July 30

The secret to writing your first book and getting it DONE

    Once you decide to start writing your first book, you start researching everything you need to know, trying to get a big picture view. Maybe you even google “how to write a book.” The more you google, the less you write.

    You start researching self-publishing vs traditional publishing, Kindle e-books vs. Apple iBooks, marketing strategies, and oh-my-goodness, I need a blog NOW! There are hundreds of websites that claim to help you write a book, but, really, they’re talking about how to market a book.

    Pause. Okay, some people will tell you that you need a blog, gain a following, build a list, and on and on. THEN, write a book. That sort of makes sense, in a way. If you’re trying to hit bestseller lists right out of the gate, then, yeah, you would need at least several thousand followers ready to buy your book when you publish.

    The problem is that you need a book, first!

    I see it over and over again. You have this great energy and momentum, you’re ready to write your book. Then, you get distracted by a marketing to-do list that’s a thousand items long. You get frustrated, and you lose all the energy you had around writing the book. Suddenly, writing becomes a chore.

    What’s the secret to actually writing your first book and getting it done?

    You need tunnel vision. For a period of at least a month (which is long enough to produce a first draft, if you set your mind to it), don’t worry about publishing and marketing strategies. Focus all of your energy on the actual writing.

    Because if you never do the writing, you’ll never have anything to sell.

    Here are my three steps for creating productive tunnel vision for yourself:

    1. If you receive emails from publishing and marketing gurus, put them in a designated folder to read later. You don’t have to delete them, since they may have valuable information for publishing and marketing your book—after you finish writing your first draft.

    2. Schedule 3 hours Internet-free writing time every week. Whether you write in 30-minute chunks every day or 3 hours on a Saturday, schedule it in your calendar. It’s an inflexible appointment. No Internet. Turn on your phone’s “do not disturb” setting. Ask someone to watch the kids. No interruptions. You’ll be able to churn out words so much faster this way.

    3. No research. I know! You love research. Heck, I love research. But, honestly, if you’ve been thinking about writing a book for a while, you’ve probably done enough research to write a first draft. You can always go back and add in more research later. Right now, get in tunnel vision mode, and write the first draft in your own words, with whatever research you’ve already done.

    And a bonus step for the truly dedicated:

    If you are really hardcore about getting tunnel vision, here’s how to maximize your writing productivity: No TV until your first draft is done. It’s TV. Record the episodes or buy them on Amazon later. If you’re serious about writing this book, TV is distraction that can easily wait till later. You can go on a celebratory Netflix binge, after you finish the first draft.

    But, can the publishing and marketing questions really wait?

    Yes, I think, for your first book, those questions can wait. I think your greatest battle right now is the internal battle, doubting whether you’re even capable of writing the book, in the first place. You need to face that battle and prove to yourself that you can write a book.

    Then, I predict that you’ll write more books. Most people who feel like they have one book in them actually have many books in them. Finish the first one, then figure out how to publish and market, then fine tune the process, as you write more books.

    That’s the long-term plan.

    But it requires tunnel vision to complete the first book.

    What about you? What new practice are you going to adopt in order to get the tunnel vision you need to actually write your first book? Leave a comment below, and let me know!


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