1. When approaching a book idea,
your first step should be to create an outline. Make it as detailed as you want, and think of it as a living document that can change and grow. Create a full outline, and include all your ideas and plans and then work with it until the order makes sense, it says what you want to say, and you make sure that topics are grouped correctly. You will also be able to see where you plan to break it into chapters, and it will help you stay on topic.
You can also use the “mindmap” technique, which is doing more of a diagram to get your information on the page in a more visual way.
It doesn’t matter if your outline is messy or imperfect, it’s about getting the information out of your head and onto a page!
Your outline is your first draft.
Your actual book should be an incredibly fleshed out version of your outline.
When I wrote my book, I started off without an outline. I know! Blasphemous! But I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to say.
What actually happened was I got about 10,000 words in and hit a block. Writers’ block is real and it is annoying. You WANT to write, you may even know what you want to write about, but the right words won’t come. It’s a frustrating situation of having the words you need right on the tip of your tongue, but just out of your grasp.
I couldn’t get past the block and decide to just write. So, I took a day off. I stepped back and came to it with fresh eyes and a better attitude.
And I created an outline. I took the topics I’d already written about and the general ideas I had for the rest of the book, and I made an outline document. In it, I put the topics in the order in which I wanted to discuss them, and a couple bullet point notes and phrases to remind me of important things I wanted to mention.
The best part about an outline is the fact that whenever I was checking the news, watching a video, writing something for a client, or chatting with friends, if I was struck by a bolt of inspiration, I was able to throw a little 3-5 word note under the corresponding topic in my outline and come back to it later. I didn’t have to drop everything and add an entire section to my book lest I forgot the idea, nor did I jot it down on a scrap of paper and lose it to the bottomless depths of my purse (again).
Trust me. Step one: create and outline.