Writing a book, whether fiction or nonfiction, is quite exciting and fun, but there is no doubt that it can be challenging as well.

In the process of writing, you gather facts, recollect history or create an alternate reality of your own. The end result is a complete and composite material available for an audience to peruse. Imagine your relief at your success! But it’s not always so easy to go through the process. Oftentimes you’re unable to get going. You only talk about it but you never put anything down. Other times the book drags in the middle.

This happens a lot of the time—especially the second bit. People come up with ideas about a book; they actually start writing it; but then a few pages down the line they trail off. The enthusiasm dies, and the book dies with it.

I know because it happens to me—a lot. And it happens to a lot of people I know.

So in this article, we’ll examine a few tips that will help you start your book, keep the writing process rolling, and actually get to the end.

The first is…

Have a seat

Seriously—sit down and do some tangible work immediately. Has an idea about a book popped into your head? Have a seat and turn the idea into actual material. You could prepare a hastily drawn plot—don’t worry, the actual book will most probably be way different. Or you could write down an interesting scene in the story. If it’s nonfiction you could quickly write a summary of what the book is going to be all about, adding those key ideas of yours.

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I need to tell you this: writing a book takes focus. You’re never going to be an author if you lack the focus. You need to be able to say no to everything else, and actually sit down and work on your book. The good thing about writing is: continuing from where you stopped is often way easier than starting.

The big picture

If you want to finish that book, then it’s a good idea to have the big picture in mind from the start. Many writers often jump straight into writing once they’ve got a few inspirational ideas. Ideas come and you want to build on them—that’s great and all, but before you actually kick off writing your book, ensure that you have a general layout in mind. You need to figure out what should be in the beginning, middle and end. Otherwise you might just find that your “rich” idea peters out after a few pages.

Prepare an outline

Some like to have an outline. Others don’t quite fancy the idea. You can go with whatever works best for you, but an outline has its advantages. It can be the difference between making progress in your book writing, and having a sad, premature end to your goal.

Your outline doesn’t have to be strict; it could just comprise general areas you’ll map out like landmarks that you want to reach in your story. Having these landmarks will keep you going forward. At each stage of your writing, you’ll always have a target point, something to look forward to.

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Have your jottings

Take down ideas whenever they come to you. You could do this in a paper jotter or on your mobile phone. If you wait till you get round to doing some writing, you could lose those ideas. Jot the ideas down as they come and then when you’re ready to write, all you’ll have to do is incorporate them into your work.

Don’t mind a little roughness

This stems from the previous tip. It’s OK for your jottings to be rough. You don’t have to take so much time organising your thoughts. Write them down however they pop into your head. There will be time to arrange and rewrite them when you finally settle down to work in front of your computer.

You may feel the natural instinct to set things straight—you should probably ignore it. If you have an OCD towards that you may have no choice but to do so, but otherwise you should probably leave the revision till when you’ve got to the main work.

Take a walk

If you’re feeling stuck, you might need to go for a long walk. Find a quiet, clean street, preferably with trees. Mull over your book as you walk. Relive the moments of your characters. Let them come alive; consider them as real people. It will help you get some perspective. You need your powers of imagination for this. But be warned: if people see you talking to yourself they might consider you a bit mad!

A final note

Like I said at the start, writing takes focus. You’re never going to be able to finish your book if you aren’t focussed enough. But with the right amount of discipline, you will be able to get over the line, and perhaps even enjoy the process enough to want to write another one.

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We can’t wait to read your book!