That’s a mistake.
It’s not that you can’t just start writing when you get inspired by a new idea or decide “today is the day” to write the book you’ve thought about for years. You can. But this approach can mean that you spend a lot more time editing and revising than necessary.
Why? Because when you begin writing without doing any planning, it’s easy to get off course.
I like sitting down and writing “off the top of my head” or, as novelists say, “by the seat of my pants” as much as the next person—maybe more! But this typically gets me in trouble. I end up rambling, going on tangents, misplacing information, and, generally, not getting to the point. This type of writing yields a manuscript focused on what I want to write rather than what my market wants to read.
The better way to start writing a nonfiction book is to plan your project first. If you do so, you’ll write more effectively and quickly.
Nonfiction Writer’s Challenge—Plan Your Book Project
To complete this nonfiction writer’s challenge, plan your book project by completing the following five tasks.
1. Describe your idea.
You may not have complete clarity on what your book will be about, and that’s fine. To the best of your ability, write a brief description of it anyway.
Answer one simple question: What will the book be about?
At this stage, you are not writing a book pitch to land a literary agent or publisher or tell someone about your book. The point is to do so to crystalize your idea. The more clarity you have on your book idea, the more easily you will write the manuscript, and the better the book will be.
2. Explain why you want to write this book.
Your “why” becomes your purpose for writing the book and the book’s purpose for existing. Plus, when you know the reasons you want to write a book, you can tap into the emotions that accompany that understanding.
Your purpose gets you to sit down at the computer and write. It also keeps you writing until you type “The End.”
3. Identify your book’s goal.
A nonfiction book should achieve something for you and the reader. Therefore, you need to identify your book’s goal. What will it accomplish for you and for the reader?
You also can identify your book’s goal by answering one or both of these questions: What benefit will the book provide to readers (or to you)? What result do you want to achieve by writing the book?
It’s a good idea to make a list of the benefits your book will provide to readers. These are the promises you make to readers and deliver on in the pages of the book.
4. Identify the book’s genre.
Knowing the genre is necessary before you can structure the book, let alone write it. Otherwise, you could think you are writing a memoir when, in fact, you are writing prescriptive nonfiction.
With these five steps completed, you are almost ready to write your book…but not quite. Next month’s nonfiction writer’s challenge will provide the steps to developing a marketable book—one with a high likelihood of selling. This requires some research and strategizing.
In the meantime, you can learn more about producing marketable books by reading The Author Training Manual.
Did this post help you gain clarity on the book you want to write? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with other nonfiction writers you know so they, too, will get motivated take on this nonfiction writing challenge.
Would you like to write and publish nonfiction work, like articles, blog posts, books, or reports…and become a successful author? Check out the Nonfiction Writers’ University. Get the basic education you need and the coaching to help you succeed as a nonfiction writer. Take advantage of monthly live educational and group coaching events. Enjoy a 30-day trial membership for only $1.
Do you want a more advanced approach to your nonfiction writing education? Join the Nonfiction Writers’ University MASTERS program. Receive ongoing live Certified High Performance Coaching (personal development), Author Training, and Authorprenuership Training as well as monthly educational and group coaching events. Learn all the steps to becoming a successful—and profitable—author. Discover how (finally) to write consistently, boldly, enthusiastically, and productively. Develop the mindsets, strategies, habits of the world’s most successful writers. Click here to learn more.
Photo courtesy of Roman Samborskyi