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The Smart Passive Income Podcast

AP 0167: I’m Writing a Book. Where Do I Start?

AP 0167: I’m Writing a Book. Where Do I Start?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 167 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Hey, hey. What’s up, everybody? Pat Flynn here. Welcome to Episode 167 of AskPat. How are you doing today? I hope you’re doing well. I am doing fantastic.

Before we get to today’s question from Carrie, I do want to thank today’s sponsor, which is FreshBooks. FreshBooks is the easy-to-use cloud accounting solution, helping millions of small business owners, including myself, save time with invoicing, and getting paid faster, and obviously keeping track of your accounting. And come tax season, it’s going to help you out so much. It’s something I wish I new about when I was starting out. If you’d like to get a free trial of FreshBooks, just head on over to and enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section.

Now, let’s get to today’s question from Carrie.

Carrie: Hey, Pat. This is Carrie Clark from First of all, let me just say thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me. I found your podcast about two years ago, and by following the suggestions on it I’ve been able to quit my job, start a private practice, and now I have a blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel, and two ebooks that I’m selling on my website. I’m just so grateful for everything you’ve done for me. I am ready now to take that next bold move, though, and I’ve decided that I’d like to write a book to publish on a bigger platform, such as Amazon. Following your teachings, I’ve asked my followers what they wanted. I have a great topic in mind, and I’ve started a Facebook group full of supporters for me, so now it’s time to start writing. I have to admit I am completely overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. I’d love to hear your advice on how to get started on a project that seems so huge and overwhelming, maybe some information about how you got started writing your ebook and just taking in all this information. Thanks so much, Pat. You’re wonderful. Keep doing what you’re doing.

Pat Flynn: Carrie, thank you so much for today’s question. Before I get to the answer, I just want to say thank you also for just sharing out loud like how I’ve been able to help you with your business, and congratulations on quitting your job and doing your own thing. It sounds like you’re doing amazing things. You know, to hear things like that, I mean, that’s why I do what I do, so I appreciate you saying that. I mean, I know you don’t have to, but that’s completely motivating for me, so I’m going to do my best here to answer your question for you, and I think a book is a logical next step for you, especially on a platform like Amazon or perhaps a traditionally published book.

But whatever the case may be, it can be a challenge to start. I know this from experience, because I started a book once. Before my book, Let Go, came out, I started another book, which I actually never finished. It was about this whole be-everywhere strategy, which you’re obviously implementing, Carrie, being on all the different platforms. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, starting to write that book. I remember spending, you know, two hours. I had a block of two hours, finally. With the kids, it’s tough to find that much time, but I found that block of two hours, and I sat down on my computer, and I was going to write. Then after two hours, I had, like, a paragraph. It was so hard.

What’s crazy is, I can crank out a blog post, I can crank out 4,000 words in an evening, but I can’t even write a page worth in a couple hours when writing a book. There’s just something about it. It’s very intimidating. That’s for sure, and I know that you’re feeling that right now, so here are some tips I can give you. First of all, a lot of this is also mentioned in Ebooks The Smart Way, which is my free giveaway. If you go to, you can download that book. It’s a great guide to help you sort of manage the book writing process, and it also talks about marketing it and also automating the selling of that two. However, you can use the beginning part in terms of outlining the book and mind mapping, which I’ll talk about in a second, to help get you started, no matter what you’re going to do with the final copy.

Mind mapping—that’s where I would start. Whatever your topic or idea is, put that at the middle of your mind map bubble. You can use a tool like Mindjet, or I use What a mind map is, for those of you who don’t know, it’s a way to visualize what’s going on in your brain. It’s cool, because you can organize, and sort of see patterns, and recognize situations that could arise and eventually become an outline for your book. That’s usually what happens if you spend a little bit of time with your mind map. Your central topic is at the middle, and then you start to sort of bubble diagram different topics out of it, and then you can create connections, and get into hierarchies, and stuff like that. There’s no wrong answers. Just put whatever’s in your brain in there, Carrie, and then all of a sudden you’re going to start to see patterns, and you can start moving things around, and those things eventually become your outline or your table of contents, and that’s where you would start.

Then, from there, you just simply take those different parts. You know, you have your giant book, and you’ve ordered it correctly, after you find out all the different things you want to talk about, and you’ve dumped all your brain into that mind map and into a table of contents. Then you essentially treat each one of those pieces of that table of contents, sort of those sub-topics or chapters, if you will, just like blog posts, and you focus on that. And that’s one of the hardest things to do, especially when you have this huge book you want to write, and you’re thinking about where’s it going to go in the next few chapters, or how are you going to end it, or even how are you going to start it, or what the title’s going to be. Don’t even worry about that stuff. Start with the easy parts first. You don’t even have to start from page one. You can start with Chapter 5. It’s the one that you’re most excited about. Just start writing. Just start writing, and don’t worry about editing. Don’t worry about how it sounds. Just write. Just throw up on the page. I mean, not like literally throw up, but just like write as much as you can. Let your brain and your creativity spill out.

