7 Strategies for Writing Your First Draft

You know what you want to write about and the specific problem you want to solve with it, you’ve identified the people who are likely to have that problem, and you’ve studied a few of the published books your book will compete with in search of clues about market expectations, and you’ve even drafted a table of contents (TOC) to outline your book (if you haven’t, you’ll want to visit an earlier post to get caught up) but now is the time to write your first draft.

If you haven’t already, pick a unique writing location and set aside at least three hours each week for writing appointments and choose one of the writing strategies below to transfer your book from thoughts into words.

The good news is that some of your options do not require you to write anything at all.

1. Compile
If you have previously written documents that includes information you can use in your book, you can write your rough draft by simply creating a new Microsoft Word document for each book chapter (in case you didn’t already do this while organizing your ideas) and type relevant information into the document for the appropriate chapter.

For example, if the first chapter is supposed to be about the history of human trafficking in the USA, you can type the statistics and key dates included in your non-profit organization’s annual report. You can also add the series of blog posts you wrote on the topic long with two page profile of the issue you wrote last year as part of a grant proposal. As long as you own the copyright to the information, it can be included.

Don’t worry about smoothing out transitions-yet-just get all your information into your book manuscript files to produce your rough (first) draft. Feel free to write new relevant content into the chapters as you write. If you have more than 5 sources of content or more than 20 pages of content to compile into your first draft, consider using the storyboarding or outlining strategy below to prioritize your information within each chapter before you begin inserting information from your previously written content into your book manuscript. Trust me, prioritizing the information first will make your life much simpler down the road.

2. Interviewing
One of the best ways to become an expert is to interview ten or more other experts. Develop a list of questions that use your chapter titles as a theme and ask different experts to do a recorded interview with you.

You can use FreeConferenceCall.com to record a phone or Audacity’s free software to record an in-person interview using your computer’s microphone. The interview transcription-or a typed version of the recorded interview-will be your draft.

You can download free transcription software like ExpressScribe to do it on your own, or you can hire a company like Rev.com to do the transcription for you at $1/minute of recorded audio. If you record the interview with FreeConferenceCall.com, you will have access to a free machine generated transcription, but I highly recommend the human transcription services they offer for $1/minute for better quality.

Another alternative to the interview approach is to interview people who are experiencing the problem being addressed in the book. This is most effective when your goal is to create awareness for an issue. If your goal is to provide solutions, then the first interviewing approach will be more effective.

3. Freewriting
Simply open a Microsoft Word document for your book and write.

This is great for people who are comfortable with writing. The key to making this work is not to judge while you write. If you are an advocate for a cause, a solopreneur who offers full-featured services with a staff of one, or non-profit organization fighting for change in your community, you are probably writing about something that you already think about, talk about or do on a regular basis-so let what you know flow onto the paper. It will be polished later during the editing process.

4. Storyboarding
Disney takes credit for developing the storyboard by organizing miniature images and dialogue onto a board to map out each scene of their movie storyline. In our case, we’ll leave off the images and just use words. If you want to use a similar method for your book, you can use the following worksheet to write key phrases that represent the information you want to share. (Here’s a sample of a completed storyboard.)

Keep in mind that you will need to go back and write it all out in narrative form to produce the first draft manuscript, but this is a great way to visually organize any compiled information before writing it or hiring a ghostwriter to complete the first draft writing process.

5. Dictating
If you have ever said “don’t get me started” in response to a question about a topic that you can talk about for hours, then you may prefer to dictate the information you want in your book to an audio recording device.

If you do not already own an audio recording device, the best tool to use for this may be FreeConferenceCall.com. Simply set up your free conference line, call in from your phone and record the information you want to include inside each chapter. You do not need to have anyone else on the phone call to activate the recording feature.

I highly recommend having a copy of your TOC in front of you, along with a list of the key topics you want to discuss for each chapter. These tools will help you stay on topic during your recording.

When you finish your recording, you will receive a free automatic machine transcription, but you can order a human transcription for $1/minute of audio that will be emailed to you when it is complete. If you used your own recording device, you can have a company like Rev.com transcribe your file for $1/minute. This transcription will be your first draft. You can also use VoiceBase to record and transcribe your first draft.

6. Outlining
You already have a TOC to outline the main sections of your book, so use the following outline structure to organize the supporting information within each chapter.

 

I. Insert Chapter Title Here

A. Insert first main point you want to cover in chapter “I”.

1. Insert a fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “A”.
2. Insert a second fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “A”.
3. Insert a third fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “A”.

B. Insert the second main point you want to cover in chapter “I”.

1. Insert a fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “B”.
2. Insert a second fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “B”.
3. Insert a third fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “B”.

C. Insert the third main point you want to cover in chapter “I”

1. Insert a fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “C”.
2. Insert a second fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “C”.
3. Insert a third fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “C”.

II. Insert Chapter Title Here

A. Insert first main point you want to cover in chapter “II”.

1. Insert a fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “A”.
2. Insert a second fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “A”.
3. Insert a third fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “A”.

B. Insert the second main point you want to cover in chapter “II”.

1. Insert a fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “B”.
2. Insert a second fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “B”.
3. Insert a third fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “B”.

C. Insert the third main point you want to cover in chapter “II”

1. Insert a fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “C”.
2. Insert a second fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “C”.
3. Insert a third fact, statistic, story, metaphor or other information that supports main point “C”.

And the pattern continues to cover each chapter of your book.

Notice that the Roman numerals next to the chapter titles are always flushed to the left margin. The main points for each chapter are slightly indented and are easily identified as being a supporting point for the chapter title above it. The numbered facts and other information are indented even more to be easily related to the main point it supports.

You can add as many main points (the letters) and supporting information (the numbers) as you need to hold your information. Microsoft Word, or any other word processor you use, will most likely have a feature that automatically provides the Roman numerals you need.

This outline will be most effective if it is written in complete sentences. After you have completed your sentence outline to your satisfaction, you will need to write it out in narrative form to form your rough draft or hire a ghostwriter to complete the rough draft writing process.

7. Ghostwriting
Profile Pic-Tree BackgroundYou have already defined the problem you want to solve, the message you want to share that describes how to resolve that problem, and the audience who has the problem you want to solve, so just talk with me and I’ll handle the writing.

You can get started now by booking a free consultation with me to learn more about my ghostwriting process.

Final Thoughts

  • Regardless of the strategy you choose, don’t forget to use your answers from “The 15 Minute Book Publishing Plan” to guide you while you write. For example, your TOC and first draft should include the key points you said you would include to make your points easy to understand.
  • Keep your audience in mind, these are the people who have the problem you are solving. You identified them in your Publishing Plan.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix and match the strategies above to produce your rough draft. Use what works best for you.

And please don’t forget to have fun!

Here’s a question that I would love to read your answers to in the comments below:
Which part of the writing process frustrates you the most? 

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Danielle Fetherson

Danielle helps aspiring authors become published authors. She believes that everyone has at least one book on the inside of them that can make a positive impact on someone else's life. If you have been thinking about writing a book, learn how to start your book today with the free resources at DanielleFetherson.com.

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