Organization ideas—are those two words a turn-on to you, or a turn-off? To serious book writers, the difference between writing success and failure often boils down to the preparation steps more than the actual writing. Is that true? Keep reading!
Knowing how to write a book entails much more than merely sitting down with a computer or with a pen and stack of paper. There really is nothing magical about being a book writer. It takes work, discipline, patience, and a whole lot more. The main ingredient often overlooked is organizing first!
If you think you’re ready to start writing your book, take a moment to answer these few questions. A little time spent here right now could save you tons of frustration and time later.
- Do you clearly know why you want to write your book?
- Can you plainly tell me the purpose for writing your book?
- What kind of support do you have around you to turn to when the project gets tough?
- Are you able to show me your goals for both the writing process and for the book itself?
- Where are you going to do all this writing?
- When specifically are you going to write and work on your book?
- What shape are your content and notes in?
- Are you equipped to keep yourself fit physically, mentally, and emotionally as you write?
I have talked about the actual steps to writing a book. Check out that blog post to see how the organization ideas here flow right into those steps for writing a book. (There is a series of posts coming soon that delve into each of those steps, too.)
Book Writing Success in 7 Prep Steps
There are seven specific areas that require your attention to ensure you are prepared to write your book. Some of them are more difficult than others, and that differs widely from person to person. But there is great reward for any book writer who will prepare in all of them.
Prep Step #1: Organization Ideas Concerning Your Purpose
Purpose—the WHY of what you’re doing—is the most vital element of your book writing project. Therefore, you must know and recognize your purpose for writing your book, and be able to communicate that clearly to others.
Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. ~ John F. Kennedy
Take time to be quiet. Think about the topic of your book. Mull over the main message of it, the main points in its content. Why do you feel compelled to write this? Be honest with yourself. This is a process, not a spur-of-the-moment idea.
Allow yourself to see the heart of the matter from your heart’s perspective. Maybe the subject of your book is something that deeply touched your life; therefore, you have a strong desire to share your story along with knowledge and wisdom learned. Your hope is to spare someone else the experience that you had.
It could be that you have a strong belief about a certain subject, and you feel compelled to speak out that message. Your hope or prayer is that this message will transform some lives or bring freedom in some way.
I don’t pretend to have a clue what your purpose is in wanting to write your book. That is exactly why you have to know it yourself and be able to express that purpose to anyone who asks or needs to know!
Write down your thoughts in your pursuit for purpose. Continue in your search until you arrive at a clear and concise sentence or two telling why you are writing your book.
Prep Step #2: Organization Ideas Concerning Relationships & Support
Whatever your personal life looks like, it is definitely affected by your decision to write a book. There is a surrendering of yourself to the book writer within. The commitment to carrying a book project from beginning to end involves virtually every aspect of your life.
You must be sure you have the best support you can possibly have. Along the way, you need to know that your family, friends and loved ones are standing with you. Their support is invaluable as you wade through the writing process.
When your emotions get churned up, when you feel stuck, when frustration tells you to just abandon the project—what will happen? If you have taken the time to prepare your support team in advance, they will take notice of when you hit those tough spots. They will surround you with encouragement, vision, humor, or even chocolate!
So, talk with those closest to you. You know who the supporters are in your circle. Go to them and work out a plan for their support to kick in when you need it. Think about the ones that you know you can call at crazy hours of the day and night. You know that person who can best make you laugh and convince you that you can do it! You know who will pray or brainstorm or talk out the trouble spots with you.
Prep Step #3: Organization Ideas Concerning Goals
Is the word goal just another 4-letter word to you? For the serious book writer, goals are some of your best friends! Why is that?
Now, I’m all for spontaneity in a lot of ways. There’s something exhilarating about setting off on a grand adventure of some kind. Having said that, there is a great difference between the spontaneous exploration down an inviting dirt road and driving to Dallas for a meeting that starts on Saturday night!
Applying this analogy to your writing a book, the difference is in the presence or absence of a specific goal. Joy riding down the dirt road has no specific goal attached. It’s in play or entertainment. Driving to Dallas, however, has specific goals in mind.
There is much teaching available about setting SMART goals. Please click the link to get some great training on what they are, how you set them, and why.
In the simplest of terms, a SMART goal is an acronym that stands for a goal based on these qualities:
Having a goal for the completion of your book takes you way farther down the road to success than working open-ended with no goal to support or drive your work. Your goal is the first step in creating the roadmap to your destination—your book published for real.
You may not realize it, but each of these 7 prep steps, or organization ideas, are preparing you for writing success. They are each worth the time and effort to create them. You will use them over and over again as you write your book.
