You want to write a book but you have challenges. Maybe you have no idea how to start your book. Perhaps you can’t decide what to write about. Alternatively, you’re in the middle of writing a book, and say that “I can’t finish my book.”
Here’s the solution to each and every one of your challenges: stop trying.
Write a book the easy way: just write
Several times each week I suggest to a writing student:
- “You’re over-thinking this…”; or
- “You’re getting in your own own way…”; or
- “Just start…”
Nothing happens until you stop thinking, and start writing.
It’s a lesson I learned many years ago, but here’s the thing: you (and I) need to learn this lesson over and over again.
The only way to get out of procrastination hell is to DO: right now, this minute
Procrastination masks itself so it takes time to wake up to what’s happening.
For example, I was happily procrastinating on a book I’m ghostwriting for a client. I kidded myself that I was doing research. It took the danger of the imminent deadline to metaphorically slap my face and wake me up. I was forced to realize that my so-called research was just over-thinking and procrastinating.
Let’s look at three ways to break free of deadly over-thinking and procrastination and write a book the easy way.
1. Break out a stack of index cards: one card equals one thought
This is my favorite method of getting out of my own way; it primes the pump for writing.
This method works well if you’re not sure what you want to write about, or if you’ve stalled out on a book.
Grab a stack of index cards; the 3 x 5 size.
Without thinking about it, write five thoughts, one per card.
Put those five cards away, and put 20 blank cards in your pocket, or in your purse. During the day, and before you go to sleep, write another thought on each of those 20 cards.
First thing in the morning, grab your stack of 25 cards and read them.
Today, you write.
Before you start writing, read the 25 cards again, and then just start writing. Chances are that a sliver of inspiration has managed to break through, and you’ll write easily for an hour or two. (Or whatever time you have: ten minutes, half an hour — the time you have isn’t as important as sitting down and writing.)
Keep using the index cards if you find them useful. If you don’t, just write.
Write nonsense if you like, but write. Within a couple of days, you’ll be inspired to write your book, or complete your book if you’ve already started.
2. Write the final scene (fiction) or final chapter (nonfiction)
I love this method.
Oddly enough, when you want to write a book but can’t get started, writing the end before you write the beginning helps. I have no idea why it works, it just does.
Sit down at your computer, and without thinking about it write the ending of your book. Accept whatever comes.
One of my students had been contracted to write a photography book for her client. She wrote the final chapter, and was shocked when it was the final chapter of a memoir. Not quite what she expected, but it was OK. Once she’d got that off her mind (she wrote an outline of the memoir in an hour after completing the final chapter) she started on the client’s photography book.
She told me: “I wrote my client’s book quickly — it just flowed. The client’s thrilled. She’s recommended me to a friend, and I’ve just committed to writing an ebook for the friend.”
Occasionally when your creative self needs to get in touch with you, the only way is to block you. With this method, you’ll unblock, and all your writing will flow.
3. “Today I finished my book — here’s what it’s about”
This method is quick and simple.
Set a timer for 20 minutes, and start the timer.
Write “Today I finished my book — here’s what it’s about”, and keep writing, without lifting your pen from the paper, or fingers from the keyboard, until the timer sounds.
Then start writing your book, or keep writing if you’ve already started.
Which method will you use? Use your intuition
Which of the above methods to write a book should you use?
Use whichever method appeals to you. Which method seems easiest, or most fun?
You’ll notice that none of the above ways of writing your book call for you to grit your teeth with determination, or force anything. They unlock your creativity and inspiration. Remember them, and use them.
Have fun. 🙂
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