In this article series, we are providing strategic insight to get you started on what you’ve wanted to do for years: write and publish your own book.
As a reminder, here are the milestones you need to consider:
- Find your book idea
- Organize, structure, and plan your book
- Take time to outline your book
- Create an effective writing plan
- Set a goal
- Hire an editor or publishing coach
- Consider your publishing options
Read part one where we covered milestones 1 & 2. In part two of our series below, we outline the next three important milestones.
Milestone #3: Take time to outline your book
Just like GPS directions are indispensable for your destination, so is a book map—the outline!
What is a book map?
If you’re new to writing, or even if you’ve been at it for a while, outlining is one of the most important steps in your book-publishing journey. It can help keep your story on track and make sure that you have all your points in place before you start writing the actual manuscript.
In addition to outlining being critical for overall story structure, it can also be very helpful when it comes time to revise your draft. If there are any holes or gaps in the plot or story line, an outline will reveal them before they become big problems later (we’ll talk more about revision down below).
If we’re being honest though—when was the last time anyone did an outline of anything? Sure, you may think about what your next blog post or sermon or speech should look like when you’re working on it, but you don’t write out every single point ahead of time so that you know exactly what needs to happen when.
One reason for this is probably because people forget how helpful a clear plan can be throughout the whole book-writing process.
Another reason authors don’t outline is because they don’t want their creativity constrained by too much structure; maybe some people just don’t want all those extra pages cluttering up their files! Whatever your reasons may be (and there are many), not creating an outline first will likely lead directly into trouble down the road.
So, take 30 minutes (or more) and create a working outline. Remember this might change. Don’t worry. Create your map now, and it will give you guidance as you head toward your desired destination.
Abraham Lincoln was purported to have said, “If I had 4 hours to chop down a tree, I would take 3 hours to sharpen the axe.” Sharpening the axe is an indispensable part of being a writer. And it comes in form of preparation which, in turn, speeds and facilitates the writing process.
Milestone #4: Create an effective writing plan—It’s not that complicated!
What’s a writing plan?
A writing plan is a tool that helps you organize your book and meet deadlines. It includes all the tasks you need to complete and when you’ll be doing them, from outlining and drafting to editing and publishing.
What are the components of a writing plan?
The most important component of any writing plan is time management. If you don’t manage your time effectively, then it won’t matter how much effort or money you put into your book—it will never get done! A key part includes using milestones such as drafts and edits so that by each milestone date your manuscript will be ready for publication—or submission to agents/publishers.
Milestone #5: Set a goal.
How to write the first draft of your book in 90 days? A bite at a time!
Create realistic goals based on how many words per day/week/month (see next section), which should be adjusted according to how much free time there is.
But let me challenge you. Without doubt, you can have a completed manuscript by the end of the year—if you want to. Here’s the specific challenge. For the first 90 days, write for 15 minutes a day. That’s all it takes. If you want to push the boundaries, and if you have time, write for the first 60 minutes of the day.
- Set aside the same time each day. Preferably, first thing in the morning because then you don’t have to worry about writing during the busiest times of day. If needed, get up 15 minutes earlier each day simply to make time for this task!
- Write as much as possible in that time. But strive for a minimum of 500 words. The more you write every day, the faster your book will come together (and it could potentially be finished before 90 days is up). It doesn’t have to be perfect on day one either—just put words down and keep going until your timer goes off.
In our next post, we’ll look at the last two important milestones for publishing your own book.