Thursday, July 22, 2021

How To Write A Book

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Often writers will ask me, how in the world have you written over 60 books with traditional publishers? I have a simple answer, writing books is like eating an elephant. The task seems daunting and impossible at first.

How do you eat an elephant? It's an old joke but you eat an elephant one bite at a time.  It the same way to accomplish any huge task—one action at a time. Recently I began to write another book.  It doesn't matter that I've done it over and over through the years. Each time it looks daunting to write an entire book manuscript. No matter what others will tell you for everyone getting started is hard. The writing in the middle is hard and finishing is hard. Yes the task is difficult and looks impossible. So how do you get it done? One bite at a time.

What is the deadline for completing your book? If you don't have a deadline, then I suggest you set one. After you have a deadline, how many words a day are you going to write to complete the deadline? Make sure you build in some extra days for the unexpected (happens to everyone) but make sure you hit your deadline.

Or maybe your goal is tied to your social media. You want to reach a certain number of followers on Twitter or a certain number of connections on LinkedIn. Are you actively working on these networks? Are you posting a number of times each day? Are you connecting with new people? Without your regular actions, then it will be hard to increase your presence and meet your goals.

Do you want to do more speaking? Are you pitching different conference directors and leaders? From my experience you have to be proactively promoting your speaking skills to get more speaking meetings.

Do you want to appear on more radio shows and talk about your latest book? There are thousands of radio stations and programs which use guests on their program. These bookings do not happen just sitting back and waiting for them to call. Your phone will be silent if you take this action. Instead, you need to be actively pitching the producers of these programs.

Or maybe you want to write more magazine articles or appear on more podcasts? Waiting for the phone to ring will likely not happen. What proactive steps are you taking to either go ahead and write the article then submit it to the publication? Or you can write a query letter and send it simultaneously to different publications and get an assignment?

Many are surprised that I have written over 60 books through the years. There are several keys in this process but one of the most important is consistent writing.  It is a matter of writing one paragraph, then another paragraph which becomes one page then another page. It is the same process as eating an elephant—doing it in bite-size pieces.

Do you break your writing into smaller pieces? I'd love to have your tips and insights in the comments below.


It appears impossible. How do you write a book? Learn the secret in this article from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. On October 5th, his classic Book Proposals That $ell will be released. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers


Karen Cioffi said...

Terry, first off, I love that image! It's so true that the only way to write a book is to just do it, one bite at a time. It's reassuring to know that even you feel the pressure with each new manuscript you write. And as with everything in life, you have to take action if you want to accomplish something, whether selling your books, getting a speaking engagement, creating products, or writing for a publication. You have to keep at it. Thanks for sharing!

Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for this feedback and encouragement. I've learned the hard way the author has to be actively working on every aspect of the work for it to happen--writing, the book production process and the on-going marketing. It is what we do not just once but over and over.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

You keep eating those elephants, @WTerryWhalin.! Authors everywhere need to benefit from your experience! But let’s find a more environmentally sound idiom / metaphor! Lol.
Hugs, Carolyn

Terry Whalin said...


Thanks for the feedback. There is probably a better metaphor than elephants but I'm unsure what it would be. Like eating an elephant, books are long and daunting but can be done if you persist.


lastpg said...

Terry, this is a fun post, and so true. It's like the papers that pile up on my desk. To look at the stack is overwhelming, but following through with one paper at a time makes the task doable and soon my desk is clear. The same for writing a book. My goal each day is to get something done, no matter how small, toward my goal of publication. Some days I get a lot done, other days one or two small tasks. But with consistency, eventually the goal is reached: publication. Thank you for sharing. Your posts are always thought-provoking and inspirational.

Terry Whalin said...


What a great illustration with the pile of papers. Yes the key is to keep moving forward inspire of all the interruptions and other things which happen in our lives--whether a lot of a little, the key is your consistency.


deborah lyn said...

Thank you, Terry for this article!
Here we are again, a wonderful reminder: a consistent writing practice and plan works. Even if it's baby steps, it works. You've gotten some great feedback comments too.

Terry Whalin said...


Thank you. I agree--even taking baby steps consistently will eventually complete the book. Most authors do it by a certain number of words every day or every week.


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