One of the most common book writing challenges is getting started--taking action on your book idea and actually sitting down at the computer to write. This holds more aspiring authors back than anything else, and I spend a great deal of my time telling people where to start.

Just last week I was on the phone with a man facing this exact problem. He didn't know where to start. So I told him about how I coach all my clients to start by making a list of everything they want to cover in their book so they can actually see, in one place, what they're dealing with. He loved this idea, but what he said next revealed a completely different book writing challenge to me. He said, "I can do that, and then the book will reveal itself. That's what I'm going to do."

"Reveal itself"--wow, I thought, is it really that easy? I wish! I thought about that conversation for a while after I hung up the phone, and realized that, number one, some people must think writing is a sort-of magical process where answers just reveal themselves. And number two, I'd given this man (and potentially everyone else I've instructed to do this exercise) false hope that the secret to writing is book is something so simple.

The thing is: there's nothing magical about writing a book. Some days it's easy; some days it's really, really hard. But it's always a process of figuring out and addressing problems--the biggest of which is how to communicate your message to your reader in a way that keeps them engaged and leaves them with the knowledge you intend to leave them with. Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than a list to solve that.

By all means, make the list. It really is the best place to start. But don't expect to find all your answers there. Although getting started is a major obstacle for aspiring authors, it's only the start. From the list, you have to organize your ideas into a structure that will work and satisfy your readers. You have to show up and write every day. You have to write effective chapters that move your readers forward. You have to finish the first draft. And then you have to go back in and edit what you have. You've got a lot to do, and getting started is just the beginning. You have to keep going.

I talk and write a lot about getting started, and how important taking that first step is. But for every aspiring author who never starts writing their book, there's probably one that's been started and never finished. As a person who has devoted her entire business to helping people get their books written, I'm not satisfied with either situation.

So how do you do get beyond that initial step and actually finish your book? The most important thing you can do is commit yourself for the long-haul. Recognize that although sometimes the answers will reveal themselves, not all the questions that come up during the book writing process will resolve that easily. Learn what makes books work, so when questions and problems do arise, you'll know how to solve them. And don't get discouraged when the going gets tough!

Author's Bio: 

Melinda Copp helps aspiring nonfiction, business, and self-help authors get clear on their story and book idea, and figure out how to put it all together so their ideal readers love it. Visit for a free copy of her "Jumpstart Your Book E-course!" and get your book started now.