How to write a book

03 April 2018

There are few things as rewarding, punishing and exciting as publishing a book.

It takes a long time to come up with not just a fully formed idea for a book but to also write and publish it.  Writing a lengthy book is a journey.  You’ll find moments where you hit your flow and times where just one sentence can feel like a real struggle to produce.

However, with the right focus and mentality, you can do it.


To start with, you need to make sure that you know what it is you want to write about.  Whether it be a gripping horror tale, a romantic story set in rainy Seattle or even a biography of a famous musician.

Whatever your ideas for your novel or book, ensure that you can picture the beginning, middle and end.  You might do this by writing notes, drawing ideas or even keeping it all in your head.  However you do it, you need to ensure that you have a roadmap in place of how your finished book will look.

As you work through your book, you’ll change little details here and there but it’s important you have your structure set in stone form the start, or else you might find yourself changing large chunks of the work you’ve already started.


Like most things, when it comes to writing a book it’s difficult to ascertain exactly how long it’s going to be.  Try to work out roughly how many chapters you’d like as well as an estimated word count, allowing you to figure out how many words you’ll need in order to complete a few pages, multiple chapters and eventually, the whole book.

The main thing to remember to do though, is write.  Don’t let anything stop you from doing it, most people will stall because they can’t come up with the perfect way to start; so don’t bother about the start.  Pick up halfway through and work your way back afterwards.  While this practice won’t work for an entire book, for small chapters or ideas, it can at least launch you into a writing rhythm.  Starting to write doesn’t necessarily mean starting from the beginning.


By getting into a routine of spending time on your book you’ll eventually see working on it as part of your normal tasks rather than as a chore after a long day’s work.

Set up a regular work area and time that you write – whether it be morning, afternoon or evening.  By doing so, you won’t feel like you’re taking time out from other things in order to write.  You’ll almost feel compelled to write, to the point where not doing it just won’t feel right.  All of which will allow you to complete your book quicker.


The process of writing a lengthy book can be soul destroying at times, especially when it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere.  In order to help you with this, set yourself targets or objectives and then check them off in order to see progress being made.

Perhaps set yourself a goal of completing five chapters in a weekend or 10 chapters in a month.  Make it a realistic objective though.  Don’t challenge yourself with writing the entire book in a month when you know you will have very little chance of doing so.  It’s also important to take some time out from writing.  Immersion is good, achieving objectives is also positive but don’t do it at the expense of your happiness.

Taking Criticism

As you write your book, make sure you take the time to ask friends and family to check how your book is shaping up.  Don't just give it to people who won’t go over your piece with a critical eye though.  You need to be able to take constructive criticism in order to improve as a writer, if you can’t, then writing a book probably isn’t the best way to spend your time.  There’s no writer out there who wrote a bestseller on their first try.  There’s a journey to every published book and part of that is taking criticism.

Try not to take it to heart too much, just realise that every error or idea that’s presented to you before you’ve published your book is just another small way of making it better. 

Learn from your mistakes, don’t let them consume you.

Going Again

Once you’ve finished your book and either self-published or been lucky enough to find a publishing partner, you’ve proved to yourself that you can do it.  So, why not go again?  After all, your second attempt at a book is bound to better than your first one, isn’t it? 

Tagged with:

  • Authors
  • Books
  • Novels
  • Writing
Author -
Content Writer Thomson Local

Away from his role as a Content Writer for Thomson Local, you’ll find Craig writing about either football or video games at a myriad of sites and publications. He’s had words featured in The Guardian, Eurogamer, Nutmeg and his own site Pause Resume. He’s also currently in the process of attaining a degree in Creative Writing with the Open University.

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