Need Your Help: Tips for Writing a Book & Improving as a Writer

Writing has always been something I have enjoyed doing. Ever since I was a kid I was drawn to my English classes. Math and science never came to me naturally. Although I did fine in these classes, it required long hours and hard work, when I would rather be reading or writing. Ultimately, I landed in a position that allows me to write as much as I want. I am drawn to the process, the challenges of writing on a variety of topics, learning something new daily, and basic storytelling.

I’ve always been this way. For as long as I can remember, I have carried around a notebook and scribbled down ideas of things to write about, stories to tell, poems or anything that comes to mind.

Now, my goal is to take my writing to the next level, and really challenge myself and accomplish a life long goal, becoming a published author. So, below are some of my challenges I face, and I was hoping that someone in the GovLoop community who has written a book could provide me some insights as to how to get going. I’d love to chat further off-line, so feel free to drop me a note or reach out at [email protected].

Here are my challenges to writing a book:

1 – Time

I feel like I have very little time to sit down and write, most of day at GovLoop is spent writing, and often when I am home from work, I do not have the energy to sit down and write. Typically when I do, it is just quick thoughts or random lines that hopefully turn into something more one day. Also, I’ve found it increasingly challenging to keep switching mentally from professional writing to personal.

2 – Writing Style

I am still working on this – the way I typically write blogs/guides/industry perspectives at GovLoop simply won’t work for a book. I jump around a lot. I write half a blog, move to the next, come back to the original, edit, and head over to the next project- hence why sometimes my writing comes in big spurts. Although I have gotten better on this throughout the year, I still struggle sometimes to write and focus on one topic.

3 – Publishing

I’d love some suggestions on how this process works, and any suggestions of when to start the process. I’ve done some research online, but not sure how and when to start this process.

Hopefully I’ll get some ideas, so I thought I would provide some ideas about writing and tips I have picked up. I’ll keep them short and sweet, and leave a comment or shoot me a note if you’d like me to expand. Always makes my day getting a message from someone who has read a post or looking for more information. I’ve written on how to avoid writers block, but below are some other tips and expanded on some of my tips I referenced:

#1: Sometimes you need to just get a few thoughts down to get rolling, write anything that comes to mind. I started one of my favorite blogs with the line, “Reading about dark days on paper is a heck of a lot better than looking out your window.” The post went in a very, very different direction. Just needed to see something and get moving.

#2: Don’t think editing is just about grammar. Use the time editing as a time to develop thoughts and clarity. I am not a great proofreader in terms of grammar, probably because when proofreading I am usually looking for clarity and context. Get some fresh eyes for your grammar. Remember that sometimes when proofreading you will get ideas for future posts, information or content.

#3: Learn what works for you as a writer and always work to develop a style. I could improve a lot here, I write so much and focus on output, I want to take some more time to reflect back on things I have written, and look for ways to improve or develop as a writer.

#4: Always ask the question – “what new value am I bringing and so what?” I’ve written posts before that don’t really get to this question, think critically about it and how what you are writing is unique and what contribution you are making.

#5: Don’t be shy, but it’s OK if you are! Here is what I am getting at, don’t be afraid to publish something online. Some people, myself including sometimes look at writing as therapeutic, if you write something and get your emotions out and feel compelled to share, do so and be proud of sharing your experience. If you write something and want to bury it away on your computer, that’s cool too, but just know and develop the confidence to share if you want. I’ve come a long way here, and the key is taking the time to figure out what you want and do not want to share as an author. It’s more than sharing your best or worst content, it’s about the emotional side and confidence you build up as a writer. Not everything that you publish online will be your best and get the most amount of clicks, but that is OK. The important step is that 1) you had the confidence to publish and 2) you’re committed to improving. The rest will fall into place.

That’s all I got! Would love to connect or hear some thoughts and advice on writing a book.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Great aspiration, Pat. It’s one I share with you! 🙂

Most of the writers I know just schedule getaways. They get to a place where they are forced into relative solitude, a place of beauty and relaxation…and just use that vacuum – the wide open margin – to create a space where their creative force is allowed to breathe freely and work unfettered from their normal environment.

Joe Flood

Put yourself on a schedule and make writing a habit. That’s how I wrote Murder in Ocean Hall, my mystery set in DC. I don’t think you need to go away to some exotic island (though that would be nice) you just need blocks of uninterrupted time on a regular basis. Try to carve out a few hours in your schedule and go to some place where you won’t be disturbed. For me, that was Caribou Coffee. Turn off wifi and tell yourself that you’re going to write for the next couple of hours. Do this every day and make a habit of it. Within a few months, you’ll have a book.

Pat Fiorenza

Thanks for the comments!

Andy would love to hear what you’d want to write about, and if you need someone to copy edit or look through, let me know! I think you and Joe are spot on with what I need to do. I find myself whenever I am in a new environment and a bit unplugged, I do some of my best writing. Oddly enough, I really love to write on airplanes. I’ll try to build some more discipline into writing, would love to knock this off the bucket list sooner than later. Thanks for the great advice!

Martha Petrie

Pat, please share any and all tips on how to write a book. Like you, I like to read and write and hope to someday write a book.