Leaving Work Behind

My First Steps in Writing “Leaving Work Behind: The Book”

Written by Tom Ewer on June 6, 2013. 26 Comments
Image Credits: Pieter Been and VistalCO.com

Image Credits: Pieter Been and VistaiCO.com

When I first started on my journey to leaving work behind back in May 2011, two of the first things I read were manifestos. Those manifestos were written by Corbett Barr and Chris Guillebeau — two of the people I respect most in the blogosphere.

Those manifestos completely changed my perspective on the process of making money online and helped to shaped my progress over the following weeks and months. In the end I carved out a path for myself that was not laid down by Corbett or Chris in their manifestos, but I still held the spirit of their writing close to my heart.

I am totally sold on the power of manifestos in terms of boosting your brand and creating evangelists (or “true fans”). I think the humble (or not so humble) manifesto is a tool that should be utilized by all bloggers in an effort to create something more than just another cookie cutter destination on the web.

And that’s why, just a few weeks ago, I started writing my own manifesto. In this, the first post in what will be a series, I hope to show you just how powerful a manifesto can be in taking your blog to the next level.

What Has Brought Me to This Point?

The idea of writing a manifesto has been on my mind for a long time. It is what I feel is missing from Leaving Work Behind. I like the design, I think the content is interesting and engaging, I think the user experience is good — a manifesto to me represents the last piece of the puzzle.

You may be wondering what a manifesto really is. Well, the word “manifesto” is defined in the dictionary as follows:

A public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate.

That doesn’t sound particularly relevant to blogging, does it? In reality, the blogosphere has adapted the meaning of the word.

For our purposes, a manifesto can be many things. To me, it is a call to arms — a blueprint for adopting a way of life that may differ from conventional wisdom. It should distil everything that your blog represents into a few thousand words and give readers (new and old alike) a point of context from which everything you preach derives.

Because so much of my thinking rails against conventional wisdom, to me the creation of a manifesto is a must for this blog — it will simply not be complete without one. I want any visitor to this site to be able to lay their hands on something that will explain exactly what “leaving work behind” means, and more importantly, how to do it.

What Can You Expect?

We all live life governed by an internal set of rules. These rules were inevitably put in place by a process of gradual indoctrination over the course of our lives. For the most part, what society says we should do, we do. We’re told that:

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

The purpose of my book will be to tell you that this way of thinking is not normal (even if it is adopted by the masses). I want to reveal to you an alternative way of thinking — one that is characterized by having a far greater level of control over your life. Then I want to give you the tools to create a new life around that alternative way of thinking.

At this point, the book is split up into two sections:

  1. Change Your Outlook
  2. Take Action

In the first section I want to clearly outline a new way of thinking that challenges conventional wisdom and serves as the basis for a new life based upon a new set of principles. In the second section I want to give you the tools with which you can create that new life. In short, I want to help you quit your job and build your best life — just like it says at the top of the screen.

I took a lot of inspiration from the excellent Rework in creating the concept for my book. It is essentially a vast collection of short essays on a common theme (online business). You could almost call it an offline blog. I think the format is brilliant and works perfectly with what I have in mind for my own book.

This book will represent the pinnacle of what I can offer you. At the risk of completely over-extending myself, if you don’t find it inspiring and potentially life-changing, I will have failed in my goal.

From Manifesto to Book

Most manifestos are a few thousands words — perhaps 10,000 at most. That is originally what I had in mind for Leaving Work Behind.

However, that soon changed as I started to draft an outline. I created titles for over thirty chapters on my first run, and although each chapter will only be a relatively small essay of 300-600 words (occasionally more), I could do the maths and realize that I had something more substantial than a traditional blog manifesto on my hands.

At the time of writing I have outlines for thirty-eight chapters, not including the introduction and conclusion. Make no mistake — this is going to be a book. While I still see it as a manifesto in style and intent, its scale has outgrown that of what you would typically expect to see.

When Will It Be Published?

At this point I have written fifteen draft chapters. My plan is to complete the first draft by the end of this month and the final draft by the end of the following month. I plan to release the book on Monday, 9th September 2013.

At this stage my only point of confusion is over the format. Initially I planned to release a manifesto completely free of charge. No email sign up required, just free to download. But now I am dealing with something of a far greater scale.

I am therefore left with what I consider to be three choices:

  1. Release the entire manifesto completely free of charge.
  2. Create a selection of some of the most compelling chapters and release that as my manifesto, then publish and sell the entire book for a “standard” price of say $9.99.
  3. Follow the Engagement from Scratch route: offer it free of charge but also make electronic and hard copies available through Amazon.

At this point I don’t know which option to take. I don’t want people to feel like the point of the manifesto is to get you to buy the book, but similarly, I don’t want to lose an opportunity to create an additional revenue stream from what will be (I hope) an extremely valuable book.

I’d really appreciate your thoughts on the above and look forward to hearing from you in the comments section!