Writing can be fun and inspiring and not even remotely considered a “grind” from which you would like to be far removed.
All it takes is adjusting your approach and your attitude!
That attitude adjustment – you will know you have shifted when you are excited, just can’t wait – to get to the writing tool of your choice and let the muses take control. You will notice the shift when that manuscript that has strung you out and kept you stuck for years suddenly becomes the focus of your life and you know exactly what you want to write – with greater frequency.
The “approach” comes from finding ways to eat a big elephant, one bite at a time, if you will. A new approach is created when you finally understand how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and that you are free to manage them, one piece at a time… until they all make sense. It is the “approach” I want to address today. If you manage just a few of these considerations, you will find yourself more relaxed, focused and directed – and a lot less fearful of what comes next. Three easy concepts will have you moving from a state of immobilization to writing with passion!
WHO are you writing for?
I have many clients who make a huge shift in completing a book once they take the time to decide exactly who will be reading their book(s). Writing a book should never be simply about your desire to write a book, become famous and add millions to your bank account; your outcome will be disaster bound from the beginning. If, however, you take the time to discover the biggest problem that a particular group of easily identifiable people have for which your book provides a perfect solution, not only will you write differently, but you will also draw a crowd of excited readers.
EXAMPLE: You are a life coach who knows that the business success of most Entrepreneurs is irrevocably tied to the level of self-confidence and self-esteem they experience – your likelihood of being highly successful in publishing a book, Winning at the Entrepreneur’s Inner Game, is significant. You know the networking groups to find Entrepreneurs, you know the economy is literally “throwing” many people from the corporate world into a frightening option of survival, and you know you have a “formula” that can help them shift from fear to FIRM success. You know how to speak their language, you know how they feel and you have found the key to going beyond surviving to – thriving. Your message will be filled with spirit, and passion and promise – not just six rhetorical steps to “something…” Keep in mind that your message MIGHT appeal to a larger audience, and that is great, but having one target in mind will make a huge difference in how you write, and how easily your message can be created.
WHAT is the biggest problem you recognize, for which you are confident you can provide a compelling solution?
What is your competition writing about?
It is not likely that your book will deliver a totally new and unique message; nor is it likely you will be without competition. Another step you should take includes looking at other books or programs to see which of the issues covered by competing authors you feel would be essential for your own work, and then… determine which considerations have been totally forgotten. If you intend to pitch your manuscript to a traditional publisher, this step is an absolute requirement; if you are planning to self-publish, it is a smart move! The work you do here will help you understand two things: 1) how to position your book so that it is different or better than anything already available, and 2) work as a starting point for that critical “outline” that will make your writing a piece of cake.
EXAMPLE: I want to write a book that appeals to first-time authors. I spend some time at Barnes and Noble and find a goodly selection of books that might appeal to the first-time author and lay five or six of them out on the table in front of me – table of contents in full vision. I cross reference each of them to confirm the similarities, and what aspects they have each presented that make them unique… and then I decide what is still missing. I start jotting down which elements I want to include, and add the missing links and viola! I know with absolute certainty how I can make my book MORE appealing to first-time authors than any other writer currently out there.
If you don’t want to spend time at the local bookstore, remember Amazon online. Type in the words you know your readers would if they were looking for your book. If your search turns up far too many books already in competition, take time to determine if there is a “smaller” element of that bigger topic that you could specialize in or focus on and draw attention to a more singularly focused particular problem, rather than trying to compete in an over-saturated book market.
If you already have a strong client base, or opt-in list, you might also put out a quick survey through Survey Monkey, and see what your “followers” want to have in the way of supporting information, solutions, etc. Don’t waste time writing a book where the message is already well-established. Take time to determine how you can stand out. This is by no means telling you to table your book – only to refine it to a point of extreme marketability and serving up a powerful solution to your readers. Case in point: There are an unbelievable number of books that have been written about “relationships.” Does that mean another one will not be successful? No! It only means that there is indeed room for another “guide” as long as you – as the writer – provide a different approach, a fresh and new “formula” that can be followed.
Do YOU know what your competition is writing? Do you know what they have forgotten to share?
Getting your message from your head to the paper!
The number one spot where I find first-time authors getting stuck or distracted is the process of getting that “gold between their ears” out on paper. Some have confessed the very idea is just overwhelming and daunting. My task, then was to create a process that would help these potentially amazing authors shift away from that state of overwhelm and into a level of confidence that stimulated creative, or at least thought-provoking writing.
When you are experienced and an expert or an authority on a topic, it is often difficult to narrow the focus and decide on one aspect of your value to put into that book. A word of caution: – Do not plan to give a way the farm in one book and don’t think about writing War and Peace. You will be putting up yet another brick wall in front of yourself with the enormity of it all, and if you manage your way around that, you will do nothing much more than creating a similar one for your readers. Not only is it smart to write several books from a marketing and money management prospect, but your readers will gain much more by taking in several smaller, more manageable messages that build, one on the other, than to decide not buy the BIG book because it looks like too much to handle.
Let me state unquestionably, I am not an advocate of sticky notes, but this is one instance where they are invaluable. Set aside some time and write down on a separate sticky note – each and every idea you feel qualified or passionate about delivering to your readers. Plaster them on a wall in front of you so you can slowly assess them, and – knowing your ability to deliver a specific solution in a unique manner – choose ONE of those sticky note ideas.
Then look at the other ideas you have written down and see if they can fit, cohesively and synergistically, as sub-chapters of your book – supporting the main topic you selected. Take all of the others and save them for future books!
Your writing can now begin in earnest. You don’t have to follow a specific outline, you don’t have to create perfection at this level – all you have to do is take ONE of those sticky notes as time an inspiration allows and write freely:
- about what you know,
- how you feel about the issue,
- what problems you think your readers experience because of it,
- what solutions you have used in the past that diminish the pain of those problems,
- what resources you have used that provided relief, or a positive impact…