Life is short. Life is busy. How can you possibly add writing that book you have inside you to your stacked schedule? It starts with a commitment. To finish writing a book, you need to get started.
Today’s parents are overstressed, corporate executives are overworked, and children are overscheduled. With a daily calendar filled with “shoulds” and “musts,” it’s no wonder people go through life missing out on their true calling and never do what they really want to do.
What’s holding you back from getting what you want out of life? It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane tasks and wonder, “is this all there is?”
Years ago, when my husband and I took a two-week trip to the Grand Canyon, something changed for me. I can’t figure out if time stretched, shifted, or stopped altogether, but I do know that one day melted into the next and the pressure of time dissolved.
All I had to do was eat, drink, and just be. After two weeks of floating from day to day, I felt fundamentally changed. I liked finding the wide-open spaces inside me and I only felt the pressure of time when our trip was coming to an end. I became anxious when I looked ahead to a calendar filled with “shoulds.” I dreaded going back to the clock that ruled my life.
Suddenly, somewhere along the way, I made a decision. I told my husband, “I no longer want to do things that I don’t want to do.”
He stared at me, a quizzical look on his face. “Then don’t.”
Then don’t? Could it be that easy? Figure out the things I don’t want to do and just stop doing them?
It took little effort to make a list of the things I didn’t want to do anymore. The list wasn’t that long, but when I lined it up with my day-to-day activities, I saw that the “things I don’t like” items ruled my calendar, and by extension, my life. Was I really spending most of my time doing things I didn’t like?
Now, I’m not talking about shirking responsibilities or not doing things that absolutely NEED to be done. I’m referring to those “shoulds” we have on our list because we just do them or because other people told us we should.
What does my trip to the Grand Canyon have to do with writing a book? Life is short. You have a book-worthy idea inside you, but you might think, “I’m not a writer; I can’t do this.” That’s not true. You may not yet be a professional writer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become an author. You can do anything you want to do if you make the decision to do it and get the right help when necessary.
Make the time to write
How many times a week do you say, “I don’t have time for that?” It may seem impossible to make time for anything outside of your normal schedule, especially something new.
Many of the people who contact me want to learn how to write a book step-by-step, but their lives are filled with things they want to do, things they need to do, and a lot of things they really don’t want to do, but must. There’s always that race against the clock, which leaves them feeling scattered and torn, like a scarecrow with his stuffing pulled out. At the end of the day, there isn’t much left.
If that’s you, I understand. But, I’m a firm believer that if something’s important to you, no matter how busy you are, you can make time to do it.
There are readers out there looking for what’s trapped inside of you, but maybe you’re not sure that now is the right time to jump in and write your book. But let’s face it, you will never be less busy than you are now! It doesn’t matter if your passion is about a new business process that can save time and dollars, a memoir about overcoming pain and suffering, or how to connect on a soul-level with your dog. If you have a passionate solution, there’s someone out there who needs it! If you’re waiting for your life to be uneventful so you can write your book, it probably won’t ever get written.
Take the time to do it right
When I was five years old, I wanted to be six so I’d get to go to school like the big kids. Then, when I was six, I wanted to be seven so I wouldn’t be a lowly first grader anymore. I wanted to hurry, hurry, hurry things along, and this pattern continued for much of my life. I was always rushing to the next thing, the next milestone, the next point on my life journey.
Writing and publishing a high-quality, professional book takes time. Some writing coaches suggest that you can write your book in 90 days, or in one month, or even in a weekend. That is not my approach. I believe it takes a lot of thought and effort to construct a quality product, and that takes time.
I’m always amazed when people write a book. I know how much effort it takes. The authors I meet are always very, very proud of their work. I congratulate these people for seeing the project through from start to finish and tell them that they’ve accomplished something that very few people ever do. I make sure they know how impressed I am with their dedication to the effort.
What I don’t tell them, however, is what I think of their book. I’ve been handed more crappy books than life should allow. The covers look like a child designed them, the type is in a fourteen-point font, and the text is double-spaced to make the book longer. Some have no idea how to organize their material into deliverable containers that readers can absorb and their messages are neither sharp nor clear. What they intended to produce was a book that would increase their credibility, but what they actually produced does the opposite. And they don’t even know it. A book is not a book is not a book.
Publishing is an industry, and an old one at that. There are standards and conventions that must be followed. I can spot an amateur book across the room, and I always feel sad for authors who didn’t take the time to present themselves in a professional light. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Whether you write a crappy book or a great book, you’re going to pour a lot of time, energy, and emotion into it. You might as well do it right and produce something that’s a credit to your name. In my experience, it takes about a year for a first-time author to write a decent book. You can use tools and techniques to help you work more efficiently, but you can’t shortcut the process.
Do it right the first time
I absolutely hate to waste time, and the biggest time waster for me is when I have to do something over. I really hate doing things twice.
I like to follow a time-tested, straight path that gets me from where I am now to where I want to be while expending the least amount of energy possible to produce an excellent result.
You’d better be sure the path you are on will take you where you want to go! It starts with an idea. That’s it. Just one idea. Then, week by week, step by step, you plan the contents of your book and add to the writing until you have a rough draft, then a finished manuscript. It takes time, but it doesn’t take forever.
But you don’t want a manuscript, do you? Of course not. You want a book. You need to go beyond the writing and have a clear path to packaging, publishing, and promoting your book. Be sure that’s the path you’re on, a path that takes you all the way from your initial idea to the finished product.
My point is this: I don’t subscribe to the write-a-book-in-a-hurry method because I believe it wastes time, energy, and dollars — and it ultimately produces a substandard product.
If you do things right, your book can be relevant for many years, so don’t join the slap-it-together crowd. What’s the hurry? Accept that it’s going to take you a year to write your book.
There’s something that comes into play during that year, and it’s a phenomenon that occurs in most of the writers I work with. It’s puzzling to some, profound to others, and I think it’s part of the magic that happens when you step into this journey. While you’re working on your book, your book is working on you.
But only if you make the commitment to get started.
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