I saw a LinkedIn poll recently on a profile with quite a few thousand followers. One of the options in his “what do you most wish to do now?” survey was “write a book”. Forty percent of respondents chose that
One of the commenters said they are looking for a good non-fiction book on how to write a non-fiction book. But not a how-to.
I can think of two good books for that. (Although, that commenter might not be my ideal audience.)
The first book is “Rightbrainer” by Marijn van der Poll. I helped him get that book into the world. He was my first book coach client. In it he talks about how to ideate by becoming fluent in the language of ‘ideas’. And that this is a conversation that we haven’t fleshed out enough as a society. Marijn invites you to stand in your own power of your own you-ness, and to harness the right brain on equal footing with the trusty left brain. It’s not a book about how to write a non-fiction book. It’s a book about how to think. How to feel comfortable with coming up with ideas. And it deliberately side-steps the use of the word ‘creativity’, which is anathema to many people and shuts them out of the process of building the ideas that are inside of them, in the external world.
The second book I can think of is the book I’ve decided to write.
It’s not going to be a novel (although there has always been one in the pipelines for coming up to 24 years). It’s not going to be a reference book. Or a how-to book. It is a compendium of thoughts that I have collected on how your body contains lots of cues and answers for how you can be a more inventive writer. It won’t teach you to edit. It won’t teach you about structure (but it will help you consider what that means to you). It doesn’t force you to think about the left or right brain. It doesn’t require any thinky-ness on your behalf. This is meant to be liberating! It is intended to provide effortless production of new ideas worth exploring, or even shelving. It also asks you to question why you would shelve an idea, or whether you should simply ask more from it. And, that it’s okay to create a dud concept. It is about accepting the vehicle of your ideas (your body), and the stories inside it (your history), and laying how you relate to both of those to how you approach writing. And you will find some really neat ways to look at your writing. Because it’s not all brain-generated (let alone AI-generated). It is body-generated writing.
I announced this challenge to my very modest LinkedIn community – yesterday I had the audacity to say my first purchasable-by-the-public book would be out there in 90 days. I have received lots of cheers and well-wishes, and am so chuffed to have a squad backing me up.
Once a week (at least), over the next 89 days I will write in this blog what I’m planning to do and have done to move myself closer to my goal.
Disclaimer: I have had this idea for my book for a few weeks already. It had a different iteration when I conceived of it back in 2021. As in, now it’ll be more concise than originally planned. But I’m satisfied with the form I plan for it to take in 90 days, as a) that’s not a long time and b) I will be self publishing in this instance. I plan to undertake a new challenge later in the year where it will be a longer period of time, the wordcount will be lengthier, the content will be more complex, and I’ll endeavour to find a publishing house. I plan to invest in this project too.
As someone who is doing this for the first time, what is the first thing you think I should do when you decide (and declare!) I am going to write a book?
These are my ideas. I have two. Let me share them with you, and maybe you can try it. I have.
One, sit (or stand, or lie down) for a moment and consider what it means to you to say “I am an author”. Find something, an object, that represents ‘authorship’ to you, and hold it. If you don’t have anything to hand, then hold yourself in a shape of someone who is an author.
First, try it with an object, if at all possible. How would an author hold this object. Where are they using it? Who else is there? What’s the space look like? For me, it is a LAMY fountain pen. It’s yellow. And the ink cartridge is half full. In my imagination (oh,such a wonderful tool, and not a place for thinking!) am using it to sign copies of my book at my book launch.
Next, hold yourself in an ‘author-y’ shape. Hold it! Be still and notice.
Now, get moving. In all seriousness – when you think of someone whose identity is that of an author, how would they go about brushing their teeth or making a mid-morning cup of tea? How would they walk to their car? How would you be, if you were an author? Play with that.
This is the single most important thing to do on the first day of writing your book. Start making the intentional – and at times uncomfortable at first, but with my help, progressively effortlessful (haha, what a word – perhaps less effortful) – changes required to push out a book containing some element of you that you feel the world needs.
Two. Open up a spreadsheet and input the day/date from the current date and the coming 90 days. Make columns entitled: Task | Projected | Actual | Links/Collateral | Outcome | Notes
It doesn’t even matter whether, at the end of each day, you have anything in every single column. It is just a log. Make friends with it, and check in with it every day. At least once.
An author writes every day (especially if they had a deadline of ‘just’ 90 days). And as you tried on the body of an author only moments ago, you may as well start off on the right foot.