August 13

Are you overwhelmed by writing because your topic is huge?

    Do you feel completely overwhelmed by writing a book because there’s so much you could write that you actually haven’t written anything at all?

    It’s the worst of both worlds—so much to say, but no words to prove it.

    The problem is that you have so much to say about the topic that you don’t know where to start or how to organize everything you could talk about.

    At this point, most people think they need to spend more time thinking, outlining, and researching. Once they’re organized, the words will flow better.

    That’s the exact opposite of what you should really be doing.

    First, get the words out. Second, organize the words.

    It’s really difficult to organize thoughts. It’s actually much easier to organize written words. So, give yourself to permission to write without it making sense, just yet. Reassure yourself that you’re just going to turn on the faucet, let the words flow, and you’ll put them in order later.

    The next question is “How do I organize all those written words?”

    The solution is simple in theory but powerful in practice.

    Once you have written through a lot of your confusion and feel like you come to a place of peace with the writing (you’ll know it when you feel it), you can back up and start organizing what’s there.

    You’ll be creating a reverse outline. An outline is usually a list of main points, created before you start writing. A reverse outline is a list of main points, created after you’ve written something. So, you’ll make a list of the main point of each paragraph that you’ve written.

    If you’ve written 30,000 words, your reverse outline might take you 2-3 hours and be 4-6 pages long. But, it’s so much easier to look through a list of summary points than it is to read back through 30,000 words. It’s well worth the time investment.

    With this reverse outline, this list of summary points, you can look to see if there are any:

    • patterns (where you’re talking about points that interrelate and you didn’t even realize they were related)
    • gaps (where you jump from one idea to the next without transition) or
    • repetitions (which usually indicate a main theme in the book)

    You just rearrange the list, so that the summary points are grouped together and presented in a logical order, then move the paragraphs in the document around to correspond to the new list.

    Now, you have a new working document, with so many ideas written out. You can go back to the beginning and start revising.

    Once you start this process of getting all the words out, you’ll probably realize that one book is not enough.

    I always say that if you feel like you have one book in you, you probably have several books in you. So, let’s get some words down on the page, get this first book written, and keep the books coming!

    Hope that helps you put some words down!

    How about you? Do you have any tricks for writing when you feel like you have too much to say?


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