How to Plan to Write a Book

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Planning for Achievement

You’ve decided that you want to write a book. You probably already know what the book is about and who it’s going to be for. You might have even planned out what you’re going to write by creating an entire outline of the book. And you definitely need all of that. But if you don’t have a writing plan, you’re probably not going to write the book at all.

It’s not that you’re lazy, or undisciplined, or don’t really want to do it. It’s just human nature. Plenty of people truly want to do plenty of things and have the motivation, but fail because they didn’t think about how they’re going to do it. A plan of when and where and what you will do to work towards a goal is one of the most critical factors to actually accomplish it.

Your desire to write a book is not always going to take priority over all of the other things going on in your life. A lot of people also inadvertently procrastinate writing by “waiting for inspiration” or when they feel like writing. If you wait around for some esoteric thing to motivate you, you’re never going to get it done. I promise.

Writing is creative, but it’s also work. You might write more some days and less on others, but you have to commit to sitting down and doing it. And when you actively incorporate writing into your daily grind, it just becomes routine. Once something becomes part of your routine, your brain will anticipate and basically “pump you up” to do it. Overall, creating a set schedule of when and what you will write is the best way to stay productive and to get it done.

Writing Schedule

The first part of creating a writing plan is to set a writing schedule. There is a whole range of different types of schedule, and there’s no one-size-fits all. Your best schedule depends on you– the time and availability that you have, your lifestyle, personal preferences, all of the individual aspects of you and how your days are. There are a few most typical schedules that I’ll outline here, but the best one for you might even be something completely different. Here are the two most common schedules for reference:

  • A set time and day. This could mean waking up extra early before work to write from 5:00am-7:00am from Monday through Friday, giving up your leisure time before bed 8:00pm-10:00pm, even just 4:00pm-5:00pm after Sunday brunch. Whatever it is that you can pick and commit to, the point is that it tends to be a lot easier to stick with a specified time block out of the day. This schedule is most suitable for people with a predictable daily schedule and enjoy structured days.
  • Weekly word count. Having a set goal of words written is almost always the most productive option because it forces you to actually produce but does not dictate when. You can always better estimate how long it will take you to write the first draft working this way as well. This works best for people who can’t commit to a set schedule or have issues with perfectionism.

You don’t need to have any one specific place that you have to write at or create any rigid “writing rituals” that some famous authors have. That’s mostly just PR stuff. You don’t need any of that. The most important thing is that you have a specific number attached to your schedule– whether word count or time– to give you that perceived pressure needed to do it. Making yourself feel like you have to do it and giving yourself the specific time to do it is ultimately what’s going to get you to follow through.

The Accountability Plan

Deadlines, goals, and set schedules give you the “kick in the butt”, but an accountability plan lights a proverbial fire under your seat. If you really want to make yourself do this, then I highly recommend that you set an accountability plan as well.

An accountability plan is just that– what you do to ensure that you are held to actually follow through with your plan to write a book. That could mean telling a friend about your book, posting on social media, or even allowing yourself certain indulgences once you’ve hit a milestone. There are plenty of different ways to keep yourself accountable, but the best way is to share your goal publicly.

Knowing that so many people know and expect to eventually see a book is going to give you both the support to keep going and the highest social pressure to keep you from stopping. You might not always feel motivated to succeed for yourself, but you’ll always be motivated to not disappoint anybody.

Ready to Write

Your writing plan is ultimately made up of three things: a schedule of when/what to write, a goal, and an accountability plan to hold you to it. Once you have these things in order, you’re ready to start your first draft. Ultimately, the plan is just the means to an end, and the end is to get your butt down at the desk and start working at it. Good luck!