write a book with these 3 steps
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Write Your First Book in 3 Easy Steps

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write a book with these three steps from mahlena rae-johnson

Do you want to write a book?

Have you already started writing a book?

Do you like the idea of writing a book, but you don’t know where to start?

As a mompreneur working on my fourth book(!), I have a solution for you.

The best way to start writing is to start writing.Click To Tweet

When I wrote my first three books (two comedic novels and a guide to apply to college, all available on Amazon, I knew exactly what I wanted to say to the audiences I wanted to target.

But, when I created my blog, I Have A Dream Board, earlier this year, I had no idea what it was going to be or what I wanted to say. As I have kept writing each week, the site has developed into a platform to help women in business find time for yourself and get your life.

Similarly, if you want to write a book, once you’ve written down something, anything, on a page, then simply answer a few questions, and you’ll be on the right track.

Here are 3 easy steps to write your first book:

Step 1: Who do you want to write about?

Pick one person. She can be fictional, she can be real, or she can be you. Other characters can be added later, but let’s focus on your main character. What is her name? Who is she? Who does she want to be? Where does she come from, and where does she want to go? What time period does she live in? What’s her goal in the story, and why does she want to achieve it?

For example, in the book that I am working on now, Love at a Luau, my main character is KC Santana. She is a refugee living in a sustainable community on a tropical island south of Hawaii, and she is suffering from PTSD. After losing her prestigious job and breaking up with a man she thought she would marry, KC doesn’t know whom she wants to be. KC grew up in Southern California and was living in Northeastern California until her town was evacuated, but now she wants to stay put. KC lives in the early 2010s. Her goal in this story is to keep her new home safe from harm.

There are countless additional details I know about KC—and have written down—so that she can drive the story. You show know your main character inside and out so that they can make choices in your book that feel realistic for who they are.

Step 2: What do you want to write about?

Do you want to write a murder mystery? A thriller? A ghost story? A love story? A historical novel? A memoir? A fairy tale?

Write down—on a piece of paper or a notebook or your computer—what you want to write about. It doesn’t need to be concise. Write down all your thoughts about what you want your book to be, other characters you want to include, and the world you want to create.

When I started writing Love at a Luau, I knew that it would be a romance novel. I knew that I wanted KC to fall in love with one man before she ends up with another one and that she would meet both of her love interests at the titular luau. But it wasn’t until I continued building the world that I decided this book would have three sequels. Originally, I had imagined KC’s story as all contained in one book, but the act of writing down the ideas in my head showed a different path for my project.

Again, start writing. Once you get going, it gets easier to see your ideas as the book you want to create. Plus, you will be able to see that you can do this.

Step 3: Why do you want to write a book?

What is calling you to write? What story is inside you that needs to get out? Where are your ideas coming from? Who is out there that could benefit from the words you want to share? (Hint: other moms like you!)

I didn’t expect to write this book, or any book, this year. To make a long story short, and mysterious, I was inspired to write Love at a Luau after participating in a women in business Twitter chat, reading about recent whitewashing media incidents, and having a conversation with my spouse about representation on cable television in the United States. After that confluence of events, I decided to write a romance novel about a refugee suffering from PTSD who is scared to fall in love with a single dad.

The protagonist, KC, happens to be an ambitious Chicana woman with big hopes and dreams, including becoming a mom. Two of her love interests happen to be men with Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry. They all live on an island with neighbors that reflect the population of the world (over 60% Asian/Pacific Islander) not the population of Burbank (over 72% white).

No one else that I know of is telling a story like this, for various reasons. I was called to write this book, and the three future sequels, because representation is important.

Diversity is reality. Creativity is exciting.Click To Tweet

And I like to write. Ergo, here we are.

Fellow moms, we’ve talked about a lot today, so let’s recap.

Who do you want to write about? What do you want to write about? Why do you want to write a book? Start by answering these three questions, and you will be on your way to writing your first book!

Moms, are you planning to write a book? Have you already written a book? Who will benefit from reading your story? How will your life change once you do write your book? Share your process in the comments.

And, if you have more in-depth questions about writing your first book, please email me at iHaveADreamBoard@gmail.com.


Mahlena-Rae Johnson helps women in business trying to balance it all. She shows you how to make time for yourself first, so you can get your life. Mahlena grew up on the mean beaches of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and during her senior year of high school, she was named Most Likely to Kidnap a Backstreet Boy. When she isn’t working smart to help professional women achieve their personal goals, Mahlena is writing her fourth book, Love at a Luau, wrangling her growing family, and indulging in reruns of A Different World and Murder, She Wrote. You can read more of Mahlena’s witty musings on Work/Life Balance for Creative Women at www.iHaveADreamBoard.blogspot.com.

