Writing a Book: Where to Start?

January 2023

New year will always be a time for reflection, hope and commitment. A time to think about what you want to leave behind in the year gone by, and what energy and ambition you’d like to bring into the new. Well, at least until the end of day two, week one, perhaps the end of January at a push.

If you’re reading this, then chances are that working on your writing is something you want to focus on this year. Congratulations, you’re already taking a step in the right direction even getting this far.

We hear from writers every day whose dream is to connect their books with readers, who have always wanted to write and for whom words flow in an endless stream onto the page. If this is you, that’s wonderful. If, however, you’re overwhelmed at the thought of committing to a goal, writing that first chapter, or finishing that project that’s been on the backburner for years, then this post is for you.

This new year, we want to give you some of the best tips and tricks to help you achieve your writing ambitions. Whether you start big or small, these tips are designed to help make those dreams a reality.

  • Set yourself a goal

You may well have already set yourself a resolution for this year, but if you haven’t now is the time to do it. This doesn’t have to be, “write the book I’ve always dreamed of.” For a debut writer, whilst this can feel like a exciting goal to start the year, it can also be a huge weight to carry once the buzz has worn off. So be kinder to yourself and think more achievable. Perhaps, you’ll make a start on the story that’s been on your mind. Or maybe that you want to commit to smaller writing projects before building up to a full length book. Or simply that you want to read more books in the genre you’d like to write in. Commit that goal to paper!

  • Build a Routine

Like incorporating any new habit into your lifestyle, consistency is key. Set yourself a routine like you would for the gym or studying for a test. Make sure you set aside regular time to write. When you’re starting out, this doesn’t have to be marathon writing sessions, or to work until you come up with the next big bestseller. Consistency is more important than results at this stage. Once writing has become a regular part of your life, then you can start experimenting with new ideas and styles. You wouldn’t expect to learn a new language in a day, so don’t expect it with your writing either.

  • Read, read and read some more

Something that we encourage all of our authors to do is to read as much a possible. Start with the genre your writing in. Look at the top selling authors, and study their work. What qualities make their books so readable, and ultimately saleable. Look at their reviews too. What is it that readers are identifying with? Also, think bigger. Look at the bestsellers in other genres. Can the plotting of a top international thriller help with your pacing? Do the romantic encounters of two lovers help to add emotional depth to your narrative? Books are meant to inspire, so don’t be afraid to use them.

  • Write your pitch first

Think carefully about the hook of your book. What is it that will encourage readers to pick up your novel over the latest title from the genre bestselling author? If you were explaining the concept to a friend in two lines, what would you say? Having a strong pitch from the outset will help to give your novel direction and, importantly, excitement for the reader.

  • “Fail to plan, plan to fail”

It may sound cliché, but really think about how you want to structure your writing. What’s your gameplan? You may have a character or a story floating around your mind, but how are you going to set that out over the next 300 pages.

Key things to focus on here are characterization, pace and intrigue. Think about the key plot points you want to include in the story and where they’re placed. How and when are you introducing your main character(s)? How are you keeping your reader hooked at the end of each chapter?

  • Some pages will be better than others

Remember that some days will be better than others. That’s normal. You might write 5,000 words one day and 500 the next. But quantity doesn’t equal quality. Even the most established authors will have days when the words won’t come. When reading back over the day’s writing feels like a workout for your delete button. The most important thing here is not to give up! It’s part of the writing process and something that all authors face. So keep focused and keep going.

  • Don’t forget dialogue

We get numerous submissions every week that read like an internal monologue for the first three chapters. In these chapters you should be introducing your main character(s), the setting, and the pitch. It’s therefore unlikely that in all that time, not a single word is spoken out loud. When you’re working on your opening, read it aloud to check it sounds authentic.

  • Focus on your own goals

It’s very easy in the BookTok world to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing. One quick scroll down your homepage can be a fireworks display of various achievements and milestones for authors on a similar journey. Just remember that every author is one their own path. What happens for one person overnight can take another years. No two careers are the same. Focus on your work and the aspects that you can control. Let the rest of the internet stress over the finer details.

If you’ve got other tips that might be helpful be sure to comment below.

And last but by no means least, Good Luck! You’ve got this!