Just as your readers won’t stick around for long stretches of self-indulgent introspection (in agonizing detail), you probably wouldn’t either. And as picturesque as a beach can be, does anyone really want to read five pages about a piece of driftwood and its origin story? Probably not. Sometimes we writers get stuck trying to make our writing more “literary” and profound. Do what the reader does: focus on the story.
This is how you hold onto your reader’s attention. Keep them guessing. Keep them on the edge of their seats — wondering, fearing, anticipating. Give them a reason to keep reading. You don’t do this by describing in minute detail a group of best friends enjoying their wine and chips on the beach while everyone gets along splendidly and all the couples are blissfully in love and never argue. It’s when the stakes are high that your reader is compelled to wonder “What will happen next?”
Stiff competition isn’t the only reason you’ll want to hook your reader right from the beginning of your story. A great opening makes your book instantly memorable and sets it apart from the legions of books with weak beginnings. Related: A great cover can only do so much to earn your book an honored place on someone’s shelf. Hook them quickly with your words, and then hold on tight.
It’s important that you develop the habit of writing every single day. It can help to subscribe to an email list that provides daily writing tips not only to remind you of your daily writing commitment but to help you improve your writing along the way.
Time and space are critical elements in forming a daily writing habit. If you develop the habit of writing in a specific spot at a specific, scheduled time, you associate that spot and that time of day with writing — and vice versa. Make a point of scheduling a time to write each day, and keep it sacred. If you’re going to write a book, daily writing deserves a place on your schedule.
You’ll need a reliable computer with a word processing program, at least to create your final draft. The publishing world uses Microsoft Word, so stick with this or a program that allows you to export your work as a Word document. Other tools might include the following:
There’s more than one way to do this:
One of these most useful writing tips and tricks is learning how to chunk down your writing into shorter time segments. A timer — like this Pomodoro app — is helpful with this. If you write for smaller chunks of time (25 minutes each) and take small breaks (5 minutes) between them, you’ll return to each writing session better-prepared to focus your creative energy on writing for the next 25 minutes.
It helps to start by summarizing your book. Just write to yourself about what your book is about, who would benefit from reading it (if it’s nonfiction), what problem would it solve, etc.
To make your book project less overwhelming and to help you keep moving from one step to the next, break the whole thing down into smaller, more manageable pieces. And focus on one piece at a time.