Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
I like the visual of not being able to see the entire staircase; it reminds me of driving through dense. You may not be able to picture the destination but that doesn’t mean the journey isn’t worth starting out.
The same is very true for writing and publishing your book. When you first sit down at the computer to type the opening line: “it was a dark and stormy night” or “once upon a time” you may not know what the content will be from there until you type “the end.” It fact, you may not even have an outline for your story; but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a fun and interesting read when all is said and done.
Publishing your book, especially that first book when you have nothing to compare the process to, can also feel like climbing a set of stairs that go on forever. You may not be able to see the top of the staircase but it shouldn’t keep you from taking that first step.
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
This is especially true the bigger the project. When Stephanie Meyer began writing the Twilight series of books, she knew how the story would end. In an interview she shared that the story came to her in a dream. Imagine the magnitude of the task to take a dream of that length and commit it to paper.
I’m sure she didn’t have a clue when she began that the series would encompass almost 2,800 pages of text. However, that didn’t stop her from writing down that first sentence:
“I never given much thought to how I would die.”
The idea of just taking one step, that first step, works regardless of the task; quitting smoking, losing weight, preparing to give a speech, or writing a book.
There are three components to setting and achieving your goal:
- The goal itself. What exactly is your goal? To write and publish a book? Great – write that down at the top of the paper.
- What actions are necessary? Thinking from a big picture point of view, what do you need to do to make your goal happen?
- Outline the book
- Develop characters
- Write the book
- Edit the book
- Find a publisher
- Distribute the book
- Market the book
- Now what tactics are necessary to complete each action? Breaking down your goal into actions does help to make the ultimate plan a reality but you can break things down even further into individual tactics.
Let’s look at it from a financial point of view. Say you want to save $5,000 a year toward your retirement. As you look at your wallet or bank balance today, you may think that saving that amount of money isn’t a reality.
So let’s break it down. In order to save $5,000 this year, you need to save $417 a month. Wow, that is still a pretty big chunk of change. So let’s break it down even further. $96.15 saved each week will allow you to achieve your goal.
Even smaller? If you put $13.70 in savings each day you will be successfully saving $5,000 in a year.
See how that works? Now let’s use the same thought process when writing and publishing your book. Tactics can be viewed as time increments. What tactic can you complete in 30 minutes?
You can do anything for 30 minutes, right?
- You can write more of your story in thirty minutes
- Make a few phone calls to schedule speaking engagements to market your book in thirty minutes
- Edit a chapter or a few pages in thirty minutes
- Work on the content for your website in thirty minutes
Each time you spend working on a tactic moves you closer to completing an action which gets you closer to your goal.
Each little step moves you across the floor.
So what if you trip and fall?
Good question. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.
The reality is that you won’t have to start ALL over again, just start from when you faltered. With each step, even the tiniest of steps, you move in the direction of achieving your goal of having a self-published book in the hands of your readers.
Make Sure Your Reward Your Forward Movement
In an article about taking the steps necessary to achieve a goal, I want to call your attention to two of the steps; make sure you take time to recognize how far you have come and reward your achievements:
Track your progress
Tracking your progress helps you understand how you’re doing and gives you a target to reach. This makes it easier to keep up with your momentum.
Create a project sheet that records your targets and your current status. Specify your KPIs that you want to achieve. If your goal is to lose weight, your KPIs will be your weight, your fat percentage, and perhaps your performance during your exercise sessions.
Then every week, review your progress. What % of your end goal have you achieved? Is it on track against your target? What is your target for the next week? Tracking makes you accountable to your goal and helps you to stay on track.
Celebrate what you’ve done so far
Sometimes we get discouraged with all the things that need to be done. It seems like no matter how much time we spend, it’s impossible to finish it. The amount of work overwhelms us and we opt out halfway.
Here’s the thing – Everything you’ve done so far IS an accomplishment! Give yourself a huge pat on the back and a big bear hug. Celebrate the process, the resting, the doing, the completion, everything. Take the opportunity to recharge and regroup. When you’re ready, continue on to with what you’re doing.
To read all ten of the tips, click here: Ten Essential Tips to Finish What You Started
Bottom line: Consider this great quote from Naeem Callaway: