You know you’re meant to write a book. It’s not a question–you’ve always known! Some nights, it wakes you up and you wonder how to make it happen. But when morning comes, you’re not sure how to overcome the obstacles to write your book.
It’s such a common feeling, the awful pressure of being stuck. That’s why I want to spend some time over the next few weeks to help you get your book out of your head and into the hands of your readers. What would your life look like after you’ve taken possession of your dream and grown into the author you’re called to become? What would it feel like to lift that burden? To be free?
I can tell you how it feels: incredible. To see your work live its own life apart from you, to watch it touch readers, to see it breathe and stand on its own is powerful and awe-inspiring. There is pride, but there’s also humility. Where did this gift come from? It’s like it passed through you. The relief you’ll feel after letting it go is exhilarating. Best of all, when you’ve released that first idea, you’ll be ready for the next, and the next, and …
I want to help you feel that feeling, too. So let’s get started!
Before we get into the nitty-gritty technical side, let’s start with the biggie. You know it well, because it likely has its sweaty hands around your throat right now …
Name Your Fear
Sometimes we can dread a thing so much that we’re not even sure what it is that has us in its grip. Go someplace pleasant and allow yourself to drill down into what it is that really scares you. Name it, explore it, strip away its masks and stare it in the face. (This is why you need to go somewhere pleasant. I’m thinking sunny cafe with a wonderful drink and light, hopeful music. You definitely don’t want to do this in bed at night :-/ ) Once you get to the root of your fear, it will lose some of its hold on you. You’ll discover that while it has many faces, the underlying reason of it is often not what you expected.
For example, if you fear rejection, let the idea run its course. “If I write a book and it stinks, people will make fun of me. They won’t like me anymore. Even my family will snicker behind my back.”
Ask yourself if this is true, and relentlessly ask, “Why?” until the fear is cornered. Is it true that no one will like you anymore? No. Will one or two people reject you? Maybe. Why? Could be that they never understood you to begin with, or they’re bitter people who gave up on their own dreams long ago, or that they’re afraid for you and telling you to keep your head down and stop doing noteworthy things. Look at each reason individually and ask one more question: “Should I let this reason/person control me by controlling my decisions?”
Guess what? The answer is always no.
Love Your Fear
While this point may sound a little cheesy, like warmed-over self-help leftovers, give it a thought. Now that you’ve gotten to the bottom of your fear and named it, you can understand its origin. Most of those bedrock emotions got their start very early, gripping us since childhood. Split yourself up for a moment and exist as adult you and little kid you. Can you visualize that cute little you? If not, take a hard look at one of your semi-toothless elementary photos. See how full of potential that younger self was? Would you hold your own child to same standard you’re holding yourself now? Would you berate and belittle them when they were afraid? Of course not.
You have to treat yourself like someone you love. Be kind but firm. In the same way you wouldn’t allow your own child to stay in terror of a monster under their bed, you’ve got to have compassion on your inner child, because that’s where the fear lives. Remind yourself that the worst-case scenario isn’t that bad, that you’re safe, and that your dream is so worth breaking through the fear.
Bribe Your Fear
And speaking of inner children, do you know what works with little kids? Bold-faced bribes. “If you __________, then we’ll go for ice cream afterwards.” Oh, yes. If you find yourself avoiding a writing task, discover the fearful source of your dread, expose it to the daylight, and then bribe the heck out of your scared self.
If you open your word processor and write for ten minutes each day, treat yourself to something you really enjoy–guilt-free! (But be careful with the ice cream, ya’ll.) Go outside and play, watch that movie you’ve been wanting to see, buy the nice, thick, quarterly magazine from the newsstand. You’re doing hard work, facing fears and taking steps forward. You deserve it 🙂
Live With Your Fear
But your greatest reward will be the growth you experience. When you reach your goal, you’ll have the additional gift of knowing you’re someone with grit, someone who can face their fear and WIN. And that knowledge? Priceless. You’ll be a real-life participant in the Hero’s Journey.
Know and expect the fears to attack you when you sit down to write. Greet them, but tell them to shut up and sit in the corner. You’ve got something important to say, and you don’t have time for small talk with nagging fears. This is what the great, professional writers do. They had their own fears and doubts, but they did the work anyway. If they can do it, so can you.
In the next post, we’ll talk about how to overcome the obstacles that you still might be facing.
For today, though, get to the root of what’s scaring you about writing your book. Years ago when I was a teenager, someone close to me recoiled when I confessed I wanted to write novels. I thought I’d dealt with that comment, but just before publishing my first novel, those words surfaced like a monster from a dank, swampy pit. Luckily, I could push past it a lot easier as an adult, knowing that something like 80% of people think they’d like to write a book. It’s ridiculous to recoil from that idea. And, unlike the majority who want to write, I determined to actually do it. Just like you!
NOW YOU: How do you overcome the obstacles?
What’s the biggest fear you have about writing your book?
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Great post, Cole. I’m inspired! Now, if you excuse me, I need to drag out my WIP and give it another once-over:/
Ha! Me, too 🙂