Don't kid yourself. There are no shortcuts to writing a good book.

They pop up now and again, either in my email inbox (as uninvited guests) or floating around social media. 'They' are the latest wonder solution to writing a book. 'They' are usually accompanied by a very long sales-pitch website featuring long lists of benefits, numerous glowing testimonials and, right at the bottom, an 'order now' button and a money-back guarantee. Either that or a great 'limited time offer'.

The promise is to help you get a book written, easily and in quick time, by following a secret formula or revealing some other shortcut such as recording yourself speak and having those recordings transcribed. A bit of tweaking and ... voila! It's a wrap!

Unfortunately it is not that simple, and it can't be. Not if you want to write a good book.

A good business book is a bit like a PhD. It's a detailed look at a relatively narrow topic. Most of the work is done in the thinking, the distilling, the refining. It's not about taking all that knowledge you've built up and simply regurgitating it. It is about revisiting all that knowledge with fresh eyes, extracting the pearls and presenting those pearls in a way that will be useful for others.

Writing a book isn't the time to simply express all those opinions you've been keeping to yourself. It's the time to test those opinions against the evidence, to build an argument and then to express that argument in a coherent and logical way.

It's like you're like a mountain climber. The proof of your prowess isn't in reaching the top and shouting into the wind. It's in being able to successfully and safely make it back down to the level of everyone else.

All of this takes time – at least a year in most cases. You can't expect to nail your book with the first draft. In most cases the first draft will bear little resemblance to the final draft. The first draft allows you to pour your thoughts onto the page. The second draft, and possibly third draft, allows you to reorder and refine all of that to build coherence. Finally, after much sifting and re-sifting, your book takes shape. It's a creative process and creative processes don't come with any shortcuts.

None of this is meant to discourage. Anyone can write a book (sometimes with a bit of guidance). My point is that writing a book shouldn't be seen as something to knock off in record time. On the contrary, it should be seen as an opportunity to sit back and wallow in everything that you've learnt over a long career. It should be as much about the journey as the final destination.

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please add a comment below or contact me.

Banner image by Ales Krivec via

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