The ten first steps to writing a book
What is it I wonder that first calls us to this activity called writing a book and then stops us from taking the next step? Many, many people I know have written books, but huge numbers have not stepped into the pleasure of bringing their knowledge, skills and experiences alive in this way.
I can certainly understand why. I recently committed to NaNoWriMo, (Google and sign up for next November – go on…) which is an annual write-a-
Non-fiction isn’t easy either. I have a book due for release early in 2019 called Healing Osteoporosis Naturally. It has been the hardest book to write yet. Even harder than doing my MBA dissertation, which at times it has felt like.
The amount of research has been phenomenal, but more so because I have lived my healing journey as I wrote it. This is something most people (not me) do not tell you about when you write. You go through a lot of the experiences again because writing has a habit of triggering memories that need to be explored and addressed.
Having said that writing a book can be and is incredibly healing and cathartic. Please have your journal handy for these moments.
The process of writing this book also helped me to find my root cause, to be able to guide my doctor towards appropriate tests and to then craft a nutrition, supplement, and exercise plan for natural healing. It has been a tough journey, but given what I now know, I for one would not have it any other way.
There are other reasons that writing a book is not easy and they include lack confidence in your message, it’s not the right book, you feel that you are not a writer, and you have not aligned your book, brand and business. However, if writing a book is something you HAVE to do, you will always find a way – wont you?
Let’s explore some steps that I recommend my clients consider when that yearning to write a book calls.
Step one: What is your goal or intention for writing a book?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It might be for healing, fun, a legacy for your family or for your business.
Sometimes books will never be published, people will write them to get ‘stuff’ out of their system. I have worked with many people in this way and it works as a healing process. If this is you then this is a worthy goal, being published is not always the end game.
Writing for fun is a delicious goal as it takes you out of every day life and lets you explore other aspects of you and the world.
The goal should never be to be filthy rich, sailing the Med on a yacht from your royalities, although this might be part of a bigger goal that you have. You would need to be a prolific writer and exceptional marketer to sell enough books. Or perhaps like me you dream that your first novel becomes a film…
A goal or intention like building your credibility or to refine your processes and to inspire others may be more effective.
These all lead to raising awareness and more of the right clients Or maybe to use this in your coaching/teaching/speaking practice as giving your clients a book rather than a workbook does look more impressive.
If this is your first book, perhaps you could keep it short and use it to work out how you write and use this process to work out how you would run writing a book project for the future.
Step two: Who is your ideal reader?
When you know whom you are writing a book for, writing becomes easier. You are answering questions that your reader is asking. You are taking them through a process to reach an outcome. However, more importantly you are connecting emotionally to this reader.
I always have a picture of my ideal reader so that I can keep reminding myself who is the one person I am writing this book for.
Step three: What is the subject area?
Ok, so you know why you want to write a book, now you have to decide which of your many expert subject areas you want to write about. This is where you focus and make conscious decisions. The right book for right now needs to be birthed.
Consider this, if writing a book is going to take you a year; what do you want to be known for in a year?
Which book about what will give you what you want? Which books is in the vision that you created for yourself?
You may have lots of ideas, brainstorm each and reflect on how each feels. Again perhaps a shorter, but a deeper book? After exploring, feeling, envisioning and reflecting you will be able to choose THE book.
Step four: Give it a working title and write a blurb
Do this for no other reason than it says I’m writing a book about x. This first title and blurb (the bit on the back of the book) will change, of course it will. This is your stake in the ground and it will bring it to life.
Perhaps create a mock cover and wrap it around an old book. Place it where you can see it and get used to seeing your book as a finished published article.
Step Five: Create an outline
There are many ways to do this, a list or a mind map are the most popular. In my course Plan Your Non-Fiction book I have a process that gets this out of your head in detail. For now, the easiest thing to do is choose one of your ideas (the right one of course) and start brainstorming.
Start with the outcome you want for your ideal reader and consider the process or journey that they will be going through.
