Over the past couple of years I have helped over 200 people write and publish their first book. Without exception every one of them found it challenging but hugely rewarding. A common statement is, "I learned so much about myself by writing my book." I'm the same. As an author, I know that with every book I write I learn more about myself, both my strengths and my weaknesses.
So why exactly is writing a book so good for personal growth?
1. You have to stop talking and start doing.
Few days go by without at least one person saying to me, "I'm going to write a book one day." But it takes a lot to move from talking about writing a book to actually doing it -- and this is the biggest leap of all. Growth comes from doing.
2. You have to master the little voices in your head that try to talk you out of it.
If you are reading this article, you're probably pondering writing your own book. From my experience as an author coach, another big hurdle to overcome is that little voice in our head that keeps asking "Who am I to write a book?" Self doubt, low self-esteem, and fear of peer review will stop most people from writing their own book. Stepping up and facing these gremlins head on is wonderful for growth.
3. You have to be courageous.
Another strange thing happens when you write a book -- people read it (hopefully). To write something that others will read and judge requires conviction. Of course, not everyone will like what you write, and you need to be OK with that. It is courageous to share your thoughts, views, ideas, and opinions, and we all know that courage is a great sign of personal growth.
4. You need discipline.
One of the integral parts of writing a book is the actual writing! No amount of good intention will replace long periods of time at a keyboard. On the days you plan to write, I guarantee the sun will be shining, there will be parades outside your house, free concerts in the park, and all kinds of distractions ready to take you away from your writing. You have to disciplined enough to keep your eyes on your screen and the distractions at bay.
5. You have to say "no" to people.
When you are writing your book, not everyone will be accepting of the fact that you are locking yourself away for months, using every spare moment to get your book out. They will try to distract you and demand you spend time with them. This is where you have to be strong enough to say "no." Those who truly love and support you will get it and do everything they can to help; others, not so much. Most people struggle to say "no" to others at the best of times. This changes when you write a book. You become stronger, and this skill stays with you long after.
6. You can't half write a book.
When you know other people are going to read what you write, you are under pressure to produce a quality book. It has to be good stuff, it has to be researched, it has to be correct. Sure, you put in your take on things, but you can't say things that are blatantly wrong or lacking in depth -- because others will see through it in a second. This means you have to bring your A-game to every page.
7. You have to be ready for the spotlight.
It's easy to go through life blending in, being part of the crowd, and not sticking your head above the fence. As soon as you write a book, you have separated yourself from others. The spotlight will be on you, among your peers and within your industry. This takes a certain kind of inner strength that is simply too much for many people. Being able to cope with this is certainly a way to grow as a person.
8. You have to get comfortable talking about yourself.
Now, I'm not saying you become self-absorbed and narcissistic when you write a book, but people are going to ask you about it. If you are lucky, the media will ask about you too, your background and story. A lot of people find it very hard to talk about themselves, and in some cultures it is frowned upon. But if sharing your story can help others, that's a very good reason to share it. Being able to come to terms with who we are, where we have come from, our mistakes and what we have learned by making them, and being able to talk about all of this openly is very therapeutic.
9. You will have done something extraordinary.
While it may feel like a lot of people are writing books, proportionally it's not true. Sure, there are quite a few people writing 10-page eBooks, but not many are publishing a real book a couple of hundred pages in length. There is a great sense of pride that comes from doing what very few other people on the planet will do and that is a very good for your self-esteem, confidence, and personal growth. Even more so if you have written a book with the burning desire to help people, to solve problems, and to make the world better in some way.