Top Tips for Writing Your Book, from a Professional Storyteller

9 in 10 people say they want to write a book, but don’t know where to start or don’t have the time. Rutger Bruining, CEO of biography-writing service StoryTerrace, shares some tips to get started on your book and explains how working with a ghost-writer can help you to succeed in your written adventure

In the days following Christmas, millions of people are leafing through new books gifted on Christmas Day. All across the country, gleeful recipients of the latest captivating novel, indisputable classics, or the new autobiography of their favourite idol are rifling through the pages and becoming inspired.

It is of no surprise then that many people have said that they themselves want to write a book, according to statistics and research revealed at Book Expo America. The problem is, it’s seemingly very difficult to know where to start. Not only that, but the time, patience and dedication required to pen an entire, full-length book is considerable, and most people simply can’t find the time or willpower to finish their passion project.

Rutger Bruining, CEO of biography-writing service StoryTerrace, has built a brilliant company on helping people to write their life stories, biographies and memoirs. Rutger and his team of professional writers have documented over a thousand life stories across the UK and US –   now Rutger shares his tips for getting started on writing your book, and discusses how StoryTerrace’s writers can help.

“The idea of writing an entire book, while very exciting, represents a daunting task which many who have the desire to write a book do not believe they can overcome, and therefore never start. I think this is a great shame – if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time with StoryTerrace, it’s that every single one of us has an incredible story to tell.”

At StoryTerrace, their team work with over a thousand people to tell their life stories – some of these people have not written a word and have no desire to write themselves, while others come with half-finished drafts with dozens of pages already written. No matter the situation, StoryTerrace match their customers with the right ghost-writer, who can help them create and finish the story of their lives.

One interesting thing Rutger noticed is that customers who they’ve worked with to tell their stories often cite the same reasons for not finishing their book themselves, or not starting in the first place. With this in mind, Rutger shared his top tips with us for getting started on your very own book, and sticking with it when things get tough:

–       Write with passion. This is the first tip, and the most important. There is no fun in writing about a subject which doesn’t interest you for a school essay, nevermind several hundred pages. Very few people have an exact idea of what they want to write when they begin, and the plot, theme and content will likely evolve as you write. But passion is what will keep your ideas fresh and unique, and will get you to that finish line. Stuck for somewhere to start? Your own life story, or the story of your parents, might be the best place to look!

–       Build an outline. Again, your book is likely to fluctuate, transform and evolve as you write. But it is very difficult to finish an entire book with no clear pathway – you need to have a good idea of where you’re going. Devising a solid foundation and structure will help you fill in the gaps and help you to progress when you hit a writer’s block.

–       Break your book down into small bite sizes. The idea of sitting down to write hundreds of pages in a few sittings is not only unrealistic but takes the joy out of writing. Your book is a huge collection of sentences, paragraphs and chapters – write in small chunks, with consistency, and before you know it you’ll have hundreds of pages drafted. Slow and steady really does win the race.

–       Keep a schedule. This is Bruining’s final tip and the key to getting your book moving and ultimately finished, and ultimately boils down to consistency. It is easy to write when you feel like writing, but you must set yourself a realistic and achievable schedule, which sets aside some time every week for you to write, even if you don’t feel like it. You won’t always be feeling energised and inspired to write, and even if you only manage a single paragraph or some editing in your allotted time, this is still progress. Stick to the schedule and you’ll have a much greater chance of finishing your book.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. With a background in PR working in Los Angeles and Barcelona, Charlotte has been running Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden for the past 6 years.

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