You’ve decided to finally write your book. You’re ready. You know you’re capable. And you’re absolutely determined to make it happen.
Do a quick survey of your life. Can you find at least one of the following obstacles to write your book?
- Two words: clutter mayhem
- Kids, and all the activities, toys, birthday parties, and other events that orbit kid-life
- You’re caregiver to another family member
- You work a full-time job
- You have an on-going medical crisis
- Career instability
- Some looming disaster/crisis/major life change
If so, listen to me. YOU CAN STILL WRITE YOUR BOOK!
But I’m not going to sugar-coat this, either. Writing a book is hard, and all the things on that list are hard. Two or more hard things to navigate simultaneously results in a lot of stress. And stress is real. We talk about it sometimes like it’s a boogeyman. “Oh, it’s just stress.” “Nothing serious, I’m just stressed.” “I have a headache, but it’s probably just stress.” Well, jeez, friend, if stress can make you sick, tired, and emotionally numbed, that’s a pretty powerful boogeyman. And when you have a boogeyman clinging to your back it can make creative work fizzle. Is the stress boogeyman one of your obstacles to write?
The solution? Duh, reduce stress as much as possible. Remember, this period of time is special. You’ve been dreaming about writing a book for-ev-er, and now you’re going to do it. Like an expectant mother, you’re going to rise from your normal life in order to do what it takes to birth something miraculous. No one scolds pregnant ladies for crashing on the couch earlier than usual and assembling a small smorgasbord of foodstuffs within easy reach. Likewise, you’re going to do some things that are unusual. Other people might even think you’re laying it on a little thick. But, hey, you’re going to be holding your own book baby in a few months, so other people can just go find something else to get huffy about, right?
To give yourself the best shot at success, here are a few things to reduce your stress and dial up your organization. Again, remember that these won’t be permanent changes. You’re going to go back to normal after you finish writing your book–unless you love the changes! (You did set a deadline, right?)
Set Up Your Space
Okay, to do serious work, you’re going to need a serious work space. When you sit down at your desk (or stand up–you do you), it signals to your brain that you’re ready to write. That means you should try to maintain some degree of consistency to strengthen that signal. Ideally, you’ve got your own writing office. But if that feels impossible, at least for the time being, then consider commandeering a corner of your living space. (Pssst! I have a Pinterest board called Desk Love that’s filled with lovely ideas for tiny workspaces. Go have a look!)
If you share living quarters with a difficult or shift-working roommate, you can create a mobile office to use at libraries and cafes. Use good quality, noise-canceling headphones and maybe some soft, ambient, instrumental music. (Like Brian Eno.) Most importantly, develop a “begin writing” ritual. Chew fruity gum, listen to the same track, or arrange your pens and pencils in an ordered row. Ever watch a basketball player shoot free throws? They do the same pre-shot ritual every time. Whatever you choose, repeat your ritual faithfully each time you start your writing time.
One of the highlights of my year has been grocery pickup. For some reason, I felt like I needed permission to try it. I mean, I’m able-bodied, I don’t have kids, so I should do my own flippin’ grocery shopping, right? Nuh-uh. When I took an online course in January and was instructed to try grocery pickup or delivery, I ran to it like a kid leaving school on the last day of the year. Kroger Clicklist, where have you been all my life?? And why did I think I had to be the one standing in the aisle, tapping my fingers on the cart, scanning shelves for that thing I wanted (but they’re out of), shuffling through the checkout line. I’m telling you–try it, and try it today. If you’re waiting for permission like I was, consider it granted.
Likewise with other services and errands. Does it really have to be **you** standing in line, waiting for assistance, or listening for your number on the loudspeaker? A lot of organizations offer online services. Try them. And check your own attitudes about paying a little extra:
A.) This is for three months only, remember?
B.) If you think only the wealthy pay other people to ______________, you might need to rethink that presupposition. I pay $4.95 for pickup and save way more than that each week in impulse buys.
C.) If you think other people couldn’t possibly do _______________ the way you like it done–give it a chance and offer polite feedback/training/comments. The sad reality is, if you break your leg tomorrow morning tripping over the dog, someone else is going to have to do all this stuff for you anyhow. Voluntarily withdraw for a few weeks to work on your special project. Is getting the right degree of ripeness of that cantaloupe melon really more important? It’s only three months!
Keep a Schedule
Get brutal with your weekly schedule. If you want to remove obstacles to write a book, your aim is to eliminate every activity, errand, or event that doesn’t absolutely require your presence. Yours! Like we discussed above, if the charming grocery pickup associate can shop for you, let them! If another parent can drive the carpool or bring the snacks, swap dates. And if the UPS driver can deliver your toilet paper, accept it with gratitude.
Determine how much time you can spend writing each week, then guard that time like a spaniel with a turkey leg. This can be hard, because it will seem like your social calendar suddenly was anointed with popularity power. Out of nowhere, you’ll get offers for shopping trips, movie nights, scenic bus tours, and fancy food tastings. (You know, the ones with cloth napkins!) These wonderful offers are in disguise, so let me help you recognize them: they’re tests. Tests to see if you’re serious about writing your book.
So I advise you to clear your calendar for the couple of months after your self-imposed deadline. You’re going to need that time to reschedule all the opportunities you’ll turn down. But don’t be upset; at the rain check, you’ll be an author 🙂
NOW YOU: Are you facing other obstacles to write your book? What’s stopping you?
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