Recently, a publisher offered me a contract for a book that took me five years to write. Yes, five years! That is not unusual. Tolkien took twelve years to write his epic trilogy. Roth took about the same as I to write her blockbuster, Divergent. There is no secret to how to write a book. It is persistent, consistent hard work, plain and simple. However, everyone goes about doing it in their own way. Here is what I did to write my first non-fiction book for a homeschool audience.
I kept a journal for five years and wrote in it faithfully. All my observations, thoughts, epiphanies, and interesting life anecdotes were immortalized in my journal. Sometimes I wrote only a short paragraph, other times I wrote an entire page. After five years, I had more than fifty pages. These formed the basis of what eventually became my book.
Are you passionate about something? Do you find yourself engaged in conversations about it, giving others advice based on it, and pursuing experiences involving it? You may have the beginnings of a book.
In addition to my journaling, I kept notes from books I read. I read more than thirty different sources and wrote down significant quotes from each one. This sounds daunting, but remember, I spread it out over five years. Your book may not require that many sources. The important thing is to take notes from what you read and keep a separate notebook for each topic that you read about. Include photocopies and references from related magazine articles or blog posts. Pretty soon, you will have enough material to supplement or reinforce your personal journal.
Read. A lot.
Don?t just read to take notes. Read for the sake of reading. Read for the sake of learning how to write a book well. Ask yourself questions:
Why did I like this book?
How did the author use humor and story?
Were the descriptions vivid and fresh? In what way?
How did the book challenge my thinking?
What specific phrases stood out?
How can I use this author?s style to improve my own writing?
Learn Some Content Writing Skills
Content writing is designed to keep people reading so that they will eventually buy a product. Learning the techniques used by marketers will improve your writing. It forces you to write in the active voice, say more with fewer words, and draw people in to your story. All writing, even a business or finance book, is essentially storytelling. I highly recommend subscribing to copywriting blogs to learn these important skills. I used what I learned to edit my original manuscript and the new, revised version got the contract.