I make a living as a professional organizer. You’d think that it would have been a cinch for me to get organized to write my first book. Unfortunately, when it comes to enormous new projects that I’m scared to death to do, I need more than my organizing skills to get me going.
I had known for years that I had a book in me. I believed that writing a book would be beneficial for clients who often left my seminars and speeches wanting more information. And, I’d even made some feeble attempts to get started. I kept getting hung up on the organization of the content of the book. I had so much information to share. I just couldn’t figure out how arrange it in a simple, easy to understand outline.
In 2009 I began working with Mark LeBlanc, a business success coach, to help me launch myself as a national speaker. In the first session he said, “I want you to write a book in 90 days.” After taking a deep breath I squeaked out, “OK, and how am I going to do that?” He replied, “Write 50 minutes a day five days a week.” I said, “I can do that. Can I still use Rock Scissors Paper as the title?” He asked me to clarify the meaning of Rock Scissors Paper. After I explained the meaning of the words he said, “Great! And, the three chapters can be Rock, Scissors and Paper.” With those words he gave me the solution for the organization of the book. I was off and running. The bulk of the content of the book was written in less than 90 days. And the finished product was in my hands 7 months later.
If you’re reading this article, I imagine you’re looking for some help to make the enormous task of writing a book less daunting and more doable. Here are four lessons I learned that may help you with your journey:
1. Tell others, especially people who have already published a book, about your intention to write a book. You never know what kind of helpful advice you might get! Those of us who have been on the journey to book publication are happy to share advice and resources that could make your experience easier.
2. Start with tasks that you can do. Doing anything will give you momentum to keep going. Writing a book is much more than writing the content. Other tasks include editing, layout, cover design and then choosing a publisher, not to mention marketing the book. Part of the reason I was afraid to really commit to writing a book was because the whole process from start to finish included so many unknowns. For example, I had no clue how to choose a cover designer or editor. But, I could look at other books of the same genre and make some decisions about the look and feel of my book. I found an organizing book with a cover and layout that I just loved. It gave me a model to use when I was making design choices about my book size, the cover and content fonts and layout.
3. Consider blogging to get yourself writing and develop your content in small bites. Dan Poynter, the guru of self-publishing, first introduced me to the idea of “blooking”. Blooking is writing blog entries until you have enough content to organize it into a book. The idea of writing a whole chapter is pretty overwhelming, but writing two to five paragraphs is much more doable. Doing it as a blog entry and publishing it also gave me the opportunity to try out my content on interested readers before committing to a whole book.
4. Ask others who have already self-published to share their resources with you. My coach, who had already published a book, gave me the name and contact information of his cover designer and publisher, and recommended a reputable editor. What a relief that was for me! I hate researching services! I liked the look and feel of Mark’s book, so I knew I would be in good hands if I used his resources.
If you have a book inside you, don’t let overwhelm and fear of the unknown stop you from giving birth to it! Writing and publishing a book can’t be a solo project if you want to successfully complete it. Start where you can and be open to help from knowledgeable others.