A good number of you are either published authors or more likely people who want to be published authors.
When my first book, The Power of Less, came out, I did the following things to promote my book:
Some things I’m doing to promote the book:
- Created ThePowerofLess.com, which is now getting a lot of traffic!
- Released several audio podcasts with tips related to the book.
- Released a video.
- Wrote and published a free ebook companion to the book – Thriving on Less.
- Created The Power of Less New Year’s Challenge, where people can sign up and create a new habit in 30 days, just 10 minutes a day. So far, more than 600 people have signed up in the first day!
But the major accomplishment for me was writing the book in the first place, while running Zen Habits and Write To Done at the same time, starting a new ebook publishing company, training for my second marathon, planning my wedding and honeymoon, and helping raise six kids at the same time. Whew! I’m overwhelmed just writing that sentence!
So how did I complete the book while doing all those things? Read on.
1. Focus only on the book. I was definitely overwhelmed with all the things I mentioned above on my plate. My schedule and to-do list was too complicated, and to be honest, I busted my deadline to submit the manuscript for this book.
So what did I do? I simplified, of course. I cleared away my schedule, told people I couldn’t work on certain projects, asked others to fill in for me on my blogs, got someone to help with the wedding planning, turned down many requests. I devoted my time to writing the book, and nothing but the book.
2. Have a deadline to meet. Even though I didn’t actually meet my deadline for the book, it did help that I had a deadline. I hate missing deadlines, although I’ve done it many times. Sometimes it’s a part of life. But having that deadline gives you an incentive to get things done. Even if you don’t have a publisher, set a deadline for yourself to actually complete your book.
3. Be accountable to someone. My editor was breathing down my neck to submit the manuscript — that was his job, and as I was late he had other people breathing down his neck. So there was some pressure there, and it helped me to focus and get things done. I don’t always like pressure, but sometimes a little pressure is a good thing. If you don’t have an editor, find someone who you’ll be accountable to. And make sure they hold you to it. A good idea is posting your commitment and progress on your blog — you won’t want to look bad in public!
4. Keep things simple. One thing that helped was that the outline of my book was simple. I kept the chapters easy to write, didn’t have anything difficult in the outlines for each chapter, and was able to crank out the text. Complicated and hard-to-research books take much longer to write.
5. Clear away distractions. Email, Twitter, IM, RSS feeds, forums, things like that … those all get in the way and distract us from writing. I knew I really needed to focus, so I put my email on hold (and checked it as little as possible), shut down all other types of communication as much as I could, stopped reading on the Internet and RSS feeds, closed my browser. I wrote in a simple text editor and shut everything else down.
6. Do one thing at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a large project. Instead, focus on just the next task that needs to be done. Not even writing a whole chapter — just the intro, or just one section. Don’t worry about everything else — just the task in front of you. Complete the task, figure out what’s next, then do that. Repeat until you’re done. You can’t do a whole project — only one thing at a time.
7. Set a writing time. It’s easy to allow your day to get away from you. You might check email, or do some chores, or talk to people, go do some errands, and before you know it, the day’s over and you haven’t done any writing. Avoid this by setting a time to start writing, and a time to finish — whether that’s one hour, two, four, or eight. I suggest doing your writing first thing in your workday — otherwise it might get pushed back because of other tasks. Stick to your schedule!
8. Be free with your first draft. If you fret over every little word, you’ll never get things done. Instead, just write. Get it out. It might suck, and probably will. That’s what revision is for. After you get the first draft out, let it sit for a day or two, then go back with fresh eyes and revise, clean things up, make them more concise and clear. But with the first draft, just get it out!