Writing a book can seem like a daunting project – worthy of procrastination. We all know that procrastination is the act of putting off something until a later time. Like writing this article. I started last night – and wished I’d finished then – but I didn’t. So here I am bogged down with it. As William James said,
“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”
Procrastination is considered a coping mechanism for dealing with the anxiety or fear. If anxiety or fear didn’t exist, we wouldn’t put things off. We would go for it! So procrastination is self-sabotaging-keeping us from realizing our dreams.
In regard to writing your book, you may have put it off for any number of reasons. Perhaps it’s fear of failure – or success. Or you think you’re not a good enough writer; you don’t know enough to write anything; you’ll never get your book published; no one will like your book or what you have to say; you don’t have time to write, you just plain HATE TO WRITE.
Nonetheless, you really want to write that book. You have an expertise you want to share that helps others; you know a book will help boost your career. You just finished a book that you could have written better. You’ve got a story that’s been bouncing around in your head for years. Still – you haven’t started writing your book. Why? Maybe your anxieties are overwhelming your desire-and you need to change that.
Visualize your dream as a published author. You are the expert. See yourself holding your book, talking to others about it. Perhaps you’re at a book signing or giving a talk about it, or being interviewed by the media. The result? Your status is bolstered and you enjoy success because of the book.
How badly do you want to attain this dream of publishing book? Write a number 1 to 10 (highest). If it’s 7 or above, what’s stopping your from pursuing your dream? Ask yourself: What’s the worse thing that could happen? Even if your book was a failure, you would learn from the process and move on. The literature is replete with the failed stories of successful authors. Remember, the worst regrets are on the chances you never took!
Once you identify those demons blocking your success, you can overcome them-and take action. Let’s look at ten major excuses for not writing your book – and how to overcome them.
1. I don’t have enough time. Set aside just 15 minutes every day to work on your book. Perhaps, get up 15 minutes earlier. Commit to focusing at least 15 minutes a day of uninterrupted writing. During your “writing time,” do not answer the phone, e-mails, or text messages. Just like you plan uninterrupted time to workout or to meditate or to be with your kids, devote at least 15 minutes every day to work on your book.
2. I’m too busy and “forget” about writing my book. Set a schedule and put writing on your “to do” list. Now that you have committed to just 15 minutes, schedule it into your day on a regular basis-preferably the same time every day-so it becomes part of your routine. That way you won’t forget or avoid it. Hold yourself responsible to working on your book each day. Check it off your “to do” list as a way of acknowledging your success in following through with your goal. Then reward yourself with something that works for you.
3. I don’t know where to begin. Start at the endpoint to create a structure-a plan for your book–like an architect. You wouldn’t begin building a house without a blueprint. Likewise, you need a plan for your book. Rather than start by writing with no direction, the first step is to give thought-a great deal of thought to the structure of your book.
4. It’s too overwhelming. Create your plan in manageable steps. Identify your vision, goals, and expectations for your book. Go from there, in small steps, to identify your target audience, branding, positioning, even your table of contents. At AuthorAssist, we offer 15 exercises that result in a personal guidebook for writing your book– your blueprint. Realize, you haven’t yet written a single word! But now you have a plan-a direction for starting-and finishing your book.
5. I hate to write. Consider dictating your manuscript. Choose from a variety of voice recognition programs or dictate into a digital recorder or even your cell phone. The digital file can be imported into your voice recognition program or you can hire someone to manually transcribe the file. Since we talk faster than we write, this can be an efficient and less stressful method, for getting a first draft of your book.
6. My workspace is too cluttered and uninviting. According to Salvatore Manzi of Feng Shui Life Mapping.com, “Start by setting up an office that is free from such distractions. Anything on your desk or office that is unfinished, unloved, or unused is clutter eating up the energy that could be used creatively with your work. As you spend time looking for something you need, you’ll get distracted by the desire to finish something else and put things in their place.”
Remember your dream of writing your book? Incorporate a visual image-a mock book cover or photo of yourself at a book signing. This will motivate you and provide focus on your writing.
7. I need a deadline to get things done. Give yourself a firm time frame for completing one manageable step of your plan. If you’re devoting only 15 minutes, it may take several days to complete one step. That’s okay. Just meet your deadline. Create a calendar to show when that step will be completed and the next one started-and proceed from there.
8. I feel alone in trying to start my book. Enlist a writing coach or buddy to get you going-and keep you going. Writing is a solitary endeavor and it’s easy to feel alone in your thoughts and words. Hire a writing coach or enlist another writer to help you overcome the procrastination associated with starting your book. A coach provides the specific steps for developing your blueprint. Then you can begin the actual writing, dictating subchapters at a time to get to that vital first draft. Your coach or buddy will check up on you regularly to ensure you are making progress. As one client said, “Working on the exercises together and having someone out there giving me instant feedback was extremely helpful.”
9. Writing/publishing my book is too expensive. How much is it worth to succeed at your dream – and boost your status? Yes,there are costs, as with anything worthwhile. Like the tasks involved, the costs are manageable and can be budgeted in small chunks.
10. It doesn’t matter if I put if off a while longer. Where will you be a year from now: wishing you had started today-or holding a copy your published book? When it comes to taking the first step toward writing your book, it’s easy to but it off until tomorrow. Remember, the best way to get something done is to begin. Do It Now.