The “TOC Technique” will help you become a master at creating content for your membership site, for your online course, youtube marketing videos, writing sales copy, writing books, creating a product, writing Facebook posts and Tweets.
And when I say “TOC”, I mean T.O.C, as in Table of Contents.
So what is this “TOC Technique” and why is it such a big deal?
I came up with this idea a few years ago, but had never given it a proper name that is easy to understand and implement, until recently.
Back in 2007, I published my first book, called “No Business Like E-Business”, which at the time, went on to become a category best seller, which was a pretty big deal for me, because it was a physical book. Never even told anyone other than a few of my close friends and relatives. So the fact that it become a category best seller, was incredibly gratifying.
It initially took me an year to write most of it, then life happened, I took a couple of years break, then when I got back to it, from that point, it then took me another couple of years to rewrite it pretty much entirely. So roughly, it took me about 3 years to complete the book, writing at most a couple of pages a day, sometimes nothing at all for days and weeks together.
At the time, I had a lot of things going on. I had a full-time job, I had my PHP scripts web site, mywebmasterinabox.com, which is now defunct by the way, but you can still see what it looked like back then, as it’s still online. My son had just been born, my wife had taken an extended leave of absence from her job, I was the sole earner, I was in a really, REALLY bad situation at my job, with an insanely angry and verbally and mentally abusive boss, I could not leave my job because I had to keep a job to keep my green card application going, it was a complete mess. Those few years were probably the darkest years of my life, and if not for my sweetheart, my loving wife Veena and my precious kids, I don’t know if I would be here today. It was that bad.
And during this whole time, I was working in New York city. I would commute to the city by train every day. And at the time, I had a company provided laptop, which has some amazing stories attached to it, that I’ll talk about in a future episode. So I had this laptop, but I didn’t have a wifi card – don’t know why. Never even thought about it I guess. But that was the best thing that happened to me – that I didn’t have wi-fi on the train. So I used to open up Microsoft word, and write my book offline.
Initially, I started writing the book sequentially. Acknowledgement, Introduction, Chapter 1, then Chapter 2, etc. But this sequential process started burning me out pretty quickly. There were some things I just had no mood to write about. You know, stuff you know in your head, but you know it’s going to take you hours and hours to put it into words, and some of these were boring topics to me. It’s like trying to teach a rank newbie some new skill. You just wish they would get it already, right?
So that’s when, I said to myself, I’m going to start writing the entire table of contents first. Start to finish. I’m going to think of all the questions that someone new to an online business would ask, and then create the most exciting titles for the chapters and sub-chapters, and someone should simply look at the titles and get excited about buying this book.
So I sat down and created what I felt at the time, would be an amazing set of chapters and sub-chapters, which would cover everything someone needed to know about creating an ebusiness.
And once I had completed the TOC – as in TOC , as in table-of-contents, then every time I opened my laptop, I would just scan the titles and sub-titles, and I would just pick one that interested me at that moment, and I would dive right into that section, ignoring all other parts of the book.
This is how film-making is done as well. They don’t shoot the first scene of the movie first, and second scene of the movie next. The scenes are shot in a completely random order, depending on availability of the actors, location, etc.
So I started writing my book in this controlled-chaos. And that’s when I made the most progress.
So I would choose any topic that I felt like writing about that day, and then if I wasn’t able to complete that chapter, or felt that I needed to revisit and change or add more, then I would simply type in the letters “XXXX”. So that way, I could come back at a different time, and just search for the word XXXX, and I could keep jumping to every section that I had left unfinished, and could either go on to finish one of them, or get started on a new one. I gave myself the permission to be free and chaotic and random and write in any way I felt inspired to. And I did the exact same thing when I recently published my latest book, “Subscribe Me”. I started with the TOC – the table of contents.
And this technique is so powerful, that it can be used for brainstorming and creating so many other things.
In fact, this is a more powerful version of a mindmap in many ways.
I’ve used this technique to write documentation for DigitalAccessPass.com, map out an email series, series of blog posts, series of FB posts, etc.
So let me quickly give you a couple of examples:
I’ve already told you how you can use it to write your book, really fast.
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– Ravi Jayagopal
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