Well, hello there!
Today's going to be an easy one.
Today, as promised, I'm going to tell you the three things you need to have in place before you're ready to write a book.
Everything else is optional.
EVERYTHING else is optional.
Once these three things are in place, you're ready to go.
Let's do this.
First thing: What can you talk about all day?
Whoever you are, and whatever you do, there are about a million things you could write a book about.
You may not know what they are yet, but that's very normal. (In fact, it's probably for the best. If you were all, “I HAVE A HUNDRED BOOKS I COULD WRITE RIGHT NOW!!!” I might be a little concerned.)
You have a whack of things you could write about.
What we do at the beginning of the writing a book process is we sort through all those theoretical Yeses and find a Yes that feels good.
It doesn't have to feel perfect. It just has to feel good.
We do an architectural dig through all the things floating around in your heart and your brain – the things you love, and the things you think about – and we find the one that, right now, is a really nice fit.
Not a perfect fit. A really nice fit.
(FYI: It's possible you may get sick of me saying that. Forewarned is forearmed.)
Let's look at me, for an example.
I run a Business And Marketing blog.
Business And Marketing is kind of a big topic.
We need to dig around and find the part of Business And Marketing that lights me up enough that I'd be more than happy to talk about it all day.
Not all day EVERY day. Just all day for one day.
Wanna hear a math secret?
When I teach a class, and it's going to have an hour of audio? That hour equals 10,000 written words.
If I can find six hours of things to say – FIND, over time, NOT have immediately at the tip of my tongue – then I can write a book. (And honestly? Four would do it.)
Could I find six hours of stuff to say about social media? Probably not.
Could I find six hours of stuff to say about productivity? Maybe, but I'd be bored.
Could I find six hours of stuff to say about launch? Absolutely.
Could I find six hours of stuff to say about branding? Definitely.
So, with a rudimentary first glance that took me all of 30 seconds, we realize that branding or launch would be cool places for me to start looking.
From there, we look a little deeper and find the parts I find really cool, the ones I really geek out on.
Visual branding? Like logos and stuff? Meh. Not that interesting to me.
Personal branding? Much more interesting.
Personal branding for personality brands? HELL, YEAH.
So I could have a really fun time talking about personal branding for personality brands, and I could go for hours.
That might be a good topic for my book.
Now, one thing before we move on:
If you do not feel you have something you can talk about all day, that could be for two reasons.
One, it could be because you actually don't have anything to say, share, or teach. If this is the case, I'm sorry to hear that. That sucks, dude.
It could be that you're suffering from Li'l Ol' Me Syndrome. Like, “Golly, gee, li'l ol' me couldn't possibly have anything important to say about anything”.
If that is you, please get in touch with me so I can find your parents and slap them. YOU HAVE STUFF TO SAY. We just have to get you confident enough to say it.
Second thing: You need about 45 minutes a day, or about 5 hours a week, starting in a month.
When you’ve done your concept, outline, and blueprint/draft, writing a book doesn’t take very much time.
If you’ve struggled with writing, or voice, or writers’ block in the past, you’ll know that it was never the writing that was difficult. It was the knowing what to say.
When your concept, outline, and blueprint/draft are even halfway decent, almost all of that goes away, and you can just write. It’s pretty quick, actually.
If you’re a really slow writer, you may need to add a bit to that time, but not much. You can either add a little to your time per day/week, or you can take a little longer to write your book.
But seriously? It really doesn’t take that long.
On Monday we’ll talk about ways to keep it down to that 45 minutes, and how to free up little bits of extra time. (Also? Read this, too.)
The other thing to be aware of here is that the work goes much faster when you’re prepared for the process.
Do you know NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month happens every year in November, and the objective is to get the first draft of a novel written before the month is out. It’s a huge thing. Millions of people do it every year. But most of them quit, because most of them aren’t prepared. They wing it, and hope that momentum will carry them through.
