If you like to teach from a plan, love alignment or anatomy, are detail-oriented, and want to get directly into the structure of your book, this technique is for you.

 

Like with a yoga class, planning in advance does not mean you are hemmed in or stuck.

 

You can veer from the plan at any time when doing so will better serve you, your students, your book, or your reader. But having a plan will help you make sure you don’t miss a vital step.

It’s nice to note that, at some point in the writing, almost everyone makes a plan. Some people do it at the end when they create a table of contents; some people do it at the beginning with an outline; some people do it partway through to help them finish the book. So even those of us who start from feeling our way into the book will likely, at some point, come back to plan — just as those of us who start with a plan likely will, at some point, feel our way into something entirely different.

If you haven’t yet read Start Writing Your Book in Two Hours or Less: A Practical Guide for Yoga Teachers, start there. That article is like the prep poses or warm-up — it will help open you up for these techniques.

Each technique is divided into four 30-minute writing sessions. You can do these sessions on different days, or all at once, or two at a time, or whatever works for you. Also, these techniques are not mutually exclusive! Feel free to mix and match to create something that works for you.

 

TECHNIQUE 2: Plan Your Way Into It

First Session (30 minutes)

• Set a timer for 30 minutes.

• Take all 30 minutes to write down every topic or story or idea you can think of that you want to include in this book. This might be things like:

~ Kundalini awakening I had in Costa Rica
~ How to practice Cataranga at every stage of pregnancy
~ The best way to teach Triangle
~ Funny story about how much I hated yoga at first

Don’t worry about getting these in any order, or whether the ideas go together. Just brainstorm as many ideas as you can for 30 minutes. These are just notes for you, so it doesn’t matter at all if they make sense to a reader at this point.

By the end of this session, see if you can have a list of ideas/topics/thoughts you’d like to include in your book.

 

Second Session (30 minutes)

• Set a timer for 30 minutes.

• Go back to your list. For the first ten or fifteen minutes, add as many more ideas as you can. If nothing comes to you, then sit and meditate on it for at least five minutes before moving on to the next step.

• Next, look over your list and start moving ideas into groups that seem to go together. For example, you might have a grouping for “Travel Stories” or a grouping for “Yoga Nidra Practices.” Don’t worry if some ideas don’t seem to go anywhere. In that case, create a group called “Strays” (or whatever else you like) and put them there.

Here’s an example:

Travel Stories

Kundalini awakening in Costa Rica
Moonrise in Maui
That awful teacher training in India

How poses reflect something deeper

Triangle as a catalyst for breaking up
How Savasana changed my life

 

• By the end of this session, see if you can have your ideas roughly divided into groupings that make sense to you.

 

Third Session (30 minutes)

• Set a timer for 30 minutes.

• Look at the different groupings you made in the last session. Within each group, start to put the individual ideas into an order that seems right. This can be chronological, follow an emotional journey, start with the foundations of yoga and move into more subtle aspects, or anything else.

• At this point, you may decide that your original groupings aren’t quite right. For example, if you have a grouping of “Travel Stories” but decide that it feels better to you to weave these stories throughout your book under headings of each place you visited, then break them apart into different groups.

• By the end of this session, see if you can have a set of groupings you like in an order you like. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure! This will undoubtedly change in a later draft. Nothing is set in stone!

 

Fourth Session (30 minutes)

• Set a timer for 30 minutes.

• Choose one group of ideas. For each idea in that group, write down three notes about what will be included in that idea.

For example:

1. Travel Stories

Kundalini awakening in Costa Rica

• details of the trip (awful!)
• the day of the awakening (wanted to go home)
• what Sara said about presence

Moonrise in Maui

• description – magical – colors
• the white bird (landed near me; familiar)
• meeting my next teacher

 

Guess what?!? You’ve started your book!!

Congratulations!!

To continue writing, set up a time in your schedule, such as 30 minutes 1-4 times a week, and do one of the following. Either:

Write scenes in order according to your outline
OR
Choose whatever idea on your outline is calling to you at the moment, and write that. Eventually you will have your first draft!

 

A really important note on organization: As you write, your outline will probably change dramatically. This almost always happens. Because of this, I highly recommend you save yourself eons of time later and write each idea in a separate document, as though they were each an individual article or blog post, and NOT in one giant document that contains everything. That way, when you decide to move things around and reorganize later (and you will), it will not take you hours and hours to find and move each piece.

This can be done in any word processing program, but if you’re adventurous when it comes to new software, Scrivener is a godsend for writers. It will let you organize your work incredibly easily, and it’s cheap. But if the idea of trying a new kind of software makes you want to cry, then just use Word or Pages or whatever word processing program you like.

 

How was this technique for you? Tell me your favorite thing or ask any questions about this technique in the comments below. I read and reply to every comment. And if you find this useful, feel free to share it with other yoga teachers. 

 

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Check out another technique to get you started writing your book:

Technique 1. Feel your way into it — good if you work from your intuition and are a non-linear thinker.
Technique 3. Start at the end — good if you resonate with visualizations or affirmations
Technique 4. Start from blog posts, articles, or journals you already have — good if you already have material you want to turn into a book

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