This week, we’re going to give you a book writing framework that will change the way you think about writing long form forever.
The problem most writers run into when they sit down to write a book, an Ultimate Guide, or even a long-form blog post, is they try to write it linearly. They start with the very first word, and then try to write a second word, and then a third word. And before they’ve even finished writing a complete first sentence, they start critiquing themselves, editing, deleting, “No, no, no, that’s not right,” and starting over.
Which is why it takes people so long to write anything longer than a Tweet.
Here’s what they don’t teach you in creative writing school:
The most prolific writers don’t write linearly.
They don’t start with the first word, and then keep writing words in (perfect) order until they’re done.
No, this is a giant waste of time—because it’s sort of like trying to find your way through a forest, in the middle of the night, with nothing but a flashlight. You have no idea where you’re going!
Instead, the most prolific writers approach things in reverse.
They start with a birds-eye view, and then each layer takes them deeper and deeper “into the weeds.”
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about the title (aka: the big idea).
Your book's Main Title/Subtitle is 80% of the work.
If you don’t have clarity in your title (if you don’t know what exactly you’re writing about), you aren’t going to have clarity in your book. Said another way: if you can’t say it in 10 words, you aren’t going to be able to say it in 100, and you certainly won’t be able to say it in 1,000 or 10,000 words.
For example, look at the subtle but massive differences between these 3 titles:
- Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make That Keep Them From Building Wealth
- Lessons I Learned Becoming A Successful, Wealthy Entrepreneur
- Tips I Would Give Every Entrepreneur Who Wants To Become Wealthy
1 of these books is going to be about mistakes. 1 of them is going to be about lessons learned. And 1 of them is going to provide highly actionable tips.
If, from the very beginning, you don’t have clarity as to which type of book you’re writing, then what’s going to happen is you’re going to write an entire first chapter about “mistakes,” only to get halfway through writing chapter two and realize, “Wait, actually I really want to write about the lessons learned,” and start over. Then, after convincing yourself to start over, you’re going to get halfway through your second write and decide, “Wait, actually I think I want to give some actionable tips here.”
And on and on this vicious cycle will continue.
Until eventually, you decide “writing a book is hard” and give up altogether.
(But of course it’s hard! You took the hard road!)
So, spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about the big idea you want to write about, why, and how that big idea gets reflected in your title.
Step 2: Make a list of all the Main Points you want to make in your book.
If you can do this, with clarity, your book will be 90% done.
All a “book” (or any piece of long-form writing) is, is a collection of smaller, connected ideas. That’s it. So, to make the writing process easier, wouldn’t it be helpful for you to have a list in front of you of all the ideas you want to make sure to cover inside your book?
Again: don’t start “writing” yet.
Instead, just list out:
- The big ideas you want to make sure are somewhere in your book.
- And then, in what order.
The goal here is for you to have “all the Main Points you want to say” listed out in front of you, so that when you get into the writing, you don’t have to “think” about it—or hold all these ideas in your head simultaneously. (”Wait, did I talk about that already?”)
Step 3: Under each Main Point, list out all the little sub-points.
If you can do this, with clarity, your book will be 95% done.
Instead of getting “into the writing,” take things one step further.
Under your primary Main Points, keep listing:
- What smaller ideas do you want to be sure to include within each one of these Main Points?
- What examples?
- What insights?
- What stories?
- What anecdotes?
- What quotes?
By taking the time to “brain dump” everything you want to say, you won’t have to sit there and wonder, “Should I say this first? Or that?”
Everything you want to say, in the right order, is now in front of you!
Now, all you have to do is write.
Step 4: Now just go down your list of Main Points, section by section.
If you can do all of this, with clarity, your book will be 99% done.
Because you did all the “thinking” work, first.
All your sub-points are your "notes" of what to write about, which means the writing can just flow—because you literally have the words right in front of you.
"Say this here."
Step 5: Do a final spelling/grammar read through.
Since you took the time to organize all your thoughts FIRST, by the time you "finish writing," you're done.
Give your book a once-over for spelling/grammar.
And you're 100% done.
You don’t want to be a linear writer. You want to be an organizational writer.
Linear writers waste a lot of time writing & rewriting the same things over and over again, trying to “get it right.”
Organizational writers, on the other hand, don’t even bother with “the writing” until they know which puzzle pieces go where—which allows them to move 100x faster.
To become a prolific writer, you want to be the latter.
Ideas first, writing second.
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