If you are planning to write a book and you have made a comprehensive book plan, your next step may seem simple; do it. Often, though, it isn’t. For some reason, our plan never gets actioned. So this begs the question: how do you successfully implement your book plan? Let me begin by asking you some questions:
- How many plans have you made in your life to do things?
- How many of those plans have you implemented?
- How many of those plans did you never even start?
The truth is that we all make plans, we all put some of those plans into action, and we all have plans we never even begin putting into action. Why is that? Is our success down to necessity, simplicity, or our commitment to a project? Do we become afraid and so avoid our plan or do we just get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work we need to do and so never start? Why do we sometimes make plans and never follow through? It comes down to some key factors:
- Whether we believe we can deliver the plan we create or just think of it as a nice idea.
- How committed we are to getting the result.
- Whether we believe this project is what we should be doing right now.
- How ready we are to take action and overcome obstacles.
- Whether we have the resources to deliver the plan.
So, how do you improve our chances of implementing the plans you make for publishing your book?
- First, you need to be honest with yourself about whether the plan is realistic. You may wish you could produce your book (writing an’ all) in 30 days but deep down, you know this will mean never seeing your friends/kids/partner, working every weekend, getting a loan (one you can’t afford) and never sleeping. That’s an extreme example, but often our plans meld into the realms of such fantasy that we can’t recognise that we have a fairy tale rather than an implementable schedule of work.
Solution: Create a plan you can implement in reality not just in your fantasies.
- Second, you may want to want to do this thing, but deep down, you just aren’t sure if you are ready for it; you are scared you’re just not good enough. This is inconvenient because you want to believe you want to do it but you just keep thinking ‘Urgh! That book!’
Solution: Prepare. Make sure you understand why you are doing this project and get clear on what the benefits will be.
- Third, we have every intention of starting our plan but we’ve just got to build a website first. When that’s done, we tell ourselves, we can start on the book. But when the website is built, there is something else to do that is far more urgent. In truth, there may be many genuinely urgent ‘other projects’ to do before the book gets any attention but it might just be resistance or doubt getting in the way, not those other projects. Again, be honest. Why beat yourself up about not doing something you’re not even sure you want to do!
Solution: Prioritise. There is not point promising yourself you are going to complete one project when deep down you know you need to finish another one first. You can do your book but when the time is right and when you are truly motivated to do it. You will never successfully implement any plan that you are not committed to in your heart.
- Fourth on the list is that old devil called readiness. You look at your book plan and you can suddenly see all sorts of problems with it. In fact, the whole project looks flawed from where you’re sitting. Now what? Do you just give up or do you fight? Do you admit defeat or find solutions? If all you see are insurmountable problems you may need to do some work on your frame of mind or admit you just don’t want it enough.
Solution: Reinforce your confidence and self-belief. You are probably suffering from imposter syndrome rather than planning a bad book. If you only see problems when you are about to begin work in earnest, the problem is probably in your head, not in the book.
- Finally, you might make a plan based on certain factors being in place: the money to get certain jobs done (editing, cover design, blurbs etc), the time to do the work, the support you need from those around you, or even the state of your health. If you are relying on one of these factors and they do not work out, you may have to delay your book-writing project – and that delay could last days, weeks, months or even years.
Solution: Be flexible and have a fall-back position. No matter how good your plan, life will inevitably intervene. Acknowledge that not everything is going to work smoothly and be prepared to wing it a bit now and then.
Above all, though, what you need is a plan that suits who you are and how you work. If you know you are never going to sit down and write 5000 words a day, for goodness sakes don’t plan it! If you know you get resentful if you can’t spend time with your partner at the weekend, don’t schedule a weekend of revisions. It is that simple.
This is what I call the ‘much too much, much too soon’ snare. You know how it goes: you plan to write your entire 30,000-word book in a weekend (i.e. go from 0 to 100 in a nano-second), you write 500 words because writing 30,000 makes you feel exhausted before you’ve even begun (i.e. you play Candy Crush Saga, Facebook all your friends and keep falling asleep instead of writing anything). You then decide your plan is all wrong and you need to go back to the drawing board (i.e. you lose heart, feel demoralised and give up). But you never rewrite your plan because you have lost faith in your ability to implement it.
If you want to know how to implement your book plan, look at who you are in an honest way. How and when do you work best? Is this the best project for you right now? Are you really happy to miss the whole of the World Cup to do this book? Can you actually sit and write all weekend or will you run out of steam after an hour?
Your plan is for you. It is there to support you. It is not a stick to beat yourself with. Be honest, be realistic and you’ll be successful. It’s that simple.
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