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“Ruth Stone once beautifully described the moments at which inspiration for her next poem caught up with her as a thunderous train of air that would come barrelling down over the landscape. And she would run like hell to the house, as she would be chased by this poem, the whole deal being that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page.
At other times, she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would continue on across the landscape looking for ‘another poet’.
And then there were these moments where she would almost miss it. She’d be running to the house and looking for the paper and the poem would pass through her. But then she’d grab a pencil just as it was going through her, and she would reach out with her other hand, and she would catch it.
She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.”
James Sale introducing his new book, Mapping Motivation, and why, for him, there’s no time like the present to write that book.
Liz Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, has never forgotten this story told to her by one of the greatest modern day poets. What I love so much about this beautiful depiction of an artist’s urge to create, is that Ruth Stone was always ready to write. She never once let that poem get away from her if she could help it.
And likewise, there will never be a better time to start that book than the time the information comes to you. Although for non-poets, we have the opposite challenge. The information we need to write is stuck within us, and needs pulling out. When you know deep down you’re ready to write that business book, you just have to grab the knowledge and experience inside your head and commit it paper, so it can’t tease you one more time. If you know it’s there, well then, grab it by the tail! There’ll never be a better time to start than now.
There is, however, a methodical way to approach your book so that you’re not constantly ‘waiting’ for the right time, enough time, the best idea etc etc. And that is to make the first thing you write a plan. We call it a Book Brief, and it is a document that takes no more than an hour to complete, but saves our clients dozens of hours and thousands of pounds over the course of the whole project.
A good book brief includes your short and long term business development goals, a detailed description of your ideal reader, your brainstorm on the various different topics you could write about, as well as a clear understanding of the purpose and importance of authoring a book. Having a detailed overview such as this enables you to place your book on your marketing timeline so it works hand in hand with your wider goals. Having a plan in place before you start committing content takes your book from a nice-to-do to a need-to-do, and will keep you on track throughout the writing process.
So in answer to the question, “When is the best time to write a book?”, creating a Book Brief that incorporates those elements will provide the answer. For many people, the answer is a resounding, “Now!” – what they discover is they need clarity, rather than more time.