Let’s say you have a short project which consists of several tasks. Is the order in which you do things important? For most things, no. It doesn’t really matter.
Most discrete tasks are not dependent on each other, so you can normally do the tasks in any order you please. There are exceptions, however. Obviously, with things like baking a cake, it’s no good putting the eggs in after you’ve baked the rest of the ingredients.
Most often though, it seems we can do tasks in any order we like. But that’s not always the case.
Sometimes there are subtle relationships between the tasks. And these relationships may not be at all apparent. One such relationship is between writing and researching the content for your book. It seems the tasks are independent. You research and you write. Common sense says they are independent. So authors often engage in research prior to writing.
I’m here to advise you that this one thing will lengthen the time it takes to write your book — often significantly.
Sometimes when you do tasks in a different order, it will either lengthen or shorten one of the next tasks. Because of the order you choose, some sub-tasks are now either reduced in time or eliminated — or alternatively take much longer.
Let’s look at a practical example to illustrate this.
It’s Like Your MOT Test
Consider this: you suspect your car will need work to get it past its MOT. So you can either take a weekend examining and analysing the parts you suspect may need maintenance or replacement, replace them, then take it to the garage for its test. Or you could skip all that work and the garage will tell you of any parts you absolutely have to replace.
It’s like this with carrying out research for your writing. Your research is like the analysis and parts replacement before the MOT. The trouble here is that like your analysis and parts replacement, your writing ‘research’ is open-ended, and can become a huge time-suck.
That is if you elect to do your research first. But I suggest you do your research after writing your first draft.
So here’s tip 3.
Tip 3: Do Not Research Before You Write
Why do I suggest researching after you write? This sounds counter-intuitive at first. But stick with me.
Only carry out your research after you’ve written what you need to write. With a non-fiction book, you should know your topic inside out. So you shouldn’t need to undertake any content research.
So just write.
Research after your writing is done. It makes your research more focused and efficient. You now only research precisely what you need to research. Research is no longer an open-ended task that will expand to fill the available time. It’s now directed at a few specific points.
What Research Should You Do?
- Research to fill in the blanks.
- Research to check references, authors or quotes.
- Research to confirm facts you’re presenting.
My favourite subject at school was avoiding unnecessary work.
Your Next Steps
I offer book coaching for aspiring authors, to help you get your book completed. If you’ve found this tip useful and you’d like to find out more about how I might help you, leave me a message here: