In order to write, you must read.

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I get my best ideas just before bed as I’m getting ready to sleep. It’s great to get a superb idea but inconvenient when you’re really tired.

I keep a notebook by my nightstand to write down the idea or I quickly open a Word document and write a sentence or two so I can come back to it later.

I’ve been a fiction writer my whole life. Short stories and poetry mostly. Anything I write that’s nonfiction is in an article or a blog.

This recent idea was for a nonfiction book with a different angle on the popular debate. I have ideas about this area that I haven’t seen anyone else come up with.

But how do I write a nonfiction book? Where do I start?

I started by typing my ideas out as fast as I could. But I knew I would need references from the news, journals and experts in the field. Maybe even do a few interviews.

Luckily I have the best resource a first time nonfiction writer can have: an uncle who writes nonfiction.

Use every resource at your disposal, but above all please remember:

In order to write, you must read.

It doesn’t matter what type of book you want to write. You have to read  books by other authors in your genre of choice and preferably about the same topic. As unique as I think my idea is, I still need to find books with similar ideas on the same topic. I also need to find books by authors who disagree with me. You need to acknowledge other perspectives when writing a work of nonfiction because your audience may have similar ideas or concerns about the topic.  Here are a few other things that you or I can do to write any work of nonfiction:

  • Talk to other writers about their processes and how they organize their ideas
  • Read what the experts in the field say
  • Read what those you disagree with say
  • Read respected newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and try to use unbiased sources
  • Find blogs on your topic, especially if it’s a topic that’s relevant now.
  • Learn how to cite your sources using APA or Chicago style books
  • If you can, reach out to an old professor who teaches on the subject and ask for their honest opinion

As you can see,  most of my bullet points involve reading  similar works. It is by far the best thing you can do to prepare to write anything worth reading. With any luck, you’ll see my name on a book on Amazon one day in the near future.

Do me a favor and read it. Comment that it’s awesome (even if you think it isn’t).


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