One Perfect Chapter

After you’ve been through all the preliminaries of thinking about what you want to write about, how you want to organize your thoughts and how to build in marketability, it is time to begin the actual writing process.

You do not need to write in the order of the book. There is no reason you can’t start with chapter 7 or chapter 3 or whatever you like. I like to say this is an “eat dessert first” proposition. Write whatever you find easiest, what you have the most information about or where you have the most passion. Do what is most fun for you first and leave what is hardest to last.

Whatever topic/chapter you decide to start on, this is a way to develop a pattern that will help readers understand and enjoy your work. For instance you might
Start with a story – just a paragraph or up to a page or two that illustrates what works or what doesn’t work. The point of a story is to emotionally connect with the reader, so starting with a story will start that connection immediately.

Other things that add to the humanity of your work, no matter the topic might be to do interviews with people who have had the challenges you want to help remedy in the book.

If you so interviews, take a look at the permissions section and get interview permissions forms filled out first.

After you have established connection and trust with your reader, then you can head into the learning section of the chapter – the things you want to teach your readers, strategies, keys, examples and illustrations.

If there are more difficult or sensitive areas of the topic, it is best to talk about those about three-quarters of the way through the chapter so you have time to get back to a more inspirational and positive place by the end of the chapter.

At the very end of the chapter, create a bridge from the theory you have suggested in the informational section to the real life of the reader with checklists, assignments, thinks to think about, etc.

These principles are true for each chapter and the book as a whole, but first focus on just one chapter. Find a pattern that works for you and the information you want to impart (like story – learning – troubleshooting – inspiration – bridge to the real world) and use it to create your first chapter.

This is where a book coach can help – someone else to read and critique this first chapter will help you see what you’ve done well and what you might be missing from a reader standpoint.

It may take several iterations back and forth but once you and your book coach decide you have a good pattern that will work for your book, then you can write the next easiest chapter that same way. Pretty soon you will start thinking in this pattern and you will think ahead about appropriate stories and exercises.

At this point, you want to have a separate file per chapter so you can easily work on one at a time. It creates more focus rather than putting all chapters in one file (which you will do later).

It is a good strategy to get one chapter 85% of the way to what you want it to be assuming there will be additions, deletions and changes as you work on the next chapters of the book. Until your book is published you can always make changes if you learn new information or just rethink the way to use words and sentences.

If you get stuck, go on to another chapter. Don’t let grammar, punctuation or even structure get in your way of continuing to write. All that can be taken care of later.

Right now the full range of ideas you want in your book is what is important.

If you want to put in chapter titles that naturally come to you or section headings, go ahead. If they don’t come to you, don’t worry about it now. We’ll talk about how to do that in the next section.