If you have a message to share, a story to preserve, or you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field, there’s no better vehicle than a book. While some believe that writing a book is a long, difficult process, reserved for the talented few, I believe anyone who can talk and type can write a book. What’s more, you can do it in a year. By following a simple technique, you can get your book written and into the world this year! The powerful method comes from The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, and it’s called “planning to the now.”
What is Planning to the Now?
Planning to the now is a tool for focusing all your efforts toward your ultimate goals and ensuring that you’re doing the ONE most important thing right now that ties directly to those big goals. The concept is deceptively simple and incredibly effective. Starting with an audacious Someday Goal, you work back in time to right now, tying each nearer term goal directly to your grand plan.
Using this method you lay out exactly what needs to be true at the 5-year, 1-year, 1-month, and 1-week marks--finally landing on what you need to do today to hit all of your milestones. With each step closer to now, you focus on one, and only one, thing you can do to advance toward your goal.
This technique is very different than breaking out all the components of project and assigning them to a timeline. Big goals, like writing a book, can feel overwhelming when we try to focus on all of the pieces at once, even if those pieces are spread out over a long period of time. Committing to just one thing at a time, on the other hand, feels doable. Planning to the now allows us to feel like we are winning, which is why it’s the ideal way to get your book written.
Even though the plan is to get your book written in just one year, going through the full process from Someday to Today will ensure you’ve got a solid foundation for that One Year Goal. Here’s an example of what this planning could look like.
To stay motivated to get your book written this year, you’ll want a Someday Goal that is bigger. Writing a book is a huge investment of time and energy, and your Someday Goal is the reason why you’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish your goal.
Pro Tip: For most authors, revenue from books is secondary to the primary purpose of sharing a particular story or expertise. So make your Someday Goal about that message because a book is a very convenient way to deliver messages into the world. Get 100% clear and specific on what the world needs to know because that’s your Someday goal. Here are some examples for various authors:
- Health Coach: Helping 1,000,000 people overcome sugar addiction.
- Hobbyist: Leave a legacy of wood-working by introducing 50,000 people to the craft.
- Memoirist: Ensure my grand-daughter has the opportunity to learn from the lessons of my life.
There are as many Someday Goals as there are someday authors. Whether you want to share your story of recovery or try your hand at romance, stating your Wild and Crazy Why makes the writing more fun and more achievable.
Once you know where you’re headed, and why, you’re ready to set the next goal. Where do you need to be in five years in order to effectively accomplish your Someday goal? I recommend a 5-Year goal built around consistency. Your goal could be about sales, publishing multiple books or other types of content, or simply having checked something off your bucket list. Here's how a 5-Year Goal could come to life:
- Health Coach: Earn a full-time living helping people overcome sugar addiction.
- Hobbyist: Create one video every month that demonstrates an element of wood-working.
- Memoirist: Write other stories, or pursue other goals, knowing I have preserved the important memories of my life for future generations.
Finally, it’s time to get that book written! While ambitious, it’s entirely possible to write, edit, and publish a book in one year. At that pace, you’re setting yourself up for success in your 5-year goal. Your 1-Year Goal is easy:
- Hold a published book in my hand.
But wait--just because you write a book doesn’t mean it will be published, does it? That depends on your Someday Goal. If a book is published by a big publishing house, that doesn’t mean it will make you a household name. Fortunately, fame is not required to achieve most Someday Goals. Thanks to technology, we all have the opportunity to pursue our dreams in the absence of the historical barriers that limited authorship to the chosen few.
If your heart is set on seeing your name on the New York Times Best-Sellers list, then pursue the traditional publishing route. But do it with backup plan of self-publishing. Here’s why: Whether your are published by a big house or go the indie route, you are responsible for getting your work into the hands of readers. No one will do that for you, and the sooner you take on an ownership mindset, the better.
It’s all about the numbers from here. To go from blank page to published author in a year you’re going to have to follow the golden rule of writing: Consistency.
Let’s assume your book will be 40,000 words, the average for a short non-fiction title. To hit your 1-Year goal, you’ll want to get it written in six months, leaving six months to get it edited and pushed through the self-publishing process. To write your manuscript in six months, you’ll need to write about 7,000 words a month. Easy. Peasy.
Here again, we’re going to rely on simple math. To reach your 1-Month goal you need to write 1,750 words this week. You heard me, THIS week. You’ll notice there’s no room for procrastinating when you plan to the now.
Here we are. It’s today! To reach your 1-Week goal you need to wiggle those fingers all the way to 350 words. That’s a page and a half, double-spaced. Not much at all! You can do it. All those Todays will add up to a draft in six months. Once you've got that, revisit your Someday and 5-Year, and 1-Year goals to see if they've changed throughout the drafting process. Then set a new 1-Month goal related to editing. Repeat until you've worked through all the elements publication and then celebrate!
Becoming an author will change your life. The world suddenly perceives you as smarter and more interesting. You become an instant authority. Even if you decide not to publish your work, spending six months writing 350 words a day will make you a more disciplined and focused professional, provide unprecedented clarity around your topic, and give you a sense of accomplishment like you’ve never felt before.
Let’s get your messages out into the world-- post your Someday Goal in the comments!
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