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A Writing Routine to *Finally* Get that E-book Out of Your Head and Onto the Page

how to start writing a bookYou’ve got a brilliant idea for an e-book that will blow your audience away – but you can’t seem to get the thing written. Why?

When the first idea strikes, it seems simple. But the truth is, you’re going to face a lot of barriers to writing an e-book.

You’ll encounter fear of what your ideas will look like on the page and overwhelm at the process of publishing an e-book.

You may have to fit the writing around other obligations, like a full-time job or running your own business. You may have family or social obligations that demand your time, when you could be writing.

Whatever it is, this book isn’t going to write itself.

Getting Started

So how do you start writing an e-book?

The key is to commit to a routine and a set of goals from the start, so you have a timeline and guidelines to help you focus on writing your book when it gets tough. Set daily writing goals, and create a workable plan to fit writing into  your life and around your unique obligations. Let’s start by allocating some time to get the project started.

Put It in Your Calendar

To commit to writing an e-book, start by setting deadlines for certain tasks.Click To Tweet

Set calendar reminders in your iCal, Google Calendar, etc., or hang a paper calendar over your desk with reminders of your writing schedule.

You’ll want to:

  1. Choose a deadline to complete tasks: writing an outline, completing each chapter, hitting a word count milestone (e.g. the halfway point), and getting a draft to your editor(s).
  2. Determine how much time you’ll need to complete each task (e.g. If it takes you one hour to write 1,000 words, and your first chapter is 4,000 words, you’ll need four hours to finish Chapter 1.)
  3. Determine which days of the week and which hours of the day you’ll be able to dedicate to writing your e-book.
  4. Block put these times on your calendar with specific tasks and goals to focus on your e-book. Make an appointment with yourself, and don’t schedule anything else during that time.

Know Your Priorities

One major barrier to completing any writing project is having too many balls in the air at once. If you’re going to commit to writing an e-book, you have to leave room in your life — and brain! — for it.

Of course, you’re going to have other obligations and priorities: family, work, clients, hobbies, classes, etc. And new opportunities will arise as you work on this project, as well.

You can ensure your commitment to writing your book by fitting it into your life as a priority NOW. That way, when you’re forced to make decisions about your time later, you won’t let it slip away.

Answer these questions to get your priorities straight – and to shave away anything that might be getting between you and your finished manuscript!

  1. What are your daily/weekly scheduled obligations?
  2. What/who in your life requires regular interaction or attention?
  3. What projects are you currently working on?
  4. What hobbies are you currently pursuing?
  5. What can you spend less time on to make room for your writing project?
  6. As new opportunities arise: What are the benefits/drawbacks of these opportunities? Can they wait until your manuscript is finished?

Tell the World What You’re Starting

Nothing keeps you on track like public accountability (or the fear of a public failure). Either way, you’ll get that by sharing your goals with the people around you. Tell someone about your e-book!

Keep it small and private by sharing your ideas and goals with a coach or mastermind partner, go all out by stating it on your blog, or try something in-between, like tweeting about your e-book or telling your best friend.

Then… Start Writing!

Committing the space in your schedule and life to write an e-book is an important first step – but it still won’t get your e-book written. Now you have to show up at your scheduled time and make progress toward your goals.

Faced with a blank page and your brilliant idea, writing an e-book can feel like a massive, overwhelming task. Break it down into bite-sized pieces, and focus on just one step at a time to make it more manageable and ensure you continue to make progress.

Follow these steps to write an e-book your audience will love.

5 Steps to Writing Your First Draft

Step 1: Clarify Your Message – While creating your outline and developing the vision for your e-book, get crystal-clear on the purpose of the book and the message you want it to convey about your brand.

Step 2: Define Your Audience – Who will read your book? Create an outline of your ideal reader and how this book will address their most urgent needs and desires.

Step 3: Name Your Action Steps – What do you want a reader to do after reading this book? What will the book inspire them to do in their life or business? Make a list of actions you’d like to see, and determine what you can write to encourage readers to take them.

Step 4: Know Your Unique Voice – 

Before you start writing, know what's special about your message.Click To TweetWhen you know this, you can work to convey it through the voice of your e-book, as well as through your taglines or marketing language.

Step 5: Put Yourself in the Reader’s Shoes – Read through your outline, notes, and answers to the above questions. What questions remain unanswered? What do you still need to add to ensure this book conveys the message you want to share?

Remember: An Okay First Draft is Better Than No Draft At All

Anytime you hit a wall writing a book, remember this is your first draft. Don’t strive for perfection yet. You have to get this on the page before you can move forward to create that brilliant e-book for your audience! Writing your first draft is all about answering the questions your book is meant to address.

To get started, go through the steps above, and jot whatever comes to mind when you think about your goals and audience. This will give you material to work with when you get stuck writing the draft, and it will stand as a quick reminder of why you set out to write this book, and who you’re trying to help by publishing it.

