The most difficult part of writing a book is actually writing the damn thing. In the daydreams of the mind, being an author is a simple task – come up with a good story idea, write it and then live the rest of your life with the accolades of millions. In reality, between the idea and the finished product lies a mountain of work. While a short story can be dashed off, a novel is a complex thing. There are multiple characters that must be weaved together in a multitude of sub-plots and the main plot. The end result must make sense, while also be engaging to the reader. This is no simple task.
In my younger days when I first tried to write, coming up with the idea was the easy part. It was just a matter of having an inspired brainstorming session. The first and maybe the second chapter would come together easily but as I proceeded along, the story would start to fall apart. This is an example of the importance of the outline and character list. Mapping out the story in some detail will save headaches for the future. As you gain more experience, the outline can be a little looser, but having a guide will make the experience that much better. When I begin a chapter, I paste that section of the outline into the document. As portions of the chapter get written, I can remove that part of the outline from the document. This gives me a clear task list of what needs to be accomplished in each chapter.
As far as motivation, I like to write at least a page a day since the book will never get done unless you start putting words down. If you don’t get some enjoyment out of writing, and it’s the rare individual who does, then perhaps you should consider another vocation. Honestly, writing and refining those words is a slog that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Sadly, the only way to get your book done is for you to sit down and do it. Distractions in our modern world are many. Maybe it’s time to cut your cable and remove the wireless card from your laptop. It’s certainly easier to write if you are not tempted by other activities.
For equipment, my Asus Netbook (with the 90% keyboard) has been my favorite tool. It’s extremely portable and it has a long battery life, which makes it good for taking on vacation. I use my desktop system too, but I feel chained down sitting in my office. The Netbook allows me to write just about anywhere – one of my favorite places is on the rug in front of my stereo or in front of a roaring fireplace. For the words to come out, it helps to be relaxed and enjoying yourself.
Even when you aren’t writing, you should still be busy creating. Start thinking of the next chapter particulars or perhaps the mysterious-sounding prose you will want to use to describe that haunted manor. You will be living and breathing this book for the next few months, so start bouncing ideas off of your spouse or friends. I’m sure they will be sick of it soon enough, but that’s what book dedications are for!