What's up Word Maestros!
It’s still the beginning of the year, and you’re probably thinking, “This is it. This is the year I’m going to write my book!” And honestly, why not? You have this great story sitting idly in your mind and the world needs to read it. However, you’ve run into a dilemma: How do I get started? Of course, it is easier said than done, but I’ve come up with a few easy steps that will help to prepare you for the road ahead. Yes, I know it’s an intimidating, but don’t worry, you can do this!
One of the most important tasks I find authors skip during the beginning stages of book writing preparation is planning. I know, I know. Well duh. Writing a book is the plan. Yes, of course, but have you actually created the plan, a step-by-step plan? What many authors do not know is, when you first begin the journey of writing your book it doesn’t have anything to do with the actual writing, it starts with you! You and you only. If you are not mentally prepared you can expect your project to fall to the wayside.
Why it is important for you to plan ahead?
I’m glad you asked. As an author, I told myself I would have my first book written and published 4 years ago. You can imagine the disappointment I felt after realizing that time frame had come and gone rather quickly. It was not that I did not want to write my book, but I had never actually created a plan of execution. To have an idea for a story is very different from an idea that inspired a plan that results in completion.
Think of it this way, if I were inspired to plant a sunflower garden, I would need to prepare myself in the following ways: study gardening, buy the sunflower seeds, turn over the garden patch soil, and plant the sunflower seeds. I’ve bought gardening magazines and turned over the soil to prepare the patch, but instead of reading the gardening book, I jump directly into planting the seeds by spreading them all other the patch and watering them. Once I am finished, I expect the sunflowers to sprout within 7 to 10 days; however, twelve days pass and none of my sunflowers have sprouted beyond a seedling.
Another week passes and my seedlings are now dried up, and there is no way to revive them. This could have been avoided, if I followed the plan of action to study gardening to gain more knowledge. Skipping the step of studying caused me to go into this project uneducated and unprepared. So now I’ve lost my sunflower patch due to not taking the necessary steps for it to flourish.
Of course, I am not a gardener, but I think you get my point. It is best to plan and execute the necessary steps for the best results.
Now, back to writing. Let’s get you ready to write your book by mentally preparing you.
5 Steps to Start Your Planning
1. Clear your mind
From what you ask? From any anxiety, doubt, fear, or imposter syndrome that may be invading your mind. You can do this by simply taking care of yourself. When we are stressed-out, we do not realize how constraining it can become to our creative processes. This can be easily remedied by going for a walk, writing in your journal, or simply having “me time” doing whatever it is that calms you.
If you find yourself to be calm, but still overthinking, I highly recommend journaling. Sometimes our minds are going at 100 mph, so the next step is to force it to slow down. Writing in a journal forces the mind to slow down in order to formulate the sentence that express your thoughts and feelings. Believe it or not, thoughts are not easily translated when writing is involved, so stomping on the brakes will be necessary and beneficial.
Journaling helps to free up space in your mind that is being preoccupied by your emotions. It’s all a mental game that most of us unknowingly sign up for, but we are a part of. You just have to learn the cheat codes.
2. Identify your goals
In other words, create a foundation. Without clear direction it is easy become deterred and give up on your goal due to the feeling of discouragement. With creating a foundation your goal will be easily recognized, and you will be able to identify the steps you need to take in order to complete your goal. For instance, if you would like to write a YA novel that is typically 65k `words in length, you now have a starting point. From there determine when you would like for your book to be released. With identifying these two goals, you have now set yourself up for step 4. But let’s review step 3 first for the best execution.
3. Understand why you are breaking down your primary goals
Now that you have identified your goal, it is time to orchestrate a plan of execution to reach your goal. The bigger goal may already seem as if it is not within reach, hence the grungy feeling you get when the goal appears too big. But what we want to do is encourage the thought that it can be done. Completing small tasks are a cause for celebration. Which then results in excitement and provokes the thought that the primary goals are attainable. Resulting in a boost in self-confidence and drive. Small goals, big victories.
4. Set small goals
When creating a plan, set yourself up for success. This can be done by creating short term goals, or as stated previously small goals. Small goals can be identified as subtasks that help you to accomplish the primary goal. If you are anything like me, where you struggle to keep hope alive while setting out to accomplish a goal, you know the big picture can appear very intimidating and hopeless. And as stated in step 4 accomplishing small goals will result in a feeling of victory. And those little victories will help you to keep pushing towards your greater aspirations.
5. Set the scene
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. If you need a quiet place to write and your current guest bedroom is trashed, clean it. Seriously, give it a thorough deep cleaning. It will not only check it off of your cleaning list, it will provide a refreshed feeling walking into a clean environment. This will help you to relax. Don’t stop there! Take it a step further and add big-leafed plants to the scenery, and pretty lights. It is all about creating an ambience that allows our creative juices to flow.
Once you have set the scene you can now set your workspace. What do you need in order to write? This would be the perfect time to gather or go buy all of the necessary supplies. Like pens, pencils, a new laptop, desk lamp, if you’re feeling fancy. The objective is to be prepared in every way possible.
These 5 steps will surely set you up for success towards writing your book. And don’t stop there. Not everyone will have the same journey. You may want to add an additional 2 or 3 steps to set you up for your journey, whatever it takes to get you there, go for it. Just remember, the plan is created to help you reach your goal. It encourages focus, self-confidence, and drive. Do not give up before you’ve even started especially if your haven’t created your plan!