One of the most surprising things thought leaders discover about writing is how much time it takes to conceptualize and craft a solid piece.
Developing robust topics and prolific content only sounds simple. In reality, good writing takes planning and practice. Time to set goals and deadlines.
Brainstorming is a fun and easy way to develop a cache of strong ideas and topical messages. Ask a few trusted friends and colleagues to join you for a brainstorming session. Set a goal and share two or three sample ideas with participants in advance so they understand your objective and the direction of the session. That way, they can prepare thoughtful feedback. Chances are, they will also suggest new angles about your topic or even a few obvious ideas that never dawned on you.
Ask which of your ideas work for them. Which don’t? What elements or approaches do they see that you’re missing? As others redirect or reshape your ideas, listen carefully and keep an open mind. Consider recording the session so you stay in the moment.
Whose work in your field do these participants like to follow? Where do they go for more information about your area of expertise? Their answers may reveal competition you didn’t realize you had or outlets that may be interested in promoting your thought leadership.
Once you have a clear sense of purpose, message, approach and framework in which to deliver your ideas, act immediately – and continue taking regular action. For example, decide what each of your chapters will contain. Jot down a three to five sentence summary for each chapter. Cite reputable sources so you can expertly communicate both your idea and message. Make primary connections to people and organizations that can provide solid background information. Include supporting details — government and industry statistics, case studies, real-life scenarios you or others experienced, primary source interviews, photos, graphs, infographics, video. Primary sources are better than secondary ones, so budget time for gathering the support you need.
Finding the time to write a book is a fallacy. You have to make time. You have to schedule it. The best way to meet this early-stage call to action is to schedule daily unbreakable appointments. With yourself. On your calendar. No interruptions. You’ll be surprised how habit-forming committing your time will become.
Your power lies in your action, so consider this time as unbreakable as an appointment with your doctor, supervisor, golf or drinking buddies. You want a winning book? Get serious, commit the time, then reward yourself after you see the tangible results of your efforts. Here’s a simple way to get started.
- Decide what time of day and where you will write.
- Schedule 30 20-minute unbreakable appointments on your calendar.
- “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” (Thank you, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.)
Decide what motivates you. Then commit to a content action plan, to a calendar, to practice. Simply set a timer and write for 20 minutes. Build from there. If your motivation wanes, listen to an inspirational speech, enlist the help of an accountability partner or ask for tools and guidance from a writing coach.
Chew on the following questions for a couple of days. Give yourself time to imagine possible answers before completing the exercise. Leave room for your topic to percolate and evolve.
- Who needs your message? Why?
- What are other experts saying on this topic?
- How will your approach differ?
Fast Forward: Compare your original idea to your current draft. Note the growth you made in the process. Celebrate the tangible results of your effort. When you have taken the draft as far as you can go, find a good editor to review, develop and polish it further.