John Williams is author of Pearson book, “Screw Work Let’s Play (How to do what you love and get paid for it)”.  He offered to share things he learned on his journey to publication with us.
Winning a book deal with a major publisher was an incredible experience but it didn’t unfold quite how I expected. After my initial celebration, I was given a deadline to deliver my (as yet unwritten) book and my agent got busy negotiating the details of the contract. But… strangely no one said “Go” at any point. After a few days of waiting for some official signal to start, I thought I better just crack on with my 45,000 words anyway.
The great challenge of the writer is that the very traits that support our creativity are not the ones associated with conventional models of productivity. The creative mind doesn’t see boundaries and rules, it sees connections and exceptions. The creative person is less of a worker, more of a player. While these traits help us come up with whole new ideas, stories and worlds, they’re not so good for helping us turn up to the page on time and focus for hour upon hour to finish what we started.
Over the course of 6 months working on my book, I found things that helped me get on with the daily task of writing. Here are 3 you can use for your own projects:
1. Have a deadline to share your writing with others. I had a sequence of deadlines to hit with Pearson for each draft of my book. As the pressure of each deadline mounted, friends often said “Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you didn’t have the deadline?” And my answer was no; it wouldn’t. Because without the deadline I would never have finished the book! Arrange your own deadlines to share your writing with friends, fellow writers, and writing groups.
2. Choose your environment to help you write. I wrote in a variety locations: in bed with my morning coffee, in my garden, in the park, in cafes, and in a shared workspace called The Hub. I also took part in several of Charlie’s Urban Writers’ Retreats to help me focus intensively for a day at a time. Being forced to be offline and without a mobile phone will help you settle into a much deeper level of concentration.
3. Work in ways that make it more fun, easy and playful. I took time to read other inspiring books in my field, I chatted ideas over with creative colleagues, interviewed people with interesting stories I could draw on in the book, and I went away with friends for a week to Cornwall where we all wrote intensively and then took breaks on the beach.
When it was all over and I had sent in my last manuscript draft (at 4am in the morning), I then prepared myself for the long wait for the publishing process to deliver books into the shops. It was all worth it when I finally saw my own book on the top 20 shelf at WHSmith and I started receiving emails and tweets from readers whose lives had been impacted by my writing.
Now I spend my time helping others to do what they love and get paid for it. In 10 days’ time I’m running The 30 Day Challenge to help 150 people around the world take a leap into doing what they love – whether it’s writing a book, launching a blog, or starting their own business. Read about the 30 Day Challenge here: