Smart book project planning begins with commitment.
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” ― Peter F. Drucker
At first glance, it’s the smallest and most straightforward part of the Book Blueprints I create for my authors (a proprietary book development document I write to help authors write their books; click here to get your free guide by entering coupon code INKFRIENDS at checkout).
I’m talking about the Project Timetable, the logistical nuts and bolts of a book project. It includes: section/chapter titles, target word counts, actual word counts, and due dates for your various drafts. Just a basic table of key details to keep you on track while you’re writing your book. No big deal, right?
In reality, the probability of actually finishing your book, comes down to the check marks in the “done” column on your Project Timetable. A “done” check mark can create positive momentum. Blank boxes, however, especially over any period of time, can make you less and less enthusiastic about finishing your book.
Here’s how to strike a healthy balance of holding your feet to the fire while resisting the urge to toss your entire manuscript into the fire:
I. Break your chapter writing goals into bite-sized chunks. This is where having a regular, scheduled writing habit comes into play. A 5,000 word chapter might be daunting, but a few 1,000 word writing sessions a week is much less so.
II. The operative word in the phrase “target word count” is “target” so treat it just like that. Don’t beat yourself up for coming in under your target. More often than not, in my experience as a ghostwriter and book coach for other authors, you’ll probably hit ABOVE your target. It all balances out in the end and your book will be the length it’s supposed to be. Targets just help keep you on track but please don’t let your creative soul live and die by them.
III. Schedule your writing sessions on your calendar. Having this important appointment with yourself adds a layer of certainty to your Project Timetable. It reminds you that your writing assignments WILL get done, because there they are, right on your calendar as writing sessions. “Hoping to find the time to write” doesn’t offer this certainty.
IV. Print out your Project Timetable and post it in your work space. But this does not mean obsessing over it as you write! Think of it as a subtle reminder that yes you’re an author, you do have a book in progress, and you do have a plan of action to finish it. (You can do this with other pieces of your Blueprint as well, also for creative direction and as a reminder of your “why” for writing your book.)
V. Celebrate those checked “chapter done” boxes! Come up with a plan in advance of how you will acknowledge those all-important completions. Will you do something small whenever you complete a chapter? Or maybe a bigger celebration when you finish writing whole sections of your book?
And finally, if you end up procrastinating, missing your own deadlines, doubting your talents and abilities as an author, and wondering why the heck you decided to write a book in the first place… congratulations and welcome – you’re officially an author!
If you ever need a place to vent, commiserate with other authors, and maybe just have a good laugh about the experience of writing a book, feel free to join my Ink Authors group on Facebook. It’s where the authors go.
Speaking of the laughing part…
“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” ― Leonard Bernstein