Tip 7: Structure your content

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?

Bikram comprises 26 postures, arranged in a specific sequence that stretches your muscles, ligaments and tendons, in an order that’s said to be most beneficial to the body’s capacity to perform.

A book follows the exact same guiding principle.

It must logically lead the reader through it’s content in a series of A to Z steps, or a 1, 2, 3 process. Without this, your reader won’t be able to keep up with your ideas, understand what you’re main points are, how to do what you’re saying or, most importantly, why it should even matter.

It would be like starting the class with the deepest back bend, getting up off the floor to do triangle pose, followed by savasana on the floor again, then closing with another back bend. Makes no sense right?

That’s not to say your content has to have a specific step-by-step process to follow; rather, you need to determine in what logical order your information should flow.

Essentially, you need to sound like you know what you’re doing so that other people can follow you.

As a general rule, when I coach thought leaders and business experts, I’ll often find it makes sense to structure their content around one of their main models. So, if there are 3 parts to your model, then you’ll have 3 parts in your book.

Each part may have 3–5 chapters, with each chapter representing one topic.  

Each chapter then follows this very simple formula:

  1. WHAT the chapter/topic is all about
  2. WHY it’s important
  3. HOW you implement it into your own life.

So if we were to present Bikram in a book (which of course, has been done many times), it would make sense to have 26 chapters on the 26 poses. Then think of each pose or chapter as it’s own smaller book that covers: WHAT the pose is, WHY it’s important and HOW you do it.

For example:

Part 1 – Breathing

Part 2 – Salutes

Chapter 1 – Posture 1

  • What is it
  • Why it's important
  • How you do it

Chapter 2 – Posture 2

  • What is it
  • Why it's important
  • How you do it

Part 3 – Half moon series

Chapter 3 – Posture 3

  • What is it
  • Why it's important
  • How you do it

And so on…

As a final note, in 2011 Choudhury even tried to copyright the Bikram sequence as his intellectual property.

I’d say that’s solid evidence of how valuable structure is.

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Kelly Irving

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