For more guidance and resources to write your first draft, check out my “Write Your Manifesto” e-book publishing course! Through this course, you’ll get step-by-prompts to clarify your message, define your audience, and figure out what’s totally unique and special about the message you have to share through your next e-book.

Note from the Mirasee Team: Dana does an excellent job with her courses, and we highly recommend you check out her services if you’re interested in how to get started writing your e-book. 🙂

About Dana Sitar

Dana Sitar is an author, blogger, and person living in Wisconsin. She writes about writing, life, and love for blogs, books, and sometimes things people care about, like Huffington Post and that time she had an article published in the Onion. Dana shares resources, tips, and tools for budding writers at WritersBucketList.com. Connect with her on Google+ and @danasitar on Twitter.

22 comments

  1. This is such useful information and so true. Writing an e-book is definitely something that « haunts » plenty of entrepreneurs who let fear win over. They get stuck in « paralysis of analysis ». Result : the e-book stays in their head !

    The information in this article is an excellent guide to have clarity on what you will write, how you will write and who your ebook is for. But I would take it a step further.

    A problem that a lot of first book writers face is « the blank page syndrome ». Sitting in front of the computer, thinking too much, typing some information and deleting it right away. Being all stressed out.

    We have to admit that we all have our expertise. We all know something that others don’t. We all can share valuable and useful information.

    So if writing is an issue for you, as a first time book writer, why not « talk your book » ?
    As Tom Southern said in his comments, write down a few questions that your audience might want to know about your area of expertise. And pick the best one to be the topic for your book. Then, break down your main topic into sub-topics, which will be your chapters. (Have your sub-topics in form of questions.)

    Ask a business partner or a mastermind friend to do an interview with you. Use your phone, any other recording device or open a free account on http://www.freeconferencecall.com to record your interview.

    After that, just hire one or two freelancers to do the transcription and the editing.

    I did that process myself for the first book I wrote. And I have to tell you that it took a lot of pressure off my shoulders. Speaking about a subject was easier than finding the right words to write about it. Also, because I hired an editor to correct my transcription, I had no worries about words or orthograph.

    Now, there is just one thing left to do :
    « Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it. » -Bill Cosby

    And I’ll see you on a book shelf, in a bookstore !

    1. Good tip for sub-topics and turning them into chapters Fabienne. Thanks for mentioning me.

      Your tip about doing an interview and recording it is really good too, especially if the interviewer knows nothing about your topic.

  2. Thank you for all your very essential, and invigorating advice. I will remember this and keep it on hand as I I am basically starting all over again in my life. I want to own my own business(es) in the very near future. Lack of funds at this time. However, I am keeping this in mind to know that I just start somewhere and each step taken leads to another and more inspiring thoughts and creativity will show up in my mind and the world around me. Thank you, thank you. I am moving forward.

  3. I love me some writing, Dana, and you are SPOT ON with all your suggestions. It’s clear that you’re a writer…how long have you been writing? Which is your passion: fiction, nonfiction, or both?

  4. Way to go for blogging at FPM, Dana. These are great tips as always. I still seem to ignore appointments with myself (very bad habit) but I need to start small anyway. The accountability part is so true. Now that I’ve told everyone, I have to write it!

  5. Getting started is the key! Keeping going is the hard part. Another tip for making these 2 things easier is to write down 10 – 20 questions you remember wanting to know about your topic when you were starting out learning about it.

    Answer one of these questions a day. Depending on your number of questions you’ll have an ebook written in 10 to 20 days. You’ll need to “top and tail” it with an intro and close, plus useful contact and link details, (remembering to include an email opt-in form too). But you could have an ebook written in a month.

    I find editing can sometimes take me almost as many days though. Any suggestions for cutting this down?

  6. You shared food for the thought “To commit to writing an e-book, start by setting deadlines for certain tasks” is one of the most important point to get our ebook done easily.

    Thanks

  7. “this book isn’t going to write itself” – well said! It is often daunting to think about writing a book which is why we should not think about it. We have to plan and actually start writing.

    Thanks for the wonderful tips!

  8. I wrote an ebook for my first opt-in and learned the hard way how impotent it was to keep to a writing schedule. We all have so many things in our lives and they can seem so important at the time. Being very clear and prioritizing our time for writing is a key to success. It is so easy to put off sitting down and writing.

    I didn’t have your ‘5 Steps to Writing a First Draft’ when I began my ebook and know it would have been very helpful in the planning and writing stages. This is great advice for the next book. Thank you.

  9. Thanks for this, Dana, especially for the closing section, “Remember: An Okay First Draft is Better Than No Draft At All.” When it comes to the tricky business of writing, we can make plans and outlines until the cows come home, but there is no substitute for putting your butt in the chair and words on the page–even if those words aren’t perfect.

    1. That’s so true, Justine! It’s hard for any writer to put out a crappy first draft, but we really do have to get okay with it in order to produce *anything* at all.

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