by Sue Painter
I’ve been coaching business owners (and writers!) for over a decade now, so I can tell you for sure that the top question I get from online entrepreneurs is “How do I get my e-book done?” Many people love the idea of reaping the benefits that writing can bring them, but don’t so much like the work of doing the writing.
And while writing sounds easy, being a good writer is hard work, especially for online entrepreneurs for whom writing may not come naturally. All the wonderful ideas that float around in your head are not going to do you (or your business!) any good until you’ve gotten them out of your head and recorded in some fashion.
So here are the top 3 ways I see that online entrepreneurs who know they need to get their content out there sabotage their success and my best tips for overcoming each one and staying on track:
1) Consistent action
The top reason you don’t get your e-book or special report all done is that you don’t work on it consistently. There are a zillion reasons for being inconsistent, and every single one of them are excuses.
If you’ve got an issue with “never getting around” to sitting down and working on your manuscript I’d bet that you have consistent action issues elsewhere in life, too. No matter how fabulous, creative or helpful your topic is, if it exists only in your head then it’s non-existent to the people who could benefit from it the most.
Here’s a quick exercise that will help you figure out why you don’t take consistent action with your writing. Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle, from top to bottom of the page.
Now, on the left hand side write down what it is you want to accomplish by writing. It might be “write a new blog post” or “write a new special report for my website.” Get it down as clearly and specifically as you can.
Next, on the right hand side of the page finish this sentence as many times as you can. “I’d like to ______________ (whatever is in that left column) if only I didn’t have to…..” finish the sentence and ask yourself again and again until you have no more left to say.
Here’s an example: In the left column let’s say “new e-book about why women put themselves and their businesses last.” In the right column “I’d like to write a new e-book about why women put themselves and their businesses last if only I didn’t have to:
~ Find women to interview
~ Carve out extra time in the day to do research about women in business
~ Skip my lunch to squeeze in writing time
~ Market the e-book when I’m through.
As you can see, this exercise will help you see exactly where you are stuck. You may decide to overcome each and every “if only” because you REALLY want to get to that end goal. Or, like some people, you may realize that you really do NOT want to do the tasks that are a key component of getting to your goal.
Doing this exercise will help you realize that writing isn’t just sitting down and letting the words pour out of the end of your fingers into a keyboard. There’s lots of prep work – research, checking facts, interviewing, looking at whether your topic is marketable.
Kind of like painting a room – the prep work can take longer than the actual rolling on of paint. Writing is the same, but most online entreprneurs don’t realize that. They just feel “stuck” and don’t really understand why. They think writing is nothing but putting the words on paper. They aren’t interested or willing to do the prep work first.
2. Getting stuck on perfection
Beginning writers sometimes get stuck thinking that they have to have the perfect set-up, the perfect view, the perfectly quiet time, the perfect pen, the perfect font in which to write. None of that is true. While I personally prefer to write while at my beach house staring at the water, the fact is I do much of my writing on the fly – in airport terminals, in bed, in boring meetings, in bad movies.
Ideas can hit you anywhere…in the shower, in the bathroom, at our wedding, even at a funeral! Jot down your ideas everywhere you go, and don’t be afraid to flesh out those ideas, even in the most imperfect of places. Develop your own system of where to jot down incomplete sentences so they are waiting for you when a spare quarter hour shows up.
Yes, it’s great to have gobs of uninterrupted time to get your work done. But you can also do it in fits and starts. The key is just to do it. If you wait until all the world is in perfect harmony and support of your writing, you’ll never get your work published.
So here’s my best tip for letting go of perfection:
Pretend that writing is like when you learned to ride a bike. You teetered around on that bike and got maybe 2 or 3 seconds of forward motion at a time before you really took off riding. Writing is the same. Make a commitment to write down ideas and sentences and thoughts into a notebook or a tablet. Say your thoughts into a tiny digital recorder you carry around with you. Record your thoughts into your phone. Just start.
Prime the pump with a good jerk or two of the handle and appreciate the drips that come out. As you engage with your words you’ll get stronger at it, write for longer without being antsy or in agony, and soon find yourself anxious to write even if your view isn’t perfect and you don’t have as much time as you’d like. Imperfect action gets your e-book done. Waiting for perfect action does not.
3. Not knowing how to get your ideas out of your head
I’ve had a fair number of online entrepreneurs who tell me that they have great ideas but just can’t organize their content and don’t know where to start. Like literally, don’t know what to write onto the computer screen first. That’s OK. Here are some other ways to get your e-book out of your head and into someone else’s hands:
Record your content by speaking it into a recorder. Say everything you have to say on the topic and then hand that recording to a transcriptionist. You’ll get back a manuscript that needs a good edit, but your content will be there. Either take a stab at organizing it yourself or pay an editor to do it for you. Voila! A book is born!
Get someone to interview you on the topic you want to write about. Help them out by giving them some questions to be sure to ask you. Record the interview. Give the person interviewing you free hand to add in their own questions about the topic, too. Again, have the interview transcribed and make that into your publication.
Pay someone to ghost write your material for you. Downside – it makes the cost of getting your publication out into the world higher than if you create the content yourself. But plenty of people use ghostwriters, and you can, too.
Re-purpose existing content. If you’ve been writing a blog or speaking on a topic to audiences for years, get that content out of the speech materials or the blog, format it into a book with a chapter structure, add a compelling title and book cover, and you’re good to go. In other words, don’t re-write what you’ve already written in another format or for another purpose.
There you have it, my top 3 ways to get out of your own way and get published in the digital world. I’d love to have your comments below. And I hope to see your new publication available before too long!