I’m often asked how I go about writing a book, stage or TV show. The truth is, it’s a combination of both. I’ll start with the book, which was inspired by a TED Talk I saw about a year ago. I thought it would be fun to write a book that combined my two passions: teaching and writing. You’ll soon find out that this isn’t your typical how-to book, but rather a creative guide to producing a variety of content for different platforms.
The Thinking Behind the Book
I have a background in both theater and education, so when I sat down to write this book, I wanted to create a structure that would allow me to combine my teaching and writing skills. My goal was to give you, the reader, a practical, step-by-step guide to producing content for various platforms. The structure I came up with is based on the ‘5-point framework’ for effective thinking outlined in Don’t Just Do Things, but Think Of Ways To Do Them Effectively.
Don’t Just Do Things is a groundbreaking book by Brian Tracy. The premise is simple: if you want to perform better, you have to change how you think. The author gives practical advice on how to integrate creative thinking into your everyday life. One of the things he suggests is writing down your ‘thinking points’—the reasons you’re focused on doing something.
When you write down your thinking points, you’re essentially creating ‘notes’ for yourself. These notes can then be organized and used as a blueprint for future creative thinking. While Tracy outlines the thinking process in detail, in simpler terms, it means you’ll begin by identifying the purpose behind your action. Why are you writing the book? What problem are you trying to solve? What is the desired outcome?
You can then brainstorm ways to solve the problem. What are the different options? How about a marketing plan? Or a fundraising strategy? Having these options in mind will give you a starting point for your writing, and help you develop solutions that are appropriate for the situation.
The Structure Of The Book
The first part of the book is an ‘action guide’ that will help you plan out your content strategy. This section will guide you through the process of developing content for various platforms, including print, online, and social media. While the action guide is an essential element of the book, it’s by no means the only one. You’ll also need a storyboard, a narrative structure, and a series of scenes to complete the journey.
The Action Guide
The action guide is an in-depth, 22-page guide that will help you create a marketing plan for your book. I wrote this section first because I wanted to create a comprehensive guide that would answer any question a potential buyer might have about my book. Since the information is valuable, I wanted to ensure that it was accessible to everyone.
There are three parts to the action guide. The first part is an overview of the different platforms you’ll need to consider, including Print, Online, and Social Media. Each of these platforms will have its pros and cons, so you can choose the one that will be the best fit for your book. The second part is a section on Research. Here you’ll find a list of keywords, alongside helpful tools like Google analytics, SEO tools, and online forums. Finding the right keywords is an essential part of any content strategy, and you can use this section to help you find the right words and phrases.
The final part of the action guide is a section on Promotion. This is where you’ll find my favorite part of the guide; it covers everything from SEO to Social Media. The goal of this section is to help you gain as much exposure as possible, so when people read your book, they think of you.
The Stages Of Creating Content
The first step in the content creation process is to choose the platform. You have two options here: either you can pick the one you think will be the most effective to promote your book, or you can follow the guidelines I outlined in the previous section, and pick the one that is best suited for your book.
Once you’ve picked the platform, the next step is to define the content you’ll need to create. As I mentioned above, this isn’t your typical how-to book—it’s a creative guide to producing content for different platforms. So, you’ll need to decide what you’re going to write about, and the order in which you’re going to present the information. Remember: you’re writing for creative thinkers, so don’t underestimate the power of a good idea! Your goal is to give them as many good ideas as possible, so they can solve their problems and be effective.
Once you’ve picked the platform, and defined the content, the next step is to determine the order of the material. This is where you need to use your creative thinking. Rather than simply following the instructions that come with your chosen platform, you need to figure out a way to present the information in the most effective manner. This is easier said than done; you’ll need to experiment with different structures and see what works best for you.
For example, if you’ve chosen to write for Print, then you’ll need to follow the advice in Chapter 1 of Don’t Just Do Things, and consider layout and design. However, if you’ve chosen to write for the web, then you can forego the advice in Chapter 1, and get straight to the task at hand: writing the actual content.
To create the narrative structure above, you need only three things:
- A beginning
- A middle
- An end
The end of the story is naturally going to be the ‘climax’ or the part where everything comes together—in other words, the part where the protagonist succeeds in what they set out to do. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for all along; it’s the climax of the story. To create this scene, you need a beginning, a middle, and an end. This could be a simple scene, like the beginning of War and Peace, or it could be a complex scene, like the ‘trial’ in A Tale Of Two Cities. Whatever you decide, make sure you have a page for each part of the narrative structure. It’s important to keep the reader interested, and make sure they want to continue reading. The more you have, the better.
An example of a narrative structure would be:
You can do this in Microsoft Word, or you can use a tool like Balsamiq Mockups, which is free. Once you’ve established the structure of your book, it’s time to write. But before you begin, it’s important to consider the ‘voice’ you want to use in the book. The voice should match the voice of the material—in other words, the written language should match the spoken language. This is important for two reasons: first, it makes the material more accessible to a wider audience; second, it helps the reader engage with the content. As you write, you’ll find that your ideas start flowing, and before you know it, your book is finished.
Once you’ve finished writing the book, the next step is to consider publication. At this stage, you have two options: either you can self-publish, and let the world discover your book; or you can find a publisher and get the book printed and distributed to the public.
If you decide to go the traditional route and find a publisher, the first thing you’ll need to do is find a literary agent. An agent will navigate the process for you, and help you establish your credentials as a writer. Once you’re represented by a literary agent, you can negotiate a better royalty rate, and ask for more prestige packages.
Once you’ve finished the manuscript, submit it to literary agencies and publishers. Be sure to create a beautiful, professional-looking cover for your book. The cover of your book will determine whether or not someone buys it, so it’s important to choose an appropriate cover artist, and work with them to create an outstanding cover for your book. You can also work with a designer and make the cover even more beautiful—or add a few more books to the cover, if you choose.
Beyond The Basics
While this book is designed to be a comprehensive guide, it’s by no means limited to the above steps. There are several ways you can use this material on a larger scale. For example: