Bikram Choudhury (love him or loathe him) is the world’s most infamous yoga instructor who built a wildly successful business based on just 26 yoga postures. So what can Bikram yoga teach us about writing a book?
Each and every Bikram yoga class comprises 26 postures, always in exactly the same sequence, with each pose repeated twice. Every class, the teacher gives you exactly the same instructions, speaks exactly the same dialogue.
No kidding! Some people don’t believe just how, well, simple that sounds.
And there in lies the secret to the multi-billion dollar Bikram empire — Simplicity.
That is also the secret to writing a book — Simplicity.
The key to any kind of writing is to distill your information down to one clear, concise and consistent message.
Don’t overcomplicate things or try to cram in absolutely every detail, model, concept, funny anecdote or metaphor that you can think of. Do that and you’ll lose your message and your meaning, not to mention your reader’s attention.
As Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner once said, ‘In writing, you must kill all your darlings.’ That includes the parts or paragraphs of your book that do nothing for the story (Hot Tip 11), case studies that don’t quite hit the point or the 100th model that you think you have to introduce.
Keep it simple.
The key to your book is to introduce one, simple overarching concept.
I don’t need to know how to implement absolutely everything you’re telling me. But I do need to understand what you’re about and why I need to hire you to help me!
But don’t just delete your darlings.
Think of how you could leverage them elsewhere. A blog post? LinkedIn article? Online course? Keynote presentation? Dare I say, another book?
This is not so much about marketing the hell out of your work, but more so about making sure you leave your audience wanting more from you.
The practice of yoga is a case in point. Just look at how many spin-offs we have now: Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, Hot Yoga, Yin, Vinyasa, Kundalini, Acroyoga where you hang from the ceiling, and Humming yoga, where your room vibrates.
So as you’re writing your book remember: 26 postures, always in exactly the same sequence, with each pose repeated twice and exactly the same instructions, exactly the same dialogue.
Clear, concise, consistent. Simple.