I’ve published three books under my own name and have collaborated and coached on dozens more. Before I got to the point that I could make these books happen for myself or others, I struggled big time.
Any of these problems sound familiar to you?
1. Ideas “stuck” in your head
4. No time to write
5. No writing practice
Check times five. I had all of these problems. They are normal to have, and everyone experiences at least some of them.
You can overcome these blocks, so you can write your book and get more visibility, clients, and speaking engagements.
Let’s take a look at each and see how to kick them to the curb.
1. For Stuck Ideas: Unearth Ideas with a Backhoe
The good news is that this problem can be solved in five minutes right now if you have the time.
Often, my clients have a vision for what they want to create, but they don’t know how to move their ideas from brain to page.
Try this exercise. It’ll hurt at first. It’s like getting back into running or other exercise after an absence. Ouch! The good news is that it gets easier.
Step one: Grab pen and paper. (Yes, no keyboards at this party!)
Step two: Set a timer for five minutes. (Bonus if it’s shaped like a strawberry.)
Step three: Write.
Step four: Keep writing even if you write “blah, blah, blah. The key is not to stop.
If you follow the above process, I promise you a 95% chance of surprising yourself with your ideas. In my workshops, I see a-ha moments and happy connections made all the time by students when we do this. Once people set pen to paper—especially in a community—ideas magically appear.
2 and 3. For Fear/Doubt: Love Them into Disappearance
Fear and doubt create what I call the “mean brain voices.” We say horrible words to ourselves that we would never, ever say to our partner or children or to anyone we loved.
Give your fear and doubt some hot cocoa and keep on moving toward your vision.
We all get stuck and stopped up by fears and doubts. I could share oodles of examples of my own fears and doubts that delayed or trapped me on the path for my life and work vision. Instead, here’s what I learned…
The fear isn’t going away! It’s a sign that I’m moving in a new direction. That’s it! I thought I could and should conquer fear. Although that may work for some, it didn’t work for me.
I needed to acknowledge the fear and doubt. And that’s why I close my eyes, mentally give the fear and doubt hot cocoa to keep them busy, and get to writing.
4. For No Time: Find “Hidden” Time
When we say we don’t have time, we’re really saying that we’re not making the time. I’ve done the same thing, unfortunately!
Do you have ten minutes a day to work on your book? If yes, then keep reading!
If you have time to use a bathroom, you have time to write.
The antidote for not enough time? Set a daily word count or time-based goal.
Step one: Start with a small word count goal. 300-500 words. It’s not much and time passes quickly once you start. OR start with a time-based goal like 10 or 15 minutes. Gradually increase your word or time goal over the span of days and weeks.
Step two: Schedule time IN ADVANCE. I block out writing time weeks in advance. When you schedule in advance, the days are kept clear of meetings and other distractions. Plus, you’ll be happier that you’re getting your book done!
Writing a book will take either time or money—and sometimes both.
If you don’t want to make time or are short on it, you can hire a ghostwriter or book doctor to help you get your book done. If you’re short on money, you can make the time to do it on your own.
5. For No Writing Practice: Invent One.
Most of the time, this requires a shift in mindset. It did for me.
After I left the supportive structure of a graduate creative writing program, I returned to the Washington, DC area and stopped writing. I had to focus on life duties like finding a job and an apartment.
I lived in temporary housing while my new husband stayed back in Florida to wrap things up. Soon after, my life morphed into managing a move from Florida to Maryland and commuting to the new job. I had not carved out time for writing.
My life felt like it was in a shambles and that threw my writing practice into a shambles, too. I didn’t even think of my writing in terms of having a “practice.” I didn’t start out disciplined. I had to teach myself to do it.
A community can help you write more.
What helped me was teaming up with a friend in the same boat. We were a community of two and sent each other our work to exchange comments and thoughts. At the time, this worked wonders. If I had it to do over, I would have been more mindful about setting goals and focusing on the bigger picture (writing and finishing my first book).
Once I started to view consistent writing as a practice—something to which I commit a little something every day—then I began to see how it could be woven into my life. For good.