Over recent months I have been asked how did ‘the book happened’ and do I have any tips? Here is what I have learnt about writing a book, just before becoming a published author in mid-September.
1. Your family situation makes it easier if they are supportive of the activity; my wife Nicole continues to be exceptionally understanding and encouraging. My children are excited; my seven-year-old son has now started writing his book; it’s all about Minecraft!
2. It must be something you want to do; it will require 110% commitment. It has been a lifelong professional goal; there was no time-frame on it; instead, I had an intent to wait for the right time to present itself.
3. What are you passionate about, know something of and remain curious? When I was stuck on 20k words, this helped me crack on.
4. BTW ignore counting words. When I did, I wrote quantity rather than quality. You end up culling a lot what was written due to the self-imposed pressure of a word count.
5. Start or continue with regular activity; I walk at least 5 kms most mornings and regularly practise yoga. After these activities, the words flowed. When I missed these, the writing was sometimes clunky and awkward.
6. Start with small incremental dedicated steps, literally draft the outline of your book on a page. Start with a sentence, then some bullet points, then paragraphs. Dwell on this for a week or so and refine it. Do this for each chapter of your book. Spend time planning; it will help later.
7. What have you written in the past, a blog, white paper or assignment? Can this fit into your book? I am a regular blogger, and some past blogs helped with content.
8. Have space or spaces and a ritual. I have a dedicated desk at home, and I stream some of my favourite music programs from PBS Melbourne when I write there. There is a coffee shop where I also like to write, and I tend to listen to music there with some noise-cancelling headphones. When I became stuck, I moved between these spaces.
9. The words come when they come, sometimes at unusual times. There were several weekend evenings when I wrote late into the early hours of the morning. The more relaxed I was the better I wrote.
10. Find a book about writing a book. The Book Blueprint was something I read twice; I applied tips and structure from this.
11. Your team. I am self-publishing; my publisher and editor have been instrumental. The book would have remained unfinished without them. My editor has challenged and inspired better content. If you are open-minded, they become a coach. As a first-time author, it helped enormously, more than they both probably realise.
12. Don’t be overly self-conscious; it takes some courage to blog publicly (if it’s not great you can retract it) however a book is at another level. If you become concerned with what others think, you may not progress it. Ignore your doubts and just get on with it!