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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 September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

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