Have you always wanted to write a book but don’t know how to get started?

It’s been a long time since I wrote about my off-beat methods for writing, so I thought I’d share them here again with you.

From time to time I hear people saying they want to write a book, but just don’t know how to. This post is for those people who may be a little divergent as I am, and who panic when trying to follow the “normal” way of approaching writing a book.

If you need to follow the popular guidelines, then this post isn’t the place to come knocking! If you’re looking for an alternate method, I’ll share how I wrote 2 books and what I do to write most of my posts.

I really had no idea how to write a book when I started my first one, except for having a strong feeling that I needed to write one. The second book followed a similar trajectory to the first, except this time I knew I could actually do it.

Trying to write a book outline set off such terrible panic attacks, as did any other book writing method I read about, so I decided to just “wing it”, trust my gut, and just do it.

When I started writing my first book, I was terrified of saying it out loud. I didn’t know if I had it in me, much less the capability to finish it. I started writing down my ideas in teeny-tiny notebooks. I’d just jot down phrases and ideas which came to me. Once I had filled a few notebooks, I decided I needed to start typing up the random bits I had collected.

I really had no idea of how the book would be laid out, the chapters etc., but once I started typing up my notebooks, I saw how one phrase seemed to want to go with another, how paragraphs started to form, and how they even wanted to be reorganized.

It was a very organic process, and as I wrote, and re-read, I’d become inspired to add more, so gradually chapters started fleshing out.

It’s probably not a method many people would feel comfortable using, but it allowed me to simply write and not feel I couldn’t live up to the writing standards set out by many writing teachers. It allowed me the freedom of writing and not pre-editing myself. I wasn’t worried if an idea “fit” in with a chapter, for I knew I could give the manuscript the breathing space it needed to just grow and become what it needed to be.

I learned that it’s best to write everything down as I think of it, and then later edit and massage it into where it needs to go.

My phone later replaced those notebooks, as I could use the notes app and later email to myself what I had written down, to be able to copy/paste it into my manuscript. This on-the-go approach meant that even when I was away from my laptop, I could still capture thoughts as they came to me, and not despair that I’d lose them before I got home!

I used this method for my second book, as well as for the many posts I write and keep in draft format until I feel it is ready to launch.

Editing is mainly done towards the end of this process, as we want to encourage our subconscious mind to keep bubbling up the ideas and not shut it down pre-emptively by trying to perfect and fine-tune every sentence or thought.

Once you feel you’ve written all there is for a chapter or even the book, the editing and moving around process begins in earnest. This is when focusing on sentence construction, flow, possible redundancy, spelling, etc. gets honed. This is the nuts and bolts part of the process. I don’t recommend getting hung up on these things while the creative juices are actively flowing, there is time for that later!

Some authors swear by the Scrivner software, as it allows for clear chapter organization. I haven’t used this software but am thinking about how I might be able to adapt to it or it to my methods.

Ultimately my methods may or may not work for you, it will be your path of discovery to see what works best for you.

FORMATTING THE MANUSCRIPT and On-demand publishing

I chose to go with on-demand publishing, as finding a bricks and mortar publisher (or even an agent) who would take on a 1st-time author who a) wasn’t famous, b) didn’t have a huge fan base or social media following was mission impossible for me. I had an illustrated children’s book published years ago overseas, but the publisher never paid me a dime from the sales, and being overseas, I had no recourse. With that experience in mind, I realized there are no guarantees, either way.

I used KDP.com for my eBook, and now they have merged with CreateSpace, which is who I used for the paperback. I used ACX.com for the audio book, which is nice, since they are all owned by Amazon

I formatted my books in Microsoft Word. There are tutorials and templates on those sites for formatting and getting the manuscript ready to upload, so the process is much easier now!

Best of luck to you on this journey! Be prepared for the brain waking you up in the middle of the night to download thoughts, or even having to pull over to the side of the road to whip out the phone to jot down ideas that come up! Blessings on your journey!

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35 thoughts on “Have you always wanted to write a book but don’t know how to get started?

  1. Seems to me that you’re a much more serious writer than me. Some days I just take a photo of the sky and post it with the comment that I am staring into infinity when I look upwards (or words to that effect). Well done for inspiring us to do more. 🙂


    1. Thanks, Robert! I appreciate your supportive words! I do what I am able to do! Some days I can write more and others less. I’ve given myself permission to follow my flow!


