Many would consider this separate from their freelance writing career, but why? We’re writing ebooks for clients and, under some circumstances, ghostwriting full-length print books. So, why aren’t we considering book writing as part of our freelance writing plans? In my opinion, which should be taken with a grain of salt, book writing is just as significant as pitching new markets and launching a new website or blog. Do you want to write a book in 2019? If so, let’s talk about how to plan for that so you can achieve that goal.
Some backstory . . .
Years ago, I set up plans to write and self-publish twelve books in twelve months. I did this alongside my freelance writing career, and many thought I was crazy. Perhaps that was true, but I achieved the goal. I used collections of articles that were in the same niche, put them into how-to books, formatted them into print or Kindle versions (sometimes both), and published. I also published tip, prompt, and journal-type books. During that time, I found two publishers to work for, so those were included in my goal.
How to Plan for Book Writing
What worked for me may not work for everyone. I didn’t write novels—I was writing non-fiction. So, my methods may not translate to fiction writing. I have a couple of pieces of fiction that I’m currently working on that I use similar techniques for—more on that later. I use outlining for planning. I know, I know. I’ve read about a thousand (give or take 900 or so) articles and blog posts from other authors and would-be authors about how outlines are the bane of their existence. I approach them a bit differently, though.
- Brainstorm the book idea: make notes. Be messy—it doesn’t matter because this is for you. If you can understand it, the presentation doesn’t matter. Use crayon and cardboard as long as it gets the job done.
- Organize those ideas: here is where you have to be neater. Take your cardboard (or whatever you used) and organize the ideas on notecards or a whiteboard. The reason you’re doing it this way is that you’re still going to be shifting things around. If you attempt to do it on paper, you’ll frustrate yourself and give up. You’re developing the skeleton of your outline during this step.
- Create your outline: once you’re sure you have your ideas organized, transfer them to a document or piece of paper. If you work better on paper, by all means, use that. I worked better when I could write everything down. You may still need to add things later on. Don’t be afraid to change your outline as your book comes to life.
How to Use Your Outline
When I work with an outline, the main sections of mine work as the chapters and each subsection act as the book’s bullet points or wherever I want to break up content. For example:
- Chapter 1: How to Plan for Book Writing
- Brainstorm the Book Idea
- Organize Those Ideas
- Create Your Outline
- Chapter 2: . . . .
As I continue working with my outline, I create notes in the margin regarding where I can find resources or other pertinent information I want to include in the book. By the time I’m finished with the book, the outline is typically just as messy as the brainstorming sheet.
Can This Translate to Fiction Writing?
I can whip out non-fiction much quicker than fiction. Without a question, it takes skill and creativity to work on plots and dive into the research for a well-developed novel. I love fiction-writing, but I lose patience with the fact that I can’t analytically break it down the same way I can non-fiction writing. The process of fiction writing involves a “go with the flow” process I (sometimes) don’t possess. Many writers can sit down, and their minds will take over, allowing them to get lost in their imaginative world.
Then there’s me, who wants to break everything down into an outline and piece things together like a puzzle. Some novels will work like that and fit nicely into a package, while others require a considerable amount of work. The work could involve outlining whereby the author brainstorms the backstory because they need to research it for accuracy and continuity. Outlining could also be necessary for creating character sketches, as well.
Avoid Setting Yourself Up for Failure
Too many times I see writers set themselves up for failure. Instead of sitting down to write, they impose lofty word count goals they can’t possibly achieve. They’re either novice writers or have many obligations, and they’re comparing themselves to King—who writes professionally full-time and has been doing that forever. We can’t compare ourselves to him unless that’s ALL we’re doing and if we’ve been doing it for just as long. Otherwise, don’t set your goals as high. You’re setting yourself up for failure, you’re going to frustrate yourself, and you won’t write the book.
Instead, your goal should be to sit down and write. You should have a goal to write words instead of a word count. If you’re putting words on a page, that’s an accomplishment. Writing twelve words is better than zero. Brainstorming seventy words is better than no work at all. Creating an outline is better than not working through the process. Take a different approach to how you’re looking at your goals, and you’ll begin seeing more words on the page. It may not happen immediately, but it will.
Ultimately, You’re in control.
No one can start this book except you. You’re the one who has to come up with the idea, flesh it out, and start writing. If you want to self-publish it, then it’s up to you to format it and complete the editorial process. If you’re going to find a market for it, then it’s up to you to do that research. You’re in control of what happens with your book.
You can do this! Let’s make 2019 a creative success!