By Tiana Laurence, co-founder and CMO of Factom.
I wrote a book. That might be hard for some to believe given that I'm a technology executive. In many ways, it's even harder for me to believe. Writing has not come naturally (more on that below), but this journey has shown that inspiration and grit can lead to many things -- not just enough words for a manuscript. It's also fueled a new sense of self and a greater scope of what my vision and messages are for my industry, as well as how to convey them.
Almost every executive has a book in them, they just need to learn how to get the words down on paper. The following four tips are the core of my journey and can apply to any executives wishing to find a long-form canvas for their messages:
Believe in yourself.
Overcoming that unsure feeling of your abilities is counterintuitive. When you have an idea, execute it and refine it. As challenges arise, your confidence in yourself grows. Building that confidence through small and big wins will push you through hard times and propel you further into areas of growth.
Being a writer is no different. I had an amazing teacher that once told me, "Just write. It doesn't matter if the spelling or grammar is correct, just keep writing. Now, go. I don't want to see your hand stop for the next 15 minutes." Without her coaching, I may have never overcome some of the challenges dyslexia presented me as a writer.
When I was writing my book and my brain was not cooperating, I would set a timer and remember what my teacher taught me. Refining your ideas and editing come later.
Believe in your message.
As an executive, many people will ask, "Why do you want to write a book?" It's simple, really -- why do we advocate for new technologies and processes? Why do we write thought leadership pieces?
The answer is because we are deeply passionate. We have accrued knowledge through a combination of being around brilliant people while also having unique perspectives on our industries. The result is that we have a message to share and it needs a platform. Sometimes it's giving a TED talk, or writing a thought leadership article, and sometimes it's writing a book.
Trust your team.
You may have a message and plenty of ideas, but few executives have sat down and written a book. Fortunately, a whole industry of professionals is available to you. If you've already prepared a proposal and secured a deal, your editor will help guide you, starting with basic outlining via the table of contents.
If you're crafting a proposal, want to self-publish, or are shopping around a full manuscript, there are freelance editors who can help you with structure, editing, layout and more. There are also books, webinars and podcasts available to help you on the craft of writing. Remember, you achieved executive status by assembling a good team and knowing when to rely on them.
Writers aren't born overnight. Even the most talented wordsmith can't get by simply on nice prose -- there's outlining, drafting, multiple revisions, copyediting, etc. Writing is an arduous journey, especially for those of us where writing doesn't come as second nature. However, hard work is second nature for almost anyone who's achieved an executive-level role. The simple way to go about it is to apply your planning and organization skills to writing as you would any project, then simply begin chipping away.
The above tips are my lessons learned on the journey from tech executive to writer, and they focus on the actual creative process. Remember, the takeaway has more to do with the result. Writing a book is an intensely personal experience, and the final product is a massive collection of your thoughts. As executives and entrepreneurs, we tend to like to watch things grow and blossom, and writing a book is just that over tens of thousands of words. The most surprising thing about this is that you may discover that you enjoy writing as much -- or more -- than your work in your industry.
Tiana Laurence is the author of Blockchain For Dummies and co-founder and CMO of Factom, a blockchain-as-a-service company.