Ever since high school, I felt I needed to write a book. I was just a scrappy kid with a lot of ideas, I could barely organize my thoughts.
I considered myself a creative but was too insecure to share my ideas.
I remember the day I was forced to tell my story. It was in my high school social studies class with Mr. Smith. Every student was required to write a report and give a presentation on how they would re-write history… If I wanted to pass, I had to do this. I really didn’t want to. I thought highly of myself, but if no one else liked my ideas, I would have felt like a failure.
I walked to the front of the class trembling…
I stood for about 15 “one-hour” minutes, sharing my ideas. When I finished, the class stared in silence. Anxiously I thought, “Was it stupid? Did I tell the story wrong? Why is everyone so quiet?” Turning to Mr. Smith, I was given a hard stare that went into a tight grin, then finally a nod. I gesture to let me know, “job well done”. It felt great.
Rob, one of my classmates come up to me in the hallway later that day and said, “man, you should write a book.” I felt like I was on top of the world that day… I thought to myself, “I should write a book”. I never did.
Fast forward 15 years, I was now a father working 60 hours a week, taking online classes working towards a master’s degree. I often thought about the book I was supposed to write, but I didn’t know where to start. What would I write about? What would the story be called? And when will I find the time to do this? It was all an excuse, I was just a procrastinator.
I felt trapped. I dreamed up these ideas and never did anything about them. It drove me into depression. I had the desire to create but never produced anything. After all these years I had yet to create one thing I could call my own. Frustrated and desperate, every evening for two weeks I sat in my car and wrote my heart out. I remember the day I looked through the only copy of my first book. I couldn’t believe it… tears rolled down my face. I just stared at the pages, I was so proud of myself.
I thought, “I could have done this long ago.” I already had the book in me, I just needed to start. I had finally turned my ideas into chapters and my thoughts became paragraphs. And it wasn’t as hard as I thought.
You must have felt this way at some point. Trapped, lost, not knowing where to start or end. But I realized all I had to do was make the decision. Once I made up my mind to finish this book, there was nothing that could stop me. It’s just a decision… Think you can make it?
Below you will find the steps I followed to complete my first book. If you have an idea, you have to make a plan to complete it, and then follow through. This was mines:
Step One: Drilling Down the Theme
In order to write, you have to have something to write about. What is your theme? What is the question your audience is asking that you have the answer to?
It’s usually something you hate and want to fix. That’s what drives passion.
For me, it was a no-brainer. I hate seeing people get taken advantage of by so-called marketing experts that never deliver on their promises and I wanted to fix it.
The theme of my book is centered around rescuing small business owners and entrepreneurs from the relentless supply of online courses and modern strategies that never seem to yield results.
Now that I knew the theme of my book, it was time to determine a concept to help deliver my message. That’s step two.
Step Two: Creating a Concept
Many people write marketing books, but I had to focus on a concept that would separate me from the pack. Remember my days in history class? I made up for it. I hated myself after high school. I missed about 80 days a year and felt I cheated myself out of a basic education… I don’t know if it was Mr. Smiths class or not, but I took a liking to history.
Ever since the invent of the net, people have been advocating a new way of marketing… when in fact things really haven’t changed. We’ve seen an evolution in technology, but people are the same. The “market” is the people. And this was the myth I wanted to debunk. So I pulled from successful people in history and compared them to the modern day gurus. The parallels are flawless.
My goal was to get people away from the things that didn’t work so they could focus on the things that do. In order to pull this off, I wanted to draw from the parallels that existed between modern day gurus and gurus of times past. This included religious leaders and military war heroes. Anyone that motivated a large number of people to embrace a particular idea. And that’s what your book should do…
So what is your concept?
Step Three: Establishing an Outline
It’s hard to create art without a cohesive outline. Just like the colors of the Mona Lisa, you’re going to need a scheme that brings the whole story together.
Writing a book is like a growing tree…
When I wrote my first book, each chapter represented a micro goal to help the reader achieve her optimal goal. The theme is the root, the concept is the stump, the chapters are the branches, and each subheader represents a leaf attached to the branch. This is how you create a resounding message that all comes towards the climax of your story.
Step Four: Filling in the Blanks
Have you ever wrote an article or blog post, report or white paper, letter or proposal? Then you can write a book. All a book is is a collection of the aforementioned concepts — and you should break it down as such.
Some people say you should start your story from the end… write the last chapter first. That way you can move backward into the events that lead to the final chapter. I, however, prefer to identify the purpose of my story and fill in the blanks to that end. But you can do what’s most comfortable for you.
And that’s how you write a book.
Once you finish your first story you’re going to realize it’s really not that hard. You just have to identify your theme, determine your concept, outline your story, and fill in the blanks.
You may worry about certain inaccuracy or your story not coming together the way it is in your mind. My advice: Don’t worry about that. Just get your ideas on paper and leave the rest to the editor. As you grow in your niche you can produce revisions and future volumes.