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#IWillWriteTheBook: How To Plan Your Book.

The hardest part of writing a book is not starting it; it’s completing it. This is because somewhere on route, from the first to the last page, we get a little lost. What begins as an exciting burst of creative energy fizzles into a dull fraction of your incomplete work. What happened?

It works like this: If I plan to get to Manchester from London, I don’t simply start driving until I run out of steam. It’s good to have a destination and key milestones on route. I know I’ll need to go via either the M40 or the M1. Then when I get to Birmingham, I consider, do I take the M6 or the Toll road?

With our 13 Step Book Plan, you stand a better chance of reaching those milestones on route to your completed book. You’ll need a pen and pad for this (or computer, however our preference is actually writing it out). Here goes:

Write the numbers 1 to 13 along one side of a piece of paper. These will be the numbers for thirteen sentences you’re about to create, so give yourself plenty of space.

2. The Beginning. Write a sentence about how you want your book to start next to number 1. The characters, location, expertise or knowledge that you want the reader to know in the beginning. If you’re writing a novel about a person on a self-discovery journey, where will they start? What is their current emotional state? If it’s a business manual think about what level of knowledge you expect from your typical reader? If you’re teaching a new method, what should they already know: do they have a degree in Management, have they worked in a business or know nothing at all? Write it as a single sentence, e.g. The reader has never written a business plan or Marcel is about to have his life changed by the mysterious girl on the bus.

3. The End. How will the book end? What’s the last thing you want to communicate before your reader closes the last page? What is the big revelation or the nugget of wisdom and experience that you want to share? Try to communicate that as the sentence that just goes just before the words ‘The End’. Write this out next to number 13. For example: And they lived together in Barbados for the rest of their lives… or So now you know everything you need to make vegan burgers.

4. Meet Me Halfway. Consider the middle point between the beginning and the end. Halfway through the book, what do you want -to- the reader to know? Write a sentence next to number 6 which states By this stage of the book… we will know the heroine’s secret or we should understand the difference between Dating and Courting or I have introduced my mediation technique. Remember it’s about being halfway through the physical pages of the book, not necessarily of your story. This is the 50 page mark if your story book is 100 pages long. You don’t need to count pages, just have a sense of what you want to have written about when halfway through.

5. Half the Halves. Do the same for the points midway between the beginning and the middle (i.e. number 4) and halfway between the middle and the end (i.e. number 10). Again write a By this stage of the book… sentence about what you want to be saying a quarter and three-quarters into your masterpiece.

6. Step It Up. You will have two empty numbers between each of the major milestones of your book. Think of these as two steps to get from one stage to the other. Write in here two important moments or bits of information which will follow each other to get from the beginning to the quarter mark, then quarter to the halfway mark… and so on. You will find that this is where a lot of your thinking, rethinking, changing, rewriting etc. happens. That’s fine. All your thoughts here are helping you really define your story. When you come to write the book itself, you will find that you’ve already had those random thoughts and are less likely to go off track. 

7. The End. Yes, that’s your 13 Step Book Plan. If you’ve put all your energies into getting this part right, you will find the process of writing feels smoother than previous attempts.

The difference now is that you have a destination, a route and a map. When you get lost, you simply look back at your map and get yourself back on track. I hope this has helped you make progress.

The B Word

Some phrases stick in your head for a long time. A rather colourful Product Development lecturer once commented that ‘accountants are the condom on the (man parts) of progress’. I have censored his statement here for obvious reasons but the intent of his remark is clear. Looking at creativity by what your budget allows you to achieve limits your fullest potential.

So why do budgets - the B-word - have such a bad name? After all, managing budgets is a great skill to have. We are encouraged to be wise and mindful of our resources. 

In creative terms, working with a budget as you develop your ideas or ambition is like buying a dress and then dieting to fit into it. Of course you should be aware of your current financial means. However, they should not dictate how ambitious you can be.

A good idea comes from being able to think freely and creatively. That should also apply to how you view using your money. A helpful process for thinking this through is:

  1. What could you do if money wasn’t a concern? 
  2. Are you able to fund it with your existing budget? 
  3. How else could you get it done?
  4. Who else would be interested in getting the most out of the idea? (see post on partnerships

Budgets are a tool rather than a permission to make something amazing happen. The discipline and strategy of budget management are good for things you want to control. However, chances are you do not want to limit your best possible ideas before you have had them because you don’t think you can afford it.

