You have a great idea bouncing around in your head just itching to get out. Right now your brilliant idea for the next bestseller is taking shape and growing in the conception stage, and you have to get it down on paper. But where or how do you even begin to get started? Here are my 7 secrets that got me going from the first word to the last period of my manuscript.

  1. REMOVE ALL DISTRACTIONS. I know with our busy lives this can be a hard one, but it is necessary. Time to shut off the phone, turn off the TV, lock yourself in a room, and get started.
  2. MAKE AN OUTLINE. Forget the computer, I sat down with a legal pad and a pencil and made a rough outline for the idea I had for my book. Doing this will help you get going in the right direction and keep you on track. The outline is your guide to help prevent your book from wandering off into left field.
  3. THE HORRIBLE FIRST DRAFT. This is where you start filling in your outline. At this stage it is important to understand that this is the bare bones, starving, no meat draft. Honestly, it sucks, so forget the grammar rules and just write.
  4. MAKE A CHARACTER LIST. Do this! Write out the names of your characters including all important details and descriptions about them. You don’t want blue eyed Billy the waiter turning into brown eyed Bob the bartender somewhere in your book because you forgot the details of your character.
  5. START OVER. Yep, that’s right. Once you have finished your crappy first draft it’s time to go chapter by chapter filling in and revising. My first draft was 15,000 words when I finished it, but my second draft bumped up to 30,000 words when it was done. Repeat this step many times.
  6. FIND READERS. And I don’t mean your mama! She will love anything you do. If you think you are through with your manuscript, you will need readers who are brutally honest in critiquing your work. Join a beta reading group on Goodreads. And you will hate hearing something sucks with your book, I know I do. But if several of your readers are saying something doesn’t work, cut it. Don’t be sentimental; thicken that skin up!
  7. PUT IT AWAY. Yay, you did it! From outline to final draft, you now have your manuscript. Time for a much needed break. You have read over your manuscript hundreds of times by now, and you aren’t seeing it clearly. Maybe it is finished. Maybe it will be that next bestseller. But before you do anymore with it, hide it away for a while. Wait to read it again with fresh eyes. If you still love it, start making a plan to get it published. It’s research time!

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath


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