Write a book not read one


Why you should write a book instead of reading one this World Book Day. A significant majority of business books and personal development books are a waste of time for most people. Too often, we choose books that support and echo what we already believe. That’s great if you want to spend a few pounds on something that leaves you feeling comforted in terms of your views and business practices. But it’s a waste of time if you’re looking for change.  

Most business books are at least twice as long as they should be. Many are even worse – a 15-minute speech dragged out to fill 200 pages. That’s not to say that there aren’t some inspirational business books out there, but ultimately a book won’t change your life. Not unless you make a proactive decision to capitalise on the thoughts provoked when you read, ready to turn those into actions you can take to lead to positive change. 

You’re far more likely to have your thoughts provoked and reactions wired by reading content which contradicts what you believe. That’s where the real benefit lies in choosing business books. Treat your reading material as provocation for change and it might just lead to it. 

When you do find a decent business book that looks likely to challenge the way you think and inspire you to take positive action, read it twice. Firstly, read it through as you would read a novel. Absorb and enjoy. Only after you’ve done that is it time to work through it taking notes, underlining things and mapping out actions. Otherwise, if you start note-taking as you read it the first time, you’re likely to get stuck somewhere along the way. Start down the slippery slope of, “I don’t want to read the next chapter until I’ve implemented those ideas I underlined” and you’re likely to find you never finish the book.

You’ll also need to put some thought into why you’re reading – are you looking to be entertained or educated? That decision will affect when you read and how you read – get either of those wrong and you’re unlikely to get what you want from the reading experience.

Most such books you read will NOT change your life, no matter what the front cover blurb tells you! This doesn’t just apply to books; it covers podcasts, presentations and every other platform from which ‘experts’ share their views. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage in them – just be realistic about the likely impact and enjoy the experience while seeking out reading material that will provoke you into new avenues of thought. 

Of course, if you really want to learn something, why not turn World Book Day on its head and instead of buying a book start to write one? What’s your area of expertise? How would you share it? Who might be interested in reading it? Spend three months writing a first draft, particularly a business book in the sector/function in which you specialise, and you’re likely to learn a lot more than you would from any book you read. And that’s irrespective of whether you ever get the book published.