Plan your non fiction book #27 – Creating a chapter outline by walking it out

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” A.A. Milne

Walking / stepping out your chapter outline

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This is a walking, using your intuition and making sense process, which will really help cement your chapter outlines. I devised this method based on some NLP timeline work that I had done. It struck me that all books are already written and to gain access to the ‘true’ content, that we needed a way to let it flow.

This works because you slow it down and connect to the deepest part of you and just allow your unconscious mind to reveal your book to you.

Get a number of A4 sheets of paper (10 to 12 will be perfect), post-it’s, coloured pens ad a voice recorder (use the one on your phone). If you have a friend or partner, use them to ask you questions about each chapter

  • What is this chapter about?
  • Why is it important for my reader to know this?
  • How can they do the same, or what exercises can I share?
  • What if – what are the benefits of following the advice in this chapter, or the consequences of not ?

and to do the writing for you. The writing helps you and your partner to remember key points. Otherwise, ask yourself these questions.

Use the voice recorder; it is invaluable for remembering everything you say. Find somewhere quiet to work and some floor space.

Discovering your book outline

  • Turn on your voice recorder, make sure you have enough space to record
  • Using one sheet of paper per chapter, write down the first possible title. Don’t worry if it does not look right, just write it down, quickly and without much thought
  • When you have done that, start laying the other A4 sheets out on the floor
  • Either lay them in a straight line or in a circle
  • As you step onto each sheet, pause to reflect and to get a feeling, sense or image of what the chapter might be about. Give each sheet a chapter title (do not write chapter numbers on them)
  • Using post-it notes, jot down any words or ideas that come to mind and place these onto that chapter page
  • Using the voice recorder talk out loud about the notes you have made and what the chapter is about. Remember to ask yourself the what, why, how and what if questions
  • As you step onto the next chapter consider if and how they logically flow into each other. Can you feel the connection? Make a note of any connecting words or ideas. Speak them aloud
  • When you get to the end, look back and review the flow of your chapters and keep amending until they really resonate
  • Walk around looking at them, getting a bird’s eye view
  • Keep changing them around until everything looks and/or feels right and makes sense
  • When you are happy, put anything that does not seem to fit to one side. (Keep what you have discarded, they may prove useful)
  • Do a final layout of chapters. You may want to change titles as you go along
  • Leave your chapters on the floor for an hour or two (better still a day) so that you can reflect
  • When you come back to them, Step it out again. Fully engage your senses and, as you step from sheet to sheet, think about what the chapter is about and try to get a feel for it. If you find it difficult to feel, then use another way (seeing, hearing, thinking) to make sense of what the chapter is about. Remember to turn on your voice recorder again
  • When you are happy that you have it (for now), gather them up and file them away in your book bible (a folder with everything you need for your book)

You are now ready to bring your outline to life.

This video is taken from my course ‘Plan your non-fiction book in a weekend‘.

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Plan your non fiction book
Plan your non fiction book


Plan your non fiction book in a weekend has been designed to help you to be able to undertake all of the vital planning tasks that make writing a book – simple and stress free

Each day to help you create your book, I am going to answer these essential planning questions:-

  • What kind of planner am I and why is this important to know?
  • What tools and resources do I need?
  • What is the process and cost of writing and publishing a book?
  • How long will it take me?
  • How do I get ideas for my book?
  • How do I choose the ONE big idea for my book?
  • What is an outline and how do I create one?
  • How can I structure my chapters?
  • How do I create and use a book proposal?

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