More than a celebration of achievement, I am celebrating the MILESTONE of my 1,000th weekly column. Milestones are NOT goals, they’re journeys. Mine started on March 22, 1992.
HERE’S THE SECRET: There is no secret. Pull back the green curtain and there’s me on my MacBook Pro, feebly keyboarding along and multitasking all the while.
Last week I wrote about the journey. This week it’s more meat and potatoes about how to, and how you, write.
Here are my top 10.5 philosophies and strategies for writing:
1. Love what you’re writing about. I’m passionate about my subjects of expertise. The more passionate you are, the better writer you will be.
2. Have a world-class expertise about what you’re writing about. Your life experiences will dictate the depth of your writing capability – the more, the deeper.
3. Create a voice in your writing, and make it your own. Create a personality within your writing that’s both attractive and consistent. A voice that’s appealing for others to read.
4. Write like you speak. If you write like you speak, you’ll never have a minute of writer’s block.
5. Make writing a discipline in your life. Make appointments to write. I have a Friday deadline. I’ve had one for 20 years. If you create a deadline and never miss it, your body of work will automatically appear, and grow steadily.
6. You may be a good editor, but you’re not your best editor. Select someone who knows you and knows your voice and your personality, even your soul. Over the years, I have relied on editors to show me a better way, make my words clearer, make my syntax more consistent, keep me on my toes, and often wake me up. (NOTE: My editor, Jessica McDougall, will not write for me. Rather, she tells me what needs to be written.)
7. Use your table of contents as a guide for subject matter and content. As you progress through your work, keep your table of contents posted in front of you to stay on track and on target. Write a sentence or two next to each chapter.
8. Continue to observe the world in order to be flexible about your content. The same ideas that you had two years ago (when you began your journey), may not still be as relevant. You have to be flexible enough to keep ideas current, especially if you are writing about a market or the economy.
9. Make certain that your writing is readable. I don’t mean understandable. I mean engaging, readable, and likeable. Entertaining and informative. Short, sweet, meat.
10. When you have enough written, and you’re ready to go to press, have your cover and your book designed and typeset before you present it to a publisher. Don’t present a manuscript. If you do, you will look like everyone else. Present a book.
10.5 I have sold millions of books and you have not. While you may not agree with everything I have shared with you, you may have misunderstood the purpose of this writing. As I stated in the beginning, take what I have done and adapt the strategies to whatever is comfortable to you. I don’t guarantee that my way will work for you; but I do guarantee that my way works. And every time you go into a store and see one of my books on the shelf, you see my strategies coming to life.
Decide first that you’re going to begin – and then invest in whatever tools are necessary to make you a writer wherever and whenever the mood strikes you. Whether it’s a digital recording machine, a laptop computer, even a recordable conference line, discover how you can capture your words and your thoughts the second you get them. Not the minute you get them, the second you get them. Often, if you wait more than a minute, the idea is gone, or the words are gone.
THE REALITY OF WRITING: Writing does not just lead to success; writing also leads to fulfillment. And if you do it right – over time, writing can lead to wealth. Not money, wealth.
If you believe that you have a book within you, I challenge you to get it out of you. Write it out of you.
THE START HERE REALITY: Writing doesn’t come out one book at a time; it comes out one word at a time. You don’t write a book one chapter at a time, you write a book one word at a time.
I hope you will take my writing challenge to heart. And I hope you will look at the challenge as an opportunity for you to bring your words to life, your chapters to life, and eventually, your book to life – because it’s your legacy – now and after life.
I found my calling. It didn’t come to me. I came to it. It was a bolt of lightning that didn’t make a sound. It struck me in the brain and went all the way through my heart. Sometimes you have to look for your calling. Sometimes you have to feel it. Callings are mostly silent.
Go find yours.