Frameworks for Your Ideas—Your BIG Table of Contents

Much of my work consists of helping clients create a table of contents for a book they’d like to write. This is essential work. Lately, though, I’ve concluded that our primary task is to think bigger.

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Consider that people who write nonfiction books can now become idea entrepreneurs. They can connect with a critical mass of people who will embrace and embody their ideas. (This is the non-spammy meaning of having a platform.)

On a practical level, this means expressing your ideas in multiple formats. Yes, you’ll write your book. But you might also make speeches, take part in social media, do webinars, publish an email newsletter, shoot videos, and record podcasts. And, you might do another book as well.

Since your job is to continuously develop and present ideas, why not create a single framework for all your ideas in all their expressions? This is more than a table of contents for a single book. It’s a roadmap for all the books you’d like to write—and all the other content you’ll publish and present over the whole arc of your career.

Let’s call this framework your BIG table of contents.

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Here’s an example.

Patrick Carnes is a psychologist, author, and speaker who developed a 30-task model of recovery from addiction. For instance, the first task is to “break through denial.” That’s followed by “understand the nature of addictive illness” and “surrender to process.”

The 30-task model is the BIG table of contents for the work that Carnes wants to put out into the world. He’s already published books that explain the first 13 tasks in detail. Future books are planned about the remaining 17 tasks.

In turn, those books will furnish content for all the publications, presentations, products, and services that Carnes creates during the rest of his career.

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A BIG table of contents offers a powerful framework for your commonplace book—a personal collection of facts, anecdotes, quotations, and other information for future use.

Don’t let all that information sit in a big disorganized heap. Instead, divide your commonplace book into sections based on your BIG table of contents. Then move each piece of information into the appropriate section.

Do this over time and you’ll see articles, books, blog posts, and presentations practically start writing themselves.