Prep Step #4: Organization Ideas Concerning Time
You have 168 hours every week. How do you spend yours? In some ways, that number sounds like a lot, but in other ways, it sounds like a very short time! How do you see it? Because time is “slippery” like that, it’s so easy to run out of it.
Taking on a project as big as writing a book can be an automatic fail without properly organizing your time to accommodate it. Create a regular writing schedule for yourself and stick to it until your project is complete. Respect and protect that time.
Mark these times on your calendar and treat them just like you would an appointment out somewhere. Set up consequences for yourself if you fail to show up for your writing session. It is true that life does happen, and you can’t control everything in your day. Emergencies do come. But unless something serious comes along, be committed to your writing schedule.
It is best to have a writing session every day. It keeps the material fresh in your mind. The thread of what you were writing yesterday is easy to pick up in your session today. This expedites the process and brings your book together in better time and condition. A writing schedule with long gaps between sessions or writing with no schedule at all makes it difficult to maintain your focus and stay on track.
Prep Step #5: Organization Ideas Concerning Work Space
If you want to cook dinner, you go to the kitchen. When you get sleepy you go to your bedroom and lie down. Want to go see a movie? They make theaters for that! So, I pose the question to you, where do you go to write?
If you’re not careful, writing is just treated as something that you do just wherever. Certainly, that can be true in some cases. When you are journaling, for example, it is fun and often inspiring to write in different places.
But when you are serious about writing a book, it is a very good idea to create a space in your home and designate that as your writing place. This space needs to fit certain simple criteria in order to work best for you:
- Out of the flow of household traffic
- Distraction-free–this means a break from family, friends, even pets (if they are disruptive)
- Good lighting for ease of reading and writing
- Comfortable seating and table/desk size and height
- Supplies that you need always at hand, but out of the way
- Freedom to leave papers, etc., out when you’re not there
You could add more to this list, and you may want to for yourself, but with these basics present, you will have a great writing space.
For some of you, I know your home environment is just not at all conducive to this idea. So what’s the answer? Get creative! Is there a space in the garage? If you’re in an apartment, is there a common area or a clubhouse area where you can schedule your writing into its quieter hours and spaces?
If you are not able to set up a full-time space at home, then maintain all of your writing necessities in a cool bag or box. That way you can just pick it up and easily carry your project with you. There are ways to organize a writing space for yourself. Think outside the box on this one if you have to!
Prep Step #6: Organization Ideas Concerning Content, Materials, and Research
So much could be written about this topic! I doubt that any two book writers have the same way of managing their notes, information, and research. Truly, there is not one concrete way to handle this.
What is important here is that you have some workable system for organizing your information and notes. Have everything in one place and keep everything where it belongs. It is common for this to be a combination of paper files, journals, notes, cards, etc, along with computer files as well.
Make sure that everything you need for accessing your information is readily and easily at hand all the time. That will look a certain way to you. Take the time to think through this to create the best organization for your situation.
Prep Step #7: Organization Ideas Concerning Physical & Mental Maintenance
Writing a book takes energy. You will be sitting for long periods of time while you write. All kinds of symptoms can show up to make you physically miserable. Exercise becomes a critical component to writing your book.
Have a plan in mind to deal with this aspect of the writing process. Decide ahead of time what you will do—walks, workouts, take breaks, drink water, eat healthy foods, whatever. By pre-thinking this you are setting yourself up for success.
In the same way, have an organized plan to keep your mind and emotions sharp and clear. Remember that as you write, your mind and emotions are fully engaged. They are moving you through your material, expressing themselves, thinking and feeling at lightning speed.
The writing process can become intense at times. When overwhelm, mental fatigue or emotional overload come to take you out, be prepared to deal with it.
What brings you relief? Have a plan in mind here, too. That might be taking a few minutes to stop and do something else, or changing rooms for a minute. These breaks are not meant to stop your writing session, but to keep that session productive. Think this through at this stage so that when the inevitable comes, you’ll be ready to deal with it.
Finally, part of this has to be having the wisdom to know when it’s time to end a writing session. Most of the time you’ll sail right along and work your full scheduled time. But there may be those times when, for a variety of reasons, you are just not able to go the distance. Give yourself permission to follow those promptings. They are different from the usual excuse-making that you encounter. Be aware of this!
There You Have It!
These seven organization ideas will help you immensely as you get yourself ready to write a book. The book writer in you will be happy that you have taken the time to do so! If you are ready to get started on your book and are looking for additional help in doing so, check out Work With Jane to see all the ways I can help you.
As always, thank you, and God Bless!