Writing a book for the sake of bragging rights, because it's on their bucket list, or because of the delusional perception of becoming a millionaire overnight and working from a hammock on a tropical island is on the minds of millions worldwide.
What prevents most people from undertaking this endeavor is mostly fear. The belief that they are not good enough to write a fiction or non fiction book prevents many from ever realizing this dream.
The irony is that even the best authors doubt their work and fear failure even after publishing numerous bestsellers. So the first thing you need to remember is that the fear you feel before ever even typing a single word is the same fear that published authors have.
So how do you overcome this? Well, the best medicine is to minimize uncertainty. And to do that, you need to familiarize yourself with the facts.
This article will examine the most popular questions that first-time writers ask and provide as much information as possible to reduce uncertainty and fear and motivate you to write that first word of your new book as soon as possible.
Winner of 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature
"A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."
Can I write a book with no experience?
The short answer is yes. Everybody who ever wrote their first book did so with no experience of writing a book. Think about that… As long as you are willing to learn, humble enough to know your writing isn’t perfect, and disciplined enough to continue working on honing your creative writing skills, you can do it.
Can you get into the world of book writing without experience and become a millionaire with your first novel or nonfiction book? Not impossible, but very improbable.
Dean Koontz, an American author with over 450 million copies of work sold, only hit hardcover bestseller status 18 years and 54 novels later after starting his writing career. Dean’s success is an excellent example of writer motivation and the persistence needed to become a successful writer.
But when Dean Koontz started writing books, he didn’t have the tools available to writers today—more about that later.
How do I overcome the fear of writing my first book?
We already mentioned that familiarizing yourself with the facts is an excellent start to lowering anxiety and boosting confidence. It is like driving to a faraway destination in the middle of the night. Thinking about every turn, every bend, every animal that might jump in front of you, and the weather and traffic you might encounter will drive you crazy.
Instead, just focus on what you can see in the headlights and what your GPS tells you, and take every 100 yards as they come. The most important part is getting in your car, turning on the lights, and turning the ignition.
Just like how a passenger could help you get through the tough stretches of the road, when starting your first novel, nonfiction book, or even short story, a reliable accountability group can build confidence and shed anxiety.
It also helps a lot knowing you have a brilliant developmental editor lined up to assist you once you have the first draft finished. Authors are sometimes overwhelmed by the perception that their work should be perfect the first time around.
If they have a good, professional editor locked down, they can focus on creating an enticing story instead of focusing on perfection.
Where do I start when writing a book?
Many aspiring authors get stuck in a rut before ever writing a single word. One of the reasons (apart from the fear of failure mentioned earlier) is that they are so overwhelmed by the writing process that they don’t know where to begin.
Where do you start your planning? The plot, the characters, the world, the ending, or the start? And how do you go about creating a plan or plotting it all out? What does the writing process look like?
The truth is, you don’t need to have the whole world, characters, plot, etc., figured out before starting to write your novel. Stephen King, currently standing at a net worth of over $500 million and probably the most famous horror author in the world, starts off with a single, good idea.
Sometimes he doesn’t have a clue what is going to happen in the book when he starts writing. He starts with a vague book idea or a “what if” scenario and then just shoots from the hip. Many authors and scholars will disagree with this approach, stating that planning is an essential part of ensuring a well-written manuscript.
But regardless of which side of the coin you chose as your writing process, starting to write without a clue where you are going is still better than never starting. Your book idea might be all you need.
But this approach is not meant for all. People who feel more comfortable with structure in their lives would find this approach more horrifying than Stephen’s actual books. If you are nodding your head while reading this, then a writing coach could be the answer for you.
An experienced writing coach not only knows how to boost authors’ confidence but is familiar with all the phases of writing a book. This includes planning, scheduling, helping with writers block, and direction throughout the whole process. Click here to learn more about the roles a writing coach can fulfill during your dream journey.
How do I write my first book?
A big dream-buster for aspiring authors is that although they have a burning desire to write, they feel like their idea is not original and therefore abandon it altogether.
Winner of 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature
"Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen."
In his Masterclass introduction, Dan Brown, famous for the Da Vinci Code amongst other best-selling titles, states that there is no original idea, only an original story. In other words, although your idea for a story might have been used millions of times before, how you tell it will be unique and worth exploring.
What if JK Rowling never began her wrote Harry Potter because there were other books about magic? Or, imagine if Stephenie Meyer didn’t write the Twilight series because there were 100s of books about vampires out there already. She wouldn't have enormous book sales or be worth $125 million today, that's for sure.
Here is how you start writing your first book:
You open a blank sheet and start writing. Writing is an iterative process. That means that you should make peace with going back and making changes all the time. What’s even more daunting is that sometimes you have to throw paragraphs or even chapters in the bin that you really loved as a sacrifice for the greater good.
William Faulkner, Nobel prize laureate, said you must kill all your darlings. That means if you want to be a good writer, you should be able to eliminate the writing you love the most for the greater good of the novel. But this is something that an expert developmental editor can help you with after completing the first draft of your manuscript.
In short, just start writing. But sometimes, authors want to hone their skills before starting to work on their dream manuscripts. We will delve into strategies to hone your skills a little later.
Can anyone write a book and get it published?
The answer to this question changed drastically over the past two decades. Now, the answer is yes. Online digital publishing through avenues like Amazon KDP have changed the landscape for indie authors over the last two decades, making it much easier to become a published author.
If you want to, you can write a book that consists of one sentence and publish it online. Will it sell? We hardly doubt that. The point is that it is possible for anybody to become a published author.
But writing an exceptional work of fiction is one thing, but selling it is another altogether. Using the services of a specialized book marketing specialist could save you tons of time and frustration and increase sales fast.
