I wasn’t born with the gift of writing. In fact, until I started blogging on Steemit in 2016, I never really saw myself as a writer. And if not for the huge rewards I was getting, ($5 to $500 per post, despite my mediocre writing and inability to generate enormous traffic), I probably would never have developed the habit of writing.
Today, the Steemit opportunity is gone, but I still write. I’ve come to love writing for its many benefits. It makes me feel happier, more productive and enable me to communicate my ideas with more clarity. I like the way James Clear expressed one of the benefits of writing. He said, “writing is a way to edit your thinking”. Learning to write improves your thinking and vice versa.
In this post, I’ll share five lessons I learned from writing my first book titled ‘Understanding EOS’. I hope that you can learn from my experience.
1. Begin at once
If you’re reading this post because you want to learn how to write or you want to write your own book, then the following instructions are very crucial to your success. Do them now and come back to this post when you are done.
Instruction 1: Stop reading this post. Stop everything else you’re doing and…
Instruction 2: START writing your book NOW. Don’t think. Just put your hands on your computer and start typing whatever comes to your mind. Do this for one hour and then come back to this post.
Congratulations to you if you did the above exercise. You’re one step closer to becoming a best-selling author.
The journey of a billion lightyears begins with one step.
Another beautiful quote from James Clear is as follows: “When preparation becomes a form of procrastination, you need to change. You don’t want to merely be planning. You want to be practising.” If all you get from this post is this one point, you are set for success. Begin at once! Take action. The only way to start doing something is to start doing it. Just start! Don’t fall into the trap of overthinking, overpreparing or procrastinating. The timing will never feel perfect. There is no perfect time. I use to have the habit of overpreparing and overanalysing but it didn’t get me anywhere. You’re not going to become a better writer by learning about writing, reading this post or watching videos and podcasts until you actually write and practice it again and again.
At the time I started writing my book, all I had was a desire to do something great, nothing more. I wrote about EOS because there was no book on the subject, at the time I was writing about it. EOS is a very niche topic and the market is not huge (yet), but it was my passion.
I also had no prior experience on writing a book before I started but I’m grateful that I did start because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have sold $1,000 in the US to support my NGO (EmpowermeEOS ). This happened even before the book got published on Amazon.
You don’t need to be great to start. But you need to start to be great. — Zig Ziglar
2. Start with why
Before I started writing, I stated clearly, the reason why I wanted to write and what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to create a digital product that I could sell to raise money for my NGO. Going through the Sozo Network YID Bootcamp (through a US embassy sponsorship) taught me that I need to see my NGO as a business and look for ways to sustain it. I also had a deep understanding of the blockchain industry and EOS. I knew that it would flourish and when it does, I wanted to be regarded as an expert (not just an early adopter). I figured that writing a book would be a way to solidify my position. The final reason why I wrote the book is that I wanted to learn.
To teach is to learn twice. — Joseph Joubert
Starting with why was a good decision and it ensured that I go through the process of writing and finishing it up to the point of publishing.
After the initial burst of enthusiasm and motivation, there were times that I felt like giving up. Looking at my vision board and reminding myself of my “why”, kept me going. I would read my vision aloud and my morale would become high again.
3. Have a strategy
Set yourself up for success. Create an environment that will ensure that you succeed. In order to pull through the tedious process, I had to develop a strategy to ensure that I wrote every day. It had to be something exciting. Something that made me publicly accountable and forced me to work daily.
Here is what I did. I started a 365-days vlogging challenge. The plan was simple. Make daily crypto videos and publish them on YouTube. No matter how crappy or uninspiring or bad I felt they were, I had to click the publish button.
The videos were not my goal of doing the videos (sounds confusing right?). My goal was to create content for my book. Before creating the videos, I would have to think of the content. Those contents form the skeleton for my book.
I also announced the challenge publicly and that effectively put me in the limelight(at least in my mind). This gave me extra motivation to work because I don’t want to be seen as an unreliable person amongst my peers.
It worked. I was able to create momentum and challenge myself. Even when my laptop was stolen and I lost the first draft of my book, I still reverted to some of those videos and they formed the basis of my ‘book rebirth’.
4. Have people
One Thursday evening, I came back home after a long day at the farm (yes, I have a farm), only to discover that thieves had broken into my house and stolen my laptop and other valuables. I lost money, important documents and files, including my initial draft for the book. If I had backed up my draft or used Google docs, I won’t have lost them. This was where I almost gave up, but help came.
I don’t recall asking her for help, I just told her the challenges that I was facing in the middle of one of our discussions. Nevertheless, Stellabelle proved her friendship by helping me raise money for a new laptop. That $500 gift is one of the reasons you are reading this post. Beyond the dollar figure, it strengthened me and blasted my morale to the heavens.
I know who my friends are. Friends help friends. — Stellabelle
In your writing journey, you’ll need people like Stellabelle. You’ll need friends who would encourage you and cheer you even when you feel that your writing sucks. You’ll need a third eye who would always be willing to proofread your work. You’ll need mentors who would criticize your work and give $10,000 worth of advice for free. You’ll need fans who would love you and you’ll need cynical critics who would act like sandpaper to give your work that fine texture of perfection.
If you’re true and sincere, your work will attract people. You would do yourself great good if can recognize them and appreciate them accordingly.
5. Outsource it
Creating a great product requires great effort and unless you are extremely good, you can’t do everything alone. Even if you can, attempting to do everything is not wise, because you’ll lose valuable time that could have yielded more result if invested in your area of core competence. I didn’t know this and so I attempted to do every bit of the book production myself.
From the writing to the designing to the printing, I did everything. I did the first cover design and the pdf design and it was okay. But ‘okay’ is not good enough. And to do it, I had to watch countless Youtube design tutorials and even started learning Figma and Photoshop.
All those time would have been saved if I just hired a specialist from the start. I eventually hired a specialist and I did it wrong. I hired the specialist to teach me, lol… That didn’t work out as well as I planned. I learned but at one point, I discovered that I was always overwhelmed with work trying to do everything myself and still do a full-time job, a part-time job and run my NGO. It was hell.
Publishing the book on Amazon was another thing that gave me a serious headache. Naturally, I approached the problem head-on. After trying for several hours, I did what the average millennial would do. I turned to YouTube. Hell again.
Some people have gifts and talents and have specialized to the extent that they can do their craft with the slightest effort and produce the most fantastic results. Leverage on them. Your success in life would not be as a result of your sole effort but as a result of your environment and the people around you. Your ability to attract and receive help and delegate the tasks which are beyond you would be crucial to your success. If you want to succeed, you’ll need a team which includes people who are better than you in areas where you are not so talented.
Focus on your core skill and outsource everything you can. Some of the most profitable businesses outsource so much of their business that it’s even possible to put the business on autopilot. Never walk alone and instead of walking, find yourself a horse to ride.