When you first started telling your friends and family you were going to write a book, you were as excited as they were, weren’t you?
Pumped with adrenaline and the fire of fresh ideas, you saw yourself flush with creativity. Soon you’d be hunched over your keyboard, laboring away, anticipating interviews, autograph parties, and royalties—the spoils of a bestseller.
Weeks later, when the only headway you’d made was a lot more thinking and dreaming, you told yourself that was part of the process.
So when people asked how that book was coming, you justified saying not only that you were “working on it,” but also that the work was “going well.”
But now it’s been months, and no matter what you’re telling anyone else, you know you haven’t really started yet. You’re afraid. You’re worried. You’re overwhelmed.
Is It Time to Come Clean and Admit Defeat?
Won’t you feel better with the monkey off your back? Just tell everyone it didn’t work, wouldn’t come together, and that you’re on to something else?
No more pretending, justifying, stretching the truth.
Well, I’m all for honesty. But I’m also all for never giving up on your dream. So how about I show you how to rekindle your initial passion and accomplish what you set out to do in the first place?
Let’s take on 7 of the excuses that have kept you from becoming a successful author and sharing your message with the world. My goal is to leave you with no excuse to keep procrastinating.
The Sickly 7
1. I don’t know where to start.
This is going to sound simplistic, but start anyway! Celebrate the small win of creating your title page, then formatting your header with your name, title, and even the position of your page numbers.
Now dedicate your book to someone. Keep it simple. Don’t write a paragraph, and don’t wax cheesy. Less is more. Make it poignant. It could be as simple as For Dianna. She knows why.
Now find a verse, an epigram, a pithy quote, some truism that fits your theme, and give it its own page.
How about a paragraph of Acknowledgments? Sure, this will change once you have a publisher and an editor and an agent, but you already have a few people to thank. Keep this brief and simple too.
Then write your prologue or introduction. Surely you know enough to accomplish that. And that’s all you need worry about for now. That might be only a page or two.
And what have you done? In less than half a day, you have written fewer than 500 words, yet you have 6 pages done.
Sure, the cover page, dedication, and epigram consist of only a handful of words each. But the point is getting started, isn’t it?
If that progress motivates you, you might even be inspired to get the first couple of paragraphs of your first chapter down. Regardless, you’re rolling, and tomorrow you’ll be eager to get back at it.
And should anyone ask about that book you’ve been talking about, you can tell them, without guilt, “I’m making progress. I feel good about it.”
And remember, there are blogs all over the Internet (like this one) that offer a step-by-step guide to writing a book.
Starting looks and feels overwhelming. But if you attack it a small step at a time, you’ll find it’s much easier than you think.
2. I don’t want to do all that work, only to fail.
The alternative is to not do any work, which is a shortcut to failure. Think about it. That’s one way to guarantee you’ll fail to catch a publisher’s eye, have your writing accepted, land a contract, or get a royalty check. Just never write anything.
Don’t be a quitter. Go for it. I can’t guarantee you’ll succeed. But I can guarantee you’ll fail if you don’t try.
3. I’m afraid of success.
OK, forgive me, but shut up. I’ve heard this ridiculous excuse one time too many. Seriously, you’re afraid of success? I don’t say this to brag, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be insanely successful as a writer, and let me tell you: there’s nothing to be afraid of.
The fact is, 99% of writers are not successful, so if you really are afraid of what success might mean for you, the odds are against it. But should you happen to become as blessed as the fortunate 1%, you’ll find that having means will not change you—it will just show you who you really are.
If your motives were selfish, if you were going to leave your spouse, if you were going to feel guilty and turn to addictive substances, then you probably will—and in big, expensive ways.
But if your motives were selfless, if you were generous, if you valued your spouse and cared about your health and the well-being of others—that will still characterize you, just now writ large.
4. I don’t have enough time.
You have the same 168 hours per week that everyone else has. Sure, you may suffer different circumstances, face different responsibilities, and carry obligations others might not.
But I believe we make the time to do what we really want to do. Notice I didn’t say find the time. You’ll have to make it, carve it out from your 168-hour allotment.
Many writers write only after:
- They’ve organized and cleaned everything in the house
- They’ve eaten
- They’ve run all their errands
- They’re caught up on Facebook
- They feel like it
If you think your schedule is going to magically drop 2 hours of writing time in your lap every day, wake up. Examine your schedule and start carving. What has to give? Some favorite TV shows? Movies? Nights out with friends? An extra hour of sleep each night?
I’ve always had to schedule writing time. If you have a book and a message in you, you’ll have to do the same.
5. This is too hard.
If it were easy, anybody could do it. Are you admitting that even the idea of writing a book has whipped you before you’ve even started?
Of course it’s hard. Lots of things in life are hard, and we have to allow ourselves to be bad at them before we become good. Babies crawl before they toddle and they toddle before they walk. And while they’re learning to walk, they fall.
Same with riding a bike, learning to swim, dance, cook, becoming a carpenter, a painter, and—I suspect—becoming proficient at anything.
Give yourself permission to be bad at first. But don’t quit because it seems too hard. Don’t even put it off.
6. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know—and no one knows me.
I’ve got a short answer for this one: Believe it or not, there was a time when no one had ever heard of Stephen King, John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, or J.K. Rowling.
What made them household names? Their writing.
They didn’t quit. They didn’t put off their writing.
Do you suppose they ever wondered if anyone anywhere would ever read what they had written? You bet they did.
I’m sure glad they stayed with it, aren’t you?
7. No one cares what I have to say anyway.
I do. If you’ve read this far, you must be desperate to write your book and see it in print someday.
Why? Because you’re passionate about it. You have a message, a story, something to say.
That makes me curious, because I do too.
Your story is important. Your message is important. Even if you fear someone else has said it before, your version—your viewpoint—is unique. If you don’t write it, who will?
So what are you writing? Tell me in the Comments below.