This is the second in a series of posts on how you can get started writing that business book you’ve always wanted to write – without putting your life or career on hold.
For an overview of the process of how to write a book you should read through the first post before continuing to read about this first step in the process.
Spend some time putting this first step in place today and you could go to bed tonight with your book already started.
In the first post we laid out the content of the 7 posts that will guide you in creating your book. Step 1 is about getting you started on building your book’s content as soon as possible – without burning up a huge amount of your valuable time.
Step 1: Set up
Step 1 consists of 5 simple actions:
- Set up a ‘war room’. When preparing major proposals I always suggest that writers set up a semi-permanent space in their offices to serve as ‘project central’. Do the same for your book. This can be as simple as a corner of a bedroom or office with a decent amount of wall space. It should ideally be close to your PC and the area where you’d expect you’ll do any book planning or writing. It should also ideally be somewhere that you’ll come across it every day – without having to go out of your way. This is critical: one of the keys to success with this approach is consistency – and I find that passing through my war room area daily helps keep the project planted firmly in my subconscious – activating my Reticular Activating System (RAS).
- Buy a few decks of Post-it notes – get the largest size that feel comfortable in your pocket. I don’t like much in my pockets so I use the smallest size. Those of you with large writing or a tendency to write longer notes will find the larger size works better (you’ll see what I mean by ‘in practice’ in the next post of this series)
- Buy some ‘Post-it Self-Stick Bulletin Boards’ . These are like huge reverse ‘Post-it’ notes – in that they have the same tacky glue used on Post-its. You mount them on the wall and thereafter can park any piece of paper on them. This will be really useful as you build your book over the coming weeks or months. Buy 4-6 of the largest size you can get and paper your war room walls with them.
- Now start your book! First let’s imagine you have done nothing at all so far on preparing your book. Take whatever time you have available, right away, and sit down with a deck of Post-its. Begin noting any ideas or concepts you want your book to cover. One idea per Post-it. Don’t write mini essays – just note enough on the Post-it to later remind you later of the idea you wish to include. Keep the ideas as granular, as small, as possible.
Put your Post-its directly onto your war room walls (don’t waste space on your self-stick bulletin boards – those are for larger documents or articles you stumble across as you progress). Don’t worry about organizing your thoughts or ordering your Post-its as you stick them up – that can come later. You’ll eventually end up with something that looks broadly like the figure above – but with many more Post-its and looking much more anarchic. Progress! (Note: To save a little time I have reused some of the figures from my Winning Business Proposals book – so while they serve to illustrate the key points of this post well, please note that they were originally designed to show how to write a compelling business proposal and not this post series on writing a book (so please forgive me that they are not custom produced for this book writing post series).
- Carry your Post-its everywhere. You’ll find that your RAS will kick in and suddenly ideas for content will flow at you every hour of every day, from everyone you speak with, and everything you read. Every time an idea occurs note it on a Post-it. At the end of the day stick your collection of Post-its onto your war room walls – again don’t worry about ordering them right now.
“The journey of a 1,000 miles…
…begins with a single step” (Lao-tsu), and that is all there is to Step 1. You’ll just keep building up a collection of idea like this until you get to a stage where you begin to feel the need to put some structure on it (don’t worry – we’ll talk about that in the next post). For now just keep the ideas flowing onto your war room walls.
Your content will now begin to grow – without you having to sacrifice any large chunks of valuable time. For me, this phase of the process can go on for months or years – until I get to a point where I feel I’m ready to progress to the next step. I usually have more than project on the go in this phase – and if I later drop it I don’t feel heartbroken at having wasted a large investment of valuable time and energy. The only schedule you work to with this method is the one you impose upon yourself – that’s one of the beauties of this approach: you move your book along at your own pace.
Congratulations! With Step 1 underway you are already working on your book.
Coming up in the next post
In Step 2 of this series on how to write a book, ‘Building Momentum’, we’ll start really expanding your content and begin looking at putting some basic shape and structure on your work. When you’ve completed Phase Two you’ll already have a pretty clear picture of how your final masterpiece will look.