Far too often, we are overwhelmed because we sit down and think we need to write the whole darn book all the way through from start to finish. For a majority of professional writers, books don’t come to them in that fashion at all. Whether fiction, memoir, or informational, the book initially comes to you as snippets of scenes and fragmented ideas.
Those snippets are a good thing. It’s how your brain begins to file through all the possibilities of where you could take the book. Let yourself begin with a formal Snippet Lists. Just start listing all those fragmented ideas and possible scenes, scraps of dialogue and over-arching themes. Snippets are quick 5 to 10 word phrases, sometimes just a single word. Some snippets refer to a specific scene, some to a more abstract concept.
A memoir or fiction Snippets List might start with:
- The time Shelly got stuck in the outhouse
- Finding the deer skull in the dry canyon
- Rick’s transformation while restoring old house
- Dad’s aftershave on Saturday mornings
A Snippets List for an informational nonfiction book might include:
- Finding herbal supplements that actually work
- When natural health starts to feel unnatural
- Decoding FDA label claims
- Who to talk to when doctors are too rushed
You get the picture. You could spend weeks or months writing your Snippets List. It may be a page long or 20 pages long. At some point, you begin to see patterns. You see scenes that are connected thematically or in a linear fashion. When the list begins to gel, that’s a great moment to start writing a single scene (or informational section).
Most professional writers create their books scene by scene and usually not in the order in which they appear in the final manuscript. Pick a single snippet from your Snippets List. Write everything you can think of regarding that snippet. Don’t edit; that task will come later. It might take a few minutes to write all the expanded content you can think of related to a certain snippet. Others might take days. That’s normal. Just keep that pen going!