7 ways to tackle writing a book when you need to write articles too

My aim is very simple: I should like to generate a passive income. I could do so by selling affiliate products or by having ads all over the place. But I prefer to do it, mainly at least, by writing.

But there’s a problem.

I know how he feels! Photo by Hernán Piñera https://www.flickr.com/photos/hernanpc/

Here’s the way I envisage this income-generating idea working:

1. I write a best-selling book.

2. I write another best-selling book.

3. Repeat.

My understanding and hope is that once a certain momentum has been generated, the income will roll in without their having to expend much further effort. Well, unless I prove to be another Harper Lee I will always have to do more, but you can see where I'm coming from.

I think of all this in terms of a bicycle. Doing work and being paid for it is like riding a bike with no gears. As soon as you stop pedalling, the bike slows to a stop. The only way to keep it going is to keep pedalling. 

On the other hand, passive income is like riding a book with gears: you pedal a bit, and the bike goes much faster than your legs do.

I know this is a flawed analogy but I can’t think of a better one.

Unfortunately, earning a passive income is something that may happen in the future. I need to eat now.

So I have to devote some of the time I would like to spend on writing books, to writing articles that will earn me money in the short term.

In other words, I am writing when I ought to be … writing.

There is plenty of advice around on how to handle this state of affairs. The latest I’ve come across is Joanna Penn’s video on productivity which I haven’t watched completely yet. (See How to make a living from writing: new video series  for details on Joanna’s new video series, which is free. However, I thought I’d just share with you what I’m trying to do as far as this conundrum is concerned. I have a 7-pronged strategy:

1. Get up an hour earlier. For me, this means going to bed an hour earlier. See next point.

2. Record tv programs I want to watch. Television can be a real time sink. Once I ensconce myself on the settee, it is really easy to allow myself to be lulled into a semi-comatose state. That leads to my dragging myself up to bed later than ideal, and not having achieved anything. Much better, I think, to record the programs and then watch them when I am too tired to write.

3. Watch less tv. I find watching tv tiring anyway: probably the flickering or something. I find I tend to get more pleasure from reading, and it makes me more  energetic rather than less. Also, if it’s a good book, I feel good too, and that puts me in a better, i.e. more productive, frame of mind for writing.

4. Research about the same things in my books and articles. I write non-fiction, so I have an interest in certain areas. Although I do not write the same thing for both an article  and a book chapter, quite often the reading overlaps. Thus, if I do some reading up for an article I’m writing, I can often bookmark stuff to use in my books. It doesn’t help me directly, but it saves time indirectly.

5. I have a good sense of when I am most productive, in terms of my body clock. I have found that there is not much pint in trying to be creative at certain times. On those occasions I will do stuff that is not writing, but necessary to the success of the book. For example, I am currently looking for a book cover designer, so some of my time is spent researching that.

6. When I become despondent about the enormity of the goals I have set myself (i.e. every day!), I bear in mind that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Or so I’ve heard: I’m a vegetarian.

7. Finally, and related to the preceding point, I have a rule that I will do at least one thing every day to help me reach my book writing goals, even if that consists of just reading an article on the web.

I think the important thing is to not procrastinate, or think too much. I have tried to adopt what one of my managers referred to as the JFDI approach: just flipping do it!