You can do anything in four easy steps!
An outrageous claim, no? But I can prove it. Because you're doing it now.
Imagine your laundry basket. What are you going to wash today? Ah, socks.
How will you wash them? In the machine. Now you do the wash and when the socks come out of the dryer, you wonder, "are they done?" Are they really clean and dry? Are they both there? Don't you have to match them and fold them and put them away?
Because what you really want are socks that are ready to wear. And soon enough, they'll be back in your laundry basket again.
This is the circle of life: you decide what you want to do and how you want to do it; then you do it and check whether it's really done. The pattern's easy to see with a simple project, but when you're facing a complex project like writing a book, it's easy to get muddled.
To get where you're going, know where you are.
Many of my clients just start writing, trusting that their urge to say something will produce something someone (maybe even everyone!) will want to read.
This urge is valuable. It proves that deep inside, you have the power to complete your task. But to be effective, power must be directed. Like your car's drive shaft, process concentrates your writing power where it has the most leverage. And to get to the end of the process, you need to know where you are in the process right now! If you're not sure where you are, review these questions:
* Can you describe what your book does for your reader in eight words or less?
* Do you know the demographics of your ideal audience, what they read to find information similar to yours, and how you can contact them?
* Can you measure the value your book gives your reader, as well as the rewards you need to receive to make the book worth your while?
If you answered No to any of these, you have more work to do to define what value your book must deliver. Defining what gives you the ultimate guideline for creating a clear, easy-to-read book, and communicating its worth to a publisher.
* Can you picture the environment where your ideal reader actually reads, and visualize the style of content that's easiest to use in that environment?
* Do you know your reader's goals and expectations for outcomes, and how to fulfill them?
* Do you have access to all the information you'll need to deliver your book's solutions?
If you answered No to any of these, you have more work to do to define how your book will deliver its value.
Knowing your book's structure and style as well as its content builds your confidence and helps you write it right the first time. If you answered Yes to all of the above, congratulations! You've done the hardest work and could probably turn the book over to someone else to actually write.