Guest Post by Brian Tracy
Over the course of writing more than 70 books, I have found two things essential to turning my ideas into published books. The first is following a proven system to plan, write, edit, and publish my manuscripts. The second is setting goals and scheduling time to stay committed to the system.
It takes self-discipline, but it’s worth it.
Even the most basic goals, such as waking up earlier to write a single page each day, can be effective. Over time, these pages add up, and if you write even just one per day you can have a book ready to go to the publisher within twelve months. But if you’re ambitious, you might prefer more advanced goals.
You may have found, as I have, that the hardest part of writing a book is getting started. No matter how strong your motivation or how compelling the topic, motivating yourself to start is a Herculean task. If you’re struggling to overcome your fear of writing a book, the simplest way is to break the writing process into small objectives.
I schedule blocks of two, three, or four hours each and set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).
Defining Your Market
If you’re wondering how to start writing your book, the first step must be to gain a clear idea of whom it is intended for. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s their Motivation? What would motivate someone to buy and read your book.
- What’s their Background? If you’re writing a book about improving your health, for example, likely readers may have tried to lose weight, quit smoking, or achieve other difficult health goals.
- How Will This Be Read? Will people read the book cover to cover, or will they read portions of it and treat it as a reference work? Knowing this will help determine both your writing style and how you organize your text.
The better you define your market at the outset, the easier it will be to produce a work that will appeal to the people most likely to benefit from it.
Cultivate Core Concepts
Distill your book idea into points easy to understand. The simplest way is to come up with two or three core concepts. This should give you enough detail to expand into a book while remaining simple enough to include all your concepts concisely and effectively.
Say you’re writing a book that will help readers find and run their own business. Distill all your advice into overarching concepts. Advice like “pursue all sales, large and small” or “cut costs wherever you can,” could be combined into a concept like “take advantage of small victories.” Likewise, if you advise “hire trustworthiness over intelligence” or “conduct background checks for all new employees,” you might synthesize it as “put together a team you can trust.”
Core concepts make it easier to know what has to be included in the book, as well as how that information can be organized.
Outline the Work
Outlining prevents your having to rethink and rewrite your book. It also makes you more confident about your ideas, so you can write quickly and effectively from the start. Decide the order in which you want to address each core concept. Then flesh out those concepts, listing all the points to illustrate and defend each of them.
Create Your Timetable
Having addressed your common publishing questions above, the final step is to consider roughly how long it will take you to accomplish each item and assign dates when you intend to finish each. While you may not stick exactly to this schedule, it should help you stay on task throughout the process.
Writing a book is a long road trip, not a drag race. Keep yourself revved up and focused on each step along the way. If you focus only on the finish line, you risk burning out.
Following my road trip analogy, do this by driving according to a schedule and planning frequent stops, as I did when I crossed the Sahara many years ago. To write a book, that means following a proven system and sticking to it.
Eventually, you will find yourself on the last leg of your writing journey and you’ll suddenly realize you’re at the finish line.
Brian Tracy, renowned speaker, international best-selling author, and CEO of Brian Tracy International has helped over 5,000,000 people achieve their goals for business and personal success. He specializes in book writing, public speaking, time management, leadership, business, and sales training for individuals and organizations.