How to Make Writing a Book Less Scary

Don’t let fear stop you from writing your book.

Everyone wants to write a book, but few people will begin. Out of the people who start, not everyone will complete their first draft.

Which person do you want to become? Do you want to be someone who never starts or someone who never finishes?

I hope you choose neither.

Choose, instead, to become part of the third group, which is made up of a rare breed: people who have the guts and discipline to start and finish.

There’s a fire within you that you won’t ever be able to extinguish unless you write your book.

The problem is, you don’t know how to begin. (Or if you’ve started, you don’t know how to continue.)

Writing a book is an abyss. You think about your story, and it’s vast and dark and terrifying. Here’s are some good news: your process doesn’t need to be an abyss.

Instead, think of writing a book as a staircase of which you can’t see the end. Being unable to see the end doesn’t matter because you can see the first step.

Anyone can take that step. You can take that step.

I’m writing my first novel right now. So, I’m right there with you — afraid and doubtful.

I didn’t want to become the kind of person who deeply desires to write a book and never does. So, I started, and one month later, I’m still writing.

How? I take it day by day.

Turn large projects into small stepping stones

Remember in high school when your English teacher would assign you essays you didn’t want to write?

Each time, you wondered how you’d finish such an overwhelming project. Yet, you wrote it every time. (Unless you were an unproductive student.)

The reason you were able to finish those essays is that you took them paragraph by paragraph. You would start with an introduction, then move to your first point, the second, third, and finally, to your conclusion.

You wouldn’t think about what you were going to write next. You focused solely on one paragraph, tried your best (for the teacher not to catch your BS), and then moved on.

Each time you started, you were overwhelmed. However, you got through it because you broke it down.

You have to do the same with your book. Maybe you can’t break it down by beginning, middle, and end because that’s still too much, but you can break it down by daily word count.

Why you should write 200 words every day

Some people will recommend you write a thousand words per day, and others will suggest ten minutes every morning.

While you don’t have to listen to these people, or me for that matter, I’m going to advise you write 200 words every day.

Two hundred words are the perfect amount. 100 is too little, and you won’t feel too proud by the end of the day. Obligating yourself to write 300 is too much.

Two hundred is the right quantity because:

  • It’s not intimidating
  • It’s easy to feel proud of
  • It’s also easily surpassable so you can feel extra proud when you write more

How to write every day (no matter what)

The idea of writing every day is nice, but how do you do that?

Whether you have a job, a family, or you’re in school, anyone can make time to write 200 words every day.

1. Find time to write

Here’s the wonderful thing about 200 words being your daily target. It won’t take more than twenty minutes — tops.

Even someone with a busy schedule can make twenty-minutes to write. You could even split it in half. Write a hundred words in the morning and the last one hundred before you go to bed.

2. Make a sacrifice

If you want to write this book as badly as you say, then sacrifice one activity for writing.

Rather than checking your phone, social media, or your email every morning, write. Take away ten to twenty minutes of your hour-long reading time to write.

3. Write when you don’t feel like it

Writing 500 or 1,000 words when you don’t feel like it is difficult. Writing 200 words when you don’t want to is practically a walk in the park.

Even when I’m tired, even when I prefer to watch a movie, 200 words won’t take long. It’s such a simple goal; it’s ridiculous to skip.

4. Track your writing habits

Buy or make a calendar specifically for your writing habit. Every day you write, cross off the date. Austin Kleon calls this a chain.

You will do everything in your power not to break that chain.

Even if you don’t feel like writing, you will, because you don’t want to miss marking off a day. This is how I track my writing progress.

Photo by author

5. Write down your daily word count

This sort of tracking isn’t necessary, but I enjoy it. Track how many words you write per day to ensure you’re staying on track with your daily target.

If there’s a day I write only, say, 100 words, it won’t go into the chart. I need to write 200 words, and they can’t be bad. They don’t need to be great, but they need to be decent.

Photo by author

6. Find an accountability partner

When I reached out to Samantha Lazar and asked if she would be my accountability partner, I was tempted to turn and run away when she said yes.

What the fuck did I just do? I thought. Now I didn’t have a choice but to write my book.

Getting an accountability partner is scary because your new (or old) friend will expect you to write. This is exactly why you need to find someone who’ll have you back.

Final words

Don’t focus on your whole book. Don’t worry about how long it may take you to finish writing or if your story will be good by the end.

Focus on getting through your daily writing aim because that’s all you can control without feeling like your mind is about to explode. Take it day by day until one year from now, you beat the odds and complete your first draft.

Don’t be one of many. Be different and write.

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