Step 1 Right Message

Sometimes I’m tempted to jump right to my keyboard. I want to bang out my book’s introduction while I’m hatching a new idea. But I always remind myself: Don’t do it! First do some pencil work. A pencil and paper give initial work a playful, relaxed feel. Doodling with a pencil, you’re not making a big commitment. And you can erase!

I then write a one-sentence message for my book. And I don’t worry about eloquence. If I’m stuck, I try a few tricks: List keywords. Devise a few book titles. Test metaphors. I articulate the message when I think I’ve zeroed in on something timely and intriguing, big enough for a whole book and marketable to today’s readers. Above all, I try to capture the kernel of my message. Accuracy first!

To avoid getting prematurely tangled up in wordsmithing, I keep doodling until my thinking has crystallized. Only then do I go the keyboard. If I can’t get the message down the first day, or even the second, I don’t rush it. I sleep on it. I let my unconscious take over.

Step 1: The paper trail begins
To finish this first step in the Stairway to Earth, I create two electronic documents.

  1. Message statement: If I were to make a poster for my book, what would I put on it? I draft a title, subtitle, and message. I try to use no more than 30 words.
  2. Title brainstorming: Few authors come up with the perfect title on the first go. I put down my favorite. Then I start a log of all that come to mind. I’m serious and zany.

So that’s how how I engineer the first step in the book-writing process. I dub it the first stair step to earth. If you’re written a book, how do you start? If not, what makes sense to you? Please join the conversation on my blog. (And if you want more detail on my process, click on the free download.).

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