Estelle Van de Velde


Top 10 Advice to Writing a Book in 2022

2022 is here and if you’d like to write a book this year, it’s definitely a good time to do so. To help you out, here are my top 10 tips for writing a book.

Last updated: March 2022

#1 Have a timeline

If you’re more of a pantser like me, I’d advise to at least have a timeline of your story. At the beginning of a new project, we all have a rough idea of what it’s going to look like on the page. But drafting a novel can be either quick or slow, depending on your writing routine. So I’d suggest having an idea of the timeline in your novel so you don’t lose your brilliant ideas along the way.

#2 Make a list of ideas

Talking about writing a timeline down before starting, what I usually do is roughly make a list of a hundred ideas if I run out of them at some point. It can be anything, from ideas around the world building to specific things about your characters. Sometimes I even have one line of dialogue that I put down in a notebook. It doesn't have to take long to make that list, it’s like a little brainstorming : set a 30 minutes timer and write down everything that goes in your mind.

#3 Stop trying to be perfect

Now let’s get into drafting. I personally don’t really like drafting my books. I want it to be perfect on the first try and it’s a very slow process for me, because I feel like there’s no time to just sit down and do the work. My tip here is to let go of that feeling. I know, easier said than done, and I’m struggling a ton on that matter. I’ve tried multiple things to make drafting easier, and what helped me the most is putting my headphones on and listening to instrumental music. Now, I’m not saying it will work for you, but try to set up a routine in which you know you’re in the best disposition to get some writing done.

#4 Don't care about the numbers

Something daunting is the number of words you’ll need to write for it to be considered a novel. NaNoWriMo sets the goal to 50,000 words, but actually novels in some genres are longer than that. It makes it a huge project to tackle, and you might freak out a little. I’m an underwriter, which means I have a tendency to craft a story with the fewest words possible (or kind of), which means 50,000 words is already a big goal for me. And you might actually feel the same way. My tip would be to… not care about that number. Writing should be enjoyable, and there are many formats you can share your writing with the world : short stories and novellas for example. And don’t forget that it’s only drafting: you can always expand on your story in the editing phase.

#5 Schedule your writing

My tip number 5 would be to schedule your writing time and track your progress. It’s even more crucial if you have a busy life: you won’t necessarily make time for writing if you don’t schedule it. So go get your calendar and put in some writing time. It could be 10 min during your lunch break, or just before going to work, or 30 minutes after your kids are asleep. Every minute you can give to your story counts. As for tracking your progress, I’d suggest you also count the amount of time you’re putting the effort in, because that will also be encouraging to know you’re writing faster than you think you are, even if it doesn’t look like it.

#6 Celebrate the milestones

My next tip is to celebrate every milestone. If you’re keeping track of your progress, you’ll be able to set some milestones. In Scrivener, for example, there’s a way to set up a global word count goal for the story and a smaller word count goal for your writing session. So why not reward yourself when you’ve reached a milestone? I personally don’t do it often, but for The Londoners I went to a dessert coffee shop with my husband and enjoyed one of the best freakshakes of my life to celebrate my book being released. I definitely plan on doing it more often for the current book I’m working on, because this one is actually more difficult for me to write for some reasons, fiction being harder than non-fiction, for me at least. So yeah, maybe get a notebook or a whiteboard on which you’re writing down all the milestones to reach and the rewards you’re gonna give yourself once you reach those milestones.

#7 Give yourself grace

But my next tip is this one: give yourself grace. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t got the time to sit down and write for a few days. If you’ve heard that writers should write every day, then let me tell you I don’t agree with it. ‘Cause it’s the best way to feel guilty about writing if you don’t. I felt guilty for years before accepting the idea that I’m simply not built that way, I need to refill my creative wheel sometimes, and that’s okay. Or life gets in the way and that’s okay. What’s not okay however is giving up on writing. So give yourself grace, it’s not a catastrophe if you have missed one, two or three days of writing in a row. As long as you keep being passionate about your story, you’re all good.

#8 It's ok to abandon a project

No one cares more about your book than yourself. If you’re losing interest in writing your story, which can happen, don’t push it. It’s better to notice it than to ignore it. I’d suggest you throw your story in a drawer. Read your manuscript after a week or a month, and if you still don’t have interest in writing it, at least you haven’t lost your time pursuing a story you don’t really care about.

#9 Don't think beyond writing

My number 9 is to not think of publishing or marketing your book until you finish your book. I mean, look at me, I’m a downer for this advice because I constantly think about how I would do this or that for my next release. It simply drives me away from concentrating on writing my book, so my tip is to not do what I do. I think it’s about mindset: as I don’t like drafting, I’ll procrastinate until the very end. But a writer’s gotta write. And at the end of the day, if you don’t have a book to publish and market, then it doesn’t matter what your plans for it are.

#10 Just do it

Last but not least, my last advice would be to… just do it. It may sound basic but if you’ve watched this video until the end, it means you’re highly interested in writing a book this year. So go for it. Don’t wait to grow old and then regret that you haven’t done it. The time is now, and you never know what’s going to happen along the way. Writing a book is an amazing experience that will make you feel all the feels. You’ll be sad, happy, desperate, hopeful. But know that in the end, you’ll end up with a story you created from start to finish. And that, my friend, is the best feeling of all.

More to read: