12 Things You Can Do To Get Started on Your First (or Next) Book (Painlessly)

Sometimes, for reasons unknown to us, we can’t. get. started. even if the project is something we REALLY, REALLY want to do. Often it’s overwhelm that gets us. We don’t know quite where to begin. Writing that first word, especially if it’s our first go with making a book, can be intimidating. The good news is there are tons of things you can do before you actually start writing your book.

And these are not frilly, fool-yourself-into-doing-something things. These are actually important to do. These first 11 are the least threatening of the many things it pays to do before getting started with the writing, or at least early in the process.

Stay tuned for part two, in which we start getting a little more technical, but no less preparatory and necessary to your badass love project’s success.

Here you go:

  1. Start by writing down everything you know about your book idea: what the topic, title, nonfiction, fiction? Just like you would if you were telling someone about it. “It’s a book about…” You might be pleasantly surprised at how much you write down. Also, you’ll be practicing a happy creative habit that’s hard to beat: Find a way to capture your great ideas so you don’t have to remember them! Free up some hard drive space and write down your book idea.

2. Start a list of possible titles, chapters, and other content. Again, just give  your imagination free rein. “There will be a poem between each chapter, and quotations that are mysterious, and references to music. There will be an entire universe….”

3. And on that note: Will it be illustrated? Have quotations? Questions for the reader to answer? Flesh it out in your mind and on paper.

4. Write or draw some character sketches. This is self-explanatory, but if you do need more guidance, imagine your characters not only in the roles they play in your work, but also in the rest of their “off-camera” lives. What’s in their sock drawer? Where do they keep their money? Bills facing the same way, or a crumbled mess in the front pocket of their greasy jeans? What do they smell like? Etc. Even if it’s a first person narrator in nonfiction, how do you want that person to come across?

5. While you’re dreaming and sketching, picture your ideal reader. Who are they and what do they care about? What else do they read? Brainstorm a list of who would be interested in your book.

6. Think about how your readers will find you. Where do they hang out? How do they find books? Supermarket check-out? Back pages of specialty mags? Internet? This all makes a difference later when you’ll be making publishing and marketing decisions. (Isn’t that beyond exciting? You will be making publishing and marketing decisions!)

7. A related question: how do you see people using your book?  By themselves, in groups, with their therapist or coach, on a cruise?

8. Try drawing or sketching your cover. What colors go with your book? What textures, what design features, what century and feel? Western? Army? Victorian? Friendly? Comforting?

9. How do you see yourself writing it, in what time frame, and by what method? Will you write a little every day, record and transcribe? Get it done this year? 5 years? Whenev?

10. Read up on how authors go about writing your kind of book. Whether it’s a workbook, mystery or historical fiction, each author uses specific methods and processes to create them. Will you have to map out the plot and scenes ahead of time? Will you work from an outline? Find out how some of your favorite writers do it.

11. Lastly, could there be other, related products as well? Should there be a video? Music? Mugs? Just dream and wonder. And wander.

Next time, we’ll get into some of nitty-gritty, but for today, try easing into these 11 not-too-taxing ways to get started on the darned thing.

And, last, what not to do: Sit and fret about it one more day.

Can’t quite get there on your own?

After you download my ebook, Happily Creative: How to Become a Happy Creative in Just 30 Days, focus on just the first 10 pages, and ignore the rest for now.  The first 10 pages are specific tools to help you overcome the three major mental and emotional obstacles that keep us from getting started.

I’d love to have you join my tribe of happy creatives.

2 thoughts on “12 Things You Can Do To Get Started on Your First (or Next) Book (Painlessly)

  1. Once again, Phyllis, you say just the thing! I have a book inside me, and I can answer so many of these questions full on. You just made this very fun.
    Thank you, you are super and brilliant in ways that convince me we are related.

    Rock on, you.

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