Of all the aspiring non-fiction authors I speak to, the overwhelming struggle is not the publishing process or the marketing.
It’s the writing.
It’s going from saying, “I want to write a book,” to having a finished, polished manuscript in their hands.
One of the beauties of the self-publishing industry is the accessibility, but in order to take advantage of that, aspiring authors must, ya know, actually finish writing their books.
I recently had the pleasure to speak to dozens of non-fiction authors on the mindsets and strategies they used to take their books from blank page to final draft, and the advice they shared is sure to make the process of writing your first book easier.
It was hard to turn down the expertise and stories shared by these authors, so this feature will be split into a series of three articles, as not to overwhelm you with close to thirty video interviews in one swing.
Without further ado, let’s kick it off by learning from Lynn Erasmus.
Lynn Erasmus, Author of Break Those Damn Rules
Lynn Erasmus is a keynote speaker on culture, resilience, and change. In this interview, she discusses how you should:
- Pretend your book is just a journal, and just sit down and write. Pretend that no one is going to read it. This first draft is your golden nugget, and then you can go and redraft it into something that the public can read.
- Get up early and find two or three uninterrupted hours to write. It gets easier to get up that early, and it becomes a bit of an addiction. If you’re not sure you’re a morning person, try out morning and evening writing sessions to see which feels better to you.
- Start blocking your content off into themes that you want to write about or a time period in your life that you’re covering. Map out the journey that you’re going to take the reader on, and then ask yourself if that’s a book you’d want to read.
- When you feel fear or anxiety creeping up, reach into your happiness pouch of things you’re excited for to switch those feelings to something more positive.
Lizbeth Meredith, Author of Pieces of Me and When Push Comes to Shove
Lizbeth Meredith is an author, speaker, podcaster, and online teacher. In this interview, she discusses how you should:
- Get a lot of feedback. You don’t need to take some random person’s advice and rewrite your whole manuscript, but if you start hearing a trend, it’s time to listen.
- Think about one, individual reader and about the benefits they want to get from your book. It’s okay if you’re writing to your past self! Oftentimes, we’re our own ideal reader.
Jessie Lee Perez, Author of Color By Design
Jessie Lee Perez is an author, Internationally Certified Business Analyst, and personal relationship trainer. In this interview, she discusses how you should:
- Understand expectations up front. If you want to get some writing done, you have to set some goals and aim to hit them. Also, plot rest days in your writing schedule so that you don’t burn out.
- Use your outline to navigate around writer’s block. If you get stuck in one area, you can always go to another one.
- Create “buckets” or categories you want to express in your book. These buckets become your chapters and the main topics you need to cover in your writing.
Ed Brzychcy, Author of Daily Leadership Reflections (and more!)
Ed Brzychcy is a former U.S. Army Infantry Staff-Sergeant, podcast host, producer, and entrepreneur. In this interview, he discusses how you should:
- Outline! Figure out what it is that you want to write about and what all the different pieces are, and then use an outline to frame them and put them in a structure.
- Be prepared to put in a lot of time for writing. It’s a craft that needs to be honed; the more time and practice that you put into it and the more patient you are with yourself, the better off you’ll be.
- When you are done with a manuscript, walk away. Then, go back and re-read it a week or two later and look at it with fresh eyes.
Dave Liu, Author of The Way of the Wall Street Warrior
Dave Liu is an advisor, author, investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. In this interview, he discusses how you should:
- Write the key points you want to make in your book and outline the chapters. After writing a chapter, take a look at the outline that you wrote and then revise the outline, making sure you hit all the key points you wanted to address. If you have not been able to hit those key points, then go back and redo or edit that chapter.
- Have a deadline to help you stay on track and keep you focused on your writing.
Doug Noll, Author of De-Escalate: How to Calm an Angry Person in 90 Seconds or Less (and more!)
Doug Noll is a mediator, best-selling author, speaker, and former business and commercial trial lawyer. In this interview, he discusses how you should:
- Have a clear idea of the purpose of your book. Know who you are writing for and why you are writing it.
- If you want to write a book that is going to have a chance of commercial success, then do a lot of research. You need to go to Amazon, look at all your competitors, and figure out what’s working and what’s not.
- Don’t start writing until you have a complete outline.
- People should be able to read just the first three chapters of your book and still understand exactly what you’re saying. The rest of the book just develops and expands on what you said in the first three chapters.
Benjamin Sweeney, Author of Lean QuickStart Guide and Lean Six Sigma QuickStart Guide
Benjamin Sweeney is a writer, author, and blogger from Albany, New York. In this interview, he discusses how you should:
- Start with a strong outline. If you have ideas that support higher-level ideas, get it on paper. That outline can turn into a rough draft.
- Put yourself in the shoes of a reader. You may know a lot about a topic, but think about how to pull out those key points so that a person who’s new to the topic will be able to ingest and understand your book.
- Open your document and zoom in on one part where you can only see two sentences. Focus on these sentences, and then write the next line. Do this again after writing that line. Don’t worry about what you just wrote down; you can go back to it in the future.
You can connect with Benjamin on his website.
Shel Horowitz, Author of Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World
Shel Horowitz is a Social Transformation Sherpa for green businesses and corporations. In this interview, he discusses how you should:
- Research, especially when your point or idea needs validation. Look for respected and reputable entities saying the same thing as you to validate your ideas. If you are writing a memoir, research may come from asking friends and family to confirm what actually happened.
- You may not need to research something that you already have experience in, but you would want to at least find some well-known people who will write you a 3- or 5-line blurb that you can put in the front of the book or on the back cover.
- “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.” Do a little at a time.
- When writing short pieces, you may not have to outline. Outline to keep yourself from wandering off the deep end.
Samantina Zenon, Author of Joy: The Five Lights That Clarify Your Best Self Through The Pain
Samantina Zenon is an actress, author, content creator, and speaker. In this interview, she discusses how you should:
- Share your resiliency and how you overcame your trauma. If you’re still in the process of healing, it may get too emotional at times. It’s best to really heal yourself, so when you are talking about it, it’s more empowering.
- Write outlines, but don’t try to write your book in order because you can get stuck and not be able to move on. Just free-write whatever that comes to you for one hour every day. Don’t let your perfectionism hold you back.
Jeff Lavin, Author of Get Awesome Above and Beyond: Where Passions Meet Purpose
Jeff Lavin is a former professional snowboarder, motivational speaker, and best-selling author. In this interview, he discusses how you should:
- Counter every negative thought with something positive to overcome imposter syndrome. While a lot of our limiting beliefs stem from what we were told as children, we can overcome them by telling ourselves that there are people out there who have similar struggles and are still able to make things happen.
- Take advantage of technology. Even with dyslexia, spelling and grammar checkers are very helpful in editing. Have another set of eyes look over your work.
- Think about the impact that you are going to make. Somebody needs to hear your story. Even if you touch one person, it’s all worth it. Don’t be afraid to put your work out there.
- Look at what other authors are doing, and think about what you could bring to the table that’s unique.
I’m of the belief that writing a book is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things you’ll ever do, especially if you’re the type of author that pours their heart, soul, failures, and successes into their book. If you’re looking for more structure, guidance, and accountability while writing your non-fiction book, check out my Book Writing Blueprint.
For less than the cost of dinner and a movie, you’ll have access to my best writing tips, step-by-step outlines and workbooks, and the opportunity to get your writing personally reviewed by me each and every month. Can’t wait to see you inside!