How to write a book the easy way

Some people love writing. Some people don’t. And yet those that don’t, still love speaking, thinking and often reading. I believe it’s not writing that they have a problem with but the method they go about it.

Here are 7 top tips to make it easier, more enjoyable and quicker.

1. Plan your book out in a non-linear way
(See here on how to mess this up)

Non-linear means not doing things in order. This is so important when planing your book otherwise you’ll loose the big picture and the purpose that will drive your motivation. Some people swear by the concept of MindMaps where you write the name of the book in the centre of a bit of paper and have ideas curving off it like tentacles. Each of those tentacles has further ideas sprouting off them. The problem with this is that it requires a set hierarchy from the very start. You need to know what the top level chapters or main headings are to begin with. This is not helpful. A better was is to be far more random to start with (and keep the big all-singing-all-dancing MindMap method for later to create the structure). So start by writing down random ideas that should be included in the book on a big piece of paper. Each of these points re in effect mini-MindMaps from which you can spur off further ideas of content. But this way you have the freedom to not worry about what comes first or what’s more important. This method allows your mind to keep thinking.

2. Research: Not too much, not too little, just enough

Facts should be backed up with references where necessary, but having to have references for everything is tedious and often slows down your writing. There’s a simple way to get around this. You book should have the relevant facts, of course, but the majority of the text should be your own opinion, your own interpretation of the data. People don’t want too much data, they want to know what it means. So get the facts right and then give the readers your take on it.

3. Use your speaking voice

So many eloquent, friendly, passionate, interesting people start writing and turn into robotic bores. It’s as if they think you have to formalise your words and sentences in the written form. You don’t. Write as you speak. It’s not a legal document you’re writing. Your authority comes from the value of the content not the high and mighty way you write it. If you’ve ever found yourself writing in this formal way you’re actually falling calling upon the events of 1066 which shaped the class and power systems in Britain and later her Empire, colonies and the English speaking world. This is still true if you’re writing in the US where you thought you were immune to class struggles – the shadow of the Norman invasion is in your power structures too. When the French speaking Normans took power their formal, latin based conceptual language, removed from everyday life, became the manner in which those in power spoke and wrote. The Anglo-Saxons, mostly who were illiterate, did all the work and theirs was the language of action, and of the present. These modes of speaking informally and writing formally is our default way of communicating today. Use contractions (don’t instead of do not) if you’re sharing stories, make it sound personable. Only switch to the formal legal sounding language if you want to dominate and force something on the reader. Let’s face it, that’s not really the kind of book you should be writing.

4. Write in short chunks

Readers don’t want great big sprawling chapters. If they wanted a long drawn out mystery they’d be reading a novel. If we make each of the points we make into a neat, digestible section which has a middle, beginning and end of its own where the point is clear. The reader will not only be able to read it and digest it easier, you’ll find it more satisfying to write.

5. Time

Everybody has time to write if they really want to do it. The problem comes when you leave your writing till the gaps in your busy schedule. Let’s face it; there are no gaps in your busy schedule. Writing has to be scheduled in just the same as everything else. The mistake people make is putting their writing time in the wrong place. If you get tired on an evening and all you want to do is unwind, relax, watch television, have a glass of wine, deal with the kids and their problems, eat and/or cook supper, go out or whatever, you’re not going to do any writing. Find the slot where you feel like doing it. It might be first thing in the morning, instead of jumping straight into emails or admin, do something creative. Save those mindless administrative tasks for when your creative brain has had enough and use it’s power when it’s fresh and ready to go.

6. Space

The rule is simple. Don’t write in the location where you would normally do non-creative tasks like administrative work. Find another desk in the same room, a different room, outside, another building, a coffee shop somewhere, anywhere that works for you. If that means getting a laptop, iPad of even a good old-fashioned notebook, just get hold of them and get on with it. It’s often better to have the tool you use as an exclusive creative tool if at all possible (i.e. not the laptop that you do your accounts on for the same reason as having a different room.) It’s all about doing the right thing to create that right state of mind.

7. Just do it

When you’re in your writing zone, just write (don’t edit). If you can’t think of the perfect bit to write just write any bit. It doesn’t matter. Compare it with exercises or circuit training. You wouldn’t stand there and worry about what order to do the exercises in, it doesn’t really matter, just pick one and get started. The act of writing inspires writing. Even if what you’re writing doesn’t feel particularly good or relevant to your main purpose, just do it.

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