Many people dream of writing a book, but they never put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Why is that? It’s too easy to blame it all on procrastination because there is still a reason somewhere behind the procrastination. So why do people give up on the dream of being a published author before they even begin? Or worse yet, why do they start but quit before they finish? Here are ten major reasons why people don’t write that book they’ve been dreaming of holding in their hands someday.
Reason #10: Self-doubtTrying something new can be both exciting and scary. This is where your support system can make a big difference. Do you have someone who believes in you and can encourage you? Tell him or her how you’re feeling about beginning to write your book. If you don’t have someone you can turn to for encouragement, hire a life coach. That is exactly what coaching is all about: encouragement. You need someone to cheer you on from the sidelines, to keep you on task, and to help you visualize yourself holding that book in your hand with a big smile on your face. All of us experience self-doubt at least once in our lives. I’ve written 41 books and I still have moments of feeling inadequate when I start a new project. But once I start, it takes on a life of its own. It’s a passing thing. It’s not forever. You will get past it! So what if you think what you’ve written isn’t worthy of a Pulitzer? Not everyone is going to agree with you. Many will love it! And you’ll be able to tweak it and polish it before it goes to print. The key is to simply keep putting your thoughts on paper and see where they lead.
What if I write it and no one likes it?Get away from the computer (or whatever) for five minutes. Go for a walk. Play with the dog. Smell the flowers in the garden. Get a fresh perspective. Don’t envision the worst. Don’t groan and moan. You know your passion for writing better than anyone else does. Put your blinders on and keep focused on why you began writing in the first place. Over one billion people on this planet speak English. The odds are that someone somewhere will really like what you write.
Reason #9: Discouragement From Other PeopleIt’s strange how the people you are closest to sometimes become the most negative toward your goals. Sometimes they feel threatened because if you achieve your goal you may move on without that person and that worries them. The thing to do in this case is not talk about your dream with that person. This is especially hard when it’s a spouse who is the discourager. One way around this is to find a writers’ blog where you can give and receive support, or a local writers’ group where you can share your ups and downs over coffee on a regular basis. You’ll encourage each other and everyone will benefit.
Don’t wallow in discouragement. (It’s really self-pity in disguise.) Quick! Rattle off five things you are thankful for. Don’t think about it. Just say what pops into your mind. See how many positive things you have going for you? Discouragement comes from looking through the wrong end of the telescope. You need a wider view. Discouragement also comes from other people, including spouses. That is usually based on the fear of losing you and it manifests itself in various ways. For the first 12 years of my life, my father always told me I had no common sense. Then I discovered I did have some and I learned to believe in myself and what I could do. Write down why you wanted to write this book (or article or review or blog or whatever). Write it LARGE and plain and put it where you’ll see it frequently. (On the mirror in the bathroom is a great place!)
Reason #8: Lack of DisciplineThere’s no easy way to say this: Just Do It! Set the alarm clock one hour early and pick up your pen and put some words down on paper or start the computer and start typing. Or spend your lunch hour writing. It won’t take you more than a few days to establish a new routine and you’ll actually look forward to writing. Write something every day. Just do it. If you don’t believe in your dream enough to discipline yourself, no one else will do it for you. No one can give you the gift of self-discipline. But it is readily available to you. You just have to set a goal and stick to it.
Putting off your writing is not really a lack of discipline, it’s really a habit you’ve developed. You need a new habit! Each time you sit down to write, before you begin, set yourself up for success. Start with a certain number of words you want to write during that session. When you’ve written at least 25 words, go back and flesh it out with more adjectives and adverbs. By then you may have the beginning of a good short story. Give yourself a pep talk: I can’t wait to start hitting those keys! OR The ideas are coming so fast I’m going to have trouble typing fast enough! Plant those thoughts and your brain and fingers will follow.
Reason #7: Once It’s Written, Then What? Strange as it may seem, it’s easier to have a dream than to have a dream come true. Every time a certain author I know finishes a book, a wave of disappointment and emptiness hits him broadside. Just when he should feel proud and euphoric about completing the manuscript! Perverse, isn’t it? As he gets closer and closer to the end of the book, I can visibly see him pulling inside himself, preparing for the letdown. That’s not the time to say Now What?
The answer, of course, is to take a week off to congratulate himself, and then begin writing again. If you have a burning desire to write, then you should always be writing something. Your next book could become a best-seller!There are some people who simply want to be able to say they wrote a book. And that’s the end of it. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can also go digital. For those who want to hold their printed books in their hands, publishing with a well-known name like WestBow Press can be the answer. (As a WestBow author I can vouch for their terrific service!)
If you want to see your book on the shelves in bookstores all over the country, that’s a whole different story. It depends on what you want. If you want an agent to sell your book to a big publishing house, I’d suggest you read A Perfect Day by Richard Paul Evans. It’s a very accurate account of what happens if you write a best-seller published by a royalty publisher.
Reason #6: Lack of TimeThis is one of the most common reasons people give for not writing and it really doesn’t fly. There are several solutions to the lack of time dilemma. One is exercising discipline, which we’ve already discussed. Another is removing some other activity from your life that is time-consuming and using the time to write instead.
One very popular romance novelist simply sat down at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee while her children played around her in the same room. (I don’t know about you, but I do not possess that brand of discipline!) Susanna Wesley (17th century mother) had 17 children (count ’em!) and when she wanted time alone with God, she threw her apron over her head and the children knew that was a sign not to bother her. You could stay up an hour later, right? Or get up an hour earlier? Or substitute writing for one of your hobbies until your manuscript is finished? The fact is: If you want something enough, you’ll find the time to do it. People can always find time and money to do what they really want to do. Somehow, some way, they’ll make it happen.