That’s one of the best tips I heard, because when I first started, like I said, I was met with all these hurdles. Essentially, why I did that was because I was trying to edit along the way. I was trying to make every word, and every paragraph, and every page the best and the final edit. You shouldn’t do that, because the writing side of your brain is different than the editing side of your brain, you know, the creativity part and the sort of analytical part. You want to separate those things. When you’re writing, just be creative. I know a lot of people who actually take out the delete key off their keyboard, so it forces them not to delete; and yes, most of that stuff you’re probably going to delete in the end, but what comes out of that free-flow, free-mind-type writing is some amazing stories and amazing things that wouldn’t have come to mind if you were editing along the way. Give yourself a chance to be free when you’re writing in these different sections. Again, narrow that focus to that one part. Even in that one part or that one chapter, you can break that chapter down into different stories, or points, or studies, or case studies. Then just focus on that one thing.

The ONE Thing, speaking of that, is a great book that I recommend everybody pick up, especially if you’re a writer. That and Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, are perfect for book writing. The ONE Thing in general is just amazing. It’s by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. It’s really changing my life. I actually mostly listen to books now, but I started to read this at Barnes & Noble, and I picked it up. I have it right here. I don’t know if you can hear the pages, but this is The ONE Thing, the book, The ONE Thing, right in front of me, so I can always see and be reminded to just always focus on that next task, because it’s so incredibly important to do that. The same thing with your book writing. Focus on that next chapter, and focus within that chapter on that next section. It’s going to help you go through this book.

Those are some suggestions I have for you, some tools to help you. Again, like I said, is a great one for mind mapping, MindJet, and I think there’s another one called FreeMind as well, and you can just use a pen and paper too, if you’d like. I also have a few other resources here for you. I mentioned There’s a tool I used to organized the book as I was writing it, and this was my book, Let Go, which was a little bit easier to write, because it was from personal experience, but also because I had a lot of those great tips that I just shared with you from other people. Scrivener. Jeez. How do I spell this? Let’s see. Okay. S-C-R-I-V-I-N-E-R. It’s a great tool that will help you organization your book writing, whether you’re doing fiction or nonfiction. It’s completely helpful for separating chapters and getting a huge overview of your book and then narrowing it down into that one focus, like you need to. There’s a great course out there by a guy named Joseph Michael that I recommend. You could check that out. He’s also know as The Scrivener Coach. There is a little bit of a learning curve there in terms of using that software, but they have a great tutorial that goes along with it, or you could use The Scrivener Coach, again, Joseph Michael to help you out, and that is completely helpful and will help you with organizing your book and making it easy to sort of format into whatever you need to be for Amazon or whoever’s going to use it and whatever format you go to after.

I mentioned, let’s see, what we’re the books I mentioned? The ONE Thing by Gary Keller, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I have a few podcast episodes that I’ve done for The Smart Passive Income Podcast that you could check out related to book writing and book marketing as well, because obviously, after you write it, you’re going to market it. I’m very happy to hear that you’ve created your Facebook group, just like I did. That was completely helpful. That ambassador group is still going strong. It’s actually about 7,500 members now. When I launched Let Go, I think it was under 1,000, but it has since grown, and so I’m about ready to write my next book and use that group as a great resource as well. Here are three podcast episodes from The Smart Passive Income Podcast that you can listen to to help you will your book writing: Number 79 with Jeff Goins. That one’s really special, because it was actually a two-part podcast. The first part was before Jeff gave me … or during that first part, he gave me a bunch of launch strategies for marketing my book. Then the second half was after I launched, and sort of his assessment of the launch, and sort of a before-and-after situation in that podcast. Again, that’s number 79. You can find it at There’s also number 42 with Jonny Andrews, which—he’s a great Kindle book marketer, and he writes and outsources a lot of books, and so he talks a lot about the book writing process there as well, for Kindle specifically. Then also the recent one with Steve Scott, number 124, so for Steve Scott, who’s also making a killing on Kindle right now, so 79, 42, and 124. Cool.

Carrie, thank you so much for that question. Hopefully, that answer is helpful to you and everybody else out there who’s looking to start writing a book, or maybe you’ve written one already and you’ve gotten somebody to kick you in the butt to do another one, which is awesome. Whatever the case may be, I hope it was helpful for you, Carrie. An AskPat t-shirt is headed your way as a result of having your question featured here on the show. For those of you listening, if you have a question you’d like potentially featured here on AskPat, just head on over to

I also want to thank today’s sponsor, Again, cloud accounting for everything going in and out of your business financially. It is easily accessible on your mobile devices as well, with actually an award winning app, and you can get it for free. I mean, not get it for free, but you can use it for free for a little bit. There’s a free trial if you go to and enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. Millions of small business owners are using it, and you should definitely check it out. Don’t continue to use Excel or some generic software. FreshBooks is where it’s at, so, and then “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section.

Thanks again for listening to the show, and as always, I like to end the show with a quote. Today’s quote is from John F. Kennedy. He says, “Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life, I find.” Never settle for second. Cheers, and I’ll see you in the next episode of AskPat. Peace.

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