I regularly get asked a question along the lines of: “Can you write a book in a week? Or a Month? Or… [insert arbitrary magic number]?
My answer is usually: “Yes, it’s possible.”
Usually, this question comes after being sold on a program or package where the business owner believes they must have a book to become an authority. It’s my contention that whilst technically being an author gives you authority, being an authority gives you permission to write a book. If you’re racing down the fast track just to get your name on the cover of a book, let me ask you to pause for a moment.
Because, you’re not asking the right question…
A better question is “Should I write a book in a week.“
The answer to that is a resounding, “Maybe!”
I work with a client who once per year, every July, we write his next book, it’s become almost a tradition. In that month we rapidly go through the process of: recorded interviews, transcribe the recordings, write the chapters, edit, feedback, re-edit – to produce a draft of his book.
The reason we can do it so quickly is because during the year he has been regularly writing, publishing articles, delivering talks, running retreats, and testing out his ideas. We first write up a strong and detailed chapter outline based on his feedback throughout the year, then draft to the tested outline.
After the month of writing, we send the draft out into the world. We test the draft with key people in his industry. Is it good enough? Do people understand? Is it clear, concise? We make edits, test again. Then it goes to a professional editor, before going to production.
So, whilst we write in one month, we’ve tested and polished throughout the year. And the full process takes many months.
The process we work through (and most people creating anything work through) is what I call the Chaos Constraints Creation Cycle.
The process with my yearly client is:
Chaos: Ideas, articles, speeches, conversations, reading… during the year
Constraints: Make an outline, describe the model, draft to the outline within 1 month
Creation: Send the draft out to the limited world for review and feedback… which creates chaos…
Creation is the chief cause of chaos – so get used to it!
… we feed that chaos back into the process…
Chaos: Modifications, improvements, extra ideas
Constraints: Fix draft to a new deadline
Creation: Send for professional edit, production… and out to the real world
Repeat… the following year!
My client can do this because he writes to a very specific audience, a defined niche, who are readily waiting to hear what he says during the year at retreats and conferences, and they’re smart enough to give him great feedback. He rewards their support with truly cutting edge thinking that helps them achieve what they need and get where they need to be (moves them from A to B). He understands their journey, pains, hassles, desires, wants and needs, and he delivers. He knows his book isn’t about him, it’s about them.
You know, your book isn’t about you, it’s about them. Except when it’s about you. Of course, if you’re just writing the book for yourself, you can do what you want! If you’re writing a book to be an author that’s OK, but if you’re going to the time, effort and cost to do it why not do a great job? Help someone, make a difference, and feel great about yourself.
So let “them” give you some important feedback, build this into your writing process, so you write a book that people want to read, that makes a difference and leaves a legacy.
Be good, and if you can’t be good be great!