Do you have "write my book" on your list of 2017 goals or resolutions? The good news is that it's never been easier to write your book.
There are countless resources available to you to teach you how to write your book, there are support groups, and there are dozens of ways to bring your book to the market.
This column is not focusing on the how-to's. It's not guiding you to the dozens of online courses, workshops, and support groups. Instead it's focusing on the 2 biggest obstacles stopping you from starting. You could have all of the support you need, but if you don't start, you won't finish.
Obstacle #1: The Need to Have Your Ducks in a Row.
I've talked to many aspiring authors recently, and they start their conversations this way: "As soon as I...." This phrase has to go. There is no more delaying. There is no more waiting for you to finish a project, have a certain amount of money in the bank, or go on a writer's retreat.
You know how life works. As soon as you clear a space, something else will fill it.
We don't find time for our priorities. We make time.
I wrote my first book while running a business, raising two kids, and coping with my stepmother's terminal illness. I carved out the time, and escaped to a writer's retreat for 2 weekends, back-to-back, where I wrote each weekend for about 30 hours. Two months later, I published, and it's now a best-seller.
I did not have all the answers I needed to know how to publish. I did not have a marketing plan. I knew that I had a great idea, and a passion for writing, and I had to get it out. Once I had written my first manuscript, I knew that I could take it to the finish line.
It's all about starting. This is the case with any goal... we simply need to start.
Here are 2 specific strategies for starting. If you procrastinate, and don't commit to starting, it will never happen.
1: Create a vision of your finished product.
Once your book is finished, what will it look like? What will it be called? How many pages will it be? Imagine it is on the NYT Best-Seller's list. The final product may or may not resemble anything like your initial vision, and that's OK. The purpose of the vision is to create something tangible for you to grasp.
2. Block out time and protect the space.
To write a book, you need dedicated time and space. It may be at your local coffee shop, a library, or a local hotel. Maybe it's somewhere that inspires you, like an ocean or mountain getaway. Carve out the time, and don't allow anything to interrupt it. If you can't get away for a weekend, go for an afternoon. The important part is to go.
Obstacle #2: Our Quest for Perfection.
Perfection is the enemy of progress.
Accept this fact now: as soon as you finish your book, you will want to change it. You will want it to be flawless. You'll want to add new chapters and ideas as soon as it goes to your editor or publisher.
You will think it's not good enough to be published.
It is good enough to be published.
If you're going to be an author, you must become comfortable with the idea that everything in life is a work in progress.
Neurologically, it's been proven that the quest for perfection impedes our creativity because it's unattainable. The quest for perfection ultimately makes us stressed and anxious, and has the opposite effect of what we are trying to attain.
"Perfect lets you stall, ask more questions, do more reviews, dumb it down, safe it up and generally avoid doing anything that might fail (or anything important)" says Seth Godin.
One of the most tortured pefectionists was Steve Jobs. His pursuit of perfection is why it took Apple more than 3 years to develop the first Macintosh. Eventually, he learned to hire people he could trust, and was able to delegate design to others.
Here are 2 strategies for becoming comfortable with imperfectionism:
1: Think of your project as an experiment.
Right now, you are the only one that will know about your book. You're trying it out. Have fun with it. You're playing with an entirely new way of connecting and communicating with others. There is not much risk, other than time. Not much is at stake.
2: Think of all of the people you are going to positively impact. You have so much knowledge. So many people will learn from you. There will be at least one nugget of information that can potentially change the life of your readers. They will be better off because you have written your book. You are a catalyst for growth and change.
Now, you have no more excuses.
Make today the day you start. Make today the first day in your life as an author. You can do it!