Being an expert in your field doesn’t necessarily mean you can write a book. But it does mean that you have enough knowledge to fill one or a whole series books on your subject. It all depends upon how far you want to go, because print and digital books can help build your expert platform.
How do you know that you’re an expert? You’ve spent years speaking at conferences and seminars, presenting on panels, or online for podcasts, webinars, or videos. You’ve taught courses and given instruction, or simply have done what you’ve done for decades. All of the material for writing is there. You just need to get it on the computer. Now, it’s time to define what you want to write about and set some goals.
Time to Write
It take time to write. Not as much as you may think, but it does require a daily commitment of an hour or more. After a month, you’ll have 30 or more hours of work. This equals about 12K words, probably more because these calculations are on the conservative side. You’ll have twice more if you spend two hours a day. With a regimen like this, regardless of how much time you spend, you should be halfway done with a 100 page book.
This is not the time to make your edits. It’s not the time to look at the narrative structure—the logical flow. This is the time to get what you know into a comprehensive document. Writing is a process and this is one of the first steps to getting it done.
Outlines, Notes, and Milestones
I highly suggest the use of outlines to guide your daily writing, especially if you’re the type of person that loves to check boxes off on a to-do list. Outlines can spark your imagination. They also work as writing prompts, while helping you avoid falling down rabbit holes. It’s a tool and it will help you accomplish more, quickly and efficiently. I’m almost positive that time is a limited resource in your life, so use an outline to maximize your efforts.
Take notes as you go along, because you will be intellectually triggered to think about other things while writing the thing that has little or nothing to do with those thoughts. Write it down on a legal pad, then decide later if it’s important or not.
Most milestones in writing are arbitrary. I use the “100 pages” mark for a major milestone. The second draft is another major milestone, because it’s a more complete transference of your expertise on page. If it helps, give yourself smaller milestones, such as a weekly page goal or daily time goal. Milestones are great. That’s all there is to it. Once you hit one, you’ll feel better about your progress.
Time to take a step back and edit your work. Your first round of edits should be structural, not grammatical. You’ll need to look at whether or not you achieved your goal of describing what it is that you do or what it is that you want people to know about. You’ll need to look at the logic of your argument, any holes in the argument or missing information, and the transitions between chapters and sections within the chapters.
Editing is also a perfect time to get an editor or ghostwriter. All of the fiction and most of the nonfiction you see for sale has been edited by a professional. There are good and bad editors, so get references or look at their work prior to signing on with them.
This is also a great time to include anyone that can contribute to your project, either in an expert way or giving you feedback on what you’ve already written. Your first readers will be able to let you know what works and what doesn’t. But, it’s important to let them know the stage you’re in during this process and your expectations for their critique. If they can’t get beyond grammatical errors then you’ll be very disappointed and so will they.
No, Really, It’s That Simple
As a writer for many long-format documents, such as books and academic papers, I always hear how difficult it is to write. I agree. It is, but it doesn’t have to be. Keeping it simple, following the steps above, and committing to it will have you completing your first drafts so quickly you won’t know why you hadn’t done it before.
Of course, if you need some help, there are many professional writers out there, like myself, that can help you get your book in print and on a table for next year’s conferences and speaking engagements.
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