By Tiana Laurence, co-founder and CMO at Factom, Inc.
A blanket, a taco truck and a laptop -- that's how I got through writing my first book. It's not exactly what you'd expect to hear from a published author, especially one who also doubles as a technology executive. But this is the truth, and as my experience shows, someone who thrives more on startups than word count can write a book.
All those nights after I left the office, I wrapped myself in my favorite blanket and tried to generate enough words before I fell asleep -- and if I was lucky, I'd let myself dash away to my favorite local food truck. Successful? Somewhat. There's a moral to this story: I survived. The result is that my book, Blockchain for Dummies, became a bestseller on Amazon and is in bookstores nationwide.
If I can do it, you can too -- and as a C-level executive, chances are you've got a message just awaiting an audience, so all you have to do is put a proverbial pen to paper. Should you choose to do so, learn from these valuable lessons:
Make a Schedule
For many of us, balancing our executive day job with our roles as parents, spouses and friends, it's impractical to sit down every day and write. However, the easiest way to finish a draft of your manuscript or get through a section of edits is to have a scheduled, dedicated time for writing.
This will provide a steadying balance of activities, ensuring you don't burn yourself out with a marathon writing session. You can also set this time aside for researching, proofreading or going over chapters with a friend for feedback. As long as you are focused and productive on your book during this time, you have been successful.
In addition, make sure to give yourself a break if you're just not feeling it that day. Adding the demands of writing a book on top of your existing life can be stressful, so make time for self-care.
Schedules don't really work without goals, particularly in a situation where you're adding to your routine. The goal may be word count, an outline or proofreading. Whatever your goal is for your scheduled writing session, make sure you stay on target.
Some drafting software allows you to set daily word count goals to keep you on track. If you're new to writing, cranking out even 500 words may seem like a challenge, so treat it like working out: Start slow and build your goals up over time.
Ask for Help
Even professional authors didn't start out being able to punch out 2,000 words a day. You'll find whatever method works for you, just like you found your preferred way to manage and work as an executive.
Smart executives know when to ask for help. Writing a book is no different: Fellow authors, freelance editors and colleagues are examples of people who can help create outlines, give feedback or simply encourage you along the way.
Writing itself is a solitary task, but the journey can be easier with a good team behind you. With coaching from friends and having talented writers review my work, I slowly learned how to make my writing more natural and readable.
Google Docs are your friend: They are fantastic for collaboration and getting feedback. I'm also a fan of Grammarly. Use tools that let you access your work when you are on the run and bouncing between your phone and laptop.
Lastly, voice recognition apps help you get your general thoughts down into text, which can be the foundation of your draft. Even with all of these tips, ultimately you have to find it within yourself to just do it.
Writing my book was much more work than I thought it would be -- but the experience also became more rewarding than I had imagined. I'd grown emotionally attached to the work because it was my pure creation and something tangible I could hold in my hands. Because of that, I suggest a little caution if you choose to write. Books are like children;
once you have one, you may find the urge to get to work writing another to keep it company!
Tiana Laurence is the co-founder and CMO at Factom, Inc.