You're ready to write a book but don't know where to start?

Do you know that you want to write a book, but you’re not totally clear on EXACTLY what you want to write?

You can feel a message inside, and a yearning to share your wisdom, but you can’t seem to articulate what you want to say and what the overall theme or message of your book should be?

Maybe you know what you want to write, but you feel overwhelmed and haven’t taken action.

You’re not alone.

Many women I speak to experience the same thing.

You know a book is in your future, and you feel the need to share your unique insights and messages…

You know it will touch people, help them, reach their soul or change their lives and/or business…

But you can’t seem to grasp at exactly what to say.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

In this article, we will cover:

What’s ego got to do with it?

If you’re struggling to pick a topic for your book, think about the reason you’re writing one.

Maybe it’s a ‘bucket list’ item, or you just want to get your name out there for your 15 minutes of fame. In this situation, it’s mostly about ego. It’s about saying that you did something and feeling proud of yourself.

Which is fine – as there are all kinds of reasons people write books, but you must know your driver so that you know where to go with the book and how to approach it.

If your reason for writing is ego, you’ll need to find a way to be happy with your achievement based on actually finishing the book (which is a great feeling!), rather than the outcome and its perceived success.

Please bear in mind though, that if your driver is to make money, you will quite possibly be disappointed. When I wrote my novel (you can read about that journey here), I was absolutely determined that I would sell a million copies and spend the rest of my days leisurely writing novels. I worked damn hard, and I spent all the time, effort and money possible in making the book the very best I could, and getting it out into the marketplace.

Several people, like my mentor and editor, told me that it was highly unlikely I would make a living out of my first book. Not because it wasn’t good, but because it would take time to build a career which would financially support me.

I refused to believe it until of course, it came true. I sold thousands of books, but given how much I spent along the way, I wasn’t exactly riding the wave of my bank balance all the way to my waterfront mansion.

So I would just caution that if your sole motivator to write is money, you might need to factor that into the long game, rather than the overnight success you may be secretly longing for.

For now, I’m going to assume that you have a deeper reason for writing, and are just stuck on articulating your message.

If you have a deeper purpose for sharing your message and you genuinely want to help people, it will be a lot easier to drill down into an exact topic.

How to find your message

If you are a specialist in a particular field, let’s say a service role, like a coach, consultant, healer or wellness practitioner, you’ll have a lot of knowledge around a particular subject, much of which you are excited about.

This can also make it tricky to ‘pick’ something.

Look at the following options to see if it sparks something. I suggest brainstorming, writing it down (with actual pen and paper), meditating on them, going for a walk, or whatever you do to inspire creativity.

  • If you were sitting down with your closest friend and a bottle of wine, and you had to pick ONE PIECE OF WISDOM to share with them, what would it be?
  • What keeps you awake at night?
  • What do you love reading about, thinking about, talking about, teaching? What lights your fire?
  • What is your take on the biggest problem facing your industry/clients (and your proposed solutions)
  • What are the answers to the questions you’re asked most by friends or clients, and how do you answer them?
  • Write the book you wish already existed about your industry
  • Talk about your biggest failure and your biggest learning
  • What is your biggest regret in business (or life)? What would you encourage others to do differently?

Then flesh out some ideas. People want to be inspired, and to ‘feel’. They don’t just want to be educated. Personal experiences and your view on the world is what will make your book unique. This, however, does bring up other issues, which we’ll explore in a moment.

When you’re exploring your potential topic, write the summary of your book in a sentence, and then expand that into a paragraph, and then to a one page outline or a series of bullet points.

You can expand this into a table of contents (I usually just use a word table like the graphic below), where you can put one idea in each chapter and then flesh out with bullet points.

Just go for an introduction, beginning, middle and end. Don’t make it complicated at this stage.

I always encourage my clients to ‘drop the reader into the action’, with a story, situation or concept which grabs the reader. Just imagine someone picking up your book at a store and flicking through the first few pages. Will they want to keep reading?

Still having trouble?

You might still be struggling, and admittedly, it can be tricky to really ‘hit’ on something which you get excited about.

Think about your strengths, your gifts, your genius.

What is easy for you but hard for other people?

What do people say “Wow, I wish I could do that like you,” about?

My Business Coach talks a lot about working in ‘Your lane’, which is a genius concept. I won’t go into that in this blog, as it’s topic on its own, but don’t take your skills and knowledge for granted. You will have gifts and a unique blend of skills and talents which others don’t.

