How do I write a book?

How do I improve my writing?

If you want to improve your writing, follow the steps and tips in this article. I can′t promise you that your writing will magically improve, but you will be well on your way.

What are the five basics of writing?

While there are many, many basics to good writing well, here are a few most new writers should start with.

First, keep your writing tight. In other words, eliminate wordiness. What do I mean by that? Simply put, do not use five words when four or even three will do, and so on. Keeping your writing tight means getting rid of any word or phrase that adds nothing to your text. While this is a simple, easy-to-understand principle, it may take a lifetime to master. When we write a first draft, we often don’t worry as much about writing concisely but instead about getting down all the facts, all our thoughts, and all our points. That is fine. But when we review and revise, we need to trim down what we’ve written, which leads to my next tip.

Revise, revise, revise. Good writing happens because someone revised it. To make your writing as effective and powerful as it can be, you must spend time reviewing and revising it. I won’t explain here how to do that, but much of good revision is common sense. Basically, read over what you’ve written and see if you can make each sentence clearer, simpler. You can also read your writing aloud to see how it sounds. And as you read it aloud you will often hear where you repeated yourself or where your flow has gotten off track.

Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly. Many new writers think that they need to punch up their writing with vivid adjectives and adverbs to enhance their writing. While a well-placed adjective (also called a modifier) can work wonders, too much can kill your writing.

Strive to write in active voice. Active voice (i.e., John kicked the ball) is often clearer and more direct than passive voice (i.e., the ball was kicked by John). First, and most obviously, it required fewer words. Second, it’s more direct. And third, it won’t let you weasel out of identifying who is kicking whom. Read a statement written by a governmental agency, and you might be left wondering who is doing what, because their writing never identifies an active agent. It’s always, “It has been decided,”  or “Determinations were made,” etc. Let your reader know what is what and who is kicking whom by writing in active voice as often as you can.

Tell the truth. This is not a tip you’ll find in most writing instruction books or textbooks, but to me it’s the most important. Part of growing up is learning to lie. Not big lies, mostly, but white lies we all tell to keep the peace, to make people like us, and to save face. Good writing, on the other hand, demands that we tell the truth, even—especially—when it’s not pretty.

So, what is this truth of which I’m speaking? The truth I mention does not have to be some sort of absolute, universal truth—though it could be that—but it is usually small, commonplace everyday truths that so many people miss. These are the same little surprising truths that stand-up comedians see and talk about. We find what they say funny, not because what they tell us is new but because they are telling us something we all have noticed but that none of us dared to talk about. Telling the truth also means that we let our readers into our confidence. Instead of telling them what we think they want to hear or what makes us look good, we tell them what actually happened. And in the end, what actually happened almost always makes the most compelling story.

What are the essential steps in writing?

While there are no absolute steps in writing that are set in stone, most writers agree on the following  tasks and in this general order:

  1. Plan and/or outline and develop ideas
  2. Write a first draft
  3. Revise
  4. Refine
  5. Final edit

Not surprisingly, many writers, especially fiction writers, spend a lot of time on planning, revising, and outlining. Some fiction writers claim to write by the seat of their pants (also called pantsers), but I suspect that the majority of published, successful fiction authors do some degree of planning and outlining. The more time you spend up front planning, outlining, deciding what you want to talk about and what you want to say, the better off you will be. In other words, time spent up front reduces time spent later on during your journey.

What are the main principles in writing?

Some of the main principles in writing repeat what I’ve already mentioned, but with a few differences. These include:

  • Honesty
  • Clarity
  • Brevity
  • Elegance
  • Surprise
  • Relevance

Any and all of the above qualities or principles of writing help make good writing. Let me explain each just a little:

  • Honesty entails telling the truth and revealing to your reader what really happened or what you really feel.
  • Clarity includes using only the words you need to to get your point across.
  • Brevity means making your writing only as lengthy as it needs to be—and no longer.
  • Elegance entails writing that has an internal rhythm and a natural flow. In other words, sentences that are not all the same length.
  • Surprise means including details that surprise both you and your reader.
  • Relevance means writing about what matters most to you.

What are the traits of good writing?

As I’ve said elsewhere, good nonfiction writing always engages you because it, a) tells the truth, and b) is about what matters most to the writer. There are a ton of other ingredients to good writing ,including clarity, brevity, elegance, and surprise.

If you are asking what are the traits of fiction writing, they are much the same.

What are eight characteristics of good writing (and writers)?

I borrowed the main topics below from the late Ken Macrorie, but the explanations are all mine.

They don’t waste words

Good writers and good writings don’t waste words. In other words, every written word serves a purpose—no empty phrases or extra words that aren’t needed.

They speak in an authentic voice

This is another way of saying that when someone writes, they tell the truth and write what they really think. And when they do that, nothing they write ever sounds fake or forced.

They put readers there, make them believe

Good writers use concrete details to put their readers in the action, to help them feel present when they read what has been written. It’s easier to believe that you are there when you read exactly what it was like to be there.

They cause things to happen for them as they did for the writer

When writers tell the truth, add concrete details, speak with their own voice, and don’t waste words, the writing that results causes the reader to discover new ideas or thoughts or to experience new feelings.

They create oppositions that surprise

Strong writing often contains unexpected oppositions or paradoxes, since that’s how life is. And when writing follows all of the above rules, it can’t help but convey the craziness that is life, that is this world.

