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10 Guidelines for Writing Your Own Book

written by: Michael Guerrero•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 11/23/2010

So you want to write a book? Maybe you've had bad luck with it in the past or you're looking for some helpful tips to help avoid some of the trials and tribulations we've all had to face at some point. Don't worry because these guidelines to write a book are here to help you get through your book.

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    1. Recognize Your Process

    Just make sure you get everything on the paper no matter what. Everyone's process for doing things is different and for writing it doesn't particularly matter how you write a book so long as it is written. Not liking your process for writing can cause problems because you're forcing yourself to write things you don't like. As I mentioned there's no real set standard to writing a book, but you might consider some of the following ideas:

    • Write down ideas, conversations, information, scenes, settings, and other small bits of your story/guide and build off of them.
    • Write chronologically and do not stop, while creating goals to reach parts you want to write as a sort of reward.
    • Write down your strong and large ideas and fill them in with smaller details and transitions.

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    2. Create/Find an Environment Conducive to Writing

    Experiement with different tools. It might be in a candle-lit closet, a coffee shop, in a public park, or a home office. Just be sure that you are comfortable while working. Include resources and inspirations near-by that will help you research or find ideas for your own book. Some ideas for making a more creative environment are things like:

    • Letting natural light into your workspace.
    • Writing in a room with more natural colors/less distracting colored walls.
    • Keeping a clean and organized work space.
    • Keeping your work space stocked with supplies you need so you don't have to get up so often.
    • On top of a well-stocked space, keep a variety of tools around even if you think you won't need them. Some authors will write in different colored pens or write certain chapters of their books on old fashioned typewriters then switch to a computer for the next. Whatever keeps things fresh and interesting for you.
    • Try playing music while you write if it's not too distracting or creatively penetrating.
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    3. Completely Write Your Draft Then Edit

    One of the most important things I picked up from participating in National Novel Writing month is that the quickest way to a finished book is to just write the draft to completion and then go back and edit. It also helps to go back and edit everything at once and either continue to flesh out the story or make the writing more cohesive.

    This makes your book seems like it was written in one mind-set which helps make the story less confusing to the reader since it isn't a weird rollercoaster where you were more inspired in certain areas and less so in others.

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    4. Read Your Book Before You Edit

    Read your work to get an idea of what you need to change. I cannot stress the importance of this guideline. No matter how tempting it might be to go in and make changes while you read or even take and place notes where things need fixed, do not do it. You really need to get a feel for your book in its whole form before you can sort of make any edits that wouldn't make it worse later on. I recommend reading your book completely and writing a paper on it detailing stuff you might have forgotten, want to change, etc.

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    5. Save Grammar and Spelling Errors For Last

    When editing you will want save grammar and spelling editing until you're absolutely happy with your book. Since you will likely be making lots of changes it will just be needless editing and a waste of time if you try and fix these errors before your book is done.

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    Tips and Guidelines for Aspiring AuthorsThis guide contains some of the more technical stuff most writers seem to dread. It also includes a little bit about meeting other writers and reading books as sources for information. If you find yourself lost in a sea of troubled writing or just need some stuff to keep you on track, give this article a look.
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    6. Talk With Other Writers and Read Lots of Books

    Libraries are a great environment to learn from other writers. I decided to include these two under the same guideline because essentially you will be getting two sides of the same coin. Make friends who are also writers and talk with them about their process and how they would write certain things you're writing. Read and study lots of books because it helps you sort of understand what is considered acceptable from a publisher's standpoint. One instance in particular is that people have been taught in school to never used all capitals in dialogue or sections of their story and yet writers still do anyway.

    If you're okay with revealing large details of your story, make sure that the person you are entrusting with your work can be trusted with keeping it safe and private (you can ask them to sign to a non-disclosure agreement if you feel it's necessary) and also that this person can offer constructive criticism and be honest about your book's flaws as well as what they like about it.

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    7. Write Correctly

    You will want to structure your sentences correctly, use proper grammar, and spell words correctly to make it easy for readers to understand your writing. Situations might arise over the course of your writing in which you can let this guideline slide a bit, like if you are writing a character who is of below average intelligence or has some accent. Just make sure there are ways for people to understand that it is purely for style and not error.

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    8. Don't Be Afraid, Don't Get Discouraged

    Just keep confident. If you like your work that's all that matters. The worst thing you can do to yourself is not write your story, whatever it may be. There's a lot of things that scare writers and I have been their myself.

    Don't be afraid of rejection because there is always someone out there who will like and appreciate your work in some form.

    Don't be afraid of criticism because you can always learn from someone else's opinion.

    Don't be afraid of stepping outside your comfort zone. If all you have written has been sci-fi action books, but you want to write a modern romance novel, don't think about what people might say, just do it.

    Don't be afraid something is childish or stupid. No idea is stupid or childish, just write what you want.

    Even if you fail to get published, don't be afraid to try again with other companies or write another story and shelve that story until the time is right.

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    9. Take Everything In (Via Notes)

    Never put down your pen wherever you go. Always, always, always, carry a notebook and writing utensil with you wherever you go. It may seem silly but ideas come from the weirdest places and it would be a shame to forget them on the way to your work station. This is also a great way to make your ideas more natural as you take them from life experiences and apply them to your writing. It's kind of like how you can't draw cartoon people until you learn how to draw people realistically, you can't write realistically from your imagination or you end up with something that is incredibly fake.

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    10. Write For You and Only You

    Fame and fortune is cool and everything but that shouldn't be why you are becoming an author. The finished book itself should be its own reward even if it never makes it to book store shelves. Not to sound sour or anything, but statistically speaking most writers don't become huge hits. I understand that fact and yet I still will regularly pick up my pen and pad and write because I just like letting my creativity run wild.

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    Credits

    All images were used for promotional purposes only. Images are listed in the order they appear in the article.

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