When people know what I do, they often say 'I want to write a book but...' followed by one or a series of reasons stopping them from getting the book out of their head and onto paper (or the screen).
Over the past two weeks, I've given a presentation, a masterclass and a workshop on writing topics, as well as exhibiting at a business expo. People mentioned these same reasons time and again. Hand in hand with launching my book coaching program 'Get Your Book to the Finish Line™ this post offers some solutions to these obstacles.
I Don't Know Where to Start
The important thing to get you started is to have a STRUCTURE for your book. You need to start off with your main topics - chapter headings, if you will. If you're writing fiction, you may need only a top-level heading. If you're writing nonfiction, there'll be subtopics under your main headings, so you'll drill down to those.
Believe me, once you have a structure in place, it's so much easier to start writing!
I Don't Know What Genre/Topic to Write About
This is also a common one. One of my book coaching clients writing a nonfiction book about social media marketing strategies wasn't sure initially what angle to take with her book. Another client wanting to write his novel wasn't clear on which genre he should write.
If you don't know what to write about, then you're going to be stuck before you start. Brainstorming your ideas with others - two or more minds are better than one - will often help you get unstuck. More importantly, it can clarify that all-important topic or genre and get you from blocked to blockbuster.
How Do I Make the Time?
To make the time you need to set up a writing routine. Dorothea Brande, early 20th-century writer, journalist, writing instructor and editor, and author of Becoming a Writer, was a firm believer in having a solid, regular writing routine. She said, 'The first step toward being a writer is to hitch your unconscious mind to your working arm ... Writing calls on unused muscles ...'
It's an effective analogy, the comparison between keeping your mind exercised by implementing a regular writing routine, and having a healthy body that is used to regular exercise.
Get up Earlier
Brande suggests getting up 30 to 60 minutes earlier than usual – every day.
She says not to talk or read, just to write for 30 to 60 mins. It doesn't have to be related to your desired book. It can be anything that comes to mind: fiction, something that happened the day before, a dream you had during the night... Write quickly and uncritically. You are training yourself to write.
Do the same on the following day, without reading what you wrote the day before – until after you’ve written for 30 to 60 minutes.
After a few days, you’ll find you can relatively easily write a certain number of words.
On the next day, push that by two more sentences. Then day by day, push that to two more paragraphs. Eventually, try to double your morning writing output. This is all still within that 30 to 60-minute period; you're not being asked to write for longer than that. You will simply become more productive.
Return to this exercise whenever you feel yourself falling into writer’s block.
What if I'm No Good?
Lack of confidence in one's writing skills often leaves a very good book languishing in the proverbial bottom drawer forever. Or prevents a potentially good writer from ever starting their book.
But until you do start, no one is going to be able to tell you whether your writing is good enough to be published. So set up that writing routine, start writing, and then contact an expert for a professional opinion. The beauty of this is that you don't have to put forward a finished manuscript before you seek an opinion. By getting some expert input early in the writing, you're likely to avoid some rookie mistakes and come up with a much more polished first draft.
If you just can't muster the energy to make a start, then it's time to call in the cavalry - or at least, a book coach. Please read on.
Get Your Book to the Finish Line™
Working with a writing coach is going to get you from blank screen to first draft of your manuscript - no mean feat! With Get Your Book to the Finish Line, you're going to achieve this within 12 weeks - yes, 90 days.
You're going to achieve your dream of writing - and finishing - your book. You'll no longer be saying, 'I want to write a book but...' Writing a book will no longer be a dream, it'll be a reality.
Can you commit to spending four hours a week writing? Then this program is very likely the one for you.
First, to make sure that we're a good fit, please go to the following page: Get Your Book to the Finish Line
Brande, Dorothea, 1981 (first published 1934), Becoming a Writer, Penguin Group USA, US.
Photo credit César Viteri Unsplash