You don’t have to write a book in 30 days or 48 hours or some other superhuman timeframe to consider it efficient. A book is a way to showcase your expertise and share your company’s philosophy with the world; take your time with it.
But don’t let it languish on the backburner forever.
Here are some ways to make time to write and continue progress even when running a company seems to take all your time and energy.
1. Get help (but skip the ghostwriter).
If you prefer to work with a ghostwriter, go ahead. But I recommend against it, and I don’t think you need it. Instead, hire someone who can help you get your message on the page in a way you can own and be proud of.
A book coach or developmental editor can help you organize your ideas and make a plan before you write, and they can help you stick to deadlines and work through the rough spots when you lose steam. Once you have words on the page, that editor (or another, for fresh eyes) can help you polish them with structural and copy edits — so you’ll never be alone in the writing process!
Plus, coach and writer Stacy Ennis points out, paying a deposit and setting deadlines with an editor will motivate you to stay on track. “There’s nothing like money and a deadline to drive you to get that book done.”
2. Dedicate writing time that works for you.
Will you leave writing for the weekends? Monday evenings? Tuesday afternoons when you don’t have any recurring meetings?
Don’t say you’ll work on the book when you have time — you’ll never just have time. Instead, pick a time that works so you get in the habit of turning to your book when the time comes.
This is the simple strategy that helps me keep up with my blog, this column, freelance writing and editing gigs on the side of a full-time job.
3. Blog it.
What else are you already writing for your company or personal brand? Repurpose that content for your book, and you’ll have completed a huge chunk of your manuscript without additional work.
I love this approach because it lets you break writing into bite-sized chunks. You can write 800 or 1,000 words in your sleep. Knock that out for a few months and, suddenly, a manuscript!
Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book, writes, “Blogging a book gives you the opportunity to actually publish your book as you write it instead of waiting until you complete your manuscript.”
4. Appeal to your competitive side.
Have you heard the “don’t break the chain” productivity advice? The method, most often attributed to comedian Jerry Seinfeld, is simple: Hang up a calendar, and draw an X through each day you write. Write every day, and you’ll build a chain (or streak). Once you get it going, you’re competing with yourself to keep it going as long as you can.
It’s a simple goal, which makes it achievable. Make progress, and you get to mark the calendar. You don’t have to finish a chapter or write 10,000 words a day; you just have to show up.
5. Make it fun.
If you have to cut into your leisure time to write a book, make writing fun, so you don’t feel like you’re working every waking minute. Depending on what you consider fun, here are some ideas:
Join a writer’s group for social interaction.
Audio-record your ideas as if you’re acting or improvising. Imagine you’re talking about the book on a podcast. Coach Jennie Mustafa-Julock told me recording her thoughts made it easy to get the first draft for her book “Hilda” on the page when she didn’t consider herself a strong writer.
Use arts and crafts to plot the chapters. Construction paper is cheap and therapeutic.
Write at the park or while you people watch at the mall.
6. Write a shorter book first.
I recently shared some creative ways to fund your project, if you need money for things like editing, coaching or marketing. Here’s one that’s an easy fit when you’re writing a book: Self-publish an ebook to make some quick cash.
Think of the ebook as a preview or supplement for your bigger book. Write up a quick guide — 6,000 to 10,000 words — that offers a clear takeaway readers are willing to pay for. It can help build community to pre-promote your idea and finance the book you’re writing to share it!
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