Before You Can Write a Book, You Have to Do This First…

Every day, someone emails me asking a question about getting published. I try my best to point them in the right direction, but often the advice I give isn’t what they want to hear. When I was starting out as a writer, this was the last thing I wanted to hear. But it was exactly what I needed.

Maybe you do, too.

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If you want the world to read your words, you have to do something before you ever dream of getting published. You may have guessed it by now. It’s the very thing we writers struggle with the most.

You have to write every day.

You can’t write a book if you aren’t writing. Getting a publisher or cracking the code on self publishing to Amazon isn’t going to change anything if you aren’t already doing the work.

These big breaks won’t make your writing life easier. They’ll make it harder. Getting a publisher, getting a book out there, getting your work noticed — these things create anxiety, not confidence. They put pressure on you, and if you aren’t in the creative habit already, you’re doomed.

So what does this look like? I think forming the creative habit requires three things. As I’ve written before, you need a space, a time, and a goal. But to really succeed, you need three other ingredients, as well:

  1. A reason. Don’t just write as an exercise in vanity. Write with intent, as my friend Marion says. Create something you plan to publish, something that mustbe said.
  2. A plan. If you don’t block out time to write, it’ll never get done. But you also need a plan for what you’re going to write — an outline. Otherwise, you’ll waste your time thinking about writing but not actually doing it.
  3. A community. Writing, in spite of what we hear, is not a solitary effort. The best creativity often happens in collaboration with others. Without a community, you’ll never do your best work.

Most people miss these things. They say they want to write a book some day. They believe they have something to say — and probably do — but without a regular writing habit, it just won’t matter.

You won’t publish a book if you aren’t writing daily. It’s just that simple. And if you aren’t practicing, what you write won’t be worth reading, anyway.

If you need help, try this free, 31-day challenge.

A version of this article originally appeared on

Jeff Goins is the author of four books, including the national bestseller The Art of Work. For thoughts on writing and life, you can join his free newsletter.