Looking for effective book writing strategies? Wanting to write a book and putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) are two different things. Do you have a fantastic idea for the Next Big Novel, but you just can’t quite begin writing?
Or do you have a great idea that, with a little thought and work, you think will turn into an excellent book once you put down more than a few words on the page? If either of these scenarios sounds familiar, then a few quality book writing strategies might be just what you need to get on track.
Proven Book Writing Strategies
Just like any other multi-step process, successful book writing strategies take more than just having a good idea. Most writers have busy lives with jobs, families, and personal commitments outside of book writing that often make sitting down to put words on the page a challenge.
But using effective book writing strategies can be just what an author needs to produce consistent, meaningful writing so the book can be completed in a reasonable time. Many writers employ one or more of our book writing strategies to increase their writing output, to amp up their motivation to write, and to turn out quality content when they do.
1. Count Your Words
One of the easiest – but most challenging – book writing strategies is to set a daily word count for you to reach to motivate you to write every day consistently. Setting your daily goal number is the first step, and it is always best to start a little smaller and then plan to incrementally increase the goal as your endurance rises.
The idea is for an author to plan to write that amount every day, with little variation, to strengthen the so-called writing muscles. If you haven’t written much, you might consider setting your daily goal at a modest 500 words, or for more experienced writers, a few thousand words might be within reach.
Why Word Counting Works
1 The average novel is between 50,000 and 110,000 words, with most clocking in around 90,000. Authors just starting can be overwhelmed, so giving yourself small chunks to complete can help you make steady progress toward your goal without focusing on such a huge number.
2 When you are only a few thousand words into your book writing process, it can be challenging to feel like you are making progress. When authors give themselves a word count goal every day, they create a chance to feel a sense of accomplishment every day when they meet their goal. And once those daily goals start to stack up, authors can see weeks or months of goal-hitting pride that can lead to finishing a book in no time.
3 By keeping the word count relatively low, authors can focus on details in their book writing. Coming up with creative and interesting ways to paint a word picture for your readers is much easier when your writing goal is a reasonable number. Writing at a steady but not rushed pace allows authors to take their time fleshing out the content of their story without focusing on creating a massive volume of content at every writing session.
4 The beauty of creating a daily word count goal is it builds a writing habit. Authors will become more accustomed to creating content in a writing session, and the focused time will start to feel more natural and comfortable with time.
5 A daily word count will help you without creating unhealthy pressure. It can increase over time when you build endurance, or you can choose to stick with the daily goal number if it keeps you writing consistently.
2. Don’t Wait to Edit
The question of when to edit their writing is one that all authors face. Do I stop and edit everything I am writing as I go along, or should I wait to edit the entire chapter, section, or book when I am totally finished? Instead of either of those options, create a writing pattern that alternates writing and editing so you can adjust along the way, saving yourself time and mental energy by fixing small errors and making story changes before too much content is created.
What it Looks Like:
- Day 1: Write until you meet today’s word count
- Day 2: Edit Day 1’s work and then write until you meet your daily word goal
- Day 3: Edit Day 2’s work and then complete today’s word count goal
3. Book Writing Strategies: Exercise First
The last thing a motivated author who is ready to meet their daily word count goal wants is to feel sluggish when they finally sit down to write. After a long day at work or a busy day with family and personal obligations, sitting still to write might be less than energizing for some. So one way to combat this is to plan to get your blood pumping before every writing session, no matter how exhausted or energetic you feel.
Go on a run, ride your bike, or take a quick walk to clear your head and then plan to start your writing session immediately after your workout while you are still glowing from the exercise-induced endorphins. Mental clarity often comes after working out, making book writing easier, and your brain will begin to connect the post-workout high with your writing tasks.
4. Find a Partner
One of the popular book writing strategies is to ask someone to be your writing accountability partner to help keep you on track by checking in with you regularly about your progress. This partner can be another author or someone from a writing circle or author group, but be sure to choose someone who understands the process of book writing intimately. A family member, friend, or coworker who has never committed to writing a book may not be able to push you and empathize with your struggles, even if they have your best interests at heart.
5. Make Your Characters Work
To find steady success writing your book, one of our favorite book writing strategies is to focus on using active voice. Of course, authors have to juggle characterization, moving the plot along and creating interesting dialog and descriptions during various writing sessions. But when your daily goal includes swapping out passive for active voice, authors will see their characters come to life right before their eyes.
The protagonist especially will benefit from being described in an active, vibrant way, helping authors to create energy and excitement in readers who will see the characters move, work, and complete actions within the storyline instead of just hearing about it.
What it Looks Like
The protagonist in your story is the main character, so make sure their actions reflect that primary position. Swap out sentences that show actions happening to them for active phrasing that reflects the character completing the actions themselves.
- Passive: When the cashier’s line dwindled, Sophie was handed her tray of food. (The cashier is completing the action and the protagonist is receiving the action in the sentence.)
- Active: When Sophie stepped in front of the cashier, she grabbed her tray of food and opened her wallet to pay the bill. (Now, the focus of the sentence is on the protagonist and what she does, allowing the author to project a feeling of confidence and strength through her actions.)
6. Book Writing Strategies: Stop So You Can Start
Our human nature can get in the way of book writing strategies that can help us maintain our momentum between sessions. Instead of completing a sentence before you finish writing for the day, intentionally stop writing in the middle of that sentence. Not finishing the thought and concluding with punctuation may sound counterintuitive to a writer, but this practice will give you the perfect starting point for your next writing session.
Instead of having to think about what comes next at the start of every writing session, your initial task will always be to finish the sentence you left hanging the day before. Giving yourself a concrete starting point is a great way to jump-start your writing and eliminate the question of where to begin.
A Practical Guide for Using Book Writing Strategies
Trying out one or more book writing strategies can help you make consistent, meaningful progress toward completing your book. Every strategy may not work for every writer, so test out a few to see what helps you write.
When your creativity or focus is low, take that time to work on other non-writing tasks like organizing your book’s chapters, choosing a book template, partnering with a printer like Dazzle Printing or researching other books in your genre to see what readers love. But don’t stray from your writing goals because the most important part of effective book writing strategies is also the most challenging: taking your great idea and transforming it into words on the page.