You’ve opened that file on your computer dozens of times over the years. It’s filled with ideas and even possible chapters for a book that you’ve changed the name of more than a few times.
You have a message, but when you begin writing, it becomes muddled. You have a desire to express yourself and share you unique experience and wisdom, but you’re just not sure where to begin or even how to turn it into a book.
You’re not alone. A number of years ago one survey found that 81 percent of Americans felt they had a book in them. But most of them never wrote it. It may be they felt as you do. Daunted and confused. They may have even tried, as you have, which led to more confusion and doubt.
The thing is, writing a book is daunting. We begin with an idea and sometimes that idea isn’t big enough for a book. Sometimes it’s too big. To write a book is to dive into chaos. We have to swim around in the ideas and bits of writing for a while until the core idea emerges. Then we have to try it out.
Is it too big or too small?
It’s important to ask if the core idea is too small or too big. If it seems just right, you can build an outline around it.
An example of too big is writing your whole life story. A better idea is to choose just one aspect of your life or a particular event. Or let’s say you want to write a book about writing a book. That’s too big. Pick a genre so you can get focused. It will be easier to write.
Too small is something that can be explained or shared in 5,000 words or less. If you’re not sure, break down your idea and see if you can explain some of the sections in just a few paragraphs. You may have a great idea for an article, essay or a short series of them instead of a book.
It’s time to create your outline.
An outline will help you get clearer and allow you to see where you need to flush out the idea more or cut back. During this process, as you get clear on the message or what you want to teach, you’ll discover what you need to research so you can find support for your idea. Or if it’s more personal, you can gather the stories you want to use as examples.
With an outline in hand, you can begin writing one section at a time. This is not the time to worry about how each chapter will flow together. That’s a later part of the process. Just get the sections written. Each part of the process brings more clarity. Sometimes you’ll find you have to back track. If you do, take a breath and take your time. It’s a process.
What resistance can look like.
Be aware that if you keep changing your mind about the message, the form, the order, etc., you’re probably experiencing resistance, which in normal. Choose something and stick with it. Some adjustments are a part of the process, but wholesale, constant changes are most likely resistance.
Resistance also shows up as procrastination and simply talking about it rather than working on it. Check your fears. They don’t have to stop you. If perfectionism is an issue (it is with me), you will have to do some work to convince yourself that nothing is perfect about the book writing process. Of course, that’s true about life in general. You need to allow yourself to be messy. Order will arise out of the chaos. I promise. But first, you have to live in the muddle of it.
To finish is to build confidence, knowledge and skills.
The important thing is to finish. It will make all the difference in how you feel about yourself. You will gain confidence in your abilities. The sense of completion will give you the motivation you need to keep going. There is still much work to be done, but you’ll have an early version of your book. It will probably look different when you’ve taken it through all its drafts. But if you don’t finish, you won’t be able to take the next step and you won’t have had the experience which will make you a better writer.
This topic is really too big for a blog post, but at least you can get started. All it takes is the willingness to take one step at a time consistently and to persist until it is done.
If you’d like more help, I invite you join me in The Writers Sangha, a Facebook group where you can get the support and coaching you need to get the book finished. It’s free and can take you further than just working on your own.
It’s time to make a commitment and finish that book. You deserve it! The world is waiting for you.