You want to write a book but somehow you never get started. Why not?
There’s a good chance it’s perfectionism, in which case you should read my last post, There is No Perfect Book.
However, it may also be that you just don’t know how to start. You may have asked yourself questions like:
- What software should I use?
- Do I just start typing my thoughts?
- Should I create an outline?
- Do I start with a story? A joke?
- Why is this so overwhelming?
Let’s make this easy. Just follow these steps:
- Create a Google doc (or Word doc, if you must).
- Put your tentative book title at the top (you can change it later, just put something) along with the words “Parking Lot.”
- Leave this doc open on your computer, and create a shortcut to it on your phone.
- Put stuff in this doc, anytime you have an idea you think might have anything to do with your book.
Don’t worry about formatting, spelling, grammar. Don’t even worry about writing full sentences. This isn’t writing, this is just making notes.
Your book parking lot may contain:
- Links to relevant articles, books, videos, podcasts, etc.
- Random thoughts or ideas
- Names of people to interview
- Names of people to get feedback from
In other words, literally anything can go in this doc. The only rule is that it needs to have something to do with your book. Park those ideas in your parking lot doc and come back for them when you need them.
I’m working on a book right now and have a parking lot for it that is 36 pages long. It started with just a few ideas on one page, then I started adding quotes, writing bits of prose, adding chapter ideas, and over time my parking lot turned into a rough outline and now there are even entire chapters that have been written and revised.
Because I have a quick link to the doc on my phone, I can easily pull my phone out and add ideas whenever they occur to me, which happens several times a day. I tend to come up with a lot of ideas while I’m out jogging (which is great for my book although tends to mean my runs have lots of interruptions).
A parking lot doc takes a lot of pressure off when starting your book. It gives you permission to start with the most rudimentary structure possible—a mess of notes, and work from there. Try it out. Let me know how it goes.
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