1. Write what you know
This seems basic and all writers – fiction or non-fiction are given this advice – but its particularly true in non-fiction writing. We write non-fiction to share our expertise, skills and experience with others. It’s very likely that that has brought about the desire to write in the first place.
The whole process is easier and frankly more fun if you’re basing it on what you know.
2. Ignore everything you learned about writing at school and university
Unless your readers are going to be academics then put aside everything you’ve learned about writing correctly.
If your message or information is important enough to writing a book, blog, article or report on then its important enough to do in way that your readers will find engaging. Simple language is the way of the world. People don’t have the time or the inclination to have to ‘translate’ complex language.
Write the way you like to read. Clear, easy and consistent. Your readers will stick with it and understand the message or information you’re trying to convey.
Whether you are a plotter or a pantser (see Getting Started: Topic 2 ‘What type of writer am I? for more information on these types) there will need to be a bit of planning for non-fiction work.
Write a bullet point list with what topics you want to cover and make them your chapters. Then include a note on any sub-topics you want to remember to include under those.
Then, if you’re a plotter, continue padding this document out until you have a synopsis of what each chapter will cover.
Remember that outlines or plans are organic documents and can be added to or subtracted from as your book evolves.
If you’re a pantser – once you have a basic idea of your chapter headings – start writing. Just populate those areas, adding in others as they come up and just get writing. There is no reason for non-fiction writing to be any less creative as a process. You can cut and paste at the end. If you’re a pantser then you may need a more thorough editing process at the other end.
4. Don’t edit as you write
Even if you are writing non-fiction if your creativity and words are flowing – don’t stop to research, edit or check facts. Make a note in your text or on a post-it note and come back to it when you edit. Getting into the flow is hard to manage in a world full of ‘noise’ and distractions.
There is always time to edit and make changes at the end.
5. Write every day
Successful writers are not successful because they are talented – they are successful because they are persistent and consistent. They show up and write every day! Even if its only ten minutes a day – commit to it. Your writing skills will improve with practice.
If this book, blog or article is important to you – carve out time in your day. Find the best time in your day for you to write and make it happen!