What is writing to me?

It's assembling a puzzle.

I have hundreds of puzzle pieces and when I write a new book, I'm putting them together to create an image that isn't clear until it's complete.

The challenge is in finding the pieces that fit together.

Similar to a songwriter putting together chords and words.


Learn by Writing

Reading without note-taking is like exploring new territory without drawing a map. ~ Julian Shapiro

I just discovered Charles Handy. He wrote The Age of Unreason.

My best advice.. Read the reviews of book similar to yours! Heed their warning!

"I learned lessons better when Logothetis recounted events from his life and experience instead of when he was preaching."

Write with 'hooks' from your synopsis - top of mind:

"Based on the author's experience of walking the legendary Camino de Santiago, and told in the tradition of Paulo Coelho and Mitch Albom, Rebirth is a beautiful fable about forgiveness, synchronicity, and the unexpected adventures that reveal who we are."

Study successful authors (inside & outside your genre):

Be inspired by listen to 'the masters' of the craft:

Procrastination is part of the process. Loniliness inspired me to work hard and fast. Muscle out a draft.

In constructing the perfect chapter, I make sure it includes the following:

  1. Title
  2. Program Name
  3. A quote
  4. A question
  5. A description (why it's relevant and how it relates to the reader)
  6. An example
  7. A call-to-action

Most importantly, how the contents of that chapter relates to the rest of the book. Why it's there, and why the reader needs to know.

Timing is a vital element as well. All the information provided is on a need to know basis only. You will be provided the information when you need to know. Anything more or else is a disservice to the reader.

By holding a conviction to my mission (to positively impact the lives of a million people in a significant way), . Because of this, I enter my craft of writing with a level of seriousness necessary. Knowing I will reach a million people, every aspect of what I write matters more.

Give the people what they want.

Hyperlinks have become part of writing. Why not provide the reader with more information? It's never been easier. They provide readers with the opportunity to explore a topic, give input, and read more related to the topic.

The coder behind the program will speak up now and then in the form of short quips, quotes, tips and timely advice (often through the avatars of well known mystics and mentors) throughout our journey.

Adapt Guy Kawasaki's 10 slides rule to each module:

"Ten is the optimal number because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting." He goes on to explain the ten things that interest a venture capitalist:

  1. Problem
  2. Your solution
  3. Business model
  4. Underlying magic/technology
  5. Marketing and sales
  6. Competition
  7. Team
  8. Projections and milestones
  9. Status and timeline
  10. Summary and call to action

How might I adapt this for writing a module (chapter)?

  1. The problem - I usually state in the form of a question.
  2. The solution - The program
  3. Model - This is the example Simon Strong gives us. I may also point to other individuals (programs) who serve as examples.
  4. Underlying magic - The logic behind the reason
  5. Marketing - Remind the reader why they should care.
  6. Compeitition - I prefer coopetition and would point to others who have written on the topic (including YouTube videos).
  7. Milestones - One my favorite topics
  8. Timeline - Manage the commit
  9. Call-to-Action - a CTA is vital. Even if it's just referring the reader to a related topic.
  10. Summary

Five will suffice:

  1. State the problem - I engage the reader through a thought provoking question.
  2. A relevant quote from someone credible - provides third party validation of the problem.
  3. Provide an example.
  4. State the solution - The program is the recommended solution.
  5. Call-to-Action

Now that publishing is no longer a barrier for many of us, it's worth looking at ways to remove a common barrier that still exists: writing

Here are some techniques and tools I personally use to help me get words out of my head and closer to being published.  If you have any others you've personally found to work well for yourself, please share them in the comments sections below.

Get a distraction free word processor.

PC Options: * Zen Edit. * WriteMonkey

Mac Options: * WriteRoom * OmmWriter

Regardless of which option you choose, I highly recommend F.LUX! For all the hours we spend starring at our computer screens, this in my opinion is an essential program to have installed.

In 2013, I started using Ulysses (which is very different than the current version), but abandoned due to complexity. The new version is much simplier, but it's a bit pricey.

I tend to write in editors now that support markdown: Mou, Simplenote, LightPaper. My current preferred editor is atom.io which allows me to use a hacker-style theme. I've also spent awhile using the Typerighter web app, but abandoned it due to it's lack of a search function.

I play atmospheric background sound to focus my mind and inspire deep thinking. I love the stations on Pandora. A few stations I can suggest for some awe inspiring 'atmospheric' music: Manual, Hammock, Steve Roach, and Jon Hopkins.  For years, I used a brilliant little app called Chatter Blocker to keep my mind on task.  A cool thing you can do with Chatter Blocker is create your own loops. The company is no longer producing the software, but you probably still find copies available. I created a YouTube playlist which contains many of my favorite writing tunes. I also have several spotify playlists (many inspired by my yoga teachers).

Update: I recently started to explore using Binaural tracks with Amazon Cloud Player

Begin by outlining and gathering thoughts. A key to creating great non-fiction begins with the table of contents.  So be sure you are writing from an outline.  Visual outlining is easily done with any of the many mind mapping tools you can find online.  Be sure you get one that allows you to export the mind map into an outline, and use that as your table of contents. Here's a few other tools I use on a regular basis to help me keep my writings organized and into a space where I won't ever lose them:

Use a freeform cloud notebook like Simplenote, Dropbox Paper, iCloud Notebook to never lose another killer idea. I typically begin writing in Atom.io which resides in a dropbox folder. The beauty of PubWriter is that my dropbox folder is sync'd up to my PubWriter site, publishing and updating everything I write or edit. I use twitter to log my writing with hashtags which help me find them later. I find that my mind often wanders and if I'm not diligent, they become detours which delay what I'm working on. I currently use dropbox paper and have page for each day of the month. It's where I drop my distractions in case I need to revisit them later. It's where I items I on the back burner for now so I can get back to the module I'm writing about. I am also a fan of the Notebooks App, but have found it became sluggish as my data store grew (currently over 500MB). It has a tight integration with dropbox and works on all platforms.

Stay organized and expand your ideas with index cards. There's a few virtual index card apps out there, but one that's been out longer than most is Super Note Card. If you've attended any of my workshops, you might be familiar with my 8-up brainstorming technique.  SuperNoteCard is a great tool to expand them further.

Keep your files safe and secure. One of the common problems new (& sometimes old) authors fall into is in losing their files or getting revisions of their work mixed up.  Like millions of others, I've discovered dropbox. If your hard drive crashes or your computer gets stolen, you will be thankful you have dropbox.

Use the Pomodoro Technique

When I use a Pomodoro timer with a leaderboard technique like the The Task Progress Tracker, I can create momentum. From momentum comes results.

Hope this helps you focus on your writing which is one of the most important things you can do!  My suggestion is that you find a few tools that work for you and stick to them.  Complexity quickly becomes a real issue as you try to add that latest new tool to your arsenal. While it's tempting because we are always looking for a quicker/better way... resist them and stick with what you already know. Be sure you are also not locking yourself into a proprietary system that may someday no longer be compatible with your operating system. For this reason, as much as possible, I try to stick with open-source based solutions (like Markdown).

Further Reading & Related