In the weeks before my first book is published I wanted to share the process with you step by step. Both for posterity and in case you’re planning to write a book in the future. Part 1 is decision making and writing.
Recently I was talking to a client about an upcoming book project in the works and he asked for my “book systems” to promote, sell and follow up with leads who purchase. I laughed a little because while everyone wants a system to make things work, you first have to create a strategy.
Without a strategy you’re stabbing in the dark, hoping to hit the thing you want. It’s like driving in a strange city without a map, looking for “a store” with no idea what you need to buy.
It’s a little like my friend Melissa and me driving in circles all over our college town trying to decide where to have dinner when neither of us had the energy to make a decision.
You must know the strategy before you can create the system.
Oh, and before you create a strategy, you need to really focus in on the why.
That’s where I started back in September 2015. I was in Tulum, Mexico leading a retreat and in working with the small group we were discussing books. One of our clients is a fantastic editor, and nearly everyone had a book they were interested in writing so we discussed it over a group dinner.
I shared a little about a book I wanted to write which had been on my mind since 2012 but never progressed past a few interviews and general notes.
Having this conversation brought me back to the why.
Why write a book?
- I once won “best storyteller” at summer camp and was horribly embarrassed. Now I know it’s a pretty cool skill to have.
- I can appreciate the thoroughness of a book that you just don’t get on a blog or media outlet.
- I love to express myself and teach through writing.
- I believe entrepreneurs need to embrace systems and don’t often know how.
- Being an author will help establish my credibility as a systems expert.
- It’s a fun, creative process for me.
(You’ll notice that a lot of these are focused on me and that’s by design – if I don’t have a clear picture of what I want and my motivations, it won’t speak to anyone else. It’s okay to focus on you first before what will serve the community.)
Your reasons for writing a book will most certainly be different. After all, I’ve talked with people who hate writing but want to tell a story. There are colleagues who are ready to expose their industry secrets, want to sell a membership program, want a new income stream or to get speaking gigs.
Once I decided to write a book (like tens of thousands of other people…) I had to take action.
Now, if you’ve been around She’s Got Systems for any length of time you should know how much I love action. We incorporate action steps into our blog posts, create valuable swipe files, discuss strategies for implementing your goals and always bring it back to the informal motto around here: “get shit done.”
Goals and dreams and a big vision are just fine but without action, put on your jammies and keep thinking and hoping and wishing and praying.
So I had to get down to writing the damn book.
It’s easy enough to plan, think of chapters or themes and hire people to help, but at some point you need to put fingers to the keyboard and write. A lot.
Thankfully, I had some experience with this and used November’s National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as my time to write (not edit) the book. While it took many forms and twists in those 30 days, I’m proud to say that I wrote consistently and, on November 25th, hit my goal of 50,000 words.
That’s not to say the book was done or ready for editing. Oh no…
But writing every day, even if it was getting out a story or making a note about a chapter that I couldn’t figure out how to start was progress. I hosted a writing party at my house midway through the month, talked with friends in a writer’s chat group to do nightly sprints and just. kept. writing.
I talked about some of the tools that help me shut out distractions in this post and let me tell you, I needed ALL of those.
Due to back-to-back launches in October and November, working to re-launch this website and planning for 2016, I couldn’t take a week and isolate myself at a writer’s retreat to work on the first draft. I just had to fit it into my already busy schedule.
Writing requires commitment
One of my favorite writing quotes comes from Ernest Hemingway who famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
And that’s exactly what it can feel like – especially when you’re stressed, worried about deadlines and overwhelmed.
When you’re writing it might mean not going out with friends every weekend, waking up earlier or burning the midnight oil. It can mean setting the DVR for your favorite tv shows or saying goodbye to Facebook for a few weeks.
But it’ll be worthwhile, especially when you have this amazing draft that’s ready to be finessed into a finished book.
Coming up next week I’ll share more about editing, traditional vs self publishing, and the team that brought this book to life!