Book Author Question Series
How did you get mentally organized enough to do it?
Given how active my mind is and how many ideas, thoughts, dreams, possibilities I’m capable of conjuring in an average day – this question is likely one of the most useful ones for people like me.
When I look at what’s before me, I’m easily overwhelmed because my instinct is to bite off all of it at once.
I learned long ago that the way for me to achieve anything is to break it all down to one task, idea, concept, path at a time and work on one decision until I have the result I want.
On the flip side – when I mentally strategize – the big picture aspect of my process – that takes biting off the whole darn thing.
Tactical execution takes a practicality and mental organization – skills I’ve worked on mightily over the years. Here is how I pulled this book project together.
It started with stream of consciousness writing. There are no lousy ideas, don’t think too much about it all, just get it down on paper kind of writing. Edit later. As I did that when the moment, memory, story, or realization took me, I got to work giving some structure to the framework of the book itself.
I knew my overall concept, so I wrote a first chapter on that overall concept and then decided how many chapters I’d have and created a theme for each chapter relevant to my overall idea.
I knew, given how I write, that I was good for essay length and chapter length writing without getting overwhelmed.
If I tackled the effort as one entire book project, I’d get lost in my own mental pages. I framed out the book with my concepts and then I pulled all of the stream of consciousness writing I’d been doing for, in my case, years and began to organize it by each point I was making. I soon realized my points were connecting to my chapter headings. I constructed a very rough draft – just to get the information where it needed to go. I’d clean it up and polish it later.
Interestingly, to keep myself on task – I went out into the web stratosphere and found quotes that spoke to all of my overall chapter themes and placed those on facing pages of the chapter to keep the concept in mind and keep my mind thinking on higher-minded points to stay out of my own weeds. It worked.
I took on a chapter section a day for weeks and, ultimately, came up with a rough draft that was ragged, but solid. My next step was to break apart the book into sensible bite-size pieces with title headings to give the reader a sense of concept and place in the book as a whole.
I noticed there were ideas I’d come to in my own experiences through my writing that I could use as pull quotes to further make the book more digestible.
The last thing I work on were my Rethink Challenges. I wanted to have a big picture sense for those sections based on how each chapter section turned out. I like how that came together as a conversational thought starter for the reader.
Mental organization was key to finishing this book. I was intentional about some of the things I did in the book to maintain it’s authenticity and I’m pleased I did that. There’s a benevolent rebellion in doing things your own way for your own reasons that add to the texture and fabric of what you produce. One of my favorite personal touches that only a scant couple people might be able to pick up on are personal Easter eggs to myself of ideas, advice and meaningful thoughts I made sure to include for posterity and my own pleasure years from now looking back. Sharing smiles with yourself is one of the precious pleasures in life.
As I say in the book, an independent mind is my loyalty to myself.