The First Step is Often the Hardest

In 2002, a national survey revealed that 81% of adult Americans want to write a book, but just over 2% have actually completed a draft of a manuscript. While most people believe that they have a book in them, actually writing the manuscript is another story. Although many writers enjoy keeping a journal or crafting a poem, the first step of committing to a book project and finding the time to write regularly remains one of the largest obstacles to publishing.

The Shifting Publishing Paradigm

For years, the fact that large publishing houses reject 98% of all unsolicited manuscripts kept many writers from starting a book project. Most simply didn’t want to invest the time and effort if they had no chance of ever publishing their work. But the past five years have seen dramatic changes in the industry, and self-publishing offers authors a platform to publish their work on their own terms. This ability to self-publish at a reasonable cost has empowered writers and enabled them to overcome the traditional barriers to distributing their work.

Eric Spencer, co-author of Get Between the Covers: Leave a Legacy by Writing a Book, believes that writers have more options now than ever before. “There are now many innovative, inexpensive and accessible ways to publish,” says Spencer. “It’s time for more people to explore them and to try their hand at writing a book, since they no longer have to worry about their finished product never seeing the light of day.”

With the availability of new publishing options, the biggest obstacle for new writers is actually making a commitment to a book project and finding the time to write. As Spencer explains, writing skills can develop over time, but dedication is essential from the start. “All you need to begin writing a book is an idea and the willingness to learn new skills along the way,” says Spencer. “Above all, the most important things that you can bring to your book are a passion for your project and a belief in your ability to see it through.”

Making the Time to Write

Many writers, especially those who are considering their first book, become overwhelmed by the thought of composing hundreds of pages. But no writer can create a book overnight; the process must be broken down into small and achievable terms. Instead of imagining your completed book, consider what you’d like to include in your first chapter or even your first page, and get some ideas on paper. You’ll have plenty of time to rewrite and revise your work later.

Breaking down the process into a daily commitment can reduce the anxiety of starting a large project. Making the time to write and sticking to your schedule is the first step in achieving your book-publishing goals. When you first begin planning for your book project, consider setting aside a block of time to work each day. You may only be able to work for an hour or less, but as long as you make some progress each day you’ll move forward with a sense of accomplishment.

Once you actually begin working on your manuscript, think about setting a daily page goal. If you think it’s impossible to complete a 200-page book, imagine a commitment to writing only one page a day. If you kept up that pace, you’d have a rough draft of your book in about six months. Setting a daily page goal is an easy way to measure your progress and keep yourself on track; make sure your goal is attainable to avoid frustration and burnout.

While writers have more opportunity than ever to publish their work, taking the first step to commit to a book project can still be overwhelming. Breaking the process into achievable goals and a daily commitment will enable you to begin the process of offering your fresh new voice to the literary world.