Blocking off time to write your book
How do you carve out time to write a book when you already are running a business and have a family?
By being very organized and very committed.
Seriously, if you want to get your book done in this lifetime, you’ve got to make time to write. It’s never easy, but nothing worthwhile is easy. And it’s not forever — if you stay disciplined, the whole thing — well, most of it anyway — will be over in a year. And at the end of it, you’ll have a book that you can use to attract prospects and establish your thought leadership credentials.
There are two major aspects involved in blocking off time — motivating yourself to do it and then using the time that you’ve blocked off as wisely as possible.
Setting up your schedule
I can’t tell you what are the best times for you to write, because that’s a very individual preference. If you’re a morning person, the best hours might be from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. If you’re a night person — that’s me — it might be 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
If you’re not in the habit of writing regularly, it might take some experimenting to figure out the best times. To get the book done without dragging it out, you need to commit at least three or four hours a week, if not more. I know — that’s a lot of time. But a book is a lot of words and writing all those words takes time.
The good news is that when you marry your marketing plan to your book outline, you’ll be working on content that you can immediately use. That can be motivating in and off itself, because you’re not just working for a goal that is far in the future, you’re working on content that you can use right away to further your marketing goals. [More on that in a later post].
To carve out enough time, you’ll have to get creative unless you happen to be in a slow period at work. If you are, take advantage of it and spend as much time as possible writing.
If not, don’t despair. There are several strategies that work, including:
• Blocking off the same few hours each and every week: If Friday afternoons are usually lost time, you could block off 3 hours every week and get as much done as you can.
• Grabbing micro-moments: You know that 30 minutes sitting at the DMV or waiting for your kid’s soccer practice to wrap up? Commit to using that time on your book.
• Scheduling lunch with yourself: You schedule lunch with prospects, colleagues and friends, so why not with yourself? Block off an hour or an hour and a half every Tuesday, go to a quiet cafe where you can get a salad, and work on your book.
• Taking a bookation: Instead of a staycation, take time out of the office to work on your book. If you don’t have a week, take a few days. Of take all the mornings one week.
You may need to combine these tactics to make it work. You can jump start the process by purchasing my Start Your Book in a Weekend Workbook, Then, get in the habit of blocking off time every week plus scheduling a lunch with yourself. Then, a few months in, take a bookation and give yourself some intensive time to rewrite what you’ve written and plan how you’re going to finish the book.
If you want to leverage those micro-moments, create a list of tasks that you can complete in 10-20 minutes so when those moments pop up, you won’t waste them. What types of tasks can you get done in 10 to 20 minutes? Glad you asked:
• Add a story to flesh out a point: If you’ve made a great point, take 15 minutes to add a story from your years of practice that illustrates that point.
• Do some quick research: If you’ve got an argument that needs support, hop on Google Scholar and find evidence to back it up. Even if you don’t have time to explain it, throw the link in and write out the explanation later.
• Flesh out your outline: If all your chapter outlines aren’t quite complete, work ahead a bit and bolster that outline so that when you’re ready to work on that part of the book, you can jump right in
• Dictate some stories: If you’ve got time to talk but not to write, use a recording app on your phone and dictate some stories that you can use to illustrate different points in your book.
• Set up an example: Use 15 minutes to set up an example in a spreadsheet — something like a sequence of returns risk example or the impact of inflation on a portfolio.
Writing a book can be a real slog. There will be times when you will wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea to write a book. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with supportive, positive people who can support you when you’re feeling stuck or down.
Hiring a writing coach or finding an accountability partner is another great way to keep your motivation strong. A writing coach can specifically help you when you get stuck or experience a problem in your writing, as well as keep you motivated or on track. An accountability partner — or goal buddy — can keep you focused on your end goal, which is hugely motivating.
Between you and me, it took me years to get going on the task of writing my own book. There was always too much going on, and the rewards didn’t seem worthwhile. It was only when I structured the writing in a way that would immediately feed my content machine and also created an accountability structure for myself that the pieces fell into place.
I would say, if I can do it, you can do it. But I’m not a writer, you might say. Doesn’t matter — writing a book is the ultimate investment in your business. Approach it in the right way and there’s no reason why you won’t be holding a published book in your hand at some point in the next year.