  2. Thank you for sharing your advice and ideas for writing a book, Tamara. I like your style as I’m not good at following anything where I’m instructed by strict rules and regulations. It’s good to know there is another way of tackling our desire to write. I’m currently thinking about trying to publish a book of my recent poems, although they are very serious and rather sombre at the moment. I’ve been looking at a publishing website for mental health books, which would suit the style of what I want to write at the moment. The only problem is they charge a lot of money (which I don’t have) to do this. So, I’m on the lookout for other ways to publish, so your post was very interesting to me. Thanks for sharing it. Ellie x

    P.S. I still have tabs open on my laptop so that I can go back and read some of your other posts. So many of them appeal to me, and I hope to be able to catch up with them soon. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Your words inspire me, Ellie! Love this! I totally get not being able to follow rules and directives when writing! Very unnerving and unappealing!

      I was all about finding free ways of publishing, since getting a brick-and-mortar publisher seemed to be mission impossible without a) being famous, b) having a massive social media following/fan base, or c) being part of a national story that would sell books.

      My first publishing foray was with an Ebook, so I went with Amazon Kindle. My next foray was with print-on-demand paperback books so I went with CreateSpace, but they’ve merged with KDP.com or Kindle Direct Publishing. My next adventure was an audiobook and since I was already with Amazon’s sister publishing arms, I decided to go with ACX.com.

      These services are free, all are on-demand, so there’s no buying a ton or two of material and having it sit around in a warehouse! When I started with the ebook, there was very little information online for formatting a manuscript to be able to upload it, but thankfully times have changed and there are templates, software and tutorials all created by Amazon to help people do it themselves.

      I hope this helps you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for all this additional information, Tamara. It’s very useful. Another reader had suggested KDP, but I’ve yet to work out how to edit and format the pieces I’d like to publish. Another reader commented that publishers don’t want to take work that has already been published, even if just on a blog. This will present a big problem for me as my most heartfelt poems are those I have shared on WP. Would you happen to know anything about this topic? Have you come across it before? I’d appreciate any additional advice you can give me. Many thanks, X

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I hit a wall when I was trying to get published with a publisher. They didn’t want to take a chance on a newbie and wanted to go only through agents. Agents didn’t want to take on newbies either unless they had a solid base of fans/subscribers, so I was told that I needed to self-publish my first book, and if sales were great then they’d want to represent me. My sales weren’t stellar, so I continued self-publishing with book 2 and my other workbooks.

          You’d have to research which publishers are real, and find the ones who work in your niche, then reach out to them. Many post guidelines for submission on their websites. I wouldn’t go with any “vanity” publisher where you pay upfront for the costs.

          I did my own book editing/formatting in Word, and then saved PDFs to upload. There are some great templates available to download from KDP if you’re not savvy with how to do layouts, plus there are tutorials online to be able to customize those templates or to build your own. I’d start with a template. I believe that KDP now has tutorials now too. Check out Scrivner software too, it’s affordable and offers more options for assembling a manuscript and for publishing than Word does.

          If you’re going to self-publish, you’ll be able to format your own manuscript to upload to the site. I know it sounds intimidating, but it is all learnable, and doable. I felt panicked when I first started, and there weren’t templates or tutorials online, I had to do a lot of internet searching to find any information. Graphic artists called the shots in those days, and I just didn’t have the money to pay their fees. It’s much easier these days.

          You can do this!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you so much, Tamara, for all this helpful information. I must say, it sounds incredibly complex. I will certainly do some research into mental health publishers. I had two very amateur books published in 2013 by a mental health publisher. They were easy to work with but now charge a minimum fee of £699 for the whole package. This is out of my price range and has to be paid upfront, so probably not such a good option.

            I will also take a serious look at KDP again and also Scrivner (I’ve not heard of them before). I’ve got an awful lot to learn about all this. It does seem daunting, but it’s something I’ve really set my heart on. Thank you for all your tips and great advice.