They build

When writers write well, they almost naturally build tension within the piece of writing that also builds tension within the reader. Thoughts and events lead to more thoughts and events and they both build to whatever conclusion or pivotal moment that the writer is writing about.

They ask something of readers

Good writing asks its reader to think, to consider, and to look at life differently. Good writing asks its readers to pay attention.

They reward readers with meaning

Good writing has something to say, a difference to make, and meaning to convey. Good writing isn’t just taking up space, it’s trying to reveal something new, something different to its reader.

So, if you want your writing to be good, you need to most of the above. Writing that makes a difference, writing that matters, it does all of the above. Not sure how to do some—or all—of the above? Let’s talk.

What are the rules of effective writing?

It’s simple, really, effective writing has several key characteristics or rules:

It’s clear. It’s concise. It is direct. It is relevant. And it is truthful. For writing to be effective, it has to tell the reader what the author wants to say and do it in a way that engages the reader’s thoughts, reasoning, and emotions.

Effective writing uses details—but not too many. Effective writing uses stories—but only stories that fit with the overall theme. Effective writing reveals what lies beneath. And effective writing speaks directly to its reader and in a language they understand, and use.

Effective writing does not happen by accident. Instead, it requires forethought, planning, and work.

And, since so many fail to do this, effective writing says only as much as it has to. In other words, effective writing respects the economy of words and would never bore its reader.

Is it hard to write a book?

You may as well ask, is it hard to learn to play the piano? Is it hard to climb a mountain? Is it hard to start a business? Is it hard to graduate from college?

All large tasks, like writing a book, take time, effort, skill, talent, and a little luck to bring to pass. While writing is harder for some people than others—just as mountain climbing is harder for some than others—writing a book always takes effort.

In the end, the only way to find out how hard it is for you to write a book is to write a book! Good luck!

How many hours a day do you write a book?

When you strive to write a book, it’s up to you how many hours you devote each day. A good rule of thumb is to devote enough time each day that you get something done, even if it’s only a page or two, but not so much time that you burn yourself out before your project is finished.

For some people, this might be one hour a day, for others it might be two, or even three hours a day. There is no one right answer, but if you spend less than an hour or more than six hours a day, you may run into trouble in either direction.

Experiment and determine how much time works for you, and then stick with that schedule. Don’t do too little, but don’t overdo, either.

After a year—or less—spent faithfully following your schedule you may be surprised by how much you’ve written.

How long does it realistically take to write a book?

While each writer takes a different amount of time to write their book, most books take some time—at least a month or so—to write. The vast majority of books (for nonfiction at least) take a few months to a year or even years to write. The results are as varied as the writers and the size of the book and complexity of the project.

If you are writing a 140-page business book on a subject you know well, however, you might expect your book to take anywhere from four to six months to write, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. Again, how long your book takes to write depends on how much time you can spend on planning, writing, and revising.

Much the same is true for fiction books, though I understand some fast-writing authors, like Stephen King, finish their books in a matter of months. King said in his book On Writing that if you take too long to finish your novel you risk losing momentum. Given how prolific and productive he is, he may be right. So, if you are taking longer than a year to write your novel, you may want to think about how fast you are working.

Can I be a writer if I don’t like reading?

You can be a writer if you don’t like reading, but the question is why would you want to? You may as well ask if you can become a great swimmer if you don’t like the water or a good cook if you don’t like food. Again, one would have to wonder why you would want to.

It seems that the best writers are always avid readers, and it is through reading where you grow your vocabulary, learn more ways to express yourself, and gain a broader perspective on the world.

So, can you become a writer if you don’t like to read? Maybe, but if you liked to read, becoming a writer would be much, much easier.

What is the easiest type of book to write?

Writing is never easy, but the easiest type of book to write is a book that covers a subject you know and love well. Whether that subject is gardening, autism, the Crimean War, or the growth of the US Interstate Highway system, if it’s a subject you know and love, writing a book about it will not be easy—because writing a book is never easy—but it will be easier for you to write than a book about a subject for which you have no knowledge or passion.

So, if you want to write a book, write on a subject you know and love well, even if that subject is your life or your family’s life. It’s your book, so write to make it what you want!

Can you write a book with no experience?

To write all one needs to do is sit down with a pen and paper (or at a keyboard) and begin to write. There is no grand committee that issues licenses to write to only a few, select people. Anyone can put down what is on their mind or talk about their experiences or tell their stories.

Of course, the more that you feel that you have experienced, the more and easier it might be to write a book, but if you merely wanted to write a book about your life so far, there’s nothing stopping you from doing that. Again, all you need is pen and paper or keyboard and the self-discipline to spend time each day writing. And as you write, you may discover that you knew more than you thought you did, because the act of writing itself involves learning and discovering.

Is it worth it to write your own book?

I always feel that it is worth it for people to write their own book, even if they get help to do so. You have unique knowledge, stories, and a unique perspective to share, so why not share them? In the end, if you start to write a book but find that you have nothing to say or that you can’t stand to write, you can choose not to write a book or you can choose to hire help to get your words out (if you hate to write).

The choice is yours, and if you choose to write your book, the rewards are yours as well. The only way to discover them, however, is to write your own book.

As always, feel free to contact me if you think I’ve missed something vital or if some guideline worked for you but wasn’t listed here.

Happy writing!

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