When they start writing a book, many people worry that they won’t have enough to say. After all, a book is a large project. I always encourage people to look for creative ways to recycle content they have already created and to brainstorm lots of ideas.
However, many times, after going through this process, writers run into a different problem. After gathering all their material, and getting clear about what the book is going to be about, they discover that rather than not having enough to say, the opposite is true. There’s way too much material for the book. Having piles upon piles of content can be completely overwhelming.
At this point, many people simply give up.
Keep in mind that it’s always better to have too much material than too little, so take heart, it’s not really that bad. Separating the nuggets of information that should be included in the book from those that should not just requires a bit of discipline. Writers often get attached to their words. (Every word is sacred!) But to produce a readable book, you need to be a bit ruthless. The good news is that you may discover you have enough material for a second book.
In my case, I use our IdeaWeaver writing and creativity software to separate and categorize my ideas, but you can use paper or a word processor too. The main thing is to divide up your material into manageable "chunks."
Once you have "chunked" your ideas, start separating them into groups of related thoughts. In IdeaWeaver, you can associate an idea with other ideas using topics or categories. If you are using paper, simply lay out your information on a table and start dividing it up into piles.
As you go through this process, you’ll start seeing patterns and ideas will start to gel into cohesive themes. You’ll also discover those nuggets of writing that really just don’t fit in with what you need to say in your current book. Remaining focused on your target reader and the topics you plan to cover in the book helps you identify what to keep and what to set aside.
Fiction writers often say that stories just "evolve" or the characters seem to come to life, so the book starts to "write itself." Although the creative process may not be quite as dramatic with nonfiction books, they do develop, change, and grow as you work through the writing process. Part of what makes a book uniquely yours is the distinctive way you choose to arrange the ideas you want to convey, so don’t be afraid of this creative process.
Having a lot of content shouldn’t be overwhelming; it should be exciting!
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