Welcome to the first episode of the Weekend Selfie series with yours truly, Jonny Andrews!
Today, Jonny gives you the tools you need to write a book in as little as 30 days.
- His super-effective writing formula, Facts and Feelings
- Daily rituals and the importance of writing exercises (Morning Pages)
- Getting into the right mindset
- Post-writing necessities: Why you need an editor
Every Saturday, Jonny shares his own strategies in approaching various aspects of the marketing world – completely free of charge! Join us again next week, and don’t forget to review: You could win a free business consultation with Jonny himself!
Full transcript of today’s episode:
Jonny: Alright, what is up, folks? I am excited today, because I am doing something very different. Rather than sitting down and strapping the microphone to my face and having a conversation with someone else, I have decided that I want to tackle a huge problem that so many people have been bringing to my attention. And that is, how to write a book quickly. How to produce content, how to publish content, how to just get it out. Because let’s face it, folks, this is one of those things – it’s a soul crusher. When you look at that blinking cursor of epic death on that white page, you think to yourself, Oh my word, how am I ever supposed to do something? Well, there is actually a way to get around this. It’s very, very simple. I call this formula, Facts and Feelings.
And so let me just back up for a second and explain why I am doing this. See, the whole thing about books is that so many people want to write a book. I am not sure you’ve noticed this, but I have been making the rounds on other people’s podcasts, did a lot of people’s shows, and it has been a good time! I’ve actually got my toehold in a couple of magazines, shockingly enough. And the reason I love doing this so much is because it gives me the opportunity to share this recipe with more and more and more people. Because – and you may not believe this – but not everyone in the world listens to my show. Yet. And so, I go out and hang out with other folks so their audience can hear this and think, Oh, maybe it is not that tough. And one thing that happens in almost every single case is that the show host, when I break down this formula, is like, Holy freaking crap, this is exactly what I needed. Thank you so much. And so I am just going to throw this stuff out there for you to do it, because it is very simple.
So let me explain what I mean by, “a moderately good book.” By the way, I am using “VoiceMemo” on my phone, rather than on the computer. So if you happen to hear to hear, say, the sound of footsteps, or maybe a slightly overweight cat making noise, or a train going in the background – that is exactly why. Because this is not my normal recording environment.
So, here is the formula. I will give you this super-simple formula for creating what I call a moderately decent book in thirty days. And what I mean by “moderately decent:” You are probably not going to create this era’s equivalent to the combined works of Shakespeare by doing this. And I don’t think that is necessary. I mean, not everybody’s going to be James Altucher. You don’t need to be, either. We don’t need more than like seven of him, I don’t think. Great stuff, awesome all the time, it’s a beautiful thing.
The other thing you want to keep in mind is that you are going to need an editor. You definitely want to bounce this off a second set of eyes before you just go live with the publishing of this kind of stuff.
So, here is the formula. Here is the absolute formula for this, and it is called “Facts and Feelings.” This is the formula I strive to use whenever I am going to produce some sort of book-based content. And the initial step of this is actually very normal: You need to know who your audience is. Who is the exact person you are writing this book for. And if you say “everybody,” then first of all you are wrong. Because not every book is for everybody. It is the conversation you are going to be having. Because let’s say for example – and it’s funny, because I have run into this a lot, I have worked with folks who have received multi six-figure advances from huge publishers, and when I ask them who is the audience for this book, sometimes they can’t tell me! And that’s one of those – auuugh! Bleeding from the eyes sort of situation. You don’t want to do that. So what you need to do is figure out who is this book for, why are they going to want to read it, and what is the one purpose of the book. If it is a book on relationships, is it for men or women? Obviously men and women will read it, that’s fine, but you need to speak to one of them. If you try to speak to both, you end up speaking to none, because men and women have very different ways of communicating more often than not. So that’s just an example.
