The Keys to Writing a Book

Writing a book is such a complex task that key success factors exist for any area of writing you might chose. You can write about the keys to writing a book no matter what topic on writing you chose. Spelling. Grammar. Editing. Discipline. It doesn’t matter the area, there is a key success factor associated with it.

The short answer to the question of what are the keys to writing a book is: finish it, don’t waste time, and make it eminently readable. But frankly that’s not a particularly useful answer.

So let’s dig a little deeper. And see if we can’t give you a framework to understand how the keys to writing a book fit together as a whole.

If we think of writing as a whole there are four intersecting elements responsible for success:

1. The process of writing. Writing is first and foremost a craft. Writing is a process. A set of tasks and procedures like any other craft or fabrication process. And like any other process the key success factor is to turn it into a system. A system appropriate to the task at hand. Writing a book is the most complex type of writing. As a result you need to have a system which provides a detailed specification for the book. It also needs to be matched to the type of writing you are doing. And finally, you also need a system which avoids rewriting.

2. The mechanics of writing. Also known as the craft of writing, what we are talking about are such niceties as spelling and grammar, style and word use, and ultimately voice of the author. We’re also talking about sitting at a keyboard and punching words onto a screen. We’re talking about opening a vein and letting out your heart and soul. The keys to successfully writing a book for this element are things like write first, write fast, fix later, and write a conversation not a book. It’s Hemmingway’s four rules to writing.

3. The discipline of writing. All the keys to writing a book don’t matter if you don’t actually sit down and write. The key success factors here are involved in getting you to actually sit and write. These are keys like scheduling your time, avoid distractions and focusing on writing. They are keys like keeping yourself writing even when you are depressed, and setting yourself up for success not failure.

4. The book itself. Here we’re talking about the keys to writing a book that relate to the definition of the book itself. These are the key success factors that talk to getting the book itself correct. They include such factors as knowing your reader and solving their problems. Or knowing the size your book needs to be before you write.