How To Get Started Writing Your First Book
February 27, 2024

For many years, I wanted to write a book. But actually, writing the book terrified me. It was even harder than it sounds like it would be to sit down and put thoughts onto paper (or thumb-drive, if you’re reading this in the future).

Writing is hard work! Doing anything worthwhile takes effort. Going for a walk is not as easy as plopping yourself on your couch, but that’s just what sitting down and writing feels like at first—plopping oneself on one’s couch. This can lead people into starting but never finishing their book. Here are some tips for how to start writing your first book:

Find something interesting to say about whatever topic you want to write about. The best way to start is knowing why your subject matters. You don’t have to find a cure for cancer or anything monumental, but you need to know what angle you will take on the issue.

Read everything available on that topic.

Read books and websites about it. Look at other authors’ perspectives and opinions on what you want to write about. This will help you narrow down what makes your perspective different from everyone else’s, as well as how you can make yours worth reading. Once I sat down with a stack of books about the Holocaust, I was able to figure out how my parents’ stories were both similar and unique compared to those of other survivors I’ve met over the years.

Organize thoughts before writing them down!

Because writing is hard work, it’s tempting to start slowing down the thought process as soon as you can. You’ll start thinking about what you want to write once you’re actually at your desk with a blank page, but that’s the worst time for this! Instead of letting yourself slow down during this very important step of organizing your thoughts, set aside time where all you have to do is think. If you already know what you want to say on each subject, then good—it will be easier to stay organized when writing. But if not, make some lists (mental or written) of things you want to say on topic A and topic B. This way, when you sit down at your desk with your computer/pen/paper, all you have to do is organize these lists into a coherent flow.

Don’t get too frustrated if your work isn’t perfect right away.

Nobody’s first drafts are good, and that’s okay! No one gets it right the first time without practice, so don’t beat yourself up if writing about something interesting isn’t easy for you to begin with.

Research the best way of saying things.

This step is really important in any writing, but especially in non-fiction, where readers expect the author to know what they’re talking about from personal experience. You’ll be communicating with others through words about an issue for which you may not be an expert—this means that when someone else reads your book and has a question or criticism, you have to be able to provide a valid answer at all times. Check out our other articles on researching the best way of saying things.

Do not always trust yourself when it comes to writing creatively.

You may think that you know your thoughts well enough that you don’t need outside input, but if you’re like me (and most people who strive for self-awareness), there are parts of yourself that you don’t yet understand fully. Letting someone else read what you’ve written helps ensure their perspective will let you see something new in your work! Next week, we’ll discuss why professional editing can make or break your book!