So, step one, figure out who the book is for. Step two: What is the topic of the book? It should have a singular focus. The whole book should be like one big thrust. And write that down! That’s probably going to become some version of your title. So that’s the big point. Now the next piece of this, is that you want to take that main point and you want to break it into somewhere between ten and twelve subtopics. Alright? And those are going to be your chapters. Think about it like ten to twelve step process. And you want to reverse-engineer it. So here is the psychology behind it: You want to identify with where your target audience is, and you want to move them to where you want them to be. And to do that will take some steps. And if you can get that broken into ten to twelve steps, you are going to be good. So, reverse-chronology this. You want to start from where they are. Begin with the pain and the suffering and all that kind of stuff, identify with their problem and then figure out what are the steps involved in getting them to their ideal outcome. Those are going to be your main chapters. Now, take each one of those and break it into three to five little subtopics. You don’t have to be long with these things, that’s what’s really cool. So this is actually your outline. Your talking points. Now, if you were to just write this – which is what most people do – then your book will come out sounding very professorial. You would be dictating to people, and that’s just not fun. You want to think more along the line– people don’t learn that much if you just sort of blah-blah at them. What they want is for you to tell them a story. What they want is for you to wrap this in what I call a “mood burrito.” What you are then going to do is take your entire outline and you want to come up with an anecdote or a story. It doesn’t have to be long. Something quick, something really pithy. Something just like, Hey, this is like this. If you do something about weight loss, not everything needs to immediately lead to talking about weight loss. It can be an analogy to weight loss. It also does not need to be a personal story to you. A wonderful example of this is Ryan Holiday. Just put out a book called, “The Obstacle is the Way” – absolutely need to read this book – and what he did in this book is he literally told other people’s stories. He alluded to a lot of things in his life, he talked a lot about things that he had done, and essentially the book is about stoicism. A wonderful way of overcoming obstacles, usually by turning the obstacles into a solution. Or finding the solution near where the obstacle lies. It is very cool, I recommend reading this, amazing book.
Any-jose. The reason that book was so effective is because he told lots of stories in it. And it was wonderful. It was just great to read about. All of these historical figures overcoming these Herculean problems, and coming out on top. It’s wonderful.
So that’s what you want to do. Now, not all of the stories need to be about you. The one that does is the introduction. You want to be able to tell your story in such a way that it connects with the reader. This is part of understanding who you are writing to. What are their problems? What are their pains? What are their fears? What are their hopes and dreams and things like that? And please, don’t ever make stuff up. You just don’t need to. If you position things correctly and effectively, you will find that your story is usually very universally applicable to a lot of people. There is that pattern of trial and tribulation, suddenly leading to the hero learning from these horrible situations and coming out on top and getting wisdom because of that, looking back and saying, Hey, this is what I’ve learned… And that’s what life is really all about. It’s a pattern called “The Hero’s Journey.” It would do well for you to study that. Just Google it, you will know what I’m talking about. That’s kind of the pattern you want to use. It’s a journey: I was here, these things happened, I overcame them – or maybe I didn’t, and this is what I learned from that, and moving forward this is the wisdom I can impart. So that is really the intro for that kind of thing. The rest can be anecdotal, it can be literally five sentences. It doesn’t matter. Just give them rapidly something, so it is not quite so…talky-talky all the time kind of thing.
And then what you do – this is the actual ritual of this – there is a book, called “The Writer’s Web” that began as “The Writer’s Way” and then they sort of branched it out a bit. It came out long time ago, back in the days of yore, some time in the eighties or nineties. More than likely before the internet was even out. And “The Writer’s Way,” I used this book and it was phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. When I was in college, I was living in Scotland at the time – I was an exchange student, it was absolutely wonderful. A totally different story for a different time. But I was using “The Writer’s Way,” because I wanted to do more writing, and one thing I discovered – actually, I think they said it flat-out in the book – is that the act of writing is the exact same pattern as going to the gym. If you don’t do it every day, or at least multiple times a week, your muscles are going to atrophy. For example, I was working on loosing weight but I wasn’t doing resistance training. So what ended up happening was that I lost fat and muscle. It doesn’t matter how much protein you eat, you are going to lose fat and muscle if you are not exercising using resistance. And so, even though I got very close to my target weight, it wasn’t as healthy as it could have been, because I wasn’t working out right. Now that I am doing weight training, it has completely changed. The weight loss has actually stopped, but the fat loss is continuing at an accelerated rate because fat is lighter than muscle. So it’s a wonderful thing.
