This post is by our long-time contributor, Katie Axelson, who’s currently in Bolivia and leaving for Peru, travelling the world on The World Race. You can follow her adventure on her blog, Living a Story Worth Telling, and keep in touch through Facebook and Twitter (@katieaxelson).

The more you talk to people about being a writer, the more you’ll hear people share they too have a dream of writing a book. However, few of them actually get their idea onto paper.

how to write a book

Creative Commons License Photo by gualtiero (Creative Commons)

It’s not enough to want to write a book. It’s not even enough to tell people you’re going to write a book. You’ve still got to actually write the book. Here are some steps to make it happen.

1. Commit

Decide you’re going to write your book and do it. It sounds too simple but it’s where a lot of people get lost.

Don’t start the project just to start the project. Start the project to finish it.

2. Build a Game Plan

Writing a book is overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start.

Do you start with an outline? A character? A scene? A conflict? The beginning? The middle? The end?

Secret: It doesn’t matter much.

Decide which way you’re going to do it and stick to that plan. You’ve got to start somewhere so get going.

3. Look Back, not Forward, and Keep Moving

After working diligently, at some point exhaustion’s going to hit. Call it writer’s block, call it character mutiny, call it whatever you want to call it but reality’s always the same: you’ve got an unfinished project.

Instead of looking forward at how far you’ve got to go, take a moment to look back and see how far you’ve come. You’ve crafted a storyline out of nothing. It’s only a matter of time before you find yourself in the window display at Barnes and Noble.

4. Celebrate

Congratulations, you’ve made it! You’ve got a complete manuscript! Don’t look at the fact that you still need an editor, publisher, and marketing strategy. Take the day off and celebrate that you’ve completed the first step. I suggest ice cream, a nice dinner, and/or a drink.

What is your best strategy to actually finishing a writing project?

PRACTICE

Write about a writer trying to finish a project. Is he or she in the midst of a creative breakthrough or struggling with writer’s block and self-doubt? Pay special attention to their surroundings. How do they influence the writer’s work?

Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to give feedback to your fellow writers.