So, I'm at the pointy end of finishing the first draft of What My Mother Never Taught Me – The 7 Things I Wish I Had Known About Finding Happiness. I have three chapters outstanding still and I've left them to be written last because they are the hardest. One of the good things about having a blueprint is that there is no need to write the chapters chronologically, so while I've written the final chapter of the book, I am still not done as there are still three chapters somewhere in the middle that are still unwritten.
After my last update, I scrolled through the blog posts and realised that I did not finish teaching the principles of fast writing! So, to pick up where I left off, after blueprinting comes the writing process.
The key is this, remember the 15 questions I got you to list down? This is how you are going to work it. Look at your trigger words and set your timer for five minutes. Within that five minutes, write down your answer to that question using those trigger words. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT stop and think or edit yourself. Write as quickly as you can, and write the way you talk. There is plenty of opportunity for editing after the manuscript is done.
Technically, within five minutes, you should be able to produce about 3/4 a page (hence the 15 questions = 10 pages per chapter. The math works out). But like I said, this is as much part art as it is part science. For me, it hasn't always worked out to be 3/4 of a page, sometimes it's shorter, sometimes it's longer. Now, this is where I would like to diverge from the purist approach.
From my experience, five minutes for 3/4 of a page is rather demanding. By the end of my 500-page novel, I was verging on having arthritis on my fingers. For about two months afterwards, I found the knuckles on my fingers to be really stiff from all the really fast typing without much rest in between. So if you need to type slower, I say take an extra 5 minutes. Don't kill yourself over it. The idea is to write without editing yourself. I type much slower these days to pace myself so my fingers don't get over tired too quickly.
So that is it for this time. Hopefully by my next update, I would have finished the first draft! If you have not registered to receive sample chapters of What My Mother Never Taught Me – The 7 Things I Wish I Had Known About Finding Happiness, join the mailing list and stay tuned.
Til next time,
So, it has been three weeks since my last update. I apologise for the slack so here’s what’s happened since my last email.
The blueprint for What My Mother Never Taught Me was finally finished! I had initially planned for thirteen chapters but when I started to write it, the manuscript took a life of its own. I’m now up to chapter nine and it seems like there might be a few extra ones in for good measure! Like I said, got to leave room for some magic to happen and, as expected, magic did happen.
I am a little past half way through to getting the first draft completed and the secret to quick writing is this—use the blueprint and DO NOT edit! I have some bad habits so I can’t help myself, sometimes I catch myself stopping midway and re-reading and then starting to edit it. It’s an old habit that I can’t be rid of. It still works for me though so I say stick to what works for you. The first draft is not meant to be perfect. There is plenty of opportunity to edit later once the first draft is done. The important thing is to get it done. So between blueprinting and not editing while you write, you now hold the secrets to writing a book (or anything for that matter) really quickly.
Ok, will write more when I can tear away from thinking about What My Mother Never Taught Me. Writing the book is only 20% of the whole business of making a book. The other 80% is the critical element of marketing. More on that in a future post. In the mean time, stay tuned!
Well, it's been a week since my last post. Wow, where did the time go? In the past week, total hours on What My Mother Never Taught Me : 5 hours. I'm almost finished blueprinting. Got sidetracked with the temptation to do research. Not good.
So, today's tip is about the quickest way to do research and no, it's not just about using the internet. I confess, I have been guilty of scope creep when it comes to doing research. I have tended to over-researched in the past, finding articles and going through books. Ended up spending way too much time on research, and only using about 25% of it in the actual content of the work. So, the quickest way to do research? Sounds simplistic but really, the key is in doing research only for the information you need. If you've done your blueprinting, this should be a piece of cake! You already know which questions need answering, so just research the answers for those questions!
Keeping it short this time. No videos this week. Saving it for when the blueprinting is done so I can actually show you what the final blueprint should look like.
Ok, till next time, adios amigos!
So, productivity for the past three days on What My Mother Never Taught Me : Zero. Zilch. Nada. In fairness, I have been ill. Time to get my back and foot fixed. They gave me a horrible migraine last night. I'm off to the osteopath tomorrow to get myself looked after by the pro. Osteos are God's gift to mankind. Seriously. Especially mine. She is an angel from heaven.
Last week, I talked about blueprinting. I talked about making a list of points, turning them into questions, followed by setting out trigger words for each question. Understand that this is the hardest work you'll ever have to do in the whole book-writing process. Writing is a breeze once you've done the blueprinting but blueprinting is where you need to spend time on to do a good job.