Most of the first month of Write a Book With Me is devoted to preparation, so that when it comes time to write stuff, we’ll all be ready.
When we’re prepared, it’s pretty easy.
I’ve written every single one of these articles the morning they came out, and they’ve all taken me less than two hours. (And these are FAR, FAR longer than anything you’re going to have to write in a day.) It’s gone quickly because I was really prepared for this launch. I made my SOAPs, I made my notes, and then when it was time to write, I just wrote.
The same thing will be true with your book. When you’re prepared, it’s pretty easy, and it really doesn’t take that long at all.
Third thing: You need to have reached “Stage 3”.
When it comes to embarking upon any major endeavor, there are three emotional stages a person can go through.
Not all are required. Some people skip stage one and move right to stage two. Some people stay forever in stage one. But there are three natural stages.
Stage 1: “This is going to be awesome.”
Before a person gets serious about something, all they can see is the upsides of doing it. Having a house is going to be awesome! Getting married is going to be awesome! Having a baby is going to be awesome!
This is called a narrative. The person tells themselves a story – a literal story – about what it’s going to be like, and that story looks like the last scene of Cinderella.
When this person decides to approach the project in question – buying a house, getting married, having a baby – they crash into the reality wall and realize, no, it’s actually not awesome all the time.
This results in a full-scale emotional drama, quitting, or both.
Stage 2: “That would be hell.”
If Stage 1 is a 17-year-old Mormon girl* saying having a baby is going to be AMAZING, Stage 2 is the 32-year-old commitmentphobe saying having a baby would completely ruin their life.
*No angry emails please. I’m referring to myself.
We all know someone like this. On some levels, we all ARE people like this.
“Oh my God, I could never give up cheese. That would be hell.”
“I couldn’t possibly handle it.”
“I’ve got way too much going on.”
Viktor Frankl can write Man’s Search for Meaning and giving up cheese would be hell?
Malala Yousafzai is getting shot at by the Taliban and we couldn’t possibly handle something?
Kikkan Randall got the gold medal in cross-country skiing on her 18th try with a not-yet-2-year-old and we’ve got way too much going on?
Are we serious?
We’re not serious.
When we use exaggerated language to say why can’t possibly do something that normal people do every day, that’s another narrative talking. We tell ourselves a different story, except this time, the story looks like Dante’s Inferno.
We use handy, culturally sanctioned colloquialisms to avoid really considering the questions.
Am I ready?
What would it take to get ready?
Eventually, for anything to ever get done, we leave stage 2 and move on to stage 3.
Stage 3: “This would probably be a good idea.”
When we have evolved past stage 1 narrative, and we’ve evolved past stage 2 narrative, we reach a place of storylessness.
We reach objectivity.
We think things like, “This would be the smartest thing to do under the circumstances.”
Or, “I think this would be a wise choice.”
Or, “This is perhaps the most efficient way to reach my goals.”
Even, “I can probably find a way.”
When we reach that place – about babies, marriage, home ownership, or a book – then we’re ready.
Stage 3 is not a static place, because books are not static things.
We won’t always stay in Stage 3.
We’ll move around a bit.
When we’re all dreamy-eyed, we’ll fall back to stage 1 and get nothing done and waste hours fantasizing about how wonderful it’s all going to be.
When it gets difficult, we’ll step back into stage 2 for a few minutes, or hours, or days. We’ll dwell on the hardness of it all.
But then we’ll pull our socks up, perhaps lean on our community, our coaches, or our advisors, and we’ll remember that WE ARE AWESOME PEOPLE CAPABLE OF AWESOME THINGS.
Then we’ll be back in Stage 3 like rational adults, and we’ll keep going. And eventually, we’ll have everything we ever worked towards.
If you take Write a Book With Me, the most important thing you’ll learn is in the first lesson. I’ll give it to you now.
You don’t have to keep up. You just have to keep at it.
Everything after that is just details.
Next up, what to do when you’re busy as hell.