One of the hardest parts of writing a book is knowing where to start. One of the early keys to my success was a short course I took from Angela Lauria of The Author Incubator. Her courses and programs have grown since I worked with her and she now takes authors from zero to finished, but the course I took was meant to help me write a book in a short period of time, and my biggest takeaway was in how I organized all the thoughts floating around in my head.
What did that look like? It was brilliant. She had me outline ten chapter topics, and then for each chapter gather three quotes, three stories, and three stats. That worked perfectly for me because the whole reason I was inspired to write my book was all the amazing books I’d read early in my career from Winifred Gallagher, Sarah Susanka, Maxwell Ryan, and more, so focusing on what had come before helped me find my own voice amongst others in a brilliant and established tribe. By reflecting on the work that came before my own, I knew I could bring something both meaningful and unique to the table.
So, what is the takeaway?
- Get organized. Your early chapter outlines aren’t set in stone, but start with some kind of framework around which you can build. Its better than staring at a blank screen.
- Look at what has come before. From this, take heart and inspiration, knowing that there is an audience for your work, and also use it to discover your own unique voice. What do you have to say about the subject that hasn’t already been said?
- Remember that advice should only ever be a guideline and tool. In the end I didn’t include three stats, three stories, and three quotes in each chapter. It’s not meant to be that rigid. Gather all the advice you can, and then adapt it all to what works best for you. (It can be hard to separate out good advice from bad as you write a book or grow a business – try to tap in to your own intuition early and often).
So that’s how I began. With the good guidance of Angela Lauria and the help of some old friends (i.e., my most favorite design psychology colleagues via their books). It worked, and just two years from when I started writing I am a published author. So, what are you waiting for?
(Stay tuned… next post will be about how I made the time to write…)