maybe you’re very knowledgeable on a particular subject and you’d like to try your hand at a non-fiction book. If you’re passionate about travel, write about somewhere you’ve visited again and again. You may have a boat-load of local knowledge about a particular place, or maybe you know the best way to survive a long-haul flight. If you’re an avid theatre-goer or film fanatic, maybe you’ve got an idea for a gripping dramatic script? You could even write a biography or tell your own story with an autobiography – write your first book about something you’re passionate about and you can’t go wrong.
Research, we know – yawn – but stick with us here. Once you’ve decided the type of book you want to write, one of the biggest decisions and, often, hurdles are already out of the way. The research will help hone your idea down and make the planning stage a lot more manageable. One of the best ways to research is by reading examples of the type of book you’d like to write. Reading helps us to write. Regular and varied reading will support you in developing ideas, extending your vocabulary and exposing you to different styles and techniques. If you’re looking to write a biography, research is going to be a huge part of your process to make sure you accurately represent the person you want to write about.
…see what we did there? You wouldn’t write an essay without planning it out first, and the same must be said to write a book. Depending on the type of book you want to write this can materialise in many ways. For a novel, you may want to start with a character, setting, a particular story you want to tell, an interesting phrase you have heard or an opening line you are keen to use. For a travel book, you may want to plan out which sights, restaurants, secret places and travel tips you’re going to talk about. There are many different ways you can plan to write your first book.
You may find that inspiration hits you in a particular place or at a particular time. Many people get inspiration while they’re taking a shower, driving to work or having their morning coffee. If you know this is where the creative lightning strikes, so to speak, utilise this by making sure you’ve got a way to record your thoughts. Carry a notebook around with you at all times. If you’re driving you could make use of hands-free digital assistants in your phone to make sure you remember your ideas for later, without taking your hands off the wheel. How can I write down my ideas in the shower, you ask? Have a look at Aqua Notes – a waterproof paper and pencil that sticks to the wall of your shower. What a wonderful world we live in.
If you sit down at your desk and say, “I’m going to write a book today” the size of the task may be a little overwhelming, so we suggest breaking it down. Set yourself a timer (10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever you can spare) and just write, even if it doesn’t make sense at this point. Getting started is usually the hardest part, and that’s actually our biggest tip: just open up your preferred word-processing software, put pen to paper, dust off your old typewriter – start writing. Get your research and plan in front of you and make a start. Then set yourself a daily or weekly goal. Maybe dedicate yourself to writing 300 words a day. Before you know it, a month has gone by and you’ve written 9,000 words!
If you’re looking for more tools, tips, tricks and tasks to get your creative juices flowing, why not take a look at our Creative Writing Level 3 Diploma? Having a qualification in creative writing may give you the extra confidence boost you need to get going and write your first book. There are modules on how to write short stories, novels, reviews, biographies, autobiographies, scripts and travel books; to name but a few. Who knows? You could be the next Shakespeare!