If you’re like me then inspiration hits you at random. I might be at work, playing with my kids, going for a jog, and bam something I see or hear triggers an idea. I try to equip my life in a way that enables me to easily and quickly record these ideas no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
When you’re in the process of writing a book it is easy to become distracted by these ideas. Conversely, when these ideas don’t seem to be occurring it is difficult to sit down and begin writing.
In my experience, inspiration comes in waves. I’ll have a day or two where I seem to be an idea machine and then a few days where I’ve got nothing. The inconsistency does not lend itself to writing a book. Moreover, if I have two or three ideas and only an hour to write that day I become overwhelmed when determining which idea I should focus on.
To address this I recommend creating a book outline before you begin writing. This outline is tentative and as inspiration strikes throughout your book writing process you can insert the idea wherever it is relative within the outline.
This creates an organized list of topics that when written about join together to form your book.
Before you begin writing your book I recommend you take the following steps.
Step 1: Complete a 15 minute brain dump of all potential chapters, topics, and subtopics to include in your book. Do not limit yourself in anyway. If it pops in your head, write it down.
Step 2: Sort through the brain dump by highlighting all the potential chapters. Create a list based on your highlighted chapters.
Step 3: One chapter at a time start inserting the topics and subtopics that you thought of within the list under the relative chapter.
Step 4: Look at each chapter and related topics and ask yourself what is uneccasary and what needs to be added. Cross out and add whenever appropriate.
Step 5: You now have your book outline. Be sure to include this outline on some sort of cloud based software (i.e. Evernote, Google Docs, etc.).
Step 6: Whenever an idea hits you record it within the outline. If you don’t have time just place it underneath the outline so you’re not relying on your own memory then insert it accordingly when you have a chance.
An additional step you can take if you’re feeling like the outline will not produce enough valuable content is to do a brain dump for each chapter before you begin writing it. This is a great way to combat the days where you’re staring at a blank screen and you have no idea what to write.
A few other thoughts about the importance of having an outline:
First, it gives you an overview of where your book is taking the reader. Knowing this while you write can help you put your reader at ease. For example, ocession ally there are cincur stances where I bring up a topic that hasn’t been discussed yet. I can add reassuring sentences saying something along the lines of “this will be covered in greater detail later on”.
Second, it allows you to work on your book in any order you want. If I have finished the first two chapters and I sit down for a writing session to begin my next chapter it doesn’t have to be the third chapter. Though I do believe it is helpful to stay in order it is not a requirement. This is particularly helpful when you’re feeling inspired towards a particular part of your book.
In other words, if your brain is coming up with gold for chapter seven, but your on chapter three, don’t fight it. Allow the inspiration to guide your process within the confines of your outline.
Third and finally, the outline allows you as a writer to chip away at your book. Rather than writing a whole book each time you sit down, you’re only writing a small piece of it. All these small pieces become your book.
Now stop reading and go make your outline!