Guest Blogger: Calvin Simpson
You have lived through innumerable changes in the world, and you have stories to share.
Writing a book provides you with the opportunity to reflect upon your life and find deeper meaning in the joyous moments and countless challenges.
Writing a book can give you a new found creative outlet in retirement when you are going through some dramatic changes. And most of all, your book will live on for near eternity, inspiring many generations to come.
If this post caught your eye I am guessing you have been toying with the idea for possibly 5, 10, even 15 years or more. In fact, over 85% of people say they would like to write a book in their lifetime, though fewer than 8% are able to achieve this goal.
Many first-time authors will start, become lost as confusion and frustration mounts, then give up on their dreams. The good news is, writing a book is indeed a possibility for anyone who has a passion to share their story, when paired with an appropriate framework. This blog is designed to set you on the path to writing success.
Included below are the three most important concepts that first-time authors need to internalize before starting their book-writing journey. By following this advice, you too will be well on your way to documenting your life’s legacy.
1. Establish the purpose behind your writing
The purpose of your book can be thought of as a one-sentence summary of what a reader can expect.
Will your readers put your book down and have a full understanding of the ups, downs, and roundabouts of your life story? Or, will they learn how to have a rich marriage that lasts a lifetime?
What message do you want to leave as your legacy?
The more focused you are around your purpose or central theme, the easier it will become to complete your book. When you are having difficulty deciding whether to include a story or not, you can simply reflect back on your purpose and ask yourself if the story contributes to moving the book forward? Or is it a story better left telling at Thanksgiving?
Take time now to grab a piece of paper and write down your purpose.
2. Establish the key messages within your book
Once you have your purpose set, it’s time to start exploring the key themes beneath your purpose.
Use some of the key themes below to help you flesh out the core content you want to include within your book. Take your time with this activity. Jot down your ideas immediately below your written purpose. Don’t worry about writing full sentences at this time, it’s your ideas that matter. Come back to this list over the next week or so and add stories as they pop into your mind.
Life events: Look back over your years. What are the most memorable events in your life?
Key turning points: Did you have any defining realization in your life when things really started to click?
Life lessons: What lessons did you have to learn the hard way? Jot down the key lessons you have learned. The good, the bad, and the ugly. 😊
Observations: Some of our most existential learnings take place while observing the world around us. What high-level observations do you have of your life? The world? The lives of others.
Life mottos: Do you have any life-guiding principles or mottos? These are the hakuna matatas of the world (from the Lion King). Another is the golden rule: "Do to others what you want them to do to you.” What are your life mottos?
After mapping out these key messages, re-examine your purpose to make sure it is still in line with all you want to share. If you find your purpose has slightly changed after listing out your life events, that is ok. It is natural for your purpose to evolve and become stronger with every day you spend working on your book.
Once you have your key messages outlined, it is then time to dive into each message further. Expand on these key points by adding short form bullets for each one of the points below.
You should now have a full page (or more) of ideas, giving you a high level framework of your entire book. It is now time to start writing and breathing life into your story.
There is no book if words are not written. That said, there are times when authors struggle. Let’s talk about a couple of them.
Writing too early: Writing should begin after you have put together a plan for what you are going to write on, and in what sequence.
Getting caught up in perfection: The first draft of any writing will often resemble a pile of steaming dung. Nevertheless, it is important that you get your thoughts down onto paper, even if you feel the quality of writing is low. You will have many opportunities to edit your writing further down the road.
Not seeking help: Writing a book is a large undertaking that can easily become overwhelming. Seek out a writing coach to help you shape your words into a meaningful story (we can help!).
Writing a book can be rated up there as being one of the most meaningful pieces of your legacy. A book is your opportunity to give eternal life to the immaterial, educating and inspiring readers for years. If you follow the structure outlined above, I am confident that you will be on your way to authoring a book.
If writing a book is one of your goals, I want you to email me personally at email@example.com and mention that you found this blog post through Dottie. Reach out, tell me a little about your book and I will happily hop on the phone with you.
Together we will clarify your message and give you further insights on how to get your book started and completed!
Sending smiles your way,
Calvin Simpson is the owner of Happful, a company that has a core mission of providing support to first-time authors. Happful assists authors from the “I have an idea” stage through to the complete publishing of a book. His team’s goal is to support 6 more authors this year and 86 more authors by 2020. They believe that by sharing our stories we have the power to inspire others to create their own HAPPiness and FULfillment.