            I’m eager to read your piece about new beginnings often being described as painful endings. Also, your article called ‘Brain Rewiring’. I’ve read them through briefly before, but I would benefit from rereading them. I have them both on open tabs on my laptop, ready to dive into. Thanks again, Tamara. X

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I remember how overwhelmed I felt when I was researching the various companies and how to format and upload my manuscript. It can be an intense learning curve! How did I decide between all of them? I listened to my gut. When I felt panicky I’d back away, and when something felt right and I felt calm, that’s the one I chose. Sure there were a lot of nerves and butterflies-in-the-stomach, but those diminished once I got some practice in!

              Wishing you all the best on your publishing journey!

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Your writing process sounds similar to mine Tamara. I’ve been worrying that maybe this process is a little too chaotic for writing a book. Your words give me faith that I should let it unfold organically. I often find my best work arises when I go with the flow. Thanks for the wonderful advice once again Tamara 🙏🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes we just give ourselves or our methods credit, do we? We run to the experts and when we don’t work the same way, we just assume there’s something wrong with us and why we aren’t able to follow someone’s method! That was me. I’m glad my growing pains are perhaps going to help others! I’ve learned that it’s best to follow what comes easily.

      Years ago I had people stiffly tell me, “a real artist does xyz” or “a real writer does it such and such way”. I have become real by just doing. Sometimes that’s the best way, isn’t it?!

      Wishing you all the best with your writing!

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I absolutely agree with you! There are going to be critics and haters no matter what, so we just have to keep plugging along! I remember when I was writing in the teeny tiny notebooks at the beginning of my 1st book, and someone asked me what I was busy writing. I replied “A book!” to which they scoffed, “there’s no way you’re writing a book in that tiny notebook!” Surprise! I did it. Not everyone understands the entire process, but they’re only too happy to tear other people down with negative criticism. I think we just need to keep going and do what we need to do, regardless of what others think!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Devang, and good idea! Are you feeling the stirrings of a baby book inside of you?


        1. That’s okay! I held onto the stirrings for a long time. If you get ideas and thoughts come to you, capture them by writing them down, the future will show you what to do with them! It’s a process, and the universe has a way of opening the doors that need to be opened! Sometimes they are litteral doors and other doors are within us!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. My pleasure! You obviously have the desire to write or you wouldn’t have started your blog! Don’t sell yourself short by saying you’re a terrible writer! Keep going!


          1. I feel writing health blogs is comparatively easier for me. I am also adding a lot of my style in it. Earlier, I used to write straight non humourous blogs with tons of planning. Now, I’m writing whatever is coming to my mind at that instant. So yeah, I’m enjoying.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I’m liking the additional bits you’re adding of yourself into your blog posts! I say do more of that! That’s what keeps people wanting to read more, right?!

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved this! It’s interesting to see how your approach is different from mainstream methods, but clearly works. I enjoyed your talk of letting creativity bubble up and not trying to curtail that until later. I’m guilty of needing to know where I’m going and wanting to have a rough outline. I’m going to try the more organic method (no books yet, just blogs). Thank you for sharing, Tamara!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure! I’m so glad my terrible growing pains have now morphed into something that others may wish to explore themselves! Let me know how this new mindshift works out for you! I’d like to hear more!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I find it interesting to learn about the process of other writers. Thank you for sharing and offering what works for you, Tamara. Your comment about it being a ” very organic process” stood out to me. ✨

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Michelle! I was bound and determined to write, despite the regular avenues I had approached having set off panic attacks because I recognized that my braid doesn’t work that way. I did what didn’t seem to set off those attacks, and along the way seemed to have developed a system that works. Like I said at the beginning, it may only be useful for other divergent minds… I never realized I was that was before because I was too occupied with feeling badly that I wasn’t able to follow prescribed methods for many things. Determination to do something becomes a creative force! Having no plan becomes one when we assign a label of “Organic Growth”, as I found out. LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Life is not a ‘one size fits all’ and writing is no exception. We can learn and incorporate things from other people/writers, but ultimately, we have to do what feels right for us. I attended a writing workshop years ago with an instructor who told us to write out our book, then type it out. That did not suit me.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. You’re so right! I had attended a few workshops and I struggled through them, not realizing at the time that it was totally okay NOT to connect with some things! What an eye opener! That’s when I learned to breathe deeply in life, instead of the shallow breathing of one on the edge of panic!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Damyanti! I’m not sure if you follow a similar method or a more structured one when you write your books? Some people find my methos cringey and others feel inspired! Where do you stand, as a published authentic on this spectrum?


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