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4 Simple Tips for Writing a Book

4 Simple Tips for Writing a Book

I’ve always wished I could write a book, but I got stuck somewhere between organizing chapters and finding an audience. I got stuck on the process instead of focusing on the first part: writing. I constantly asked questions like: “How do I start? How do I find time to write? How do I outline?”. When I couldn’t find answers that worked for my lifestyle, I gave up. Finally, I realized I needed to just sit down and start writing something—anything. Here are four simple ways I’ve made writing my first book easier.

1.  Use what you already have.

One of the easiest places to get stuck is finding a topic to write about. I thought a lightning bolt would strike me with the perfect idea, or maybe I would dream the perfect scene. I got nothing. Forced to come up with a topic while conscious, I made my journey as easy a possible by using what I already have. You can too.

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You’ll be shocked at the material you already have to pull from. You can use any of your work that hasn’t been published before, such as old college papers, journal entries, blog posts—even ideas, thoughts, or plans you have rattling around in your brain. Also, you can pull from your interests. Think about things you’ve read about, projects you’ve worked on, or even subjects you like to watch on TV. Did something come to mind? Great. Now you have a jumping off point; maybe even an opening chapter.

At this point, you can stop thinking about starting a book, and focus instead on finishing the book you’ve already started. See, easier already!

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2.  Use your time.

I can’t force myself to sit down and write for long periods of time. First, I get stressed, and then I wind up surfing the internet for cool info graphics (like this one: How Beer and Coffee Affect Your Brain). To curb my stress level, I’ve found ways to seamlessly fit writing into my life. The more I can just open up my laptop and start writing, the better. I try to write for 30 minutes a day, usually on my lunch breaks, before meetings, and after work.

You need to figure out what works best for you and then make a schedule—even if it’s a loose one like mine. Think about how you like to work. Do you like short, intense projects? Try to set aside a few small blocks of time every day. Do you like having a lot of time to mull over new ideas? Try setting aside larger blocks of time. After you figure out a loose schedule you will be able to easily integrate writing into your life.

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3.  Use your talent.

Write! Don’t let anything get in the way of writing your book. Some writers have to outline and organize their ideas before they write, but I used outlining and organizing as an excuse not to write. Now I’ve scrapped outlining, and I’m just writing. It’s not the most organized book, but I’ll clean it up during the editing phase. If you need an outline, go for it, but don’t let the outline or the organization of your book get in between you and writing.

4.  Use who you know.

Find someone who will check in on you and make sure you’re writing. Whether it’s a writing group or an accountability partner, you’ll need encouragement and support to reach your goal. In return, you can help others finish their goals. It’s a win-win.

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Finding simple ways to write is essential to the process. Don’t forget to use what you have, use your time, use your talent, and use who you know. I know you can do it. I’m with you working through the same simple steps, and this will be the year we won’t just wish we’d written a book; we will finish writing a book.

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Kelsie Fannon

Kelsie is a journalist and writer who shares about productivity and money tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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