Defeating the blank page – How to Write Your First eBook

Defeating the blank page

Defeating the blank page is often pictured as a romanticized struggle of the young aspiring writer trying to make a living using only the wit of their words.

 

What’s the big deal about the blank page?

Nothing really. It is just a concept hyped by Hollywood TV shows or struggling wannabe writers desperate to justify their laziness (too harsh?). This idea ultimately festered into what is now called a writer’s worst nightmare. Of course I did not think of it this way a while ago. The blank page “challenge” as I called it, was a major concern of mine when I first thought about writting books for a living.

Nowadays however, it barely registers as background noise. And that’s how it should be 🙂

My receipe for defeating the blank page

  • Table of contents – exeucte your ideas
  • If I look back, I am lost

Table of contents – execute your ideas

Say you researched an idea you like and found a potential market for it. The trick is to translate this idea into an outline you can follow during your book.

Here is an excerpt of the outline of my first book :

Working title: How to program like an Ace

Foreword –  explain the spirit of the book:  walking the reader through a real life programming project.

Chap1. A developer’s (trusted) environment

  1.1 Setting the scene: introduce the team. The role of each key member (developers, project manager, client, etc.)

  1.2 What is each one expecting of the other key members

  1.3 The first project meeting and the broad idea explained by the client. Talk about the developer’s key role in challenging this vision

  1.4 Talk about some key challenges already identified during the project

Chap2. Our trusted tools

  2.1 Which language are tackling. What are the broad specifities

  2.2 Which operating system to use and why

  2.3 Which tools and plugins to install and how

[…]

Once you have this kind of outline, it is much easier to simply start expanding the idea behind each chapter title.

The weight of the book as a whole is lifted out of your mind. You only get to deal with a small chunk of it, one at a time. Suddenly this humoungous task is not so daunting anymore. Divise an conquer. It is as simple as that.

Once you feel comfortable expanding chapter ideas and writing sentences, I have a second advice for you:

If I look back, I am lost

Remember what Daenerys kept repeating through Game of Thrones (the books) : “If I look back, I am lost”. If you write a sentence, pause, read it and polish it over and over, you will never finish your first paragraph, let alone your book. That is not how it works.

Even if you are a perfectionnist, please let this one slide by and hear me out. Once you have your outline, race through your writing!

Pour your soul out. Write until you cannot type anymore. Do not read what you wrote. Do not get hung up on spelling mistakes, semantics, vocabulary… Your immediate goal is to write what I like to call it, the vomit draft.

This is not a draft you show people. This is a draft to convince yourself that you can actually write 30 pages. 30 pages that you later turn into 60, 90, 150…

Once you have your vomit draft (or a good chunk of it), you can start reading and polishing your style, looking for inconsistencies, etc. I sometimes spent several hours rewriting a paragraph, but I was comfortable doing that. I already had 120 pages written, so no pressure really 🙂

These are my two advices for the people starting out in this business: make a damn good outline and race through it. It worked for, and I hope it works for you as well!

 

This post is part of part of a series of articles about how to write your first ebook:

How to write my first ebook – The idea comes first..or does it?
Polishing your writing – How to write my first ebook
Naming your ebook to grab attention – How to write my first ebook
Designing ebook cover – How to write my first ebook
KDP exclusive or Go Wide – How to write my first ebook

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