I have one word for this reason for not writing that book: Phooey. Anybody can find any amount of time to do what he or she really wants to do. Period. You know the litany: Set the alarm one hour early; go to bed one hour later; etc., etc. If writing is your passion and writing a book is your dream, adjust your life to accommodate the time it will take to make your dream come true. Every person has 24 hours each day. If you want to write a book, you have all the time you need.
Reason #5: Lack of Knowledge of the ProcessOccasionally someone will approach me with an idea for a book and that’s all. Just the germ of an idea. My first ghostwritten novel was a prime example. I had a few conversations with my client. She sent me two pages of notes. We exchanged a few e-mails, and somehow the book took shape. Of course, I was a nervous wreck until she sent me an e-mail saying she absolutely loved it. (I had been steeling myself to rewrite the entire thing from scratch!) We went back and forth for awhile, tweaking it here and there to make sure it represented her voice, not mine. Lack of knowledge of the book business should not keep you from writing your own book. There’s no shame in hiring a professional author or self-publisher to help you through the process. In my client’s case it was to her advantage to be minimally involved due to family commitments. The end product was worth it all—to both of us.
Writing is a personal thing as far as getting the story in your head onto paper in a readable format. You don’t always need to find a literary agent to sell your book to a big-name publisher. For example, if you’ve written a children’s story, you could paste it up or take it to a local printer to lay it out for printing. Then you simply print as many copies as you want, distribute them to friends and family and/or the local bookstores, organize book-signings at libraries and bookstores, do readings at writers’ groups, speak to women’s groups and writers’ groups…and the list grows as you think about it. If you do these things yourself, you can take your show on the road at your own pace.
Reason #4: CostPursuing your dream of becoming a published author is going to cost you. It will cost you time, effort, and money. But it is worth it all. Counting the cost before you begin to write is wise, but the cost should not keep you from writing. If you have a passion for writing your own book, it’s not possible to set a price on the satisfaction of accomplishing your dream. There are many of us out here who can help you through every step in the process. The real cost to evaluate is letting the cost kill your dream.
Reason #3: Fear of SuccessWhat if the manuscript is accepted by a publisher and you have to quit your day job and hit the road for television appearances and book signings? (Lucky you!) What would that do to your home life? What would that mean to your family? Could you handle that? If that’s what you’re worried about, don’t let it keep you from writing! Most royalty publishers (the ones who pay you regardless of how many copies sell or don’t sell), would tell you to hang onto your day job and ask for a short leave of absence. If you are fortunate enough to have this happen with your manuscript, you’ll have to decide how to handle it. I’d also suggest you read Richard Paul Evans’ classic book A Perfect Day.
If you self-publish you can control how much promotion and how much traveling you will have to do. If you’re afraid you won’t want to travel to book-signing after book-signing all across America and you’ll have to give up your job, try this: Ask for a short leave of absence instead. Just as there is a shelf-life to a book, there also comes an end to notoriety. That’s when you begin writing your next best-seller.
Reason #2: Fear of failure What if you do your very best work, you stay disciplined, you tweak, edit, proofread, correct, rewrite and all the other things to make your manuscript the best it can possibly be—and no one wants it? Hear me well: That does NOT mean it’s no good! It just means the publishers you approached may be full-up for this year. They all have x-number of dollars and can’t exceed the budget, even though they might want to squeeze your book into their production schedule. That happened to me twice. So I did what any self-respecting author would do. I self-published. It’s easy, it’s fulfilling, and you can order as few copies as you want. You can hold your own book in your two hands and feel gratified that your dream has come to fruition. This is not failure! It’s success!
My first book was with a royalty publisher. I worked an entire year. The publisher was new and didn’t know how to promote books. I made 88 cents per sold copy. My final income from that book was just under $300. For a whole year’s work! Since then I have self-published every one of my books and have helped many of my clients do the same.
It’s amazing to me that so many people never fulfill their dream of being an author because they lack confidence in their idea and/or their ability to write. There is an abundance of professionals who can help you achieve your goal. If you have a great idea but don’t think you can bring it to book status, hire various professionals to help you. Search online for free-lance ghostwriters, editors, cover designers, layout artists, publicists and speakers’ bureaus. With all that professional help at hand, it’s going to take a lot more effort to fail than to succeed.
Reason #1: Writer’s BlockYou’re not going to believe this, but I have never experienced writer’s block! (Sorry. I can’t help it!) I have coached several authors through the experience, however, and I know how frustrated they were. I came up with a way to unblock the mind when it gets stuck. Make a list of six adjectives, another list of six nouns, verbs, another of six verbs and another of six adverbs. Write each of the 24 words on a 3x5 card and put them in piles by verbs, nouns and so on. The next time you have writer’s block, pull one card from each pile. You’ll have a bare-bones sentence. For example: stooped (adjective), gentleman (noun), approached (verb), apprehensively (adverb). Ask yourself these questions: Why was he stooped? Whom or what was he approaching? Why was he apprehensive? Type or jot your answers down. There you have it: The beginnings of an interesting short story! You can then describe how he looked, what he was wearing, where he was at the time, and on it goes. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll write that one myself! You’d better make up your own pile of 3x5 cards and start writing!
Okay, you there reading this article. If you’ve always dreamed of writing a book, what excuse do you have left?
Glad this was helpful
You have literally taken away every excuse I’ve ever had, thank you!
You give a reader much food for thought! Thank you
I certainly need you in my corner!!!!!
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