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  • Writer's pictureRegina Grimm

Self-Publish in 12 Weeks Step 3: How to write - a technical guide.



Are you planning on publishing your first book this year? Catch up with this blog series here.


This week, we are discussing the logistical or technical options you have when approaching writing your first draft.


The way I see it, there are four main ways to write a book:

  1. Long hand - pen and paper.

  2. Type it out.

  3. Dictation, talk it out, or speech-to-text.

  4. Let someone - or something - write the book for you

Let's break them down.


Number one: By Hand


How To:


  1. Get a pen you like

  2. Get paper

  3. Start writing.

Since this way is one of the most obvious means of writing a book, it is often dismissed out of hand or ignored as a legitimate option. I write best longhand. I can generally handwrite faster than I can type, and seeing my thoughts appear on paper makes it easier to keep writing when I'm on a roll.


Additionally, I can never be distracted by the other apps in my notebook - because that's ridiculous. It is 100% portable, requires no outlet, charging cord, or Wi-Fi, and I have found people leave me alone longer when I'm writing pen to paper than if I'm on my computer. If you've never tried it, or if it has been a while, I encourage you to dig out an old notebook and pen or splurge on a new one.  I love standard, ring-bound notebooks from any old stationary or Dollar Store and Bic pens, so this need not be an investment. Find a quiet space and try writing something in your notebook.


Tips


Do not use pencil. It fades over time and can be a nightmare to read later. 

Beware felt tips. I may have lost my pen and written the first draft of this post with a Sharpie. Now, I am fighting a headache, and my ink is running through the pages.

Take care of your words! Your notebook will be the one and only copy of your work - for now. Take good care of it. It is not backed up to the cloud, so if you lose it, you start over. Your book is not password protected, so anyone can read it if found. If that is a concern - for whatever reason - take extra care of your work.

Hold your pen gently. That may sound silly, but as an avid writer, especially when I'm writing an exciting or scary scene, I have a tendency to overgrip my pen and have struggled with hand and wrist pain… Writer's injuries… Who knew?


Number two: Type it out.



How To:


Type your book out on a computer.


The second way to write a book is to type out your story or thoughts in a Word document.


This requires:

  1. A computer. You'll need your own or access to a public or shared computer.

  2. A power source.

  3. Internet connection, if your document will be cloud-based, or word processing software.

  4. Foundational typing skills.


When I am typing out a book, my favourite word processing platforms are Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or a text app in my phone.


There are tons of great options for word-processing programs, both free and paid, so find one that works for you and get started.


Tips


Follow the rules. If you're using a shared or public computer, please consider any rules or limitations associated with this machine. You may have time limits, limited privacy, or limited rights to anything created on a shared, public or work computer.  Ask the owner/administrator of the device before committing too much of your time and energy. Save your document! Often! Many cloud-based docs auto-save. Learning the shortcut keys to save your doc and saving often will protect you against massive heartache should you risk losing your work.

Turn off distractors. Keep an eye on your writing time. If emails, apps, notifications or other tabs distract you, close those apps. Uninstall any you don't need. Mute your computer sound. Set yourself to Do Not Disturb. Get creative and seek ways of protecting your writing time.

Consider a typing course. If your words-per-minute speed is holding you back, consider skilling up. Simply typing and typing a lot will help you get faster, but learning the fundamentals can make a huge difference. 

Look for work offline options. Cloud-based programs like Microsoft 365 and Google Docs store your work on the Internet. If you want to be able to work on your book when you don't have internet access, you may want to set your document up with work offline status. That way, you can keep typing even if you can't get online.


Number 3: Talk it out.


How to:

Record your voice as you tell yourself your story out loud.


You may want to try talking your book out. If so, you will need:

  1. A recording device

  2. A way to test it

Some options that I can think of:

  1. A voice memo app on your phone

  2. A handheld or tabletop recorder

  3. A computer with a mic/camera is included, as well as Microsoft Teams, Skype, or other recording programs.

  4. Voice to  Text app or program.


No matter what tech you decide on, the principle is this: tell your story out loud and capture your voice. Then put it into text - either at the same time or later.


Number 4: Get someone - or something - else to write your book for you.


There are many people willing to ghostwrite a book for you, and with advances in AI, you can even get a computer to write your first draft.


If you want to hire a ghostwriter, checkout gig sites where people are advertising their writing services. A few that I've used in the past are Guru.com and Fiverr.com.


Tips


Read reviews.

Ask for writing samples.

Be ready to communicate clearly. Be very clear with what you are asking - and paying - for. Managing third-party work is a unique skill in and of itself. It may take more planning and clarifying than you, especially if you're more of a "pantser" like me.


I have made some mistakes hiring third parties, so I recommend you proceed with caution. If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If the person you hire offers to do everything you want or if their offer is too vague, ask politely for more specifics.


I know many independent authors and business people who leverage the skills and capacity of others to maximize their productivity with great success but as with everything new, there may be some learning bumps along the way.

Also,-Expect to receive a rough first draft, unless you negotiate for something else. This can still be a massive time saver if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and make the edits you are going to want later.


Be sure to share your outline, timeline and any specific preferences or requirements upfront and clearly stated.

Get things in writing and make sure that you end up with the copyright to the work. The last thing you need is your book to go viral and then someone claiming that they own it. 


Use AI to write your first draft


No matter your opinion or perspective on AI and its ethical place in the modern world, one would be hard-pressed to find a more intriguing new tool. With a little trial-and-error experimentation, you can learn how to instruct (prompt), a computer program to write your book for you.


In many ways, the process is similar to instructing another person: You need to be specific, explicit and clear when prompting the program if you have any hope of getting what you want.


Tips

Personas. When instructing the program, include details about how it should act. For example "acting as a comedy writer..." or "acting as an expert on Vancouver island birds..." Get specific. What age group should it write for? What kind of word count are you looking for? What kind of feeling do you want for the book? What genre is it? If you do not get the results you are looking for, add in some more specifics and try again.

Consider layering your prompts. Talk to the program like you would a person - and let it know that you have more information that you will provide in chunks. For example-"In a moment I will ask you to write a book. You will wait until I share my desired outline with you before you start."

Ask for questions. Leverage the AI's understanding of its needs and engage it in the process. Ask the AI to ask you the questions it needs to complete the task. For example, "Ask me questions to clarify my request."

Minimize the overwhelm. Especially when you use the prompt above, you may want to include some instructions around the structure so you are not facing down a list of 20 questions from a computer program all at once. You can instruct the AI to "ask one question at a time."

Check copyright and licensing rules! You may have to declare that your book was written by AI. You may not own the rights to what AI produces - depending on if you have paid for that privilege or not.

Expect to fact-check and edit. AI is fallible. It does things like "hallucinate"; for example, it might make incorrect assumptions based on how it puts together its collection of knowledge. AI can produce work that reads as sexist, racist, discriminatory, or inappropriate for certain audiences. Remember, it's just a tool and will not make judgment calls when pulling from its stores of information or data.  Use a critical eye when reviewing AI-generated content, and never publish something you didn't create without reviewing it carefully.


No matter how you plan on creating your first draft, now is the time.


Happy writing!


With Love,






Regina Grimm is the author of erotic fairytales written for the uninhibited readers 18+.


Check out her books:

Would you prefer to read the whole story at once? Grab your copy of Snow: The Complete Erotic Series now! All five books are available now on Kindle and in Paperback.


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