A few nights ago, a new neighbor dropped by. She came late in the evening and stayed so long that I figured she must want to ask me something, but didn’t know how.
There are no easy answers to those questions. Every writer approaches the task of putting words on the page differently. Some authors churn out three or four books a year. Then there are those who spend a decade crafting a single manuscript.
She looked startled. “I don’t know. I guess because I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I used to love writing in college.”
“Right, but why do you want to write a book? And why this book, in particular?”
“I don’t know,” she repeated, and swallowed the rest of her wine. “It just seems like writing would be a fun thing to do.” She stood up. “Anyway, it’s getting late. I’d better go.”
Obviously, she wasn’t finding the conversation helpful. I wondered later if there was something I could have said to satisfy her, but didn’t come up with anything.
The question of “how” to write a book has a million answers. It basically comes down to doing whatever works for you. All books are created by putting one word down and then another and another.
But you can’t successfully write a book until you’ve figured out why you’re writing it. It helps to picture your ideal readers. Who do you think will read this book, and what do you hope they’ll get out of it? Come up with a simple, straightforward answer to that, and you’ll have an easier time clarifying your goal and writing toward that end. For instance:
- I want to write a book for my family so they understand our family’s history better
- I want to write a book to show that people who have been through hardships can still be successful entrepreneurs
- I want to write a horror story that will give my reader goosebumps
- I want to write a novel that will make women laugh and know they can move on from their mistakes
And so forth. The more specific your answer to “why I’m writing this book,” the easier it’ll be for you to write and revise your manuscript, because because you’ll know where you’re headed.
If you’re still not certain, check out the reader reviews on Goodreads of some of your favorite books that are similar in genre to the book you’re writing. Many readers say what they’ve loved about particular books—and what they don’t like. Choose some of the reviewers whose opinions line up with your own, imagine them reading your book, and tell them why they’ll love it.
Now go write!