Five non fiction writing techniques

writing a non fiction book

You’re ready to write a non fiction book but you’re hesitant to start for any number of reasons. Perhaps you are swimming in self doubt, overwhelmed or just not sure where to you start. You’ve identified a non fiction topic to write about and you may have even picked a title and can picture the cover in your mind’s eye. You just haven’t written a single word of the draft manuscript. That is okay! You’re actually probably way more ahead than you realise.

I wrote both my books, Promote Your Spiritual Business and Thirty Days to Conscious Success in less than a year each because I genuinely enjoyed the process and was very committed to getting it done. And even though I write for a living, I STILL understand the pain of starting some written work – at times, it can be ghastly!

But an idea is just an idea, it’s not a book! Until it’s written, it’s just thoughts. So you actually need to start. Every single successful project in the history of time was started at some point.

But an idea is just an idea, it’s not a book! Until it’s written, it’s just thoughts.

If you’re having trouble starting, pick one of the following non fiction writing techniques:

Do some research

Set a timer for thirty minutes and do some serious, hard core internet research on your predetermined topic. Cut and paste as many relevant sections, paragraphs, links, stats and quotes as appeals to you. And put in a Word document. You’ll come back to this document at the right time to expand on relevant sections. Or use the research to back up your opinions in the book.

Unearth what you already know

Open your Word document and type the heading ‘What I know about TOPIC (this is the topic you will be writing about)’. You can also apply the same action step to keywords that will be in your book. This is your chance to write down dot points of what you already know. I guarantee that you will shock yourself with how much you know about this topic. We often don’t even know how much we know… Donald Rumsfeld proclaims that we no longer know what we know and what we don’t.

Most adults have a finite capacity of storing and collecting information. So it’s not implausible that there is at the very, very least one book’s worth of information readily available in your brain. I’m confident there is enough information there to write as many books as you can be bothered!

‘…if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.’ Scientific American.

non fiction writing techniques

Set up an interview

Interview yourself! Write out a list of questions that you would ask someone else about the topic. Then set about asking yourself. You may even like to prerecord yourself, or rope in a friend to ask you these questions. Just having a different voice can be a really effective process in unearthing your knowledge.


Get really quiet. You may already be familiar with a little thing taken the world by a peaceful storm, called mindfulness. If you’re a mindfulness junkie, there’s an opportunity to commence that right now. But if you’re unfamiliar with it, just get really quiet and really still. Distractions have no place here! It doesn’t even have to be long – five to fifteen minutes are ideal.

Empty the mind of all your thoughts and when it feels as empty as possible (this is no small feat, by the way) invite thoughts about your topic in. Keep a notepad handy nearby and jot down every single thing that comes to mind, even if it is “purple monkey dishwasher”. You will get something useful out of it. Even if it is one keyword that will spur you to undertake step one, two or three.


Find your notes from a workshop you have attended in the last year or so on your chosen area (or closely linked) and gather up your notes. From these notes you will type them up (even if they have been previously typed) and highlight keywords or topics that you will expand on by doing step one or two.

Have you attended a workshop that is on a different topic? Grab your notes from that find the similarities between your topics. You may even find some beautiful metaphors or ways to cross pollinate knowledge here. 

Didn’t take any notes? Tsk tsk. But not all is lost! Your action step is to enrol in a couple of workshops, seminars, webinars, ecourses or similar on your topic and when you attend, take so many notes that you are left with a hand cramp at the end! Don’t aim for creativity when note taking, just get as much data down as you can. When you type them up later, you’ll be able to interpret in your own writing style, with your own take and research to make them meld seamlessly into your book. Pay particular attention to the extra resources, such as books, podcasts, links, key people that the lecturer, teacher or course provider recommends. As this is where you will extend your knowledge and get those extra nuggets of information that make your book juicy with information. Once you’ve written it, it’s time to engage a copyeditor.

There are no excuses left to not starting your book and being well on your way to a bestselling author with these non fiction writing techniques! All you have to do is pick one of the action steps above and do it. You may like to pick an action step for each day and dedicate yourself to completing it. At the end of the week, you’ll be so energised and motivated by what you’ve achieved that it’s likely you’ll want to continue writing your non fiction book until it’s finished!

non fiction writing techniques

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