You need to follow a clear writing plan in order to write a nonfiction book to increase the profile of your business or your career. The right writing plan will allow you to develop the discipline and focus necessary to get the job done in the most efficient way, eliminating unnecessary time wasters and frustration.
Not surprisingly, 97% of people who start a book never complete it. Now, there are many reasons why this happens and they vary from person to person. But if you were to look for patterns you would find that the lack of a proper writing plan had a lot to do with it.
In this article, I’ll show you a three-part plan to develop good writing habits that’ll enable you to continuously generate content for your book, day in and day out.
I’ll also show you how much time your book project should take, so that you can set the right expectations for yourself from the get-go.
Part 1: Plan Your Writing Space
The first part of your writing plan consists of setting up your writing space. We’re creatures of habit, so in order to develop consistency in your book writing, you need to surround yourself with an environment that is conducive to a positive outcome.
You want your writing to be something that you look forward to every day, not something that is a drudgery you’d rather avoid. Therefore, you want to choose an environment that makes you feel good to be in.
Some people feel most inspired in an atmosphere of peace and quiet. If you’re one of those people, then you’ll likely choose a space with privacy. Some others need the constant buzzing of life around them in order to get inspired. If you’re one of those folks, then a public place will be more ideal.
Writing at Home of in the Office
If you work best in a private space, choose a place at home or in the office that you really enjoy hanging around in. Here are some options:
- Choose a space with window views that are aesthetically pleasing, like a beautifully landscaped garden or the view of a treed park.
- Choose a room where the color of the walls is calming and where the decor is uplifting.
- Or maybe you have a great writing desk with a high-quality chair where you can sit for hours on end with no discomfort.
Just make sure that you choose a place that feels inviting. For some people, it’ll be their home office, for others it’ll be a nook in the kitchen or a small sitting area off their bedroom. Or perhaps it’ll be a glass enclosure in the back patio or, weather permitting, a space out in the garden under an atrium.
Writing in Public Places
If you’re the kind of person who can’t write in total silence, then you’ll be joining the throngs of writers armed with laptops calling their favorite coffee shops home. Here are some options:
- Patronizing your favorite coffee shop
- Going to a public library
- College libraries can be very inspiring when you’re surrounded by beautiful architecture
- Some people like to write sitting on a park bench at their favorite city park or at the botanical gardens.
In all cases, make sure you find seating that’s comfortable, an electrical outlet nearby in case your battery runs low and a location with little glare so you don’t strain your eyes looking at your screen.
Part 2: Plan Your Writing Time
The second part of your writing plan is to select the amount of time that you’ll be devoting to writing your manuscript. Since you’re already busy running your own business, writing your nonfiction book will have to adapt to your primary work schedule.
The ideal writing block for most people in your circumstances is two hours long. Writing for less time won’t allow you to get up to “cruising speed,” and writing for longer may lead you to creative fatigue.
What’s important is that you don’t try to bank hours by writing for, say, five hours straight one day because you feel inspired, and then skipping the next day. This won’t lead you to success because it lacks the focus that can only be achieved with consistency.
Also, you want to make sure that your writing blocks always start and end at the same time. A killer of discipline is to write one day in the morning, the next day in the evening, and the next day in the afternoon.
Developing your writing muscle is no different than developing any other muscle in your body. After you exercise it intensely, you need a period of rest and recovery before you exercise it again.
Translating Your Writing Plan to a Word Count
Once you get into a routine, you’ll find that you’ll be able to write between 400 and 500 words per hour for a daily total of between 800 and 1,000 words. Writing for six days a week will translate to between 4,800 and 6,000 words per week.
Now, if you’re aiming for a 200-page book, with an average word-count per page of 250 words to account for images and other white space, you’ll be writing 50,000 words in total.
At 4,800-6,000 words per week writing two hours per day, six days per week, it’ll take you between 9 and 10 weeks to complete your manuscript.
To be conservative, let’s add a safety factor of 50% to allow for disruptions, illness and holidays and you’ll be finishing your manuscript in 13-15 weeks, or approximately three months.
Part 3: Plan Your Writing Schedule
The final part of your writing plan is to set up your writing schedule. Ideally, you’ll want to write for two hours every day including weekends. Your goal is to carve out two hours outside of your daily responsibilities.
If you have young kids and you need a full family day set aside for activities, then it’s perfectly fine to bring your daily writing schedule down to 5 days. But don’t make it less than 5 days, otherwise it’ll become difficult for you to fully develop your writing muscle.
Professional authors follow a daily writing habit for this very reason. They know that if they stop exercising their writing muscle it’ll lose strength. When it comes to writing, repetition and consistency is key.
Another key is to eliminate any type of distractions that could interrupt your creative flow. When you set your writing schedule, it’s imperative that you enlist the support and cooperation of your family, friends and work associates.
If you choose to write at home or in the office, make sure that no one comes in the room during your two-hour writing block for any reason outside of an emergency.
The same applies to your friends. Let them know that you’ve set up a protected schedule to write a book and that during those times they’re not to reach out to you through texting, phone calls or any other type of direct messaging.
Writer Distractions You Need to Avoid at All Cost
As stated above, when you sit down to write it’s imperative that nobody can disturb you outside of force majeure. But while those are external distractions, there are internal distractions that you need to avoid as well.
Here’s a list of things to avoid:
- The beeps and dings of notifications: set your phone to do-not-disturb and mute the sound on your laptop.
- The ringer on your phone: turn it down so that you don’t get startled if someone tries to contact you in case of emergency.
- Checking your email or your text messages: if someone must reach you right away, they can call you or simply walk in the door. Make sure people always know where to find you.
- As an extension of the above: don’t reply to emails during this time! If you promised someone a reply earlier in the day, then wait until after your writing block ends to do so.
- Browsing the Internet when you’re writing: if you need to do some research for your book, do it outside of your writing blocks. The last thing you want is to fall into a Google search rabbit hole that ends up eating half your writing time.
The worst enemies of writers are lack of consistency, lack of focus, lack of discipline and external and internal distractions, which includes the most powerful time sinkhole of all time: the Internet.
Whenever you work on your book, you have to make sure that you go “off the grid” during your writing blocks. Short of an actual emergency, you need to set up your schedule so you can eliminate all disruptions to your creative flow.
Professional writers swear by this writing plan because it works. Remember that when you complete and publish your nonfiction book and you begin to leverage it to get paid public speaking gigs plus back-of-the-room and bookstore sales, you’ll be a professional author too.
So, make sure to follow their best practices well before your book begins to generate revenue!
If you’d like to develop an expanded set of writing habits, I have a companion article that you might find beneficial: Learn 10 Powerful Writing Habits to Fast Track Your Nonfiction Book.
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.
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Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.