Updated: Aug 20
Writers come to me often and say, “I have a book in me.” I respond with, “You may have a book outside of you too!”
What do I mean? Every day writers just like you are writing their books little by little. They blog, Social Media Post, Comment on Posts, and Journal. The best writers are those who have scraps of paper among receipts and other documents; they are in a pile somewhere waiting to be organized. Ugh! Organized! NOOOOOO! Oh, the horror!
Let me show you how to get what’s already out there, into a cohesive manuscript. It’s easier than you think; however, it may take a little time.
Word Docs and Files
Suppose you have a bunch of files on your computer that are scattered start by organizing them. Create a new folder on your desktop. (Right Click anywhere on your desktop and click New File) Name that new file “My Book” (Double Click to open the File Navigator) In that area again right click and create new files. Rename the New File Folders with all the general topics you cover. Let’s say you are a dog groomer; your file titles might be Dog Grooming Supplies, Best Cuts For Your Pup, Daily Care and Grooming, What the Pet Owner DIY. Drag and drop your random Word Docs that generally adhere to the topic and place them into the folder that best matches the content. These topics are not set in stone; they are only used to get organized.
Once you have all the documents in their selected folders start your master manuscript. Open a Word Doc and add the name of each folder to the top of your page. Then open each word doc in the folder and copy and paste it to each section. It doesn’t need to be pretty, yet. It won’t flow so don’t even go there.
Step by step, so it’s easier:
Create a new file on your desktop and name it My Book.
Open the new file and create additional new folders and rename them common Topics you traditionally write about.
Drag and drop the word docs into the topics folder they are most suited to.
Open a Master Manuscript Word Doc and start putting in the content one section at a time.
**Bonus: Formatting your book video: Here is a video we only offer in our paid content but I want to share it to help you get off to a good start with your manuscript.**
What if you aren’t sure of the topic of your pre-created content? Read your short manuscripts and then rename them save them with clear names. It will be easier to commit them to a major topic in your “My Book” folder, and subsequently to your Master Manuscript.
The Million Pieces Of Paper Organization:
This one is fantastic, and you can quickly sort through these little gems and have fun doing it. Don’t worry if they aren’t all gems, I have some scraps of paper from years ago that no longer apply to my life, that I thought were brilliant at the time, and now I’ve outgrown. We can tend to groan at our old work and use them to make determinations on who we are as people or writers. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into this quagmire. You are better than you think because you evolved. You can still rework the material and update it. A great way to do this is, “I used to think xyz, now I realize abc.”
Organizing your scraps: Once you have gathered your pieces, find a blank wall in your home. Use tape or a large cork/whiteboard and create your topics. Use several post-its and make main topics, then under each one start sticking your paper gems each category they most likely fit (it won’t be perfect, and it’s not supposed to be). Type out each main idea into your Master Manuscript and start filling in the subheadings based on your little paper gems. It’s a terrific way to create an outline of your most valuable material. Once you have your outline, you can begin filling in each section. You can even use quotes from your scraps that head up the beginning of each chapter or section of your book.
Blogs and Journals
Blog: This is the content-rich area of your dreams! You may have researched your blog and have content from multiple sources to support your point of view. If you have used your blog to document experiences you could have some fantastic content at your fingertips. An example of someone using their blog to fill the content of their book is Kristi Blakeway, her book Beyond Hello: Rekindling The Human Spirit One Conversation At A Time. Kristi took her blogs over the last ten years, which document her experience of connecting with the homeless community in Vancouver, Canada, and organized them into an internationally bestselling book. You can easily do the same and rework the material a little and create a high-quality manuscript. It’s easy to overlook a blog post, thinking people have already seen the content. Even if they have read every blog post you have ever created, they may want it all in one place, or when you weave the posts together, you may notice new ideas and updates start to show up.
Journals: We are about to publish a book that is organized into dates. It is a memoir book about the loss of the author’s son. It’s a powerful, heartbreaking, and hopeful book about her journey over the last couple of years. There are two main sections and dates that take you day by day through her process. She transcribed her handwritten journals into a word document, and then I took it and used each month as a new heading, which made it easier for the editor to navigate. Formatting your book video explains how.
You also may speak your journal into audio and create an MP3 file and upload it at Temi.com. Temi a transcription service that converts MP3 files into text. It is very affordable and easy to use. You may also speak your journals into your Google Docs using the speech to text option. You can find this option at Google Docs > Tools > Voice to Text. You may also use the options above to organize and categorize your content using post-its, or you may even tear out the pages and stick them directly to the wall.
Social Media Posts
Have you been posting like crazy lately, do you have something to say and want people to hear it immediately? If so, you have a great space to collect some of your gems. You may be posting about common themes, scroll through your different social media feeds, and see if there are areas where you are passionate and connected to your message. Put those gems on post-its and stick them to your wall or other avenues for organizing content. You may copy and paste the ones that spark the most excitement, or your most liked posts into a Google Doc and organize them into an outline later. Once you have about seven main topics and three subtopics each, start writing with reckless abandon! You may choose to bounce around to different topics that are inspiring you at the moment, and put your heart and soul into filling in the content.
Please put in the time and energy it takes to organize your content. There is no reason to wait, get your message out, and start to create your book. If you have fear or self-doubt, that is something that can be adjusted later. Self-doubt has no place in this part of the process. This part of the process is all about organization. You already said it, now make it organized, more precise, and with more passion! You’ve got this!
Would you like to take our Build Your Brilliant Book Masterclass? It is our 90-day step by step self-paced writing class designed for new authors wanting to complete their non-fiction book.
Do you find it fun to listen to blogs while on the move? Download the recording of this blog here.