Before we begin, practice healthy creative habits: Clear your space of clutter, set aside some time to focus and spend 2-3 minutes doing your Daily Free Writing before you begin. See Lesson 2 for more about DFW.

Creativity is Problem Solving

By now you should have the tools in place to continue and some rough notes on your book. I always ask people to start with rough notes because it helps prevent “paralysis by analysis.” It’s possible to overthink your book to the point of never starting, so if you’re reading this now and you haven’t finished the assignments up to lesson 4, stop here, go back, and get yourself set up (so you can work productively) and put something, anything down for your outline. I give you permission to be terrible. It’s all place holders so we can start solving problems. All of your best ideas will be a solution to some problem with your book. Great ideas don’t spring out of a blank page.

The Layers of Our Painting

We’re going to come at this outline from a lot of different directions. Some of those layers may never make it into the final manuscript. There’s the under-sketch, the first layers of paint, the lines, the shading, the contours. Then we paint over that again. And again.

Today we’re going to take a stab at reverse engineering our book from the perspective of outcomes. When you think of your favorite books what are some of the words you use to describe them?


How do you write a book that is either gripping, fascinating, useful, suspenseful or interesting? You have to plan and create opportunities to write things that – on their own – fit the bill. If you want a moving book, there needs to be moving scenes. If you want to write something that’s funny, you kind of have to try to be funny. It might happen naturally, but it’s not cheating to sit down and think honestly about how you’d like to impact the reader, then engineer moments into your book from the very earliest planning stages.

In fact, I believe the work to try to figure out how to solve these problems is where you’ll be the most creative. It might happen naturally, or accidentally, but for the rest of us, there is a shortcut.

Today’s assignment:

Think of three words you hope your readers will use to describe your book. (Share in the FB group if you’re brave).

Then take a look at your outline so far. Where can you insert chapters, sections or scenes to achieve this outcome? I would try to find three ways for each item to add it into your work. If you’re going to write a tear jerker it doesn’t have to be drama on every page. A major story element in the beginning, middle and end would be enough. If you’re writing a how-to book, where are those Ah-ha moments for the reader? You might not know the answer yet. If not, add a card to your Scrivener outline in the appropriate place and call it: “X Story Element” with the X being the feeling you’re hoping to achieve.

That’s all for today. We’ll take another pass tomorrow.

1Daily Free Writing
2What are the three words that describe your book?
3Share on the FB group!
4Take a look at your outline using these words as a framework... do you see any opportunities? Add cards or notes into your outline.