Writing tips

Use an app like Evernote to store your ideas.

It helps to have a reservoir of inspiring ideas, and apps like Evernote make it easy to store those ideas when they strike or when you take a few minutes out of your day to brainstorm a list. Evernote also gives you a place to flesh out and organize your ideas — whether for a book, a blog post, a work of fiction, or something else.

Stop each day when the going is good.

If you stop at the end of one chapter, take a moment to plan what you’ll start with for the following chapter. Type a few bullet point ideas to help you get the words flowing when you sit down to write the next day. Lay the groundwork, so you’ll know exactly where you left off and are excited about what you’ll write next.

Get early feedback.

Find someone whose judgment you trust — not only as a person but as a writer and someone who knows about the book market — to appraise your book idea and what you’ve written for it so far. Consult more than one such person, if you can. Invite them out for coffee (or lunch) and a quick read. Consider it an investment in your book’s success.

Set weekly targets.

Deadlines are important. Not only do they motivate you to keep moving toward your goal, but they also give you a target to celebrate once you reach it. You need both short-term and long-term targets when writing a book. Short-term targets are the ones you set for each day or for each smaller piece of your project. Long-term targets have more to do with the bigger picture — in regard to your book and to other meaningful goals.

Sketch it out.

Create at least a rough outline of your story. It doesn’t have to look like the outlines you had to create in school. Simple bulleted lists work fine.

  • Write about scenes you want in your story.
  • Write what the story is about, who the main character is, and what he/she wants and stands to lose.
  • Write about each pivotal character’s arc and what events in the story contribute to each one’s development.
  • Write about how your story will end — and whether your main character will get what he or she wants.
  • Write about possible opening scenes for your story.

Write from a character’s perspective.

Voice journaling is a great way to beat writer’s block by helping you see more clearly what your character wants and why — and what direction the story should take. Write from any character’s perspective – the protagonist, the antagonist, or a minor character with at least a casual interest in what happens.

Single or series?

If your readers enjoy this first book, they’ll want to read the next one, too (if there is one) — which will help you sell more copies the next time around. On the other hand, if your main character dies at the end, you’re probably not planning on a Book Two. And that’s okay. If you are writing a series, though, you’ll want your cover to include a reference to the series title — which brings us to the next tip.

Get a fantastic book cover.

Having a beautiful cover for your book might just be the best motivation to write it. In any case, it’s visible proof of your commitment to finishing your book. With fiction, it’s particularly important to have a stunning book cover, and some genres (like fantasy) require more artistry than others. If your book’s cover looks like a DIY project, most of your ideal readers will cringe and move on.

Pencil in some procrastination.

Rather than procrastinating during your scheduled writing times, why not just add some procrastination to your weekly book writing schedule? While you’re taking a break from your novel, your mind is still working on it. And when you return to the book after your scheduled procrastination, you can incorporate the content your mind has generated during the break.

Turn off your inner editor (while writing your first draft).

There’s a time to let the words flow and a time to edit them. Finish your story before you edit it, and you’ll be better able to do both. Books like this one can help you do a thorough and balanced self-edit when the time comes.