Can you even write a book at the moment?
Life has been turned upside down.
The Covid world we live in is one in which we don’t know whether our kids will go back to school this summer, when we’ll next be able to see our far-flung friends and family, and – for some of us – what will happen to our livelihoods in the future.
Some business owners have seen the bottom fall out of their work bookings, with in-person events cancelled and face-to-face meetings an impossibility. Zoom can be a brilliant substitute, but not for every eventuality.
As a result, many people are talking about how hard it is to focus on anything at the moment.
I get it. Even though my work has been carrying on as normal, I’ve been that way too. This is only the second blog post I’ve written since this whole circus started.
The cave person squatting inside us all craves predictability, not the relentless torture of breaking news, constantly changing restrictions, and social isolation.
So how can I even talk about writing a book in this precarious time?
Well, for a start, writing books is what I do. So I guess that’s a pretty good reason.
But I also know that, if you’re someone who sells your expertise for a living, you probably have a lot to say.
You may – or may not – have a bit more time on your hands than usual to think about it.
And you may find that writing a book about it will help you more than you think.
Of course, if you can’t face the idea that’s absolutely fine. We all need to get through these months as best we can. But if the idea of writing a book is starting to appeal to you, read on.
Why write a business book in the time of Covid?
In the short term, there’s nothing more beneficial to the distressed mind than having something completely different to channel your energies into. Getting your ideas and experience onto paper will distract you from whatever else is going on.
Also, it will give you a sense of control. Being at the mercy of random events is unsettling, but the process of planning and writing a book can give you the order your life is lacking.
If you can develop a routine for your writing it’s even better, as it will make your day feel purposeful. Setting a goal of 500 words a day, for example, gives you something to aim at and to feel proud about, even if you manage it every other day.
And finally, writing a book for your business is one surefire way of coming out of this on top.
When business picks up and you’re out there in the world again, being a published author (or on the way to becoming one) gives you credibility and authority. You’ll be seen as someone who knows your stuff, and wants to share it.
How to write a business book in distracting times
Given that I’m paid to ghostwrite business books and memoirs, I’m no novice at getting down to writing.
However, these are different times and therefore call for different measures than the standard ‘stop procrastinating’ advice you’ll often read. Here are my thoughts, tailored to the world we’re in right now.
Use your situation
Has the Covid crisis given you a fresh perspective on your work? For many people it has, including a couple of authors who I’m working with at the moment.
Suppose your expertise is in leadership. What have you learned about leading people when everyone’s working from home? What insights have you gained about what people need from a leader in these difficult times?
Maybe you’re a trainer helping people to improve their communication skills. What aspects of your knowledge could you adapt for remote communications?
You’ll probably find that whatever it is you’re an expert in has a special resonance in times of social isolation and uncertainty.
Planning experts understand the need for planning even more. Personal development coaches can see the requirement for resilience and emotional intelligence to get us through the situation. And marketing experts have a clearer view of marketing in all sorts of environments.
You get the idea.
This can give you a fresh way into your topic, which can be inspiring and stimulating.
Start anywhere you fancy
It can be hard to concentrate on a step by step book plan at the moment, even though that’s what I’d normally advocate. So give yourself permission to start wherever you like.
If you feel inspired by a particular thought, write a few paragraphs about it. Even if it doesn’t end up in your book, it could make a great blog post.
If you carry on writing about whatever interests you in the moment, by the time a couple of weeks have gone by you may have the bones of a book.
Limit what you consume
Watching and reading worrying things can be a distraction. I’ve found it helpful to check the news just once a day – this is perfectly adequate for keeping up to date.
The same goes for the relentless flood of WhatsApp messages from friends, Zoom invites from companies, and emails from retailers you must have bought from 5 years ago telling you about their marvellous Covid coping strategies.
Of course, keeping in touch with people you want to talk to is important, but try to check messages at set times only. Apart from anything else, it makes life feel less chaotic.
Look to the future
Your business book should have an objective – something you want to achieve with it. What is it for you?
Is it to build your profile so you can come out of this crisis on an upward trajectory?
Is it to help your readers with their lives and businesses?
Is it to share your insights with the world with the aim of making it a better place?
It may be all three, and more. But knowing what role you want your book to play when it’s written is not only important for your motivation, but also for ensuring you write the right book for your business.
I hope you’ve found this an inspiring post that will help you to make a start on your book, if it’s the right move for you. I just know it’s going to help you.
Ginny Carter is a business book ghostwriter, book writing coach, and author. She’s on a mission to transform entrepreneurs, coaches, and consultants from everyday experts into respected thought leaders and in-demand speakers, through the book that grows their reputation and expands their business.
This article has been reposted with the author's permission.