Speed Write Your Non-Fiction Book Using Dictation
For any first time non-fiction book author there are two enormous hurdles to overcome in order to succeed in publishing their book. You must face the blank page and get started and then you must get through the first draft.
These hurdles are not as high as they first appear and with the two strategies you are about to learn, they will shrink even further.
Staring down the blank page is like deciding to go on a cross country trip. Say you are in New York and decide to go to California. If you you just hop in the car and start driving west, every turn will be difficult because you really don’t know enough about where you are going to make a good choice. The wise traveler pulls out a map first and picks a few major stopping points on the trip. Then the specific roads to take to each point are selected. Once the trip is planned out, the driving begins.
The Road Map to a First Draft of Your Book
Most first time non-fiction authors don’t start out by looking at the map. There is a map for creating non-fiction books. The book map includes major way stops and the roads in between. When the writer consults the map, it becomes much easier to plan the journey. So, what is this map?
The map is other successful books. Spend a little time at the bookstore looking at similar books to the one you want to create and it becomes easy to see that there is a basic structure to all of them. Author and product creation consultant Fred Gleeck calls it the 25/4/2 system.
Books in the non-fiction world can be roughly broken down to 25 main topics (the chapters), 4 sub-topics inside each topic, and 2 paragraphs of actual content for each sub-topic. Organize your information around this road map and write the content and you will have a text that will work out to be approximately 120-150 pages in paperback format. This is a respectable length for a non-fiction book.
Creating the outline of these points is the “planning your trip” portion of the writing journey. The topics and sub-topics outline where you want to go. Writing the paragraphs for those sub-topics is the actual trip to your first draft.
So, step one is to create your 25/4/2 outline for your book.
Choosing the Fastest Way To Write
Once you know where you are going, it is time to choose the fastest vehicle to get you there. For me, dictation is the key to speed.
Rather than sitting down with a pen and paper, or at your computer keyboard, have a friend sit down with you and interview you based on your 25/4/2 outline. Your friend will ask you to explain each sub-topic and your responses will be the paragraphs in the first draft. Momentum is vital, so don’t stop to look up information or verify facts. Leave what I call a breadcrumb note for yourself and move on. A breadcrumb can be as simple as saying, “find statistics to back this up.”
After everything is recorded, hire a typist to transcribe your recording. That transcript is your very rough – but completed – first draft.
Now it is time to go through the text, cleaning up your breadcrumbs and smoothing out the language. After this first pass, you will be ready to share the first draft with some reviewers and get feedback for your second draft.
Finishing Your Book
There is still a lot of work to be done to move from the first draft to a completed book. But completing this draft is a major milestone and creates a momentum for the project that greatly increases the likelihood that your book will get finished.
Many first time writers (I am as guilty of this as anyone) start plowing into the writing without a plan and get lost in the content. Frustration builds until they abandon the project. But, when you have a first draft to show, the project becomes ‘real’ to you and other people can react to what you have created.
Plan your trip by consulting the road map and then get yourself a fast car!