I love going to free public speaking seminars: if the material isn’t good, I usually walk away with at least a good story. At one such event a few years ago, the leader let me deliver a five minute speech. His feedback was that my introduction had needed more oomph – he told me that I only had six seconds to capture the audience’s attention. I told him that advice was nonsense as people seated will take at times a few minutes to warm up to. I know it’s important to have a good opening to your speech and that’s a topic in itself. But this isn’t about speeches, it’s about writing and that’s a different beast.
Most people fail to do anything major because they see it as a big impossible task that needs to be tackled all at once. If you’re trying to climb a mountain, you can come up with dozens of excuses: you’re not feeling up to it, it’s not the right time to start your journey, you only have an hour and it takes days, etc…. I’m as guilty as anyone – I’ve got more unfinished projects than I care to admit. But these things can be all be tackled (even at once) if you have the desire and the focus. And I’ll show you how.
I participated in NaNoWriMo this past November. If you’re unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and is an event held each November for writers and those aspiring to be writers. If you have ever wanted to write a book and you just haven’t been able to get started, I highly recommend you give it a try. I first learned of NaNoWriMo while checking Twitter on Thanksgiving of 2011. At that point, it was a little late for me to participate so I made it goal to participate in 2012. I’m really glad I did because it was a great experience.
There’s a piece of advice that I’ve seen floating around the internet that claims that you can create a marketable book in three hours or less. While the claim doesn’t explicitly say that the quality of such a book would get it on the New York Times’ bestseller list, it implies that the book might actually sell. While yes, it is technically possible to create a book in three hours or less, I question the value of such a product and in the three hours spent creating it.
So how does one write a book in three hours? Well all you need to do is speak into a microphone for three hours. That microphone can be attached to a recording device (including a computer with a recording program) so that you can ship off a tape, CD or MP3 file to a transcription service that will provide you with the text of what you have spoken. Or you could use a speech recognition product such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking
(I did an internship at Dragon years ago) that will do the transcription for you.
You’re probably familiar with the 80/20 rule– it seems like virtually everything in life can use it in some fashion. Some of the rules invert the two numbers such as 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients, while others slice two or more things into an 80% chunk and a 20% chunk. In public speaking, the latter rule is used – 80% of your time is spent on preparation while 20% is spent on practice and delivery.