Six months after finishing my book I’m finally done cleaning up the piles of clutter that the process left behind. It was a flashback-triggering exercise that reminded me of just how many ideas I had wrestled with, many of which never made it into the book.
At the bottom of the last pile, I found a barely legible note that struck me. I distinctly remember writing it in the middle of the night on my bedside table by the light of my smartphone. For whatever reason I dated it, not something I normally do in the middle of the night — June 10, 2009. It was at the very beginning of my research process.
The note contained 3 bullets of advice. I was telling myself what I thought I needed to do to write a good book. I don’t recall ever looking at the note after writing it, yet I now realize it guided everything I did. In retrospect I think it was good advice. In fact, I’d give it to anyone thinking of writing a business book.
I’ve included the text of the note below. Please pardon the “F” bomb.
June 10, 2009
- You need great stories. They should be real, not B.S. Great stories are interesting. Great stories engage and inspire. Great stories will bring your concepts to life and tell people exactly how this stuff looks in action. Get A LOT of great stories. Talk to everyone you know. Turn over every rock.
- Put immediately useable ideas at the end of each chapter. Make them specific things that you’ve used and that have WORKED. If you don’t, people will never use the book. They’ll complain it’s too conceptual. They won’t know where to put their feet. They won’t know specifically what they can do to get better.
- If at any point you feel stuck, go with your gut. Write about what YOU really care about. F**k everything else. If you write about things you really care about, your heart will be in it. The writing will show up as exceptional. If you write about things you don’t really care about, the writing will show up as mediocre, me-too, and forced. Your gut matters. Your heart matters. If it doesn’t excite you, it won’t excite anyone.