This article has 46 comments

  1. Rose Barnett (@mRoseBarnett)

    Wow you have such a nice following. I am a non-fiction writer myself but I can see how some things apply. I hope you update soon, perhaps it’ll inspire you that I’ve nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award 🙂 Check it out here: http://rosebarnett.com/2017/08/16/blogger-recognition-award/

  2. Pingback: 6 Ways to Create Pretty Pinterest Images Starting Now! ⋆ Totally Mommed It!

  3. Lisa

    I have been thinking about writing a book, this is a great guideline for me to get started and really put my thoughts into action.

  4. Jordan | Read. Eat. Repeat.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your encouraging words! I write all the time for my blog but I haven’t done any fiction writing in almost a year. I’m working on getting ahead on my posts and cleaning up my schedule so I can dive into NaNoWriMo 2017 and knock out the last 40k or so words of the manuscript I started (and was mega excited about) last fall. It’s one of my top priority bucket list goals to publish a novel one day.

    • Mr. J

      You’re welcome, Jordan! You should publish that novel! I’m developing a short course called “The 5 Best Ways to Start Writing. Now.” which I plan to release in August, so you can let me know if you need help. 🙂

  5. Chrissie

    Great tips. I’ve always wanted to write a book, and these steps make it feel really doable!

  6. MomJonz

    I used to write all the time. I wish I kept all the stories I wrote, but with us moving all the time I tossed them. Ughhhhh…..

  7. Ayana

    I thought about writing a book but it would have to be one that was actually in print! I know it would be a lot of work so I’ll keep it tucked in the back of my mind for now lol

  8. ChristineSaltyMama

    My husband is FORVER telling me that I need to write a book about his family, hahaha! Just trying to decide if that’s really the BEST idea 😉 Great tips!

  9. InspiredJourney

    I started Slowly Surely + xyz to chronicle my effort to remember me, and live life post single parenting.

    I’ve noticed it lends itself to the idea of a a series of books. So, yes, I get how the idea creeps in, and you find yourself thinking: There may be something here, and I may have to do this! And then a fourth question is added to the three you list. That is if I have a true desire, or seeing a new shiny obect to play with for a moment.

    As I meander and evolve, I’m certain there will be an answer as thoughts converge.

  10. Shell

    Great post!! I dream about writing a novel one day!!

  11. Juli

    I have thought (nonseriously) about writing books before, and I teach middle school writing. This is honestly a “method” to starting a book that I’ve never really seen before, and I like it! Adding to my arsenal of writing processes! Thanks.

  12. Neha

    These are some great tips. I loved the idea of “I have a dream board” that itself is so inspiring.

  13. Jessica Hugo

    As an author and mompreneur, I can totally relate! I have just written my first book, a motivational book and I have the ebook version listed on various sites.
    The idea is to find your target audience( who are you writing for?) and also write on things you’re not only passionate about but have some knowledge on( although you can do further research).
    Just write. Start writing!


  14. The Salty Mamas

    I love these practical steps for getting started. So many people want to write a book, but have no idea where to start. This could help them to start making their dream a reality!

  15. Jiya B

    This post is great. I am planning to write my first Book I love writing fiction stories. And many around me suggest I should go for book. Thanks for sharing the post will siurely update you soon with my book soon.

  16. Maranda Laverdure

    I have thought about writing a book, and these are very helpful thoughts. Thank you!

  17. Jamie Slack

    Great post! I’d love to be able to write a book someday. Thanks so much for the helpful ideas!

  18. Jessica

    Amazing tips! I can’t wait to write my own book one day!

  19. Kelsee

    Great tips!!! “The best way to start writing is to start writing.” Hahahah love it just what I needed.

  20. Flossie McCowald | SuperMomHacks

    Those are all great suggestions. I think #1 is the one that resonates most with me. Having had some access to this in my previous line of work, I know that if you want to do anything other than self-publishing (and self-promoting and self-promoting and more self-promoting) an e-book these days – in other words, if you want to have any interactions with the more “traditional” publishing world – you have to have a really strong sense of who this book is for and how it will make a unique contribution/be something people want to read. This is why I’m so glad you put down your first tip as #1.

  21. Nadalie

    So helpful! Although I’m not writing a novel, I’ve been wanting to write an ebook. I find my biggest challenge is just finding the time!

    Hopefully one day soon I will.

  22. James

    Great Tips. I have recently completed my first book. I am editing it now and I hate editing. I could have used theses tips before I started.

  23. K. Elizabeth

    I’m currently in the process of finishing up my first novel. My mom jokes that I was born with a notebook and pen in my hand. It’s going to feel great to have my book finished and be able to check off one of my lifelong goals from my list.

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