We've mentioned before how we're big believers that everyone has a book in them, and we'll undoubtedly say it again in the future. However, much of our focus over the course of those articles has been on fiction books. If everyone has a story to tell, it doesn't necessarily need to be fictional. You could have experience of just about anything, spanning life events, your career and your hobbies. If you feel like you could enrich a reader's life with your expertise or even your theories, then you might just have a non-fiction book ready to go in your head, and it all comes down to how quickly you can get it down on paper.
There's a huge sense of accomplishment associated with completing a book, so whether you want to write for profit or satisfaction, both goals are valid. However, there's plenty of competition around, especially if you're going to self-publish. That means your book needs to stand out. It doesn't necessarily need to check every box, especially if you're the only person writing on the subject. However, there are certain things you should keep in mind before, during and after the writing process, and we've listed the most important considerations below.
1. Get in the Writing Habit
While perhaps stating the obvious, writing a book of any kind requires putting words on a page. That's simple in theory, but often proves the biggest obstacle to anyone that has never done it before. You can sit down and type a text message or write an email without any thought, but it can be much harder to motivate yourself to get started on something that's purely for your own benefit – at least for the time being.
Among the best strategies is forcing yourself to write something each day. Find a time you're free most days and use that time to write something – even if it's just a sentence. It's a lot easier to edit than to write off the top of your head. Go with the same time each day and get something down. It might spark you off to keep going. Of course, it might not, but there's nothing wrong with that as you're still ahead of where you were yesterday.
2. Find a Spot that Inspires You
You might have the luxury of a home office for other reasons. If not, you need to make space to write. Ideally, it's somewhere that doesn't get messy and cluttered each day, and it will also be a spot where you can concentrate without interruption. Many excellent books were written at the dining table, but just as many authors failed in the same space. Find somewhere that works for you and make a habit of using it.
3. Always Have a Way to Make Notes
You never know when you might have a great idea, and many will come along when you're not sat at your desk. If you usually travel around with a smartphone or iPad, you've got all you need to scribble notes or record them. If you prefer a pen and paper, ensure you have it on you at all times, so you don't forget a fantastic dose of inspiration.
4. Clear Your Head Before You Write
If you have something on your mind before you start writing, then chances are the subject matter will reflect in what you jot down. A clear head is usually the best idea unless you have something you've mulled over in mind. A walk or jog can be perfect for this, as it provides a proper barrier between your writing and your day to day life.
5. Write Down Your Thoughts
There's plenty of time for editing later. For now, it's all about getting your thoughts onto the page. There's no harm at all in using the stream of consciousness. Your words will be coherent, even if they don't necessarily contribute to the overall goal of your book. Structure is good, but you can work on it later. In the early stages, focus on giving yourself something to work with.
6. Don't Edit as You Go
It's not easy to resist, but you shouldn't think about editing your book while you write. Indeed, whenever you're in the mood to write, you should capitalise and do nothing else. While related, we consider writing and editing as different disciplines, and they should be kept away from each other accordingly.
7. Improve Your Writing Skills
We noted that your book needs to be at least decent if its to stand out in a crowded market, and that all starts with polished writing skills. Ideally, you'll come out with no spelling or grammar errors at all, and it saves time if you don't make them in the first place rather than changing them later. Practice, take a class or read more to hammer home the rules of writing and get your book out faster.
8. Add Value
The aim of your book should be to inform, educate or entertain, or potentially even all three. If your book doesn't do any of these things, it may be time to reconsider whether it's worth writing. Use your knowledge and experience to highlight something that nobody else could write.
9. Non-Fiction Doesn't Lack Storytelling
Unless you've opted for non-fiction because you're a poor storyteller, you should still utilise your creative writing skills in your work. Use the rules of storytelling, such as a clear beginning, middle and end, to help hammer home the points you make and don't be afraid to get as personal as you're happy to when illustrating your points.
10. Invite Feedback Along the Way
You shouldn't wait until your book is finished to ask people what they think. It could be a family member or potentially even someone with a professional eye for detail. Either way, it's good to spot issues and mistakes early, not least because it can help you to avoid making them again later on.