So many people want to write a book, but few actually take the steps necessary to make it happen. If you think about it, almost everyone *can* do it. In its most basic form, a book is just a string of sentences. If you can write a sentence, you can write a book. So what’s the problem? What are the obstacles to write your book?
In the previous post, we got to the heart of one of the biggest barriers: fear. Are you ready to leap the next hurdle? It’s a tall one, but if you’re truly ready to make things happen, you’ll be able to navigate it with … Well, not with ease, exactly, but definitely with exhilaration!
How can you find the time to write your book!?!
Look, we all have a collection of dreams. We want to weigh less, have more energy, own a home that could grace the pages of Better Homes, travel six months a year, eat whatever we want, be popular but still have privacy, be taller, be shorter, have a thicker wallet and head of hair, worry less, sleep better, and throw parties like a Martha Stewart / Richard Branson hybrid host.
And that’s all cool.
But you have to take an honest look at your dream. Why do you want to write a book? This gets tricky because, the truth is, it can be hard to pin down. Why did I start scrawling on the walls as soon as I learned a word? (It was ‘apple’ that caught my fancy. Sorry, Mom!) Why did I create my own comics as an early reader, then move on to illustrated one page stories, then short stories, then novels? I don’t know. My brother didn’t feel that compulsion (although he’s a heck of a storyteller 🙂 ). We don’t really know where our creative passions originate or why we get our interests. In that sense, your why might be similar to mine: I want to write books that inspire and entertain. That’s what I’ve always wanted.
Conversely, you might have lived through an experience that has left you in a unique position. People may frequently say, “You have to write a book!” Be careful. There are a lot of ways for you to share your story–a book is only one path. You may find you’re more drawn to a blog, a video channel, a public speaking platform, etc. Just because people tell you to write a book doesn’t mean you have to take that route. Unless, of course, you love to write. That makes for a pretty sweet Venn Diagram, with the perfect convergence of ability, passion and audience.
“What if I want to write a book but I’m not a writer?”
If the previous paragraph made you wilt a little, relax. There are plenty of authors who flunked their English classes in high school and college, then went on to write incredible books. The key? A killer story and a strong motivation. We’ve all read books with weak writing but a plot so gripping we couldn’t jump ship. (Ahem, certain best-sellers, even…)
For example, if you know in your soul you want to record your life story for your family, that’s an irresistible motivator. You won’t lack energy. And you’ll find guidance along the way to help you publish. Go for it!
Whatever your “why” is, prioritize it with brutal honesty. Is it more important that scrolling through Facebook or Instagram? Put the phone on top of the refrigerator and go write!
Get a Deadline
One reason amateur authors sputter and run out of determination, hopping from project to project, is that they fail to set an end date for their book. It’s easy to stay focused in the first week or two, but if you think the writing process will stretch out for years, you’re going to lose that thread. There are a multitude of distractions. Three weeks in, you’ll become obsessed with the idea of painting the living room. Look at those scuffs and splatters! (Seriously, is that a dog sneeze, or what?) You can’t write for one more day in a room with such horrific paint. If you lay on a few coats of that lovely color you saw on HGTv last night, you just know you’ll be able to concentrate better on the book …
…except you never get back to writing it. One distraction dominoes to the next and so on. Don’t let it happen!
Set a deadline from the start, and make it serious. If you have to, put money in an envelope and give it to a trustworthy friend. Tell them not to give it back to you unless you finish the rough draft of your manuscript in three months. (Why three months? Anything less, you’ll feel stressed; anything more, you won’t feel enough stress. It’s also enough time to spend on a project without feeling cloistered.) If you don’t finish the book by the deadline, your friend must donate the money to a charity you do NOT like.**
Decide how many words per week you need to write to finish a few days before the deadline. You’ll discover pretty early on how many words you can type an hour, so figure out how many hours per week you have to block out. Viciously guard that time.
Get a Team
Aside from the friend you’ve given permission to blackmail you, think about others who will support you to write your book. Plan a nice meal with a few members of your inner circle, maybe even a weekend getaway to decompress.
If you have a spouse or children at home, have a family meeting and explain to them why this is important to you and what you need from them. It may look like a different weekend routine for the next twelve weeks. Your spouse may be open to taking a trip with his or her friends for a couple of weekends, leaving you with a long stretch of uninterrupted writing time. Your kids may be open to taking one or two nights a week to make a simple supper and cleanup so you can sneak off to your writing desk. (WARNING: You have to let go of perfectionism for this season. You can have a perfectly clean kitchen or a finished book, but rarely both!)
It’s key to avoid demanding support from your family and friends, here. You’re not going to win loyalty by storming through the house wondering why everyone has to be so loud when you’re trying to concentrate. (Psst! Cafe writing–try it.) Be open with your children and tell them that you want them to be able to accomplish hard things, that you’re showing them it’s okay to take time to work on important personal projects. When your deadline has passed, don’t forget to help your supporters launch their own dreams by offering assistance with their big goals. Reciprocate!
Get Used to Saying No
Stop apologizing; you’re doing something incredible! Instead, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse your polite refusal. You don’t have to explain your business to every single acquaintance. Rather, be kind but firm when you decline an offer or request. “I’d love to bring snacks to the meeting but my schedule won’t allow it. Sign me up for [four months from now], instead, please.” Don’t agree to any activity without saying, “Wow, that sounds great but I have to check my schedule. I’ll let you know later today.” That way, you can let the idea roll around for a little while and decide with a clearer head. Some opportunities seem worth it in the moment, but once the pressure to respond is past, it can feel like you locked yourself up like Otis from the Andy Griffith Show.
NOW YOU: Are you ready to block out the time it takes to write your book? If not, what’s holding you back?
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**This isn’t my original idea, but I can’t remember where I read it! If you know, leave a comment and I’ll update it.
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