After you have the broad outline of the journey, you can add in subheadings. Remember to take notes while you are doing this. You can come back and flesh this out at any time.
Step six: The chapter synopsis
The synopsis is a short form explanation of what this chapter is about. If you are looking for a publisher, they will expect a synopsis, so have a go at writing one now. It is also a clarifying step.
Step seven: How will you write it?
I write in WORD. I’ve tried Scrivener but this only works for fiction for some reason. Having said that I am tempted to try again as it is many years since I used it for non-fiction. What is important is you use a product that works with you. WORD is a favourite, as I love the ease of the style sheets and navigation pane. Having said that I do not like WORD on my Mac and so I always do the final editing and layout on my Windows version.
This question is not just about technology, because you may like to write long hand first. You may like to write in a linear fashion, or you might like to chop and change chapters.
You must also consider where you like to write. I like silence, writing a book in a busy and noisy coffee shop will never work for me.
Step Eight: Set up a writing schedule and daily word count goals
I get up and write first thing and then it is done (I’m writing this in bed with a cuppa). As soon as I put my fingers on the keyboard I feel inspired, you may not. Knowing how you like to get things done is important here. Can you get up one hour earlier for five days a week? Or could you do that for three and one on the weekend?
The other thing that works for me is to commit to at least 1000 words a day.
This means that I can get a short 30k book written to the first draft in a month. One of the ways I do this is to blog for 30 days.
Remember to celebrate your word count success and have a reward waiting for you when you write THE END.
Step nine: Write do not edit
This is one of the hardest things for me to obey. I’ll write say three chapters, and then I’ll reflect and edit, and the do the next three or four. I like fresh new and exciting, and I like to reflect. When working with my clients, I work out what their writing style is, and we find a way that keeps them motivated so that the book gets written, despite my advice to write and don’t edit.
When you have a first draft, you must take time out, because then the BIG edit starts. This is where the magic happens.
I rather like this stage because I like to sort messes out and make sense of things. I can’t promise to not feel frustrated but there’s something satisfying about bringing it all together. Remember we are often our own worst critic. I bet when you have a first draft, and you review it, you will be amazed at your writing.
Step ten: The Big edit
Have an editing plan and follow it. There are lots of different ways to edit your book, which will support you in getting a great final draft. But this is never the final draft because you will have word blindness and you must hand it over to someone else to review, and you absolutely must have a proofreader.
When I was doing the dissertation for the ILM Executive Coaching course, I sent my draft off to the tutor who said you haven’t answered part two. Confused I almost argued back. What I had done was write a short synopsis, which flowed, and made perfect sense to me, but was just that a short synopsis. I had reading blindness. Thank goodness it was just a feedback session – phew!
When I do developmental work for clients, they will come to me with a book in a mess, and my job is to deconstruct the book and put it back together in a way that makes sense. Seeing a mess come together for both of us is satisfying and motivating.
There are many more steps to getting this book ready to be published, and for that to go smoothly(ish), you should have started with a plan. I’ve left this to last because so many people’s books fail because they do not plan, please don’t be one of them.
The plan will keep you on track with much more than we have discussed here.
Another vital step for me is the humble journal and pen. A journal is a deeply reflective tool which will help you to get ‘stuff’ out of your head and a place to record your journey.
An invitation or several invitations
Start here with the my book exercise
If writing a book is
1. Something you think you want to do, and then consider this 7-day plan your book challenge.
2. A burning desire and you know you need support, then please message me – a chat costs nothing and we can check out if we are a good working fit
3. Definitely on the table, and you’d like to work in a group, then get on the waiting list for write a book, create a business you love
Thank you in advance for bringing your wisdom to the world
Whatever you decide to do, in whatever way, I believe that we are keepers of incredible wisdom and all of us can touch others lives in profound ways with our message. Do one thing today and share your wisdom with someone else. You never know where they take that and what that might create in the world.
Thank you if you got the end and have commented. I’d love to have your feedback.