One of the important elements of blueprinting is in altering your brainwaves. When we are doing something, for example writing, reading or solving a problem, our brainwave is typically in beta state. In beta state, the brain is actively engaged and the brain wave is fastest (highest frequency). It is NOT the state you want to be in when you are blueprinting. Blueprinting is best done in alpha or theta, where the brain wave is slower. These two states are conducive for creativity and idea generation, so it is imperative to realise that to do your best thinking, you need to be most relaxed. Ever heard of the adage that the best thinking is done in the shower? That's because, the brain is relaxed and the slowed down to alpha (sometimes theta) state.
So, this is what I do in the morning, after I've turned my statements into questions, before I start on writing down the trigger words, I take a shower. Before stepping into the shower, I've already primed my brain to think about that specific chapter I'm blueprinting. What are some of the content I want to include in there? When I shower, all the ideas start to come to me. Now you may choose to have a pad and paper handy for you to jot things down, or you could be like me. I have a good memory, so I use word association to help me remember the ideas. Another way to get your brainwave to alpha state is through some form of exercise. A walk around the park, a jog, a bike-ride or a swim are all good activities to get the brainwave to alpha state.
The best thinking, however, is done pre-sleep. When we are getting ready to fall asleep, the brain slows down to theta, and this is when I get most of my best thinking done. I have my phone next to me in bed so I can record a short 15-30 second message about whatever ideas that come to me during pre-sleep. I highly recommend you do this because you will forget the idea the next day if you don't. Trust me, it has happened to me before. And I was really frustrated with myself the next morning because I could not remember what the idea was. It took me four days before the idea came back to me at a random moment, you know what I did this time? I wrote it down!
The most important thing to remember is not to rush the process. There is no hurry on the creative plane. If you are stuck while you are blueprinting, get up and do something else. Go for a walk. Always revisit the chapter the next day to allow the ideas to percolate overnight in your sub-conscious mind when you sleep. You will find that you might have something to add, or the structure might need a little refining.
So, that is the hot tip for today. I have not done a video for last week. I might do one soon when I feel better.
How are you liking these tips so far? Talk to me, I'm all eyes.
Well, I have not been feeling well of late, hence the lack of updates. In the last three days, total hours clocked in for What My Mother Never Taught Me : 3 hours.
I am more than half way through blueprinting. Five more chapters left and I can get cracking on the research and the writing. Yay! Have more to explain on blueprinting but I will save it for the weekend. Right now, I'm feeling a little run down with the cough.
Have you seen the new e-cover for What My Mother Never Taught Me? What do you think?
Will write more on the weekend,
Total hours clocked in for What My Mother Never Taught Me today: 3 hours and a bit (I lost track of time). I've been bad, half way through blueprinting, I started to do research. Bad, bad thing to do. I'll talk about research in a future post. Now is not the time to talk about it yet because research comes AFTER blueprinting. Yes, you read right, AFTER not before.
Day 9 of the crusade is also Day 14 of my cough. I tried to look up what my cough symptoms mean on the internet today. I could have bronchitis, pneumonia, lung cancer or just a cold. Of course, I'm a hypochondriac, so I'm gonna go with lung cancer. Interestingly enough, this cough and burning chest pain has been coming and going since December 2006. Never really worked out what it is. Every doctor I have seen contradicts each other. When they read the case notes of the doctor before them, they will argue why the other doctor is wrong and why they are right. But at the end of the day, no one can really give me an answer. One said it could be stress, one said it is a pleuratic pain (he refused to explain what that meant to me, just told me not to worry about it. I had to look it up the internet to find out for myself what it means), one said it was a virus infection, another said it was a bacterial infection and gave me antibiotics for it (which did not work by the way). So mystery remains unsolved. Apparently I'm an enigma. Super. I also forgot to mention that there is a history of lung cancer in my family. The non-smoking kind.
On to serious stuff. Yesterday I stopped at turning statements into questions. Today I'm going to add something to that. So for every question on your list (and there should be fifteen), it is absolutely imperative for you to have a very clear picture in your mind what the answer should be. This is probably the hardest part of blueprinting and where most of the work is done.
Ask yourself that question and take the time to allow your mind the freedom to wander and construct the necessary details (this is like laying the bricks in your mind). Out of that wandering, key words will emerge and these will be the triggers you will need to write down for the question. The idea is that, once the picture is fully formed in your mind, you know exactly what needs to go down on paper when it comes time to write.
