I get asked this. A lot.

How does someone start? Well, it depends what your end product will be.

Do you want to write an essay about a particular experience? We’ve all written those in school, so this should be fairly simple. You start with an introduction, key in the body content and then finish with a conclusion.

Intro: tell you reader where you’re going in general terms. “The most exciting thing happened to me on what started out as an average day…”

Body: tell the reader what, when, where and how.

Conclusion: wrap it up with a life lesson learned or how you reconciled the event.

That’s great, Cat, but I want to write a book.

As my dad used to say (all. the. time.): SOOPER!

Lots of people want to write a book. Some actually do. Maybe that’s YOU!

Okay, what you need to do first is to figure out what kind of book you want to write. Do you want to write a collection of themed short stories? Do you want a memoir about a certain event? Or, maybe an autobiography of your entire life? In Bittersweet: Faith Lost and Found and the DNA Test that Brought a Baby Back to Life I mixed memoir with autobiography. (I tend to color outside the lines.) Christi and I call it a memoir, because it’s really about the DNA test that changed her life, but it’s also about the trials she overcame throughout her entire life.

So, first figure out what type of book you’ll write.

Then, determine the theme or premise of your book. Think of the purpose of your book. Do you want to show how you overcame something that others might find interesting? Do you want to explain your part in a critical event? Do you know someone famous or scandalous that you were close to?

After you’ve nailed that down, then create an outline. Now, I’m a little more of a freeform writer, but I always start with an outline. It may morph over time into something completely different depending on where the story is taking me, but I need an outline because I need a starting place.

Once your outline is written, start writing!

And, ALWAYS, ALWAYS get feedback. Nothing helps a writer grow better than feedback. Join a writing club or start one. Take some writers’ workshops. Do some Internet searches on writing techniques. Always grow. Keep learning. I do! I know more about writing today than I did yesterday, and I’ll know more tomorrow based on what I’m doing today.

Most of all, ENJOY the process. Even the difficult stuff. Even the messy stuff. If you’re not liking the act of writing, then maybe it’s not your art form. There are many ways to tell a story. Find yours.

Best wishes on the road!