While it’s true a thousand-mile journey begins with a single step, this is also true: If that first step is in the wrong direction, you’ll end up in the wrong place!
Like this Air Asia flight, you could end up in Melbourne instead of Malaysia!
When it comes to structuring a book, writers can go wrong a lot of different ways. In a recent post, for example, I wrote about the importance of firmly grasping your audience’s needs before you set out to write. Too many writers start scratching before they know where the reader’s itch is.
So it’s important to know what your readers’ pain points are, but it’s also important to mine your own wisdom for all its worth.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a relatively simple way to do this? An easy way to access your best content on whatever topic you’re writing on? A way that guarantees your first step is the right one?
That’s what this article is all about. I’m going to share a question and a process for helping you access your best content and structure it into book form.
Start with This Question
What is the most important thing I have to tell people about [fill in your topic of interest]?
Go ahead. Fill in your topic of interest and answer the question. Here’s another way to get at it:
The most important thing I have to tell people about _______________ is ______________________.
Now Keep the Momentum Going
Now that you’ve started, keep going.
Keep brainstorming the most important things you have to tell people about your area of interest.
Don’t think too hard, and don’t get hung up on your tools. A blank Word doc will work. So will a pad of post-it notes.
Keep filling in the blank: The most important thing I have to tell people is _______________
And the next most important thing I have to tell people is ________________
Another important thing I have to tell people is ___________________
If you can, shoot for big sweeping ideas, big categories that are likely to have many subcategories.
Keep going until you’re either tired of the process or have over 20 ideas.
Look at what you have now. Do you see some ideas that are closely related to others?
Do you see a sequence for your ideas that would make sense? Do they build on each other? Do some ideas seem more fundamental and others more practical?
Start grouping and ordering your ideas.
Now notice the gaps. What have you completely missed? Fill those in as best you can.
Your Book Is Born
Guess what? You just outlined the content of your book.
You have the buckets. Now all you have to do is fill them.
Download the Book Structure Template
If you’d like to download a fillable PDF that walks you through the above process step by step, click here. The template also includes a bonus step: how to create a compelling table of contents for your book. To download your copy, click here.
Question: What book are you working on? You can leave a comment by clicking here.