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How to write a book in 2017 (4 tips from my experience)


how to write a book in 2017 - man writing a book

Today I published my first book, #BreakIntoVC: How to Break Into Venture Capital and Think Like an Investor. It took me about six months to write, but today I’d like to share everything I learned over the past year and a few tips on how to buckle down, how to write a book in 2017 and what it takes to get it done in three months. 

Believe it or not you have a book inside you. and to learn how to write a book in 2017 is easier than you think. You may not feel it just yet but you have a unique story that can impact tens of thousands of people. Most people think that when they finally reach their goal, that’s when they’ll write their first book but the opposite approach tends to be much more powerful. 

Writing a book is all about documenting your journey.

We live in an age where people document what they eat, where they go, what they wear, but they often forget to document the most important thing: their own personal journey. 

Whether you’re opening up a food truck, training for a marathon or graduating college, I’m reading your book because your passion and drive is teaching me how to do what I want to do. I’m learning more about myself through your story. 

Your first book should be about your own personal journey and there’s no better time to write it than right now. Literally. In the past 60 years, we’ve had a recession on average every 6 years. Most economists say we’re due for another one in the next 12-18 months. 

Imagine if it’s your story that allows someone to get back on other feet and follow their dreams in tough economic times.

Publishing a book can give others hope but it also changes you personally.

Here I am lecturing in front of a room full of business school students at Wharton last week on how to get into venture capital and start thinking like an investor.   

how to write a book in 2017 - Bradley Miles speaking at Warton

In the next few weeks I’ll be lecturing at Columbia, Brown, Harvard, USC, Berkeley and a couple other schools. All of that sounded impossible to me last year, but because I sat down and documented my journey into venture capital in #BreakIntoVC, a lot of new opportunities are emerging that continue to stretch me as a person. 

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No fluff or "pie in the sky inspiration." Just real stories.

These are my 4 tips for how to start writing a book (and publish your first in the next three months).

how to write a book in 2017 - writing process

1. Mindmap Outline Write

As tempting as it is to sit there and write a chapter of your first book, eventually you’ll hit a dead end and be unable to continue. If you draw a map of all your thoughts and where you see them going, you’ll be able to write a clear outline of the chapter. This will save you months of time and also give you a clear roadmap to the finish line. 12 little mind map designs will lead to 12 chapters which will lead to a 100+ page book.  

Dedicate one day to mind-mapping the chapter, one day to outlining and three days to writing the chapter. Make sure to spend at least one day not writing to give your brain a chance to refresh and prepare for the week ahead. Don’t worry so much about editing right now. The goal is to finish your draft. Done is better than perfect.

There’s a chapter in #BreakIntoVC on how to pitch a company to venture capitalists. I thought I knew what I was doing and ended up writing the chapter without an outline. I ended up using some of the material from this section in the following chapter and then had to rethink and restructure both chapters. 

What took several days to untangle and rewrite could have been easily solved with a few hours of mind-mapping. In case you were wondering, here’s a typical mind map for my book. 

2. To become a writer you need to hurry up and write!

Writing is a discipline that should be practiced. Make sure to exercise your writing muscle five days a week. As long as you take a day to mind map and another day to outline, you’ll find yourself writing the chapter in your head throughout the day. This will greatly enhance your three writing days.

We’re all busy with school or work and I definitely don’t expect you to carve out 6 or 7 hours a day for your book. What you can do instead is set a timer as a way to hold yourself accountable.

Instead of watching an hour and a half movie on Netflix, take those 90 minutes to time yourself and map out your first chapter. You’ll achieve a deeper level of focus once the countdown begins and be able to think and write with more clarity.

A lot of the six months it took me to write my book were spent carving out bits of time to outline and write in the same day. Not only did I feel rushed, but I didn’t enjoy the process as much as I should have and for that reason it was tough to develop a solid schedule.

It wasn’t until I starting interviewing investors for the last chapter of #BreakIntoVC that I realized the importance of scheduling and outlining throughout the book writing process.

3. Write first thing in the morning without distractions

I know you may be a night person (I write most of my stuff in the late evening), but there’s something about the first moments of the day that make the writing process move a lot smoother. In order for this to work you should do the following:

  • Turn off your phone
  • Turn off the Internet and notifications
  • Write!

If it’s your second day of writing and you spend 30 minutes in the morning outlining Chapter 1, you only need 7-8pm to finish up your work for the day. Again the important thing here is to be consistent. Monday is for mind mapping, Tuesday is your day to outline and Wednesday through Friday you’re writing 3-4 pages a day of your personal story.

If you get this method into your system for two weeks, I can guarantee you’ll have a solid draft of your first book in 90 days.

4. Have someone hold you accountable as you write your book.

Even after all the structure you put in place, eventually there will be days where you simply aren’t in the mood to write or end up staring at an empty page and that’s ok. Like reading other people’s books, sometimes it’s easier to find inspiration in other people.

Having someone hold you accountable week after week will keep these dark writing days at a minimum. Writing a book can be hard but it can also be enjoyable if you structure your time. I fully intend to follow this framework for my next book and if you begin your journey to become a published author this month shoot me an e-mail and let me know how I can help.

I’m really glad I got to share some tips I learned from writing my first book.

If you’re curious about venture capital and how thinking like an investor can improve your life, #BreakIntoVC is $.99 for this week only. Buy now before the price goes up and tell me what you think at bradley@breakintovc.com.

in your inbox everyday at 10am CST.

No fluff or "pie in the sky inspiration." Just real stories.

Written by Bradley Miles

Bradley Miles is the author of #BreakIntoVC, a simple and approachable guide to thinking like a venture capitalist. He is also an investor at Stripes Group, a leading late-stage venture capital firm that makes $10-150 million investments in Internet, Software, Healthcare IT and Branded Consumer Products businesses.