To get the best out of your creative process, teams or efforts, forget the B-Word. At least until you have a good enough idea. Then use your best budgeting skills to make it happen.

Idea 2.0: Upgrading Your Vision

You start out on your creative and ambitious journey with high hopes. The sky is the limit, and you’ve got just what the world needs to make it a better place. You make the best cupcakes. You are a genius with raising capital. You are the best motivational speaker for your target audience. In short, you’ve found your purpose in life! You sell most of everything you’ve got and invest heavily into your business or career. Good? Great!

Then something happens. As you work through it, there are a few new things you discover. Things are not exactly how they first appeared. This isn’t a bad thing. Often after immersing yourself deeper into something, you discover so much more. Your original idea was just the tip of the iceberg. You can do so much more here! On the other hand, after spending some time in the reality of your ambition, you realise it is not quite what you expected.

Now what do you do? No one wants to appear to be making a u-turn. Would your stakeholders, fellow investors, family, friends and haters see you as flighty or as a failure? Would they say of you that you lack commitment or, worse, your vision was shaky to begin with?

Take heart. The first thing to recognise is that you know more than anyone else about what is truly happening. If you have seen a better opportunity for your business, then it is in your interest in the long run to explore it. Also, if you have misjudged your original vision, the best thing you could do for yourself is reconsider.

In the creative relationship, there are three parts: you, the business and your idea or vision. Ideally, all three will be in harmony. When they are out of sync, a decision has to be made. When minor adjustments does not bring it all back together again, it might be time to upgrade your vision.

Here are some suggestions of how to handle it:

Check your emotions. What you might be experiencing is excitement about new opportunities. There isn’t anything specifically wrong with your first goal. You’re simply enthusing about a new challenge. Put it to the side for a while; you might feel differently about it later.

Build on idea one. Consider whether this is an add-on to your current ambitions rather than a brand new idea. Some things might take time to build and your first idea might be the foundation for a bigger opportunity. It will give you more contacts and credibility in for the future.

Compare both visions. Be rigorous with evaluating the benefits and costs of both options - with the same criteria. Compare like with like, rather than like with love. It will help to write them out with equal depth. Be very honest with yourself here. It may help to do this with someone objective.

Sell on or shut down. Your original thought was a good one, although it might not be the best one for you. You may not be the best person to take it forward. Is there anyone else excited about it that you can hand it on to? You could consider licensing it to someone, selling it on or closing down the business completely.

Bernard P Achampong

Make PR a priority for your business in 2014!

However brilliant your product or service, if nobody knows about it then your business will struggle to make sales, and a business without sales is a failure in motion.

Here are some tips from PR expert Jessica Huie on how to make sure your business is planted firmly in the awareness of your target audience in 2014:

Read More

The Brownstone method for success.

Remember that 90s R&B girl group?  The chorus to their hit ‘If You Love Me' is a simple model for turning your dreams and ambitions into a success:

  • Say it - Declare it and share it; not wishful or empty words. Once you understand exactly what you want to achieve, you can communicate it - in detail, over and over again.  Got it? Good. Now you’re in the best place to begin.

  • Do it - There is nothing more powerful to making your dreams real than starting to do it. Doing it means trying, failing, and trying again.  Do it until you get it right. Do it a little bit at a time; practice, build up, save up… whatever it takes. It’s simpler one step at a time.

  • Show it - Once you’ve done it, let people know about it. It’s your testimony. Tell them where you were, where you are now and how you got here. Showing your success will also inspire others to do the same.

And now you’re ready to start your next dream.

Saying Goodbye to 2013

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Before we make those grand plans for 2014, take a moment to consider this: how much of what you want for next year is based on what you didn’t get last year?

If your goals for 2014 are completing something you began in 2013, there might be a very good reason why you didn’t get it done this year. Was it to do with a lack of time? Perhaps unrealistic expectations? Unreliable partners who let you down? Maybe a poor balance between personal life and business priorities?

Whatever the reasons are, wouldn’t it be great knowing you’re going into the new year without making the same errors again? Not only that, how about making plans for 2014 without the baggage of the things, people, finance problem, etc. that held you back in the past twelve months?

Walking away from 2013 takes more than simply leaving the past behind and hoping it fades into the background. It doesn’t. We come across the same challenges, bump into the same people or have to repair financial deficits. Ideas Genius suggests some practical ways of moving forward while locking the past in the past.

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