Choose to Start This Year.
Every January, people make resolutions or goals they fail to keep. This year, pick something that you want to do and set a goal to have it accomplished by a certain date. That will put some urgency in what your resolution is, but you need to be fired up about it. The reason people fail to lose weight or quit smoking is they are not passionate enough about the problem to stick with the solution. They don’t make it a habit. They don’t set a goal. To be effective, goal-setting requires certain things. I am not a business coach and don’t know how to make goal-setting effective for your business or personal life. I am here to help you write. Therefore, I will discuss goal-setting as it relates to writing your book.
Goal-Setting Your Book
If your resolution for 2018 is to finish a manuscript, you need to start now. Many people have great ideas for books, but they don’t pursue them. While they tout many reasons why they don’t pursue their ideas, the main roadblock is that the task seems daunting. You hear that you need to write 50,000 to 100,000 words to have a finished manuscript. That is scary, especially if you haven’t ever written a book. However, I believe you should write what the story inside you says. For example, none of my novels are 50,000 words, but the stories do not feel like they are too short because the chapters flow, build suspense and come to the right conclusion.
Self-publishing makes it easy to reduce your word count. Amazon and Ingram don’t care how many words it is. Also, nonfiction books tend to be less than 50,000 words.
Instead of looking at the end, think of the beginning. In schools, teachers will tell students to break large projects into manageable tasks. Business leaders tell people the same thing. Just because we are adults, doesn’t mean we can manage large projects. Therefore, when you set your goal, put down “I will complete one chapter or 10 pages every day.” This is more manageable for most people. If your chapters are short, 10 pages will work. If you tend to write longer chapters, then go for the one chapter. I should point out that when you are writing pages, you have to think book pages, which aren’t 8 ½ by 11. Most books are either 5.5 x 8 or 6 x9. Therefore, 10 pages of this size would take less time.
This will mean you have a manuscript ready within a few months. Set a date on your calendar for when you want to have a completed manuscript using this plan. Consider time for revisions and cover design. You also might need a photo for your back cover.
Outline Your Book
Although I am not one of them, many authors start with an outline. This is another way to ensure your resolution to finish a manuscript will happen. If you create an outline on the book, you are more likely to follow through with it. When you create an outline, you are putting down on paper a rough sketch on how you want your chapters to go and the order of those chapters.
Let’s say you are writing a book on ways to motivate people to find their purpose in life. You might have an outline that looks like this:
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Reasons People Aren’t Motivated
A. Reason No. 1
B. Reason No. 2
C. Reason No. 3
Chapter 3 Types of Motivation
A. Motivation No. 1
B. Motivation No. 2
C. Motivation No. 3
The outline would continue from there based on your knowledge and research. Following the outline ensures your writing flows and keeps you on task. You might write one part every day, which will be a lot less than trying to write the whole. Outlines also act like movie scripts. They tell you when you need to incorporate graphs, statistics, photographs or other nontextual information. Even if your passion is to write fiction, you can use an outline. It would be broader, telling you what each chapter is and how it moves the plot toward the climax.
Sometimes, all you need to finish your manuscript is to get from a great idea to action. If you feel you are stuck and don’t know how to proceed, write down what you do know. Take notes of things that relate to your idea. You might end up with an informal outline that can be morphed into a formal one. You would be surprised how easy it is to kick-start your writing if you just started putting something on paper. This gets you passed the fear-factor.
Have a great 2018 and finish your book!