But the exact same analogy holds with writing. If you want to do it, if you want to be good at it, if you want it to be your thing – or if you just want to write a book – then you have to do it every day. And that’s what I love about “The Writer’s Way,” they create these daily rituals. And so the one daily ritual – and I think you should get the book, go through it, do everything with it – but the one thing I will tell you, is they are called “morning pages.” This can be ridiculously effective. You just literally wake up in the morning, and before you do anything else – I mean, if you need to pee, go pee, do whatever you need to do to get it out of your system – but just sit down and write. And I believe it is for five minutes. Every morning. I cannot tell you how amazing that one little activity is. And you don’t write with any sort of purpose. Don’t engage your brain and go, Okay, I am going to try to write my book. And I think I made the mistake before of recommending you cross-pollinate this, write five minutes while trying to write your book – don’t do that. Just write. Because what’s going to happen is all of these crazy ideas that have been jammed down deep within the recesses of your medulla oblongata are just going to start frothing up and bubbling over like some sort of grandma’s soup left on the stove too long. It’s just going to start coming out.
Now, there’s going to be days where you have just utter ridiculousness and garbage. It’s going to happen, that is actually to be expected. There will be days when you feel like you have nothing to say. And if that happens, then that’s what you write: I have nothing to say, I have nothing to say… Because eventually what is going to happen is your brain is going to kick into gear and you are suddenly going to discover that you do, indeed, have something to say. And that is a wonderful thing. And so do this every morning: Write for five minutes, literally, seven days a week, get up – lalala. It’s five freaking minutes, you’re going to be fine! Set your alarm, five minutes earlier, seven minutes earlier, whatever you need time for – do that exercise. Make that part of your morning ritual, the same way you do everything else. Before your coffee, before your anything.
So there is that. Now, what you need to do – let’s get back to the book that we are writing here. So you have your Facts and Feelings outline, and your doing the daily ritual of just priming the pump to write creatively (and that can be for non-fiction too. Fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter). And then what you want to do is literally every day, sit down and for maybe twenty minutes write one section of that book. That’s it. Just one section. And what you are going to find is that very quickly – usually within a month – you have created a working novel! It’s really cool, because you don’t look at the end goal.
And this is one of those things that – there is more and more science coming out about this – about how the personal development movement has been completely full of crap by saying, Just visualize your outcome, visualize your outcome. Don’t visualize your outcome! Visualize the process. If you think about this – and this has been very well-documented – that athletes, high-performing athletes, they do a lot of visualization. But they don’t visualize winning the game, they visualize every step, every movement, every muscle fiber firing off in the action that it takes to perform. That’s what they are looking at. They are not looking at the accolades of people carrying them up on their arms – Oh, yeah, if I can just visualize this way than we will win! No, no, no – you visualize the process. That’s the thing, people have been sort of avoiding the act of work. So don’t visualize you being done with your novel. Don’t. Visualize your process. Visualize you becoming this person that takes this action every single day.
