The Author Myths – Real writers start on blank page #1, then they start writing. They write the first chapter, then the 2nd chapter… until they get to the end and write their conclusions. Tada! Easy peasy.
Well, you entrepreneurial-type writers, you coaches and experts who want to write a useful, compelling business book, probably can’t write like that. (And I’ll let you into a little secret, professional writers can’t always write like that either!)
Entrepreneurs, coaches & experts are problem solvers. You solve problems. So you have tools and techniques and ways of helping your clients solve their problems. And this can make for a great book – BUT – the solution on its own isn’t a book. Entrepreneurs write like this: you get to page 1, write your name, website and LinkedIn address. Then you mess about with the formatting, add page numbers in the footer (still only Page 1 of 1), then you write up your great solution and insert a contents list. Tada, 6 pages!
And you know that doesn’t make a book, and you get despondent. These 6 pages are awesome, they’re your solution, boiled down, you know these six pages will really help people, but they’re not a “book”. So what’s the problem and how do you fix it?
A book is linear. There are rules (and of course there are always books that break the rules, but you don’t find many of them on the best-seller lists). So, let’s take a look at some of the rules.
There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. Are you bored of reading about this yet? All writing tutorials say the same. There’s a logical flow from idea to idea. But you probably only have one big idea – your brilliant solution – and that’s just great. There’s an over-arching story or narrative, leading readers to want to read more. And of course, there’s pain and gain.
Now, you sit there with your 6 pages of “solution” and try to pad it out a bit. You add some bits, move stuff around, repeat yourself and finally dilute the solution so much even YOU don’t remember what it was.
- You add an introduction: “The pace of change…”, “The world is changing…”, “We need to adapt…”
- You throw in a few quotes from famous people (who everyone else is quoting): Elon Musk (he’s cool), The Art of War (always good for a few sound bites), Steve Jobs (why not?).
- And you jump to some conclusions: “So, if you want to keep up, use my solution…”
And you know you’ve fecked it up.
What you need to do is write the way you think. Not just the stream of consciousness stuff (which really does have its place). Write the way your problem-solving brain jumps around, creating connections, brain farting all over the place.
A linear Word document isn’t your friend. You need a more flexible, agile writing system that doesn’t force you to stare at a blank page and write crap just to fill the empty space. You need an agile canvas where you can develop ideas, make connections, organise thoughts and create your solutions-based book in a way that readers want to read it and you can make a difference to their lives.