But you're not writing yet, so the trigger words are there to be the reminder that will bring up the picture in your mind when you are ready to write. Now, the purist way requires only three words. The first word needs to be the one you are going to start you paragraph with. The second and third words are for the remaining sentences. Again, this is the method as it is taught to me. But as you already know, I bend the rules once I learn how to observe them. So, expect to see something different in my 'modified approach'.
Ok, that's it for today. Am mentally exhausted from trying to figure out my cough symptoms. Don't ask me to go see a doctor, their guess is as good as mine. Besides, I know my body better than they do. I actually FEEL my pain. They don't. Doctors, GP especially, are really just people making an educated guess. Until more symptoms emerge, there is really very little value for me to get their input. Sorry Docs, just my personal experience.
Again, thanks guys for keeping me supported and accountable. Ciao for tonight.
Well, today has been a well spent day. Had a spur of inspiration to write this week’s posts for The Dirty 30s Club and before I knew it, the entire day was almost gone. I have discovered that putting myself under pressure is the best way to keep me moving. All I did was to swap the order of my tasks around. It usually was the case where I start the day with preparing the day’s post for The Dirty 30s Club. I usually don’t even think about blueprinting What My Mother Never Taught Me until after lunch. But today, I decided to start with blueprinting instead and then prepare the day’s post for The Dirty 30s Club.
Unlike What My Mother Never Taught Me, I do have datelines for The Dirty 30s Club. The day’s post has to be up and the email sent out to all members by 1 p.m. (Australian EST) of the day. It’s an artificial dateline, of course. I created it for myself, but it is a good habit to get into. Datelines keep me accountable and I like the readers to know what to expect and when to expect it. Some of them have a routine they keep (which I find absolutely fantastic!) depending on which part of the world they live in. Some start their day reading the day’s post, others do it during their lunch break. So, it’s as much for them as it is for me.
Total hours clocked in for What My Mother Never Taught Me: 1 hour 30 minutes. I completed blueprinting Chapter 5 and is about half way through blueprinting Chapter 6. I have decided that my old habits are hard to curb. I was half writing while I was blueprinting today. Technically, I shouldn’t. But I’m not rigid about the rules, so when the words come in a flow, I welcome them.
Now, more on outlining and blueprinting. So far we have:
- Worked out how many chapters as our goal (again just a guide);
- Outlined the headings of each chapter; and
- Worked out the structure (the order of the three chunks).
Now to the actual blueprinting itself. So let me break it down for you two ways. The first way is the purist way or the ‘right’ way to blueprint. But I’m a bit of a rebel, I like to bend the rules after I’ve tested them out, so there is going to be a second way—my modified approach. Like I said, blueprinting is as much an art as it is a science. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t stick to the rules. For your first attempt, I would recommend going the purist way. That way you can find out for yourself the perimeter of your appetite for detail.
So in the first approach—the purist way, you start by listing down 18 points of content for that chapter. For example for a fiction piece, it may look something like this:
- Describe the room.
- Describe the other people in the room.
- Describe how they are dressed.
- Describe what they are doing.
- Describe what they are thinking.
You get the idea. So go ahead and list down 18 points for that chapter. If you have a lot more than 18 points, you may want to explore splitting that up into two chapters because what you are about to do now is to take away the three least important points. Yes, we’re back to the mathematics again. Our end result is we want 15 points per chapter. (I will explain why tomorrow or later in the week).
Now what we have are a series of statements. Go ahead and look them over and re-order the structure if necessary. Again, attention to detail is absolutely critical during the blueprinting phase if you really want to save time during the writing phase. Nothing is worse than writing a whole manuscript only to change your mind about how the content should be structured. So pay particular attention here. This is where you want to spend a lot of time and energy, it is akin to building the foundation of a building. The stronger the foundation, the more sturdy the building.
So, now we’re really getting somewhere! The next thing to do is to turn the statements into questions. The reason being the human brain responds more effectively to questions. Think about it, isn’t it easier if someone asks you “What do you do for work?” “What is your favourite food?” “What do you like to do in your free time?” than “Tell me about yourself.”? Precisely.
Using the earlier example, the statements now look like this:
- What does the room look like?
- Who else is in the room with her?
- What are they wearing?
- What are they doing?
- What are they thinking?
Are you starting to get the picture? It’s not so hard, is it?
Ok, that’s it for today. We’re not done with blueprinting yet. There are a lot of intricacies involved. And it can’t be explained in one blog post. So tune in for more throughout the week as I continue to explain this magical technique.
Yours in service,
P.S How do you like the customized banner for the blog? Pretty neat, huh? I got it done for five bucks on fiverr.com. J
P.P. S If you like this post, share it on Facebook! I need all the publicity I can get! J