Get clear on your why before writing a book

Writing a book is hard. It takes a lot of time, energy, and focus. If you’re not writing about something you’re excited and energized about, you’ll find it hard to finish. Even if you do, that book you write isn’t likely something you’ll later be proud of. Nor will it draw in your readers. That’s why it’s important to get clear on your why before writing a book.

Your why needs to be powerful. It should drive you to want to get your words on paper. Make you smile. Motivate you with a strong sense of purpose. It should make you want to jump out of bed in the morning to get back to the fun of telling your story.

A lot a book coaches and book shepherds talk about the importance of visualizing your ideal reader. Many will encourage authors to write down who they are in detail. The aim is to be able to picture a single individual and be able to talk to them in your mind as you craft content for your book. Yes, it’s critical to think about who you want to read your book. This informs content, organizational, and style decisions. In my experience, though, honing your why is even more important.

What if you don’t know what drives you?

The short answer is, don’t write a book. But, that’s a cop out response. Do the work to figure out what you gives you so much passion you can write about it for 40,000-60,000 words. Too often, first time authors try to write the book they think their clients need. Then they wonder why they struggle day after day to complete a single page. Their heart isn’t in it and with each session, writing becomes more painful and less fun.

Reflect on what really gets your heart pumping. Let’s assume your plan is to write a book related to something you do in your business life. Explore what work activities light you up. Consider asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • What part of my work responsibilities give me the most joy?
  • Are there particular types of clients who make me smile?
  • What gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment in my work life?
  • Who do I admire in my industry and why?
  • What kind of projects make me want to get up early and dive in?
  • When I look back, what accomplishments am I most proud of?
  • Who is/was my favorite client and why?
  • Are there areas where my hobbies and professional life overlap (as passion projects)?
  • Why do I do what I do for a living?

Finding energy in the patterns

Spending some time thinking about some or all of these questions will help you start to see patterns. Notice how you feel as you write answers down. Those responses that get you energized and excited are good topics to consider for your book contents. Those that feel labored or frustrating are not.

There's more to writing a book than writing a bookIt’s important to write down your thoughts. Especially the stories. These could become book material with minor modifications. For those responses that aren’t relevant to your book, you could repurpose them elsewhere – newsletters, blogs, social media posts, etc. So, no wasted time and lots of new stuff for what you’re already doing.

After you get clear on your why before writing a book, it’s important to ask yourself why a reader might want to pick up your masterpiece. That’s something you want to answer with each chapter you write.

Is your primary aim in writing a book to support marketing efforts? Stay tuned for ideas on what to do to make this work in the next blog post.

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