How many pages should my novel be?
Some argue that anything over 40,000 words can be considered a novel. The general consensus, however, is that a novel should be at least 50,000 words long, approximately 200 pages.
But then again, it depends on your story and also what genre it is in. The table below serves as a guideline for the number of words your novel should contain.
In a previous article, we explained the mechanics behind the word count of your first novel in detail. Please do remember that you should never damage your plot due to word restrictions. Write until you are happy that the story is complete.
How do I become a better writer?
Reading is one of the critical pillars of becoming a better writer, and we are not talking about social media feeds and status updates. Reading regularly, especially works of fiction, will expose you to different writing styles and concepts that will help you become a better writer.
Author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels
"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."
One of our clients mentioned that he reads novels on a tablet and highlights unfamiliar words and particularly well-written passages. Once he is finished with the book, he copies all the highlighted sections to a spreadsheet, which he then reads through a few times a week.
Apart from consciously studying the literature as our client does, you also attain skills subconsciously. Just like Daniel-san in The Karate Kid, who mopped floors and then picked up some nifty karate blow-blocking skills in the process, the same applies to reading.
The next step is to practice your writing skills. The beauty is that you can do so while getting paid for it. In a previous article, we explored the different ways aspiring novel writers can earn money writing fiction online. Whether it is to make a little money on the side or just to hone your skills, the important part to remember is to practice every day.
One way to improve your writing skills is to use a writing prompt generator.
Servicescape provides a list of genres and then a prompt you can use to base your writing exercise. Set a timer on your phone for 10 or 20 minutes, depending on the time you have available, and start writing. This daily exercise will also help you overcome the desire to construct perfect paragraphs the first time every time and will improve your creative thinking and boost your confidence in the long term.
Get a writing coach. Think about it. Everybody, including writers, got to the top of their game by having a coach - someone who can point out their shortcomings and give them constructive feedback. Here at Weekend Publisher offer writing coaching simply because it works! Our authors finished their books better, faster, and with more confidence. Want to do the same? Book your free discovery call with our top writing coach here.
How to write a descriptive paragraph?
Aspiring authors are often overwhelmed by the works produced by some of their favorite authors. Again, writing is a skill that improves over time. Let go of the idea that your first draft is going to be a masterpiece. Learning the skills to become a great writer takes time, and we all have to start somewhere.
In a previous article, we studied the art of writing a descriptive paragraph, fully loaded with examples from both good and bad works of fiction. Here is a summary of how to write a descriptive paragraph.
- Consider why you’re describing
- Let go of the idea that it’s to convey an exact picture
- Respect your reader as a co-creator
- Avoid clichés and formulaic writing
- Don’t over-do it with your adjectives, metaphors, or showing off your writing skills
- Remember your genre
- Integrate your description with the rest of the scene
- Read more! Learn from good and bad examples of descriptive writing
You can test your writing skills and find room for improvement right from the start, which might decrease the cost of editing later. An experienced editor could take a sample of your work, perhaps the first chapter, and provide suggestions on how to improve your writing which will pave the way as you progress.
What are the best writing apps for writers?
Thanks to the enhancements in technology during the last decade, writing a book without experience has become much easier. Apart from having online platforms where we can publish our passion projects, we also have tools that make the journey to becoming a published author much simpler.
In one of our previous articles called 8 Best Writing Apps To Help You Finish Your Masterpiece, we investigated the best apps authors can use to write their first novels.
These apps vary from simple word processors to advanced AI-assisted typing assistants and author project management applications. These tools have made life for aspiring authors much easier. Just imagine Dean Koontz writing 54 novels on a typewriter with a dictionary by his side before he made it and the patience and dedication it took to continue.
If you use some of the best writing apps for writers out there, you don’t have to work as hard as Mr. Koontz.
How much does editing cost?
Writing your first novel is so much easier when you know that there is an editor that will help your manuscript go from good to gold. When you start searching online for editors, you will stumble across different types of editors, such as developmental editing, line editing, proofreading, etc.
In addition, you will find that various factors contribute to the costs of editing a manuscript. The information is sometimes convoluted and, in the end, leaves you confused and discouraged. That is why we did the legwork for you and published an article called: How Much Does Editing Cost: Prices and Rates for Your Book.
As we mentioned earlier, knowing that you have an editor lined up to improve your work alleviates pressure from authors while producing the manuscript, allowing you to focus on writing the story instead of on semantics.
Some of the most significant risks associated with not getting an editor are:
- Unmet reader expectations
- Errors with spelling and grammar
- Poor research
- Inconsistent characters, plot holes, and pacing
Can a self-published author become successful?
Define the term “success”…
If you have a dream, you work hard to follow through with it, and you complete your goal, you are successful. But if you consider success as measured by a monetary value, then the answer is still yes.
As an aspiring author, especially a self-published author, you should not expect your first novel to become a New York Times bestseller. The odds of that happening are minute—almost like winning the lottery. But then, there are people like A.G. Riddle, whose first series went on to sell over a million copies.
We thought we’d end this article on a positive note to inspire you. Check out our article showcasing 8 self-published authors who became extremely successful.
These authors had three things in common on their self-publishing journeys, things you should consider too.
- Perseverance and persistence.
- Keep writing and expanding.
- Connect with readers on a personal level.
Beginning your writing journey can be daunting, and becoming a better writer takes time. But it all begins with a good idea, motivation, and getting yourself to sit down and start writing. Eventually, your book idea will become an entire book, and following this advice will help you make it a great book.
If you're looking for a partner to help you outline and write your book (even if you have no experience), check out our online writer's coaching program.