The hardest obstacle for most writers to overcome is figuring out where to start. Today, I’m going to outline a process that I’ve been using for some time and that I find works well for me. It’s just five steps long, but these powerful five steps will give you a path forward and allow you to start moving toward your goal of writing a book.
Choose your topic
If you’re writing non-fiction such as a self-help or how-to book, the ideal topic is at the intersection between what you love doing with what you know how to do. I know how to organize files alphabetically, but I wouldn’t want to build a business around that idea because I don’t enjoy doing it. That’s why I chose writing. I love it enough that I do it every chance I get, and I know how to do it.
If you’re writing a memoir, a biography, or a fiction story, the ideal story is in between the darkest hour and the greatest moment. You can use your own life as a model for the fiction story, you can write about your life for the memoir, or you can pick those two points from the life of the subject of your biography. When you connect the dots between that darkest hour and the greatest moment that came later, you’ll have a story that will have people eager to read and dying to turn the page.
Pick Your Audience
Who are the people that are going to need to read your story? Whose life is going to be lifted up by the tale that you tell or by the information you share? Think about who you were before you achieved your greatest moment, and write for them. Write for the group of people that desperately would love to be able to do what you do but think they can’t. That’s your audience.
Write One Sentence
Now that you know your topic and you know your audience, write one sentence that describes the big idea behind your book. If you need help writing that sentence, sign up for the email newsletter and I’ll give you formulas you can use for fiction or non-fiction. As a rule of thumb, if that sentence doesn’t fit in a single tweet, it’s too long. Rewrite it until it does.
Break It Down
For self-help or how-to books, break the sentence into 5 lessons that will teach your audience how to get from where they are to where you are to where you plan to bring them. Write out each lesson as a single sentence similar to the sentence you wrote for the big idea.
For memoir, biography, or fiction, break the sentence down as if it were a 5-act play. Think about the 3 major turning points that led you, or the focal point of the story, from their darkest hour to the greatest moment. Write each of those acts as a single sentence.
For self-help or how-to books, take each sentence and build a 5-part bridge that takes your student from lesson one to lesson two. If you find 5 lessons doesn’t cover the material, you can add more steps. I use the rule of 5 because it generally works. When I find that I’ve covered it in fewer steps, I look to see what steps I’ve missed.
For the memoir, biography, or fiction book, take each sentence and break them down into five scenes. Use those sentences to build bridges that lead the reader on the journey from darkest hour to the first turning point, from that first turning point to the second, from that second turning point to the third, and from the third to the fourth, and from that fourth turning point to the greatest moment.
Now You’re Ready
Once you finish this 5 step process, you’ve got an outline you can use to begin writing the book. Keep the outline in front of you and the audience in mind as you write. Take the outline with you everywhere you go, along with a pen and paper, so that you can capitalize on small moments of time to get more writing in each day.
Time To Practice
Practice writing your big book idea sentence in the comments section. I’ll be glad to give you feedback on it.
Come Back Tomorrow
In tomorrow’s blog post, I’m going to discuss what to do if you’re worried that you’re not a good writer. I’ll talk about strategies you can use to overcome your obstacles and creative ways to get more written.