“Don’t just tick off targets: make something you can lick.”
Don’t just tick off targets: make something you can lick.
You can measure the miles, but you also need some reward when you hit those key milestones. Writing an expert book uses a mixture of your business self and your creative self. Your business self is pleased with targets hit, satisfying spreadsheets, nice big ticks on a to-do list. Your creative self is younger. A lot younger. Think toddler. A tick on a list just doesn’t cut it. They want the THING, and NOW, something to touch, turn around, sniff, and lick. And they don’t want to wait six more months or a year for it!
You need your creative self for the whole journey. Business self may have the content, but creative self is where the life of your book comes from, the great metaphor, the catchy titles, the energy in the lines. So how do you keep your creative self interested?
Don’t just tick off targets: make something you can lick. Print out everything you’ve done so far and shape it in book form. Mock up a cover for it and write an over-the-top back-cover blurb. Here are just a few ways to make it physical…
- Make A5 booklets: Use a double-sided printer’s “booklet” setting to print your book-so-far in booklets (“folios”), and a long-armed stapler to staple them in the middle. TIPS: It’s difficult to fold more than 8 sheets. Each sheet has 4 pages. So print separate booklets for pages 1-32, 33-64, 65-96, 97-128, 129-160, 161-192, 193-224… Add a blank page after the cover page (for the left-hand inside cover). If you want to get fancy and have time, sew the folios coptic-style instead of stapling them. (I have an artist mother who specialises in book-making, so obviously I staple mine!)
- Ring-bind it: Your local print shop will have at least two binding options – plastic ring-binding or spiral binding. Both look good; spiral-binding is a bit more durable if you’re going to use it as a working-copy as well.
- Glue-bind it: If you have a university in town, you have an academic binder’s. They specialise in making just 2-3 book-type things (theses), so they’re perfect for one-offs. You can have a standard cardboard-backed cloth spine and glue (my local shop charges £5 for that) or go the whole hog and get a hardback version like the official final thesis.
Business self might find this a waste of time, energy, and money. Creative self will run into the garden with it, stroke the pages, lick them, and come back bright-eyed and full of new ideas. And will put the treasured Thing on the bookshelf next to their bed where they can see it all night.
Back to the sporting metaphor. Feeling independent is brilliant. But every Olympic champion in the last two weeks talked about how the support carried them through. In the 800m, David Rushida beat his own world record – but everyone who ran that race set a new personal best. The cheers of the crowd pushed them on and running with the best makes you better.
Read Get support – and use it. Find yourself some cheering spectators. If you want professional one-to-one coaching, look at my coaching page; if you want a motivational boost and renewed focus to set new goals, a review will show you the way. Structured support means you do better. Plus that way, when you finally burst across the finishing line, there’s a cheering, stamping, flag-waving crowd roaring your success.