Step 2 of my Three-Step Writing Process is writing the First Rough Draft. To write your first rough draft, you use the creative (right) side of your brain.
Find a large block of uninterrupted time and write all the information you can think of regarding your book. Don't get hung up in grammar, punctuation, or phraseology. Write whatever comes to mind. Some of your chapters will be briefly outlined on this first rough draft, others may be in detail, and some won't exist at all.
You may choose to write a synopsis of the entire book, or you may want to take smaller chunks of your “elephant” so you don't get indigestion. On the first sitting, I write a brief overview of the book. After that, I usually write a chapter at a time, so I'm usually dealing with 15-20 pages at a time. I follow the same steps for each chapter. If there are personal stories within the chapter, I use the same process for each story.
Be sure to take a break after writing a rough draft. More tips on this will be given next week.
Next create a preliminary outline before you begin the actual writing of your book. This may change as the writing progresses, but you need a guideline to start with. Your outline should be built around your chapter titles. Perhaps you have 10, 12, or more.
Then write a paragraph about each chapter. Be aware that this may change drastically, but it is important to get down as much information as you can.
Each point must support the main theme. Each chapter, though self-contained, needs to promote the main idea of your book.
Example from Wounded by Words:
Chapter 1: Hurtful Words – Caustic words and demeaning statements can be as dangerous to our well-being as any weapon. People often use words that dominate and control when they feel insecure themselves. Unfortunately these words are often directed at close family members, often children, and the outcome is much pain and suffering. The tension resulting from these heated words often leads to the telling of lies by both parties.
This concludes Step 1 of the Three-Step Writing Process. Lay your work aside before continuing. Step 2 will be given next week.
Now let’s talk about my Three-Step Writing Process regarding nonfiction books.
Step 1: Theme and Outline: First, decide what your main purpose is in writing this particular book. Where are you going? State your theme in one word. State it in one sentence. Know what you want to say, and say it. Keep to one subject. You are using the analytical (left) side of your brain to write your focus sentence. You will probably start with something general and refine it as you develop your book.
For an example, I am going to use my book, Wounded by Words: Healing the Invisible Scars of Emotional Abuse.
One word: abuse.
Sentence: Now is your chance to break the cycle of emotional and verbal abuse and set yourself and your loved ones free.
The major problem with most book manuscripts that are rejected is they deviate from their premises. The writer tries to tell too many stories or attempts to make too many points in one book.
Step 2 and 3 will be covered in future blogs.
Writing a nonfiction book involves many other things besides the actual writing. I also include reading, rewriting, and editing in my time. These, too, are important parts of the writing process. To write you must spend as much time reading as you do writing. You will gain ideas for your own writing, and it will help you develop your own writing style. Also you need to read articles and books on the subject you are writing about to better educate yourself on your subject.
Writing is starting with a blank computer screen and putting one word down after another. And the more information you have in your head at the time you begin, the easier the task will be. If you wrote a page a day, you'd have 365 pages at the end of a year. Of course those wouldn’t be edited pages, but we will discuss that in later blogs.
Next week we will talk about my Three-Step Writing Process.
We will begin a long series on writing nonfiction books from the formation of an idea to a final product. Writing a book is like eating an elephant. A person does not dare to attempt the project in one sitting! We will cover book proposals, writing the entire elephant, and contract negotiations. You’re reading this because you want to write, to get your book published, and to glorify God. Right? You can use these same techniques for articles, stories, and fiction, as well as nonfiction books. Are you published?
Over 40 years ago when I began writing, I made a commitment to God and to myself that I would write for an hour every day. I started writing Sunday school take-home papers. Now I have over 30 books in print, my latest being on domestic violence, titled Breaking Invisible Chains. However, with running my critique business, editing manuscripts, and teaching students to polish their writing, I still struggle with finding time to write my own books! What kind of a commitment are you willing to make? Perhaps you could start with a promise to write for an hour a day. If you spend that much time daily, I can guarantee that on many of those days you will spend much more time.
Next week we will talk about what is involved in writing a nonfiction book.