Maybe you could write about that?

If you are still struggling, maybe now is not the time to write this book? Perhaps sit on it for a few weeks or months and the answer will come to you when you least expect it and are not thinking about it.

It’s also possible to get coached through this process. I don’t offer ad hoc sessions, as I only work with women from idea through to first draft and beyond… but if you’re ready to write a book and up-level your profile, you’re welcome to schedule a Book Clarity Call with me and discover if now is the right time for you to write, and if I’m the person to help you. (If I’m not, I’ll be totally honest and will do my best to suggest something which is a better option for you at this time).

What your audience wants vs What you want to say

If you want your book to be read and appreciated – and I assume you do – it really needs to be a combination of what you want to say and what people will want to read and/or will benefit from.

Always consider your audience when you are deciding what to write.

Who is your audience? Are they male, female, single, in a relationship, parents, in business, sport lovers, etc… Write down everything you know about your audience, and be fairly specific. Don’t try to write a book for ‘everybody’, or you will be writing it for nobody.

This is a common mistake in business, which again I won’t try to get into in this blog (because it’s a blog of its own), but take my word for it that when you get specific, your audience will really ‘get’ you, you will reach them and speak to their hearts, and this is what makes a great book and ultimately, a great business or career.

Feel confident in the fact that whoever your very niche audience is, there is likely to be thousands or tens of thousands of them out in the world, and you can reach them relatively easily with an online presence (we’ll cover that in another blog too).

They are all potential readers!

When you’ve got your audience sorted out, think about how they will receive the messages in your book. What will they learn? How do you want them to think, feel, act?

Will what you’re writing make sense? Is there too much jargon? Do they need special knowledge to understand your concepts? Can you simplify?

This will help tune your message and your content.

What structure or genre should your book be?

Assuming you’re writing non-fiction, there are several structures, styles or ‘sub-genres’ you can choose from.

These are just a few of them, which cover the types of books the majority of my clients are writing and are likely going to cover your potential book, too.

  • Autobiography/Memoir are similar, although not exactly the same. Both these are a recollection of events from the writer’s life. An autobiography is more the complete story of the writer’s life, but a memoir is generally a narrower collection of select events from the writer’s life.
  • Creative Non-fiction (also known as literary nonfiction or narrative nonfiction) is non-fiction written in the style of a novel. I like this category and you can write a book which is a combination of memoir and (subtle) self-help with this style.
  • Self-help or self-development is in a category of its own these days and usually centred around a theory of popular psychology. A self-help book can be written in different formats, and largely, you can choose which way to present your information. You might use lists, graphics, pictures, inset boxes, anecdotes or interviews within this sub-genre, so it’s fairly open.
  • Business books are essentially in another genre of their own, with multiple sub-genres. They generally include information about running businesses, including management, financial, marketing, etc, and are likely to include step-by-step instructions. You can add headings, graphics, lists, and anything else which illustrates your point, and you don’t need pages and pages of continuous text.
  • Academic writing is generally impersonal in its tone, written for a critical and informed audience, based on closely investigated knowledge, and intended to reinforce or challenge concepts or arguments.


Overlapping genres

There are multiple books which some consider to be ‘self-help’ and others may call a ‘business book’ (such as ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), so ultimately, the genre doesn’t matter that much, except it will tell you where to list on Amazon!

These terms might really just be useful when you’re speaking to a Book Coach or perhaps a publisher, to describe the kind of book you want to write – but how it unfolds is largely up to you.

It’s really only in fiction that there are specific structures you are advised to follow in order to keep the audience engaged.

Having said that, you still need to grab your reader’s attention through where you start the story and how it progresses, plus how you break-up or present the information.

The well-known “Idiots Guide to…” or “… for Dummies” books are business books (or perhaps self-help?) which are known for giving the reader options on how to read them and quickly extract the information they need.

There are so many sub-genres, you can basically use a blend of styles to get your message across. It needs to make sense, but get creative!

Should you plan it or just start writing?

I’m 100% a believer in planning.

There is a writing style affectionately called ‘Pants-ing’, where you basically are flying by the seat of your pants.

This is okay for blogs or fun, creative writing, but I do not believe a great book can be written this way.

Perhaps there are some exceptions out there in the world, but I believe they would be in the minority.

