There I stood surrounded by holiday décor, looking at this simple 48 page picture book How To Be Santa Claus. If was filled with wonderful photographs and a short story about what it really takes to become Santa.
My a-ha moment hit, and I saw my photography in a book of similar size all about the wonders of being a bride. And thus, that was the moment Being A Bride was conceived.
I purchased How To Be Santa Claus as my guide. And I started interweaving a storyline and our wedding photography together to inspire women on the process of becoming a bride. As women, we dream about it. We imagine our daughters using our gowns. It’s a time honored tradition that carries women from cradle to grave. And we captured that in our own version of a petite coffee table book.
The year was 2003. This was before the ease of today’s self-publishing world. Yet I had a vision, and would stop at nothing to achieve it.
To self publish, I had to learn the ropes of not only the publishing world, but also how to print a book half way around the world with no prior knowledge of where to start. Color printing back then was only possible (affordable) if you chose a publishing house overseas, and I settled on a company out of Singapore to handle production. I hired a cover artist. I hired an interior book layout designer. And I learned and made mistakes daily for almost a half a year, until the final crate of books appeared at my doorstop.
Since that time, I’ve published again and again. I’ve written business books. I’ve created books exclusively for Kindle. I’ve ghost written books. I’ve written for multiple genres.
I guess you could say I have the art of writing non-fiction down.
Yet as a writer, I also had an underlying dream that eluded me year after year.
Every year since I produced my very first book, I’ve added one task to my New Years resolution list: write a fiction novel. And every year came and went without a check mark next to that task.
Until 2013. As of December 31, 2013, my very first novel was finished. Written. Waiting to be published. And while it was completely different than writing a non-fiction book, I have to admit it really wasn’t as difficult as I expected.
Why is that?
Through all of my years of writing non-fiction book, I learned the secret to writing any kind of book you desire.
Its an easy secret to learn, one that really doesn’t take much to understand, yet can be your number one stumbling block if you let it. And that concept is:
When you want to paint a room, you automatically grasp the concepts needed:
- Pick out paint chips
- Choose a paint color
- Buy the supplies
- Move furniture
- Take everything off the wall
- Prep the wall
- Paint the wall
- Move furniture back
- Hang décor on walls
- Enjoy your new room
It works because with every step, you take action to move you closer to your final outcome.
But when it comes to writing a book, it’s easy to freeze up, especially if you’ve never accomplished anything like it before.
You want to write a book, so you start assigning yourself tasks:
- Write a book
Yep, that’s how the freezing begins.
Painting a room is easy to grasp because the tools are easy to find, easy to understand. You have inspiration all around you. Your favorite home improvement magazine has article after article on DIY painting projects. Watch HGTV and you’ll find inspiration every day of the week. You can pick up free guides at the hardware store right along side your paint chip selection. It’s easy to understand because the tasks are readily presented to you in many ways.
Book writing isn’t that easy.
Authors are everywhere. But they hold up a finished product. They present to you their concept in final book format. They don’t tell you about the process. They don’t share the exact steps along the way. Yes, it would make a pretty boring show watching a writer at work. Imagine:
A writer sitting at her desk, hands over laptop, carefully plucking out the letters one by one. Hour after hour goes by. The light changes as we shift from morning til night. We pause when she takes a sip of tea or stops for the night.
Yawn. Boring. Not going to happen.
So if a book is on your agenda, you don’t have an internal psyche ready and waiting for the steps necessary to complete the task. They are out there. But you have to search out how to go about it. You have to look for the inspiration and the resources to make it possible.
You have to take action.
And if you don’t, it you leave the concept out there in generic form:
- I want to write a book.
It will always remain exactly that, a concept.
It will never become an item you’ve completed. It will never be a check mark in your life’s completions.
Action is key to success.
Your first core action item is to complete the writing. That’s where you should start, without it nothing else will ever come to fruition – publishing, building a business, speaking. None of it happens without taking the first step and writing the book.
So I challenge you right now, if writing a book has always been on your list, the start of the business idea you’ve always had, make right now the moment you take action.
If you’re being challenged to write Non-Fiction:
- Create your working title
- Outline your concept
- Create your table of contents
- Provide three key points under each table of contents entry
- Commit to writing something every day under one of the entries on your table of contents
A couple of great resources for writing Non-Fiction
Dan Poynter with ParaPublishing became my go-to source all those years ago when I put my Being A Bride dreams to work. Dan has many books and resources available for you, and if you weave through his site, you’ll find a wealth of information to help you no matter where you are stuck or frustrated.
One of the biggest companies in the world is also a great source of information … Amazon. Amazon is invaluable for research. You can use the Look Inside feature to give you ideas on how to structure your own table of contents, which in turn will help you develop organizational skills to move the project forward. Always order the books that inspire you the most, even if they aren’t on the same subject as what you’re final book will be. (Remember, my inspiration for Being A Bride was How To Be Santa Claus.)
If you’re being challenged to write Fiction:
- Create your working title
- Summarize your beginning, middle, end – understand what direction you will be taking before you begin
- Define your main characters – the more you see then in your mind, the more you can write about them
- Write every day
A couple of great resources for writing Non-Fiction
Scrivener is one of the best programs I’ve purchased. When you open up the program, it provides you with a full set of tools perfect for a writer. You can choose what type of writing you’ll be doing – scriptwriting, novel, etc. Then it provides many ways to help get organized. For my novel, I loved being able to create bios for each of my characters as I introduced them to the story. You can add things like names, character traits, background information, relationships to other characters, etc. This is especially important with smaller characters that may only appear here and there. That way with one click, you can refer back to their bios, and make sure your writing stays on track as they enter and exit your book.
I’ve used Evernote for years and love its functionality. You can easily create notes on anything you please. You can drag in and include text, websites, photos, drawings – whatever you choose can be saved and organized in an efficient way. I also love being able to go between my Mac, iPhone and iPad to be able to add and save notes whenever I have an idea.
A great tool to get you started the first time is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. Every November they host a writing month in which people from all around the world try for one unified goal – to create 50,000 words. They offer daily motivation, and depending on your location, you can even meet at local coffee houses and libraries to help each other complete your goal. And if you accomplish your goal, you get a host of cool prizes that will help you move to the next step of publishing your final project. This is the method I used, and would highly recommend it this year if you need an added incentive to get you moving forward.
And if writing a book is still on the top of your to-do list, this is your motivation post to get you to take action today. And let me know below where you’re at – I’d love to see what projects you are working on.