What do I want to write?
It sounds simple, right? You already have an idea in your head. But, it is worth exploring other ways to tell your story. For example, should your personal experience in a war be written as a memoir, a piece of historical fiction, or advice to current or future service members? Think about your subject, character, or plot line and explore it in a few different genres to make the most of your possibilities.
Why am I writing it?
People write for all different reasons. Some write as a creative outlet, some for money, and others to give their children or grandchildren as a piece of themselves to carry through the generations. You can also write a book to brand yourself as an expert in your field, whether that is business or academically based. Writing can lead to a new career both as an author and as someone who leads workshops, does coaching, or is invited to speak at conferences and various other places. Your charge is to figure out what you hope to achieve once the book is finished.
Who is going to read it?
Consider who will read your book once all the hard work is done. Think about your idea reader in terms of typical demographics such as gender, age, and income level. Where will they buy it? Is the market for your book large enough to achieve the goals for why you are writing it? You want to make sure it is worth the time to write it. If self-satisfaction is your primary goal, it is always worth it.
How is my book different?
It is important to differentiate your book in the marketplace, and it is best and easiest to do it from the start. Read other books in your genre. Who is your competition? What is their angle? Write a hook for your book regardless of whether it is fiction or non-fiction. A hook is the underlying premise of the book and the reason someone should pick your up over someone else’s.
When can I write it?
Determine when and where you will write in order to maximize your time and minimize your distractions. It is especially important if your time and space are limited. Some writers carve out 15 minutes a day in the break room at work. Others spend Saturday mornings in pajamas curled up with their laptop. Do you feel most creative in the morning or late at night when the house is quiet? Setting goals for writing will help motivate you and keep you on track.
Do I have the expertise to do it myself?
Think about what you know about your subject area and your skills as a writer, and then set out on a path to bridge the knowledge gap. Do you need to research the setting, type of character, or other background information? Perhaps you need to enroll in a course on creative writing or read a book on creating effective dialog. Knowing what you don’t know is helpful in moving your writing forward. Target your weakest areas first. Gather the information before you write. It is guaranteed to make writing and editing easier.