Writing a book doesn’t have to take over your life! Your book doesn’t have to prevent you from participating in the activities that are important to you. Nor, do you have to suffer the stress, embarrassment, and costs of missed deadlines.
The following ideas & tips based on my experiences, the experiences of my clients, and the experiences of the 500+ successfully published authors I’ve interviewed during the past 10 years.
1. Visualize your success
Remind yourself why you’re writing a book. Visualize yourself signing books at your local Barnes & Noble. Think how pleased you’ll be speaking at your local Chamber of Commerce, watching your friends—and your competitors–taking notes. View your growing online presence and the growth of your e-mail mailing list.
The more you visualize your success, the easier it will be to keep yourself motivated.
2. Avoid “binge writing”
Commit to consistent progress based on short, frequent, writing sessions. Avoid the temptation for heroic gestures, like staying up all night or sacrificing weekend or vacation time with your family.
You’ll get more done in 30-45 minutes each weekday day than you would by sacrificing your Saturdays or Sundays.
3. Make “appointments” to write
Schedule your daily writing sessions in advance. Don’t expect to write your book in the time “left over” from your daily tasks and family obligations. Identify your most productive times of the day. Commit specific starting and stopping times for your daily writing sessions. Develop your own writing habits and rituals.
4. Prepare to write before you start
Review your writing goals as early in the day as possible. Before you leave home, or as soon after arriving at your office as possible, look over what you wrote the previous day, and review the next topics you want to address. Looking back and looking forward engages your mind, so your brain will be processing ideas while you’re driving or performing routine tasks.
5. Isolate yourself from interruption
Engage the support of your co-workers and family. Share your writing goals and progress with the people around you. Let them know how important your daily writing goals are, and the benefits that all will share.
Close the door to your office and use your telephone answering machine to shield you from all but the most important interruptions. Avoid incoming emails until after your writing session.
6. Focus on quality, not quantity
Express your ideas as clearly and concisely as possible. Two pages of unique content are better than ten pages that restate the obvious. Prospective book buyers will be more impressed by the relevance and helpfulness of your ideas than the weight of your book.
7. Realistic expectations
Avoid unrealistic comparisons with published authors. Don’t compare your first drafts with a published book. You’re not in competition with them. In addition, it’s very easy to forget that published books have usually been extensively edited and rewritten. Plus, you don’t know how long they took to write their “classics.”
8. Set a time limit for each writing session
Avoid burnout. After 45 minutes to an hour, most authors find their productivity tapers off. Leave something for you to write tomorrow!
In addition, use a timer to alert you when the end of your session is approaching. This saves time to tie up loose ends before returning to your other tasks and concerns.
9. Avoid premature editing
Resist the temptation to self-edit yourself during your writing sessions. Your goal is to get the first draft written as efficiently as possible. There will be time, later, to review your work from a fresh perspective, making any necessary changes. Often, authors unconsciously use perfectionism as a delaying tactic to avoid
10. Avoid unnecessary risks
Always make a back-up copy of your work at the end of each writing session. In addition to backing-up your working file, print-out your latest work on 3-hole paper and add it to the 3-ring binder where you’re storing your manuscript.
11. Share your ideas with your followers
Immediately explore ways to convert latest into marketing opportunities. After backing-up your work, make a list of topics for articles, blog posts, speeches, or tip sheets based on what you’ve just written. Take action by adding these ideas to your marketing editorial calendar creating drafts of future blog posts.
12. Review your progress at the end of each day
Review what you’ve just written and your writing goals for the next day before you go to sleep. Reviewing what you’ve written will reinforce a feeling of progress. More important, reviewing your next day’s writing goals will re-engage your mind. While you’re sleeping, your brain will be searching for connections and organizing ideas. When you start to work, your brain will be primed for action.
Bonus. Don’t be a loaner
Remain open to new ideas and resources. Get help when you need it. Olympic athletes and Fortune 500 CEO’s regularly employ coaches to help them improve their focus and performance. Why should authors be any different?
What are your writing habits?
How do you keep on schedule, so you can finish writing your book on time? If I’ve overlooked an idea or tip that’s an important part of your favorite daily writing habit or ritual, please share it, below, as a comment. And, let me know how these ideas and tips work for you. We can all learn from each other’s experiences.
—Roger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles