Three Easy Stretches to Writing a Book (Dan Erickson)

Today’s guest post comes from Dan Erickson.  Dan and I have become friends over the past year thanks to the blog world.  While we live on opposite sides of the country, we have several things in common:  We are both PKs (Pastor’s Kids).  We both have daughters.  And we both like to write.  Dan has written two books.  I read the first book (and loved it), and I can’t wait to read his second book which just came out.  In today’s post, Dan shares some thoughts on writing a book.  Dan’s bio appears at the bottom of his post.

Three Easy Stretches to Writing a Book

Writing a book is a challenge.  I know.  I’ve written two.  So what does it take to write a book?  It’s simple.  It takes consistent commitment.

Here are my three suggestions for anyone who wants to write a book:

1.  Start writing immediately: People tend to have a thousand excuses why they can’t start writing a book.  Here’s a short list of ways not to get started:

  • I don’t have a story.
  • I don’t have time.
  • I have writer’s block.
  • I’m not a good enough writer.

These excuses are all lies.  We all have a story in us.  We all have 15 minutes a day to spare.  There’s really no such thing as writer’s block.  We become better writers every time we sit down and write.

It doesn’t matter what you write at first.  It could be a journal post, poetry, or a how-to manual.  Just sit down and start.

2.  Set a loose, long-term goal: I set loose goals for my book projects.  When I wrote my first book, A Train Called Forgiveness, I didn’t really have a goal.  I just started writing and discovered I could do it. 

I wrote the first draft in about three months, I found an editor at the college where I work, let the book sit for a few months, and did the rewrite.  The whole process took about nine months from start to finish.

The goal for the second book, At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy, was more specific.  I set a loose date of Spring 2013 and spent most of a year working through the process.

The third book of the series, The Track to Redemption, is going to stretch me the most.  I know this one is going to be the hardest to write.  It has the most difficult theme and I want it to be the best of the three.  So I’ve set a date of 2014/2015.  That gives me a little leeway and allows me to do some other writing and music projects in between.

Give yourself some flexibility and don’t let yourself burnout.

3.  Make writing a daily habit: Here’s my final tip.  Write every day.  You don’t have to work on your book every day, but write something: a poem, a blog post, a letter.  Just don’t let these other forms of writing become an excuse not to work on your book.

It’s okay to take a few weeks or even a few months off between book projects.  In fact, it likely helps with the creative process.  It gives you time to think, to stretch your imagination.  But you need to set a time to get back onto the project.  For instance, I have a start on my third book, but I’m taking a few months off to work on promotion.  But I have a cabin to stay at this summer where I’ll buckle down and write.

For me, the writing has come pretty easy.  The hard part, and what really stretches me is the promotion, the waiting for something to happen.

Trying to self-promote a self-published book is like trying to find the eye-of-a-needle in a hay mountain.

Promoting a book takes time and energy.  It gets frustrating and depressing when you see low sales and slow growth.  It makes you question whether it’s all worth the effort in the first place.  But you need to evaluate your reasons for writing a book in the first place.  For me, it’s all about the story.  My stories generate thought, healing, and hope.  If only a few people are touched by them, that’s reward in itself.

So go ahead.  Write a book.  But write it for the right reasons.

Question: Do you have a book in you?

Dan Erickson is a writer, poet, and songwriter in his spare time.  He teaches feature writing and public speaking courses at a college in the Northwest.  He’s a single dad to his daughter Annie.  He was the child victim of a cult, and his first book A Train Called Forgiveness, is a fictionalized version of that experience.  You can learn more about Dan’s work on his blog @