[Tipster] Set a Plan to Write Your Next Book

tipster post Dec 10, 2021

This week, our tip comes from Mary Holder Naegeli, one of our Roadtrippers who is preparing to write a book. Mary is a lung cancer survivor, and she tells her story in

Deep Breathing: Finding Calm amid Cancer Anxiety.

Here is her mini-plan for preparing to write her next book:

Clearing the Deck for Writing 

I have less than a month to prepare myself and my environment for eight weeks of focused writing starting January 2. I plan on spending every morning in my home office at work on a non-fiction book that is already outlined.

What do I have to do to get ready for this concentrated effort?

1. Prepare my writing space 

            • Declutter. File the last writing project, get rid of the stuff on my work surface so I can spread out the new project;

            • Collect the books and resources needed for the project and put them on an accessible shelf;

            • It will be winter—evaluate need for a space heater? Better lighting? and

            • Check my ergonomics: chair, desk height, consider an “elevator desk” that permits me to stand for at least ten minutes an hour.

2. Prepare my resources 

            • Update word-processing software. Resolve any technical issues;

            • Gain access to books or libraries that I need; and

            • Line up consultants, professors, or other resource people to be available for questions during the writing period.

3. Prepare my time 

            • Update personal calendar and mark the writing period;

            • Finish projects that can’t wait until March (e.g. all “Christmas” or holiday decorations put away);

            • Prepare to unplug from whatever social media drains my time unnecessarily;

             • With my spouse or roommate, negotiate expectations and practices for time together and apart; and
             • Decline any new invitations to write, speak, or create during the writing period. Practice best time management for ongoing professional obligations.

4. Prepare myself 

            • Evaluate my physical condition and the accommodations required to sit and write for a few hours a day. For me, solve chronic pain management puzzle. For you, an eye exam? Relaxation techniques? Food options?;

            • Decide on an exercise plan for the writing period. My creativity is stimulated by nature walks or bike rides. I call it “airing out my brains”;

            • Adopt a mindset of curiosity and courage to overcome emotional obstacles to writing on my topic;

            • Ramp up to W-Day [Writing Day] with smaller writing exercises as intellectual stimulants, e.g. entries in Memories for My Grandchild journal, this year’s family Christmas letter, or a side-bar for an article in my favorite magazine; and

            • Get in touch with my passion. Picture in my mind the person who is waiting with bated breath for this book to come out. Prepare my heart to serve this person with clear writing, meaningful content, and hope for a better life or outcome.

That's it from Mary!