Anyone can write a book; just string a bunch of words together, and you're done. Go on Amazon, and you'll find thousands of books that will never make a difference. Most of those were written either to satisfy the author's ego or in a sad attempt to make money. What those authors lack is character.
In contrast, look at books that do make a difference. You'll find, in almost every case, that the author is a person with a strong character. Some examples include The Deeper Path by Kary Oberbrunner, Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Dan Harkavy, The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrond, 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller, How to Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards, The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran, Tape Breakers by Jim Akers, and Friday Night Lights for Fathers and Sons by Mark LaMaster.
Not all of the books I mentioned above are what we typically think of when we think of life-changing books. But even a book on copywriting can turn around a business, which might then save a marriage. It might even launch someone's business and then help to create a life of significance. It’s not the topic of the book that makes it great; it’s the character of the author who wrote the book.
"You need strong character to write a book that can change lives."
I don't mean that you need to be a character. I mean that you need to have strength of character. You need to have moral excellence. You need to stand firm in your beliefs. You need to have integrity. You need to have grit.
Strength of character is not something that you're born with or that you come by lightly. You can't buy character. Character comes only from living life in the right way. It comes from making the right choices, even when they’re not the popular choices.
Your character is not your reputation. Your reputation is what other people think of you. Your character is who you are.
The Bible tells us how to build a strong character.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character. Romans 5:3–4a
You gain strength of character, not from the good times, but from the bad times. More specifically, it's how you handle the bad times. If you handle the bad times by running away from trouble or by making the wrong choices, you weaken your character.
We've all met people with weak character. The man who undresses women with his eyes has a weak character. The woman who flirts to manipulate others has a weak character. Just being in their presence makes us feel bad. Can you imagine the book that either of them might write? The book would probably be about some banal subject like how to make tons of money doing almost nothing. Even worse, their character would come through, and reading the book would make us feel uneasy.
Now, think of people that you have known that have had a strong character. The pastor who works long hours serving others and delivers messages on Sunday morning that makes you feel encourages and inspired has a strong character. The teacher who doesn't allow nonsense in her classroom, but also pushes you to be your best has a strong character. Now, imagine what books those two people might write. Their books would inspire us, encourage us, and help us become better people.
"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
Doing the right thing, day in and day out, builds character. Over time, the endurance you've developed begins to show. A strong character is one of those things you can't really define, but you know it when you see it.
How to write a transformative book
Step One: Build a Strong Character
Like I've been trying to hammer home, your first step—building a strong character—will take years. Stick with it; it will pay off.
Step Two: Pull from Your Experience
Along the way to building a strong character, you will also gain a lot of experience. You'll have stories to tell, lessons learned the hard way, and a testimony to share. The hard part is choosing which of your many important stories or lessons to share. My suggestion is not to worry about choosing the right one, just choose one that resonates with you and that you know will help someone, even if it's just one person
Step Three: Write
You can't write a book unless you write. (If you don't like to write, you don't mind talking, get a program like Dragon Professional for Mac and record yourself. The program turns your talking into writing and then you only have to worry about doing a little clean-up work.) Write every day, and do whatever it takes to honor that. Some people get up early, drink their coffee, and write for one hour before the rest of the family gets up. Others write in the evening after everyone goes to bed. It doesn't matter what schedule you keep; what matters is that you keep it. Write for six days a week and then take Sunday off.
Write every day, and do whatever it takes to honor that. Some people get up early, drink their coffee, and write for one hour before the rest of the family gets up. Others write in the evening after everyone goes to bed. It doesn't matter what schedule you keep; what matters is that you keep it. Write for six days a week and then take Sunday off.
Write for six days a week and then take Sunday off.
Step Four: Edit
Don't edit while you write; edit after you write. Let your initial draft be free flowing and creative. Turn off the editor in your mind.
When you edit, make several passes and look for something different each time. The first time you edit might be to look for how long your paragraphs are and breaking up those that are too long. The second edit might be to look for places you use the passive voice. Whatever you are looking for, only look for one main thing each time you go through your manuscript. Trust me, this makes a big difference. If you try to look for two or three things each time you go through your manuscript, you'll miss a lot.
Step Five: Use an editor
It doesn't matter many times you go through your manuscript or how great of an editor you think you are. Your brain is a magnificent filter, and you will miss errors. A lot of them! If you can afford it, use both a copy editor and a proofreader. A copy editor will find more of the big picture stuff, including areas where you're consistent or where you're missing something. A proofreader will focus on all of the detailed stuff, such as grammar and spelling and fact-checking.
And don't expect perfection. Your editor, no matter how good he or she is, will also miss errors. We're human; expect it.
Once your manuscript has been thoroughly edited, you're ready for the design phase, which we'll cover another time.
There are really two parts to writing a book that makes a difference.
- Become a person with strong character. This takes a lot of time and endurance.
- Put in the time to create a book that is worthy of your readers. This includes spending the time and money to write and edit it well.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about what I wrote about in this blog post, so please leave a comment below.