One of the most challenging aspects for first-time authors is understanding what it takes to write their first book. Initially, it seems like a daunting task, you’ve got to summerise all your knowledge into 45,000 to 60,000 words and present it in a way that will give the reader most value. It’s no wonder that the majority of people that start writing a book, never complete it and it stays rotting on their computer.
Writing a book breaks down into three main stages: planning, writing, and editing. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to write your first non-fiction book. It’s strange, the huge number of people that know exactly what they want to say, but to transport the words from brain to page takes untold mental effort.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
In the next five minutes, I’m going to share with you my techniques that will allow you to write 1,000+ words of your book each day.
Technique #01: Don’t Think
If you spoke to my publisher when I was the editor of a tech magazine, he’d laugh and tell you that this technique was one I was obviously using. Jokes aside, not thinking about what you’re writing is an incredibly powerful technique that you can use to get rid of that dreaded “writer’s block”. Here’s how you learn to not think:
- Set a five-minute timer
- Put your phone on silent and turn off any notifications you have on your computer
- Write constantly for the next five minutes
Write whatever comes to mind, and don’t think about if it’s good or if you’re putting your point across well, just write. Even if you can’t think of anything to write, start writing about that “I’m sitting at my computer wishing I had a coffee to distract me from this empty blank page before me…”
You wouldn’t try to run a marathon without stretching, right?
This technique works on the same principle, you’re doing a “writer’s stretch” if you will. Loosening up your writing muscles so that you can keep writing for a longer stretch. When you think too much about what you’re writing, you mentally edit your work which is destructive. I don’t mean that negatively, but imagine trying to build and destroy at the same time!
When you think too much about your writing whilst trying to write you’re attempting to both build and destroy simultaneously.
Technique #02: Set Goals and Chunk Down
To continue to use the marathon analogy, running a marathon seems tough right? Running half a marathon still seems pretty tough, but what about running a mile? What about running half a mile? A marathon is basically just running a half mile 54 times. Thankfully, you haven’t got to write a book in the same time that it takes to run a marathon. What you’ve got to do is chunk down your writing into smaller goals that you know you can hit.
Let’s say you want to write the first draft 50,000-word book and you’ve given yourself a year to do it. That number is daunting even for a writer like myself, but then you break it down:
- 50,000 words in one year means you need to write…
- 25,000 words in six months, which means you need to write…
- 4,200 words per month, which means you need to write…
- 1,025 words per week, which means you need to write…
- 205 words per working day!
Now writing 205 words per day is a goal that you’ll smash. Once you don’t think and start writing, you can easily write 600 to 800 words in 30 minutes (depending on your typing speed). If set aside a dedicated 30 minutes every two days of your working week to write, you’ll have that first draft completed in no time.
Once you’ve chunked down the writing and set yourself daily or weekly goals, you’ll have your first draft completed in no time at all.
Technique #03: Centre Your Mind
Writing is one of those things that you can’t be interrupted whilst doing it. You need to become like a Jedi with absolute focus for those 30 minutes that you’ve managed to stash away from your business, your family, and your dog/cat/Master Yoda. To achieve this, you need two things:
- No distractions
- No interruptions
For me, when I need to write I put my phone on silent, close the door of the room I’m writing in, turn off the WiFi on my laptop, and start listening to some jazz or Brian Eno ambient music. I also find it’s easiest to write early in the morning, or late at night when I’ve yet to compile the mental list of things to do, or have done all the things on my mental list.
Without getting too Zen on you guys, I’ve found that practicing meditation has really helped with my focus, as now I can catch myself when my mind drifts and bring myself back to the task at hand. However, the mental effort of repeatedly doing that can be exhausting so it’s best to remove as many distractions as you can before you start writing, this includes thing you procrastinate over:
- Cleaning your workspace
- Chores you said you’d do
- Getting coffee
- Answering WhatsApp messages
- Doing laundry
These are all things that I’ve had to mentally forget about whilst writing this article. Either make sure they’ve all been done, or go somewhere where you won’t think about them. Which brings us to the next technique…
Technique #04: Develop a Ritual
If you’ve made the decision to write a book, you’ve got to be consistent with how much you write. Once you miss a couple of “writing sessions” you’re going to miss a lot more. It’s like going to the gym, come January 1st everyone’s pumping iron, hitting the treadmill, and sweating away… and then life gets in the way. Come February the gym is a ghost town (which is how I like it), in the same way, you need to stick to your writing schedule if you want to complete your first draft.
Writing has to become a habit.
Habits are best formed through the use of triggers. A trigger is a situation that you’ve essentially brainwashed yourself into feeling a certain way once that action is performed. We can create our own triggers through the use of rituals. These rituals make the process of writing easier, and also negatively reinforce our minds if we don’t write.
Your ritual can be anything, but here’s my morning writing ritual to get you inspired:
- The night before I leave the document I want to write open on my laptop so it’s the first thing I see when I life up the screen
- I get my favourite mug (it’s a map of all the shipping forecast areas of the UK) and make myself a coffee
- Whilst the kettle’s boiling I put my phone on silent
- I return to my desk, coffee in hand
- Open my laptop
- Begin writing
My ritual isn’t complex but it’s effective. You might want to include putting on an album or song, you might want to do some push-ups to get the juices flowing, whatever gets you in the writing mood.
What To Do Next
The most annoying thing about producing a book is that the actual writing of the book is the easy part. Editing can be both emotionally and physically (if you get the wrong editor) painful, but that’s for a different article. If the techniques seem simple, that’s because writing isn’t that hard, most of us have created mental blocks around it from school or nonsensical pressure that we put ourselves under.
Here are the techniques to implement to write your first non-fiction book:
- Don’t Think: Spend the first five minutes of your writing time simply writing whatever’s in your head. Focus on syncronising the words you put on the page to the mental voice going through your head
- Don’t Edit: Editing comes later. Right now, focus on writing
- Set Goals: Divide the number of words you’ve planned to write by the timeframe you’d like to complete it in. 50,000 words in six months is a good average to aim for (400 to 500 words a day)
- Centre Your Mind: No distractions, no interruptions. Do what you need to do to give yourself the space and time to focus on your writing
- Develop a Ritual: Create a repeatable set of actions that tells your brain and body “Now is the time to write!”
Thank you for reading. Now, I have a solution for you that means you could be a published author within 6 months. If you’re looking for:
- All the content created within 20-hours
- Not thinking about your book because professionals are helping you
- Goals set and completed by your own publishing team
- Freedom to bathe in all the distractions and interruptions life throws at you
- Creating a ritual of working on your business and not constantly thinking about your book
Click the button below to book a call with me and discover how you can share your message with the world.