How to Write a Book – and What a Writing Coach Can Do to Help

As a published author, Editor and Writing Coach, I know what it takes to move from blocked to published.
This blog will help you learn:

  • How to write a book with no experience
  • How to stop procrastinating and reach flow state when writing
  • How to gain confidence in your writing
  • 5 way to get published

Does any of this feel familiar?:

  • You have a lovely collection of writing pens journals, notebooks with lots of empty pages.
  • When you read a good book, you dream about writing one of your own.
  • When you read a not-so-good book, you think about how you could do it better.
  • Whenever you sit down to try to write something, you get blocked by a powerful cocktail of doubt, fear, and a complete void of “good” ideas.
  • When you re-read something you wrote, all you can see is what is wrong with it and you end up editing instead of writing new pages.

Saying yes to any of the above make you a blocked, aspiring writer. Not just a dabbler, or a wanna-be, but an actual writer. I am here to help you become a writer that can write a book and share it with the world.


My Story about writing with no experience

I know what it feels like to want to be a writer but feel terrified of judgement, have debilitating writer’s block and no knowledge of the process of how to write a book and get it published.

I spent over 30 years writing in secret, torturing myself over the essential yet unattainable perfection of each line, each word. I wouldn’t even show my (then) husband any of my writing, I was so convinced of how bad of a writer I was.

No, not just a bad writer. A deranged, idiotic, selfish talentless writer who should do the world a favor and burn every page they ever wrote.

I got through that debilitating period of secret writing by throwing caution to the wind and submitting a piece to a writing prize (read here for that story). I now write and share my work regularly and have even been published a few times. I have also been a Structural Editor for the past 3 years helping over 40 authors complete their work and publish it.

I also help writers move past their inner limits and fear through my From Reader to Writer workshop. Here is just a sample of what they learn to help you start writing and build your writing practice.


How to get into a writing flow and build confidence as a writer

  1. Find your magic writing time and place. When and where does your writing flow? (For anyone who’s read Stephen King’s On Writing, you know it can be as strange as a furnace closet late at night with only a TV table as a desk)
  2. Find the spot in your calendar when these two factors can come together, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day. Schedule that time right into your events and honour it as if it’s a dental appointment where they charge you if you don’t show up.
  3. Every time you sit down to write, use a notebook or doc to warm up with a 3-5 minute tool. This tool is not real writing, it’s meant to get you in the zone. It needs to be loose, fast and completely void of self-censorship, you don’t even need to read it after. Here’s just a few to choose from:
    • Morning pages a la The Artist’s Way
    • 5 minutes of free-flow writing describing a moment of your day
    • 5 sentences on something you are afraid of followed by 5 sentences on something you are grateful for.
  4. Once warmed up, set the intention that your writing will be:
    • Crappy (more on this coming up)
    • Loose
    • Free of any kind of self-censorship (more on this later)
    • Unlimited in its potential (could be a published book, cut up into short pieces, poems, spoken word, blog or social media posts)
    • Received gratefully and openly by the world
  5. Now you are ready to begin writing on your real project. You know the one – it keeps you up at night with ideas, your mind won’t let it go.
    • If you’ve the piece started already, read only a couple sentences back to know where to begin again, and dive in.
    • If you haven’t got something to start from, begin with the idea that grabs you most. Don’t worry about writing well or meaningfully (see #4), just record everything about that idea. What grabs you about it? What crumbs of your imagination are you following? Give yourself over to the idea, trust the process and let the words flow. Stay in this flow as long as possible.
  6. Near the end of your writing time, choose where you want to keep going next time. You can record some points on where you think the writing will go next, or questions you have about what comes next. You can also start a sentence but not finish it, so next time you have a place to start ready for you.
  7. Now that your writing day is done, celebrate! You showed up on the page, you conquered the incredibly debilitating inner critic, limiting beliefs and circumstantial barriers that could have stopped you.

So once you have a regular writing practice, you will become more prolific. This is a great time to join a writing group. It is for this reason that I run regular coach-led writing groups. I bring writing exercises and tools for us to learn and practice together, we share our work in a safe and constructive atmosphere and we hold each other accountable to our writing goals. If you want a secret writing weapon – get in a writing group!


How to write a book

You will begin to have pieces that progress past the first draft stage. First draft is all about loose, crappy, free-flow ideas, lots of plot movement and a sense of beginning, middle and end. You know the first draft is done when the original idea is no longer nagging at you, it has been sated. Plus you may be a little tired of that idea, piece, characters.

Second draft is for structural edit which assesses themes, flow, major gaps, story arc among other core elements. It can be extremely difficult to read you own work impartially enough to properly edit. So this is the time to hire a Structural Editor such as myself to aid the process and get your book as good as it can be.

Between second and third draft is the perfect time to invite a few beta-readers to read your work and provide structured feedback.

Third draft is the line-by-line edit (also known as copy edit) and proofread. This ensures your book has zero typos, spelling errors and grammar faux-pas’. This is essential so your future readers (and potential publishers) can see and feel the high-quality of your work.


How to publish your book

Speaking of publishing, here are just a few ideas of what publishing can mean for you.

  • ways-to-publish-a-bookSelf-publish means the author is in charge of all aspects of publishing. Takes considerable effort and some expense but includes total control of the process.
  • Traditional publish means submitting a draft of your work (known as querying) to publishers and/or agents looking for new writers. Can take up to 6 months to hear back and if picked up by a publisher, author usually loses copyright of the work. Greater chance for wide audience, more sales and future publishing deals.
  • Online writing contests and publications means researching for events and sites open to submissions and then submitting your work for a nominal fee.
  • Blog on your own website or on other sites that invite collaboration. A blog needs to provide value to the reader through story, fact, research or instruction.
  • Social media posts can be any kind of writing you choose and can be a great way to start building your audience.

The possibilities are endless, and the first day of your journey as a real writer can begin right now. As soon as you finish this blog, set a timer for 15 minutes and write something until the bell rings. You won’t regret it. And I can practically guarantee you that there is readers out there who want and need what you are compelled to write.

I hope you now feel like writing a book is more possible for you. I hope you take a chance and show up on the page. I am here to help.

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