Otherwise you need to plan what you’re going to say, create a logical structure and flow, and flesh out bullet points or messages for each chapter before you start.

I create an outline with all my clients as part of my Book Coaching Program.

This way, we can look over the outline critically and see if anything is missing.

Typically, I create a basic outline using a table like this:

There are much more sophisticated tools out there, and I’ve bought software like Scrivener, but I actually just find it easier to use something like this, where you don’t have to invest in other software, and you’ve got it right there, already open and in use.

If you think this is something you need support with, perhaps we could work together. You can schedule a Book Clarity Call here.

Will anyone actually read it, anyway?

When people come to me because they are thinking of writing a book, one of the major reasons they cite for holding off is the fear that nobody will actually care what they have to say.

Nobody will be interested.

People will think they are weird, amateur, too ‘woo woo’, misinformed, uneducated, inexperienced, and ultimately won’t take the book, or the author, seriously.

They worry that they’ll be the laughing stock of their industry, that their mentors or the people they look up to will scoff and rebuff their efforts.

They fear what family and friends will think, about offending people, about looking foolish.

When sharing something deep or personal, it can open up another whole level of fears and doubts.

These are all quite normal fears, and to have fears is normal, but you need to let them go and just go with your message.

Nothing fabulous ever happened by someone being fearful or overly cautious.

Many famous writers and business people were filled with fear at some point in their career, but didn’t let it stop them sharing their voice, their opinion, their genius, their talent.

Don’t look for acceptance – instead, be a shining light!

What next?

From here, it’s all about sitting down and actually writing.

I believe the sweet spot of writing a typical business book or self-help book (around 40,000 words) should take about three to four months.

I think less than this isn’t really doable for a quality product (assuming you have a business or day job), and too much longer than this you will lose momentum.

It’s important to make the book a priority and be totally focussed on it until you’ve finished the first draft.

This means that outside your business/day job (and family), you need to make this the number one thing you focus on for the period of time it takes to write.

Set a schedule you know you can commit to.

I believe in writing every single day, seven days a week, for at least 15 minutes, whether you feel like it or not. If you’re tired, you just need to sit there for 15 minutes and then you can go and put your feet up and relax, and know that you did your minimum.

Sometimes you will surprise yourself and that 15 minutes will become three hours and 3000 words.

I’ve tried all different schedules, and for me, this is the best because it maintains your momentum.

If you only write when you’re inspired, you’ll never finish anything.

If you only write once or twice a week, you’re not in a groove and you probably won’t feel like it. With once-weekly writing sessions it’s also too easy to miss a session and then your writing plans for that week are shot.

Why do so many people not finish their books?

So, here’s the kicker. Despite all this, many people don’t finish their books.

That’s assuming they even started.

I once read a statistic which said something like that 80% of people say they want to write a book. 5% of those people actually start the book, and 2% of those people actually finish it.

What’s the big barrier?

Well, if they get over all the hurdles mentioned above, it is usually that ‘life gets in the way’. Too many things crop up, we distract ourselves, we put it off because we feel blocked or have limiting beliefs.

Like many good intentions, you start off strong, but the ‘keeping on going’ is what gets people stuck.

That’s why having someone to hold you accountable is great. Get an accountability buddy, join a writing group, or get a specialist Book Coach.

Writing ‘The End’ on my first draft after a long, hard slog over two years (you can read about my writing journey here) was the best feeling I have ever had.

There were so many times I felt so alone, and although my husband and mother supported me completely, writing can be a lonely endeavour, and I didn’t feel like I had anybody who really ‘got’ what I was going through.

I had an editor/teacher, but he didn’t pressure me or keep in touch, and basically just responded if I contacted him first.

I wish I’d had a Book Coach to support me and my journey would have been so much easier.

After training and qualifying as a coach, this is exactly why I decided to focus my business purely on Book Coaching.

Helping women achieve that milestone is such an honour – and I get to be the support that I wanted when I wrote my book.

Expert guidance on writing, ‘keeping on going’, and then getting your book out into the world, using it to get speaking gigs, publicity and clients… and being proud of changing the lives of your readers and leaving a legacy.

If you want to apply for a Book Clarity Call with me, to talk about the book you are ready to write now, please do so here.


Until then, happy writing!


Download your free checklist here!

If you’re keen to get started on writing your book, you will find my 45 Step Book Writing and Publishing Checklist very handy. Just click here to tell me where to send it!