Writing A Book and Staying the Course

Writing a book takes a leap of faith: faith that you have something to say that other people will find valuable. Faith that the book you create will support your objectives. Faith that you can finish and publish the book.

But writing a book is a lo-o-o-ng leap. Sustaining that faith can be tricky when you have many chances to bail out.

As a child, I loved watching RoadRunner cartoons. Wile E. Coyote, in pursuing the road runner, frequently ended up headed off a cliff and remained suspended in air. The moment he looked down, he fell. I remember thinking, illogically, that if he didn’t look down, he would have made it to the other side.

Writing a book is kind of like taking a giant, cartoon leap: it requires Roadrunner-like faith that with continued, unstinting effort, you will reach the other side.

Gravity pulls us back to earth every day, in the many, seemingly urgent tasks that demand time and attention. You can get distracted. You can even bail out. Unlike Wile E. Coyote, you don’t crash to the ground. No one may even know that you have abandoned the book project.

The more quickly you commit to the work and make progress, the more likely you are to complete it.

For that reason, here’s my three part plan for getting your book done as quickly as you can, maintaining momentum without sacrificing quality.

Disclaimer: I see plenty of offers to teach you to “write a book in 24 hours.” Perhaps you could do that — but would you end up with a book anyone would want to read? If you’re pulling thoughts in from the top of your head, you miss the chance to deepen your own expertise while writing.

I’m assuming that you want to write a book that achieves one of the following objectives:

  • Reaching and helping other people
  • Spinning a great story (for fiction writers)
  • Perhaps, just perhaps, changing the world for the better
  • Advancing or changing your career

If this sounds like you, then follow this simple three part plan to writing your book.

  1. Create goals and deadlines.
  2. Do something everyday toward one of those goals.
  3. Do that work first.

Create Goals and Deadlines

Scope out the work, create your plan, and establish goals and deadlines for the milestones in the plan.

Will those deadlines change? Almost certainly. But most of us need goals to provide urgency.

Once you have a plan, commit to it. I tend to take my own self-imposed deadlines very seriously — sometimes too seriously, but that’s another problem. If you need more motivation, find someone to hold you accountable: a friend, a writing group, a coach, a family member.

Do Something Every Day Toward a Goal

Every day*, work toward your goal.

You read that right — every day. Some days, you may show up for 15 minutes and read something you did the day before or make a few edits. That’s okay. This daily persistence keeps your background mental processes working on the subject of your book, which will make you more productive.

*It’s probably a good idea to take off one day a week for mental health. You may find that when you do, new ideas and thoughts will crop up.

Work on the Book First

A book is a long-term project. You can always let today’s work slide into tomorrow, and on and on. That’s one way to abandon your giant leap of faith. If you make a point of working on the book first, you maintain progress no matter what.

I have a tendency to prioritize other people’s needs in front of my own. Perhaps you do, too. To avoid that situation, make the writing your highest priority and do it first, before you attend to the million urgent things demanding your attention.

On any given day, many things will seem more urgent. Few are as important.

Work on the book first.

Simple, But Not Easy

That’s it. As I said, it’s a simple plan, not rocket science. Make a plan, commit to working toward it every day, and do that work first.

I never said it was easy. But if you work this way, you will make progress, and you stand a much greater chance of getting your book out into the world.

I covered these thoughts and others in a Nonfiction Authors Association (NFAA) Seminar recently, on the topic of “How to Write Your Next Book Faster.” NFAA authority members can listen to the discussion here. This group is a terrific resources for nonfiction authors.

(Gif via via GIPHY)

Originally published at annejanzer.com on February 8, 2017.

Author, Writing Coach: Writing about Marketing, Technology, and Writing Itself (very meta). AnneJanzer.com