THE Secret to Writing a Book

Ok, I don’t really have THE secret to writing a book or taking on big projects, but I will share with you MY secret in a minute.

You see, there are plenty of people who will give you advice on how to write a book. They’ll tell you to plan every step in advance, follow a massive checklist (that they’ll gladly sell you), and be as disciplined as a Navy Seal. Then, voila! A book pops out of you.

I’m sure that works for some people, like former Navy Seals for instance. I, however, am NOT a former Navy Seal. If I were I’d have ten best-selling books and six-pack abs.

I have, however, finished writing one book (which, by the way, officially launches on April 28th).

It only took me a year and a half. That’s really nothing to brag about. After all, I know people who have written and published a book in a month. I have also made tons of mistakes, spent more money on it than I planned, and very likely did everything exactly opposite of the way you are supposed to do it.

But you know what? It’s done. So, here’s my secret to writing and publishing a book (or any other big, scary project):

Take it one step at a time.

I had no grand plan. I just started to write. Then I organized my writing. Then I created chapters. Then I rearranged the chapters. Then I rearranged the chapters AGAIN. Then I finished writing. Then I had a few people read what I had written for feedback. Then I rewrote a bunch of it. Then I hired an editor. Then I fired an editor. Then I hired another editor. Then I made about a thousand little changes. Then I hired a designer. Then I made another thousand little changes. Then I had my team read it for more feedback. Then I hired a printer. Then I submitted the book to Amazon. Then I started telling people, “Hey, I have a book coming out soon.” Then I finally let my wife read it.

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I had NONE of that planned in advance. No spread sheet. No Gantt chart. Not even a to-do list. Every step of the way I focused only on what I needed to do in that step. When I got to the end of a step, I would ask myself, “What do I need to do next?” Then I’d focus on that.

Taking one step at a time kept me from feeling overwhelmed. I also never beat myself up about deadlines, because I rarely had any. I just kept chipping away at each step until it was done, then I moved on to the next.

I’m not saying it’s the right way. In fact, there is no way it’s even in the same universe as the right way. But what I am saying is that it is exactly how I got it done. Truthfully? I believe it is the only way I got it done.

It’s also one reason why I had to self-publish. A traditional publisher would have killed me long before I finished the book.  And yet here I am, very much alive and legitimately able to put “author” under my name on my next order of business cards.

If you’re a type A, super organized person I probably just made your head pop off. I realize this is not the way you will ever do things. That’s ok. You be you. In fact, the world NEEDS you to be you or it will completely stop functioning.

If you’re NOT a type A, super organized person, I hope this gives you some hope that you, too, can take on big things and get ’em done. Sure, it might take a little longer for people like us, but I have learned that persistence and a little bit of focus can make great things happen.

One. Step. At. A. Time.

Superpowerfully yours,

4 replies
  1. Heather
    Heather says:

    Inspiring as always! As a Type A person, be encouraged that you didn’t make my head pop off 🙂 Quite the contrary; you challenged me to loosen my grip and extend myself (and others!) grace in the process of working towards goals, and in life in general. When I’m not checking off the list at a rapid pace, I become easily discouraged because I’m not making progress or projects aren’t materializing at the rate that I think they should be. And then I tend to focus on the negative and either take a break, or altogether quit working on and pursuing them. I am sure I have quenched the creative and character-building process many times in my drive for results and productivity haste! Perhaps “getting it done” is as unique as the person working the task or completing the project. What matters is finishing well. Thanks for reminding me that it’s ok to do it my way!

    Reply
  2. Joy
    Joy says:

    I am also very much a Type A and my head did pop off, haha, thinking how on earth can someone not have a checklist?!? Awesome insight per usual 🙂

    Reply

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