It doesn’t matter how busy you are. It really does not. If you are telling yourself the story that you cannot come up with thirty minutes a day to sit down and write just a little bit, and that’s outside the five-minute Morning Pages, if you cannot come up with thirty minutes a day to write a part of your book, that is an absolute fiction that you are telling yourself. Because if you are that busy – there is that saying about meditation: You should meditate thirty minutes a day, and if you are too busy for thirty minutes you should meditate for an hour. It’s true. It is absolutely true, because that’s busy work. Whatever is going on in your life, you need to just block off the time, just get it done. If you are worrying about email, trust me – I swear up and down, that email is still going to be there when you are done writing. What won’t be there is your book. You know; if you skip that day, if you skip that time. Morning and daily rituals are the things that make you who you are and will determine what you become in the future. So if you don’t take time to create the ritual that will move you to becoming the person that you want to be, then it’s never going to happen. That’s all. You don’t need to – massive action is not massive. It’s small. It’s those tiny, little, itty-bitty things that stack over the course of time. Like, suddenly millions of dollars show up – they didn’t just show up! You literally created a life where that end-goal was way more likely. And so I think that has been a huge problem, people visualizing this book. This thing that is done. This three-hundred page epic behemoth. This work of American classic! Whatever. No! Not, not at all! It’s so funny – if you look at people like Hunter S. Thompson, I just love these people that came out of the sixties and the seventies. These crazy, drug-addled writers and things like that. The only reason they were able to slag through it – they didn’t want to do it, they just sat down and powered through it. Which I don’t think is realistic for most people. Like, most people are going to have some sort of lives and that is just going to get in the way. So don’t leave it for the last minute, just do a little bit. Procrastination doesn’t – and I am preaching to myself at this point, but procrastination just does not serve you.
So, put together a Facts and Feelings outline. Please do that. And then every day write a little section. Then when you are done with it – which you will become done with it very quickly – let it sit for about five days, and then pick it back up and do one deep dive throughout the entire thing. Just rip through the whole thing really fast for an edit. And then give it to somebody else. Let somebody else’s eyes go over that. Because what happens is – and this is an absolutely documented, known phenomenon – the reason why writers shouldn’t be their own editors is because they are too close. You are too close to the project! I have been saying this in the show, over and over and over again. You absolutely must have some other set of eyes on whatever it is you do. To say, hey, this is too much, this is too little, you need to explain this a little bit more… Because you are going to think it is awesome, or crap – there is no middle version, like, eh, this is pretty good. No, you are going to either going to love it or hate it. But it doesn’t matter, just hurl it into the world. And then just do it again. And do it again. And then do it again. Because what you are going to find is that the more you do it, the better you get. Especially if you listen to people. There is certainly an art to writing. But that art can be learned. You can develop this as a skill. This is not like a talent. Writing does not have to be a talent. Because it is mostly – and I have learned this as I have sort of progressed through life – everything that we do is a team sport. Everything. And the more solo you try to go with it, the slower you are going to progress. So, embrace the team sport. Get yourself an editor. Maybe join a writer’s group. Just, if that’s what you want to do – and that’s alright, you don’t need to, if say you are in real estate, you don’t need to become the literary realtor or something. It doesn’t need to be you. If you just need to crank out one book, that is totally fine. Just you know, take this action the one time, and then be done with it. Perfect. For those of us who are interested in having this become part of who we are, then these daily rituals are going to be very, very good. And then through these daily rituals you wind up to – just like building a business. For example you know, start with a podcast! Then with the podcast you go into…oh, I don’t know – a magazine! And then from the magazine you go into…something else! You know, guest blogging, or whatever! Just add in little pieces, you don’t need to have it all at once. So just take it step by step.
So there you go! Facts and Feelings, the outline format that I have found ridiculously effective for really really creating books quickly.
And so please, let me know what you think! Leave a review in iTunes: Go to www.AudienceHacker.com/itunes. Subscribe to the show, leave a review, and right now what we are doing is every single week everyone who leaves a review is going to be automatically entered into the chance to win some free consultation with me. It will be like thirty to forty-five minutes. Sometimes it takes up to an hour, because Lord knows I love to talk! So I would love to take a look at your business and see if I can help you out. So it’s completely free, there are no upsales or anything like that. It’s just my way of saying, Thank you for leaving a review in iTunes. Let me know. Make sure to subscribe to the show.
I will see you next week! I hope you enjoyed this week’s selfie.
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