On Writing Your Way INTO Your Book (Part 1)

I often say, "We write (or talk) our way INTO what what we want to say."

It's somewhat similar to talking yourself into doing something—using words to explore how you feel or why something seems scary in order to get to the root of the what and the why

During a recent Book Writers Collective call, I realized, by talking my way into it, that when writing/publishing a book, we experience a "reverse hourglass" effect of sorts. 

For fun, I also envision it as a stomach (ironically, the body part most heavily churning with anxiety and trepidation during this adventure). 

Without knowing that the first step (of 3) is one of two bottlenecks, many of us get stuck there. Which is both unfortunate and unnecessary!

Allow me to explain via a delightfully friendly graphic. 

As you can see, the first step is one of two bottlenecks—points where you're most likely to become quit. 

And that step is...

...figuring out what the hell the book is about! 

Is it about a specific time in your life? A specific lesson you learned or question you discovered an answer to? (Plus, "can" you or "should" you restrict the content to just that time or lesson?)

Is it a fictional woman's journey to peace? Or love? Or self-acceptance?

Is it a story for everyone (in other words, a story for no one)?

I cannot tell you how many hours I've spent asking myself and, in many instances, my friends (loudly, at coffee shops), "WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS THING?"

And if we don't recognize that this untangling is a very normal part of the process, we'll stop. Or delay (again), concluding that surely the book isn't meant to be if we can't figure out (in 5.2 seconds) what it is. 

Would it help you to hear that every single author goes through the "WHAT IS IT?" process? 

Allowing yourself to work through that before you get into the main section of the "stomach" makes the second stage so much more productive! 

Not easy, per se, but productive. 

It's how we avoid writing 80,000 words and end up deleting 60,000 of them because they just don't fit.

Now, writing our way into what a book isn't is certainly another way to figure out what it is, but in my experience (both as an author and in working with authors), it's the more frustrating approach. 

Because the only thing worse than not knowing what you're writing about is deleting thousands of words. 

I shudder just thinking about it.

We'll all end up doing it, to a degree, but let's keep it as small a degree as possible! 

So don't feel rushed to start writing. Take the necessary time first to thoroughly assess what the book is. It will make the writing of it far more enjoyable and productive! 

If you'd like some support with this, join us in the Book Writers Collective and/or have a look at the pay-what-you-can Book Outlines Made Simple workshop!