Monday, June 27, 2011

Have You "Always Wanted to Write A Book?"

Occasionally I like to include something on this blog for the person who wants to write but hasn't begun. Or the person who wants to write but just can't get anything done! Today's guest post is from Dawn Colclasure. It is possible that even experienced writers will find a bit of inspiration here! She is the author of 365 Tips for Writers.

Want to Write a Book? Don’t Start with a Book
By Dawn Colclasure

For some writers who want to write a book, that idea for a book can be a little hard to flesh out. For fiction, there is the task of figuring out the genre, putting together character sketches, research and plotting. For nonfiction, the writer must determine what kind of angle they want to take with their book, what subject it will fit into, how it will be written, what kind of resources and interviewees to look for, and so on. But take heart: Just because you don’t have your book idea fleshed out, it doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. There are some helpful things you can do while you put the pieces of your book idea together.

Before you move on, take a few moments to write down your idea. Ask yourself questions, should they come to you. For example, say you have an idea for a book about your experiences in a major world event. That’s fine – but what can you bring to that book that the other participants cannot? Ask yourself if this is something people would want to read about. If not, how could you make it unique? Why is it important to write about this? Work with your idea first and see if it’s really something you think you can turn into a book.

Now that you have written down your idea and took the time to decide whether it can be a book or not, consider these elements which can help turn your idea into a book:

When you write a nonfiction book, you’ll be considered an “expert” on your topic. The thing you’ll need to support this new role? Experience with your topic. If your book is about a past event which you were a part of, then experience is not a problem here. On the other hand, if your book is about how to make a patchwork quilt or how to sell items on eBay, it would be a plus if you are actively doing these things – and keep doing them. For a novel, if your character is a gunsmith or a dairy farmer, and you’ve never even set foot into such locations, take some time to participate in those occupations or visit these places. Visit a real gunsmith or dairy farmer and take time to experience the sights, smells and labor involved with these things. Keep in mind that building up your experience in your topic will help create your platform, a crucial selling point in getting your book published.

ResearchRead everything you can get your hands on that is related to the subject you’re writing about. Check the Internet for Web sites that cover your subject and hang out in online forums that are all about your subject. Talk with people “in the know” and get to know your subject better. If your book idea is fiction, read as many books in your desired or assumed genre as you can find. Not only will this help you weed out what’s already out there but come closer to understanding your subject or story better.

Is it possible that idea for a book could actually work better as an anthology on that subject? Or maybe your idea for a how-to book would work better as an essay collection showing how you learned everything? Consider turning your paranormal romance idea into a thriller or crime novel. Don’t take one idea and give it a permanent label. Chances are good it would work better as a different type of book or genre than you originally thought.

Even if you don’t know exactly what you are going to write about in this book, try dabbling with it. Write out a rough idea of what the table of contents would look like or try writing a scene with your character. See where this writing takes you and what new ideas for the book it may spark.

Don’t try to rush your book idea into completion. In an age where everyone wants everything right now, it’s important to remember that some things take time. Just as writing needs time to breathe, so, too, does an idea. Let the idea work itself out in your mind for a while. Experience life, try new things and keep up with your reading habits. The less you stress out over fleshing out your book idea, the more likely you’ll figure it out in time.

The next time you get a kernel of an idea for a book, hold on to it. Write your book idea down and save it for the day you’ll have all of the pieces of the puzzle put together. Give your idea time to reveal itself completely and soon you’ll be writing that book instead of just thinking about it.


Want more writing tips and advice? Check out Dawn Colclasure’s book, 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity. She’s also written books such as BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We Survive as Writing Parents; Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion; the children’s book The Yellow Rose; and she is co-author of the nonfiction book Totally Scared: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses. She blogs at and her Web site can be found at

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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