Boring, tiresome, and dry? The process for writing a book is so much more.
A common misconception about the process for writing a book is that things should just ‘flow’.
Like a beautifully planned yoga class, you’ll somehow make all the right moves. You are, quite literally, all over it. No trips, no clumsy bends, no bad breathing technique in postures.
Whether you’re an accomplished author or book writing initiate, the process for writing a book is a challenge. In fact, it can be such a challenge that many people give up before they’ve even started.
I get it. Big projects can do that to us. There’s no doubt it’s hard to make sense of all the ideas in our head when we don’t have a way to bring everything to the surface and assemble it in a way that’s useful and meaningful.
Fortunately, you can overcome this challenge when you have a clear process. Let me share.
How I discovered gold
Back when I worked in ‘corporate’, I found myself in the mining industry.
While this may concern some people, be assured it was never a carefully strategised career move . No, it was just that a friend of my sister called. He asked if I’d be interested in writing sustainability reports for mining companies (I have to admit I didn’t know what they were). On the cusp of selling a business and looking for something different, I took the role.
Now let’s be clear. Sustainability report writing isn’t like writing for Vogue. It isn’t glamourous. Not even a little bit. Actually, it’s viewed by many as a box ticking exercise. That aside, I learnt some good stuff in this work; not only about mining, but writing and communication too.
After a while, I moved from sustainability reporting to a new area in the mining industry. Business development for engineering companies. It was here I cut my teeth on mining projects.
With no knowledge of engineering, and a relative newbie to the industry, I was on a steep learning curve. Let’s call it parallel so you really get what it was like.
The great thing about being thrown in deep was I knew I’d have to learn how to swim quickly, or I wouldn’t survive. As an Arts graduate who majored in languages (hmm, who does that?), it seemed counterintuitive for me to be the front person in client discussions about mining projects. But here I was.
To make it work, I leveraged a unique skill.
Listening. That’s right. Listening.
Through listening I learned. About mining projects, but more significantly, I learned what was important to the client (the audience).
I found that because I had no technical prowess to share – after all, I’d never built a mine (although I’d made muddy puddles as a kid) – I didn’t pose a threat to potential clients or colleagues. People felt comfortable opening up to me about what they needed.
Why is this important for writing a book with purpose? It’s important because you must learn to listen. To your reader, to your own voice, to your message. And then somehow bring it all together in a harmonious, coherent way that makes sense to them without your message losing integrity.
I learned something else too. Something hugely valuable.
There is a clear process by which mining projects come to life. It takes a lot of deep work, investigation, planning and implementation. It’s rarely – like never – a straight pathway. Inevitably there are twists, turns, disappointments, pitfalls and high notes. Sounds like writing a book, doesn’t it?
Why don’t we look below the surface and discover more?
Why the process for writing a book is like a mining project
Like a book, a mining project comes to life over distinct stages. In fact, like any large project that is done well, there will be a process followed from concept to completion.
Prior to anything coming out of the ground, a hell of a lot of work gets done.
Firstly, geologists get out on the ground and kick the rocks. Depending on the lay of the land, they decide if it’s worth digging a little deeper to find out what’s beneath the surface.
A drilling program is planned, and a bunch of holes get drilled. When the drill results are in, a story emerges from the drill core, and decisions are made as to whether they need to dig deeper or if the focus should shift to another area.
Assuming some holes yield encouraging results, other professionals like process, electrical, mechanical and mining engineers, are brought in. It’s their job to develop a concept for what the project could look like. Even at this very early stage, a picture starts to take form of what could be.
During the design phase, things shift from a basic concept to a more detailed study until a decision is made to take things further. The actual build is completed during a phase called project execution. Once in operation, and depending on the life of the mine, the operations will be optimised and refined to meet changing needs and market demands.
Mining is a fickle game. Patience is required. So are tenacity, courage, and focus.
Believe it or not, it’s exactly the same for the book writing process.
Follow a clear process for writing your book
Writing a book requires more than a desire. It needs a decision, commitment, and work. A clear process is necessary too.
Without a process, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed, fearful, and beset by doubt (the writing equivalent of kryptonite). Having a process to write a book helps us to manage these emotions. It means we’re not wasting time with the dreaded ‘what ifs’ or paralysed into doing nothing.
There are other benefits too.
You don’t have to think about what’s next because you already know you have a plan.
A process makes the book writing real, instead of it being a lofty idea in your head.
With a process, you can keep stepping forward, regardless of what is pitched at you while you write your book.
Now, there are some people who will resist a clear process. For them, it can feel like a process restricts them. In fact, the opposite is true. A process provides freedom.
When it comes to process, I think there are two kinds of people. Those who embrace them and those who don’t.
Me? I’m a ‘process person’. I like bringing order to things and helping others do the same. My experience shows that with a process, it’s easier to work on big jobs. Instead of worrying about what’s ahead, a process allows you to focus with presence on the task at hand. Inevitably, the experience is more manageable and the outcomes better.
Where are you with writing your book?
If you’re someone who wants to write a book, but isn’t sure where to start, it’s a good idea to find a process you can follow. Without a clear process, you may just find your book – your gold – never makes it to the light of day.
This is exactly why 7 Day Book Blueprint was created. It provides a step-by-step guide to plan, organise, and write a book with purpose when you don’t know where to start. Maybe it could help you.
We’re almost at the end of another year. If you’re like me, perhaps you’re thinking about the projects you’d love to bring to life in 2020. If a book that shares your wisdom is on the cards, make sure you take time to figure out how you’ll bring your wordy riches to the world.