Ever felt the need for a map when you don’t know how to get to a location?
Earlier this year I got the invitation to speak at Ambrose Alli University.
I didn’t just jump into a car and commenced asking questions along the road.
I had to call a few friends to know the best transport company to take. I asked how many hours it would take me. I asked and got experiences as to how the road was. I needed to know how the terrain was.
No one starts a journey without an idea of how to connect the dots that lead to the destination. You need a map
So also it is with writing your book.
A few questions are pertinent to ask when a writer is beginning the journey of authoring a book.
How am I going to start? How many words? What makes sense? What doesn’t make sense? How many chapters should it be? What should be in the book?
I can read your mind to know those questions are running riot in it.
Valid questions like that can make someone go bonkers and burn down his house.
Today, I’m going to help you do a good mapping so that a flow can emerge and then you can write your book effortlessly.
Are you ready?
I use my large white boards (with white board markers) to do my mapping, but if you don’t have one, small and large cardboard papers can suffice. Get as many as you can. You can keep the remainder for future projects.
Take a small one and write the book’s idea. Note that this is not the title of the book, but the central idea of the book – its theme. An example can be mine : book marketing strategies.
Take a large cardboard sheet and begin jotting down all the ideas related to the main idea of your book.
It means jotting down stories, examples, real life experiences, anecdotes, research findings, articles, and discoveries that you’ve made.
In my own case, my story can be that which I was called an economic risk by a foreign company that led me to launching my own platform, working hard on myself, launching my own books on my platform and raking in N2m in 6 months.
You’ll notice that as you write these ideas, more ideas flow out of you. The thing is that what is needed to complete this journey is inside of you, but mapping helps to draw those out.
Just focus on getting all of them on paper. As you exhaust each cardboard, continue with the others.
Spend an hour, two hours, three hours or a day or two. Just pour them forth. When done for a length of time, put the cardboards where you can see them the next day.
You’ll notice that each time you look at what is written, it does three things to you. You become more inspired to continue on this journey till the end. You will be stimulated to jar your mind to think more. You will notice the things that wouldn’t make sense and you can strike them off.
Just pour forth. Don’t try to hold back. That’s the essence of this stage. The same way someone goes to a therapist and pours all, never mind what makes sense to the therapist or not, just pour forth – the illogical, the ridiculous and the sensible.
At this point you may be asking if it’s only to write. Perhaps, you feel okay voicing your words. That’s okay, too, but I’m of the opinion that if you want to really be a legendary writer, you’ve got to come to terms with writing words down or typing them.
As elementary as this practice is, pros like me utilize it. It’s powerful because it helps you unpack the bolts and your journey can be without hitches. Overlook it at your peril.
The cardboards may be likened to rags, but they’re the pieces that complete the beautiful mosaic called your book.
It’s from all the pieces laid bare on those cardboards that we can obtain a logically arranged piece.
It’s by creating those rags (via mapping) that would form the beautiful mosaic called your book, the confusion lifted.
After throwing as many points as possible during this process, the next process is to create the outline.
Creating structure is outlining. By creating an outline, it helps you create a route to navigate all the days that the actual scripting of the book lasts.
The mind map helped to provide the framework upon which layers of words are built.
At this point, all your thoughts about the book have been laid down in various ways – incoherent, irrelevant, ambiguous, or detailed. You let them all loose on paper. And that’s awesome.
At this point, outlining means you’re now going to arrange all the puzzles into a coherent piece that is the beautiful masterpiece that will be sent out to the world.
There are steps to take here….
Begin identifying the different themes that run through all you’ve jotted down.
For my books I began to see where beginning stories were. Then I began to see what followed after the beginning, then the continuation, and so on and so forth.
At this point, you have to take several cardboard papers and write down at the top of the sheets each theme you’ve discovered from the mapping.
Step back and look at all you’ve mapped and then begin picking out all that should go under each theme that you’ve placed as headings on the cardboard sheets.
For each one that you take out, cancel it off the place it used to be so that you don’t get confused with what and what you’ve carved out.
There may be a temptation to want to make everything so neat and clean, but resist it. Your focus at this point is to keep transfering all your thoughts from the map to the various themes.
Secondly, take a look at all the themes and begin ordering them into chapters for your book.
It’s here that you determine for yourself how many chapters that your book will have. Some themes will be broken down into two chapters while some can be standalone.
For example, if there’s a theme that describes how you decided to leave paid employment, that theme can be split into two chapters, say In the Beginning and Faith For The New Journey.
It’s your book and you determine the chapterization process. All you need at this point is to really have the conversations with those themes you’ve jotted down and see how to distill them into chapters for your book.
Think of chapters as the distillation of the core message into the majors of the message the same way crude oil is distilled down into its components.
Thirdly, begin the real writing process.
Now it’s time to go to your laptop and begin proper writing. I usually advise to write on laptop rather than writing out the full manuscript and then typing them out once more, except you have an assistant who can do this.
As is usual with me, I create the MS Word file for each chapter. That’s after I’ve created the folder for the book project.
Then you proceed to begin adding words according the thoughts that you listed down under each theme that has been split into chapters.
You’ll find that the words are being delivered with clarity, precision, and flow that gives fluidity to the whole process. As you do so, elaborate on the stories you created, stretch the anecdotes, enumerate the statistics and plough deeper into the research you’ve made.
I want to make you understand that at this point see your outline as a map that’s not set in stone. It’s a guide, but it doesn’t have everything. You’ll find that you will be discovering new things as you continue pouring thoughts on paper.
Please resist the temptation to want to be perfect. Perfection is a killer.
Do your mapping, create the outline as stated above, and then commit to the writing of the book.
At this point I want to say that you should avoid clogging your head with how many thousands of words or pages that should make up an ideal book. I’ve often heard writers ask me that.
I’ve seen books of 9000 words. I’ve seen books of 18,000 words. I’ve seen books of 30 pages. I’ve seen books of 45,000 words.
Just pour forth. That first draft is for pouring forth, elaborating, building words around the framework you’ve created during mapping and outlining.
I see you doing great.