This is the fourth post in a series dedicated to the anniversary of the publishing of my first book, Conquer the Entrepreneur’s Kryptonite. The purpose of this series is to share what I’ve learned to help inspire you to do the same if there’s a book in your heart waiting to get out.
Yesterday I wrote about how I almost quit writing my book for various reasons throughout the process. Today I want to talk about finishing.
Now there are two ways to finish. The first is to quit. Sometimes that’s a legitimate option. But it wasn’t for me. With this book, the only way to finish it would be to see it in print and hold it in my own hands. If anyone else got a copy, that was just a bonus.
So how did I navigate the choppy waters of nearly quitting to reach my literary destination?
1) I Had a Plan
That may seem very obvious, especially considering that my book is all about the process of developing a strategic plan. Actually, the idea of writing a book on the topic of planning without having a plan is rather ridiculous. That was pretty much how I started though.
Perhaps I had a vague plan. What I really had was a dream without legs. And it never would have been finished without having a plan.
The trick for me was to use my own process to plan out the rest of the book. I had a ton of raw content, perhaps 75% of the book. But to finish I needed the final 25%. I also needed a better title, a cover, the layout, a publication date, an ISBN, a book launch, and a good hard edit.
Honestly, finishing the book was 90% of the work. The plan saved me.
2) I Had a Deadline
Early in the writing process I had announced my intention to publish my book about six months later. I thought that setting the deadline and making it public would help me get there. It didn’t.
It was premature and much too big of a promise. I could have published at that point, gotten the same pats on the back, and even would have sold some copies. But I wouldn’t have been proud of it. It would have been rushed and incomplete. It would have haunted me.
[Side note: I would have learned more if I had taken that approach. Maybe the third or fourth version of the book would have been something I could be proud of. Perhaps the feedback and would have made it even better. The perfectionist in me couldn’t do it though. But with the next book…I’ll probably err on the side of too soon than too late or almost never.]
Once I could see the book nearing completion, I set a real deadline: June 14th, 2013. And instead of dreading the date as it approached like I did with the first deadline, this new deadline empowered me. It did everything a good deadline is supposed to do: it focused me, it forced me to overcome obstacles, and it forced me to deliver.
Why June 14th? Originally, I just thought it would be cool to release my book on the same day the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, was released in theaters. It was a few weeks later before I realized that on June 14th, 2010 I had written my book proposal. I’m not a superstitious person, but that seemed like a good sign.
3) I Stopped Learning
This one may seem counter-intuitive. I’m all about education and learning, and throughout the book writing process I was going to business training events, reading books, and listening to a ton of podcasts. New ideas, new examples, and new stories would find their way into the book.
But at some point it got to be too much. If the book was ever going to get finished, I would have to stop the consumption of new content. It was slowing me down and it was counter-productive. I had to finish soon or the book would never be finished.
I probably didn’t unplug completely, but it sure felt like I went cold turkey. And I’d do it again if it meant finishing a big project.
Stay tuned as I write about the writing process, the finishing process, formatting, creating the trifecta (book, e-book, and audiobook), crowdsourcing, my support team, and so much more. I don’t know how long the series will last and I haven’t written the next post yet, but I’m going to share all of the ups and downs I can remember!
If you have specific topics you want me to cover, leave a comment or send me a note!