So you have a book idea and you feel that now is as good a time as any to write it. You’re eager to get started, so you jot down a few notes, maybe even develop an outline. You write a few paragraphs and then a few pages.
“This writing thing isn’t so hard,” you think. You write a little more. And then it happens.
A work obligation. An illness. One or more of the million-and-one things on your to-do list. Whatever “it” is, it diverts your attention, requires your time and ensures that you don’t write that day. Before you know it, one obligation or emergency or fun night out leads to recurring neglect of your book for weeks or months.
Friends and family members ask how your story is coming along. You wince at the reminders and being too proud to admit the truth, you simply state, “Great!” Eventually, you resume your writing, but by then you’ve lost your mojo and have to start back at square one.
Distraction is a common problem for writers of all genres, but it doesn’t have to happen. This type of scenario can be avoided if you take the time to employ this simple strategy before writing your first sentence.
Several years ago I decided to try to earn some extra money with a network marketing company. Ultimately, it didn’t pan out for me for a variety of reasons, but I was always impressed by the company’s encouragement and support of their independent reps. During each weekly teleconference, the president of the company would remind us, “Focus on your why!” In other words, he wanted us to focus on why we got into the business in the first place and what results we hoped to gain from our work.
Obviously, additional income was part of the answer, but he encouraged us to dig deeper. Did we want to provide a better environment for our family? A way to support charitable organizations? The financial means to send a child to college or care for an aging loved one? You get the picture.
Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of network marketing, the importance of focusing on your why applies to writing a book as well. Stop for a moment…right now…and answer this question:
Why do you want to write your story?
Be completely honest. Maybe you truly want to make a difference in someone’s life by sharing important information, wisdom and encouragement from your own life experiences. Maybe you want to share previously unknown knowledge that you’ve discovered through your work and research. Perhaps you’re an entrepreneur and feel that writing a book will help you gain exposure and credibility. Maybe you simply want to entertain your readers.
Whatever your “why” for writing a book, it needs to be about more than making money. The sad reality is that most independent authors only sell 100 or fewer copies of their books. Even if you land a traditional publishing contract, the advance they offer is meager for first-time authors and royalties only kick in after the amount of the advance has been recouped by the publisher.
You also need to write a book because YOU want to. Don’t try to write one simply because someone else thinks you should. If your heart isn’t in it – if you’re not passionate about your subject matter or have a purpose for your book – it will show in your writing.
Make It Visible
Now that you’ve answered why you’re writing your story, it’s important to write it down. Not just once, but multiple times and post them in multiple places. Write it on the notepad you keep beside your computer, write it on a sticky note placed on your car’s dashboard, write it in lipstick on your bathroom mirror – whatever it takes to keep the importance of your writing in the forefront of your mind.
This is critical for those days – and there will be many – when you simply don’t feel like writing. Use your why statements to stay focused and productive. When you write regularly, you will get in the habit and gain confidence in your writing skills. Then, before you know it, when your friends ask you how your book is coming along, you can honestly say, “It’s done!”