At my old job I worked full-time during the day then during evenings and weekends I was working on my own ‘side hustle’. I started looking for books that gave advice on the whole process of coming up with new ideas and then getting those ideas off the ground. I realised there weren’t any books like that out there, so that motivated me to get started on my own.
The whole structure of the book seemed really clear to me. I was running a lot of workshops at the time, so the first half of the book was what I was already doing daily and it was relatively easy to turn that into an outline for a book. With the actual writing process, I used a lot of beta readers because I was writing about innovation and I wanted to use those same principles in the writing. I don’t think people should be scared of sharing their ideas, getting feedback and finding out what doesn’t work, as it helps you improve what you do. I would rather find out that someone disagreed with my book while I was writing it than when it was published.
When I sat down to write the book, it took me 100 days. I was working full-time as well, but I worked on it first thing every morning. I live in Hebden Bridge and we have a great community-led town hall with working spaces, so for three months I went there between 8am–10am and wrote for two hours.
I’ve spent my life working with publishers and writers, and the problem most people have is that they can’t find the time to write. We did this big piece of research at Prolifiko, my start-up company, to do with how different people make the time to write. Some people, myself included, like to form daily habits, so it just becomes part of your routine as much as showering or walking the dog. Some people like to do things spontaneously, grabbing time as it appears – parents and carers are classic examples of this. There’s no way they could schedule in anything so they have to make the most of every opportunity. Other people schedule in time – academics mostly – in their diaries, so if they’re free between 11am–1pm they’ll block off that time and treat it like they would any other appointment. And then there’s binge-writers, whose lives are so busy they have to book a few days off and just write.
Whether it’s writing, another hobby, a side project or running a business, the principles remain the same. One of my top tips is don’t be a perfectionist – as soon as you have an idea, get it out into the world in some form. Then talk to people about it, gather feedback and use it to improve your idea.
During the process of writing my book and setting up my own business I was spending a lot of time with people on a similar journey. I found these people to be the most inspiring. I include a lot of quotes from other people in the book and they’re not all famous people – but they’re people who have done something, and I think it many ways these people are more inspiring than say Richard Branson or Elon Musk. There’s something really special about finding out that someone a bit like you or from your town has done something inspiring. That’s a far bigger incentive for me to get out and do something too.
Hebden Bridge constantly amazes and delights me because it’s such an eclectic place. It’s full of creative people and there’s always something to do or something exciting happening in town. There are so many arts festivals and events, all on my doorstep. I also love walking around the area – my top advice is get a dog and get outside, it keeps me happy and rested.
You can check out Bec’s book here