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Key Lessons of Writing a Nonfiction Book: Lesson #3

Updated: Jul 3, 2019

In the last update, I shared lesson #2, defining your books purpose, audience and benefits, in this series of key learnings based on my experience writing my first non-fiction book. Today’s post is lesson #3.

Before building a house, you need a good blueprint and a solid foundation. I felt that the work I did upfront in knowing my motivation for writing my book, defining the books concept, creating an outline, and defining the books purpose, audience and benefits were my blueprint and foundation.

So where to go from here?

When I think of the question, ‘where to start?’, two main areas jump out at me.  The first is ‘where do I start overall?’, and the second is ‘where do I start today, right now in this second?’. So lesson three is to START!

Lesson #3: START
Start…at the end and work backwards

First of all, having created my blueprint and foundation upfront, made the next step a little easier.  I knew how much time I had allocated to remain in Thailand to draft my manuscript and I had my outline. 

With this, my goal was to have a good portion of the manuscript drafted on paper before leaving Thailand and my stretch goal was to have a fully drafted manuscript by the time I left; at least the initial draft.

With my timeline, goals and outline, I backed in what I needed to accomplish on a weekly basis and each week, I would identify what I needed to accomplish each day to reach my target.

Did I stick with my daily plan? Not always.

It may be possible for some writers that the words easily flow out of their head, through their hands and onto paper.  This wasn’t the case for me.

There were days when I felt stuck and days research took me longer than I anticipated.  There were days where it was so hot, I had to find an air-conditioned coffee shop so my laptop would not overheat. 

There was one day where I completely lost the entire days’ work to the ether. I couldn’t figure out what I did to cause this, especially as I had auto-save on, nor could I find a way to recover.  That days’ work said, adios amigo.

There were days when my laptop screen began to flicker and at times it was so bad, I literally could not use it for more than an hour. Upon my return to the US, I found there was a fundamental problem with the model I had. 

My daily plan wasn’t too rigid, and this is where my outline and weekly plan kept me on track, even if I had to work sixteen hour days, seven days a week; it all balanced itself.

Start…anywhere, just start

My overall plan and my book outline, were crucial in keeping me focused.  Even with this, I still had days and moments where I sat in front of my laptop wondering, where the heck do I start with this topic or where do I go from here. 

There were even days I felt overwhelmed with too much information.

On these occasions, instead of being paralyzed, my approach was to just start.  Start with a word, a sentence, a paragraph; it didn’t matter what, just start.  It didn’t matter that what I started with many times, was completely different by the time I finished.  I found that just starting, got the momentum going. 

This is very much like life, like starting a new relationship, a new conversation, a new project. You may feel paralyzed or overwhelmed at first, and by taking a first step, things begin to flow and you’re that much closer to your goal.

Once you start, keep your foot on the gas pedal!

If you have some type of spiritual practice, such as prayer, guides, and such, consider incorporating this into your writing project before you start your day or as you sit down to write.

I incorporated Reiki into my practice in a number of ways, one in particular was just before I started my writing task for the day, I would ask to keep me focus if I went astray, I’d ask that the words flow easily, that what I wrote would make the world a better place and so on.

So, remember just start and keep your momentum going!

I would love to hear about your writing experiences. If you’re new to writing nonfiction, what questions do you have?

In the meantime, stay tuned for lesson #4. Happy writing and happy journeys,


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P.S. I’m excited to share that is undergoing a transformation and will be relaunched this summer.

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