If the answer is yes, allegedly you are among eighty percent of the population. But how many of those eighty percent do you think actually write one?
I have heard varying reports but based on human nature, my guess would be … not that many.
Then of course, of that eighty percent, there are people at various points of the writing process. Some may never even begin—they will swear they want to and it will always seem like a good idea. They just won’t ever do it. Others may start writing and never finish. There may be notebooks with ideas, countless books on writing and a few half-completed stories lying around. And still others may actually finish writing the book, yet leave it gathering dust in a corner of their office, forever to remain unpublished.
Writing a book can provide a lot: self-satisfaction, being recognized as an expert in your field, achievement of a life-long goal, artistic expression, taking your career and business to another level, opening up opportunities such as speaking engagements, additional clients, and even media exposure. The list goes on and on. It definitely sounds like a good idea. So what stops so many of us?
I have the good fortune to coach a multitude of authors in the completion of their book writing process. Through this experience, my journey in writing my own book, as well as my twenty years of study of human behavior, I have become an expert on this topic.
There are as many reasons as there are individuals. However it’s actually not that complicated. There are really only few common themes. And it’s important to note, that often what seems like a reason is only a surface level excuse obscuring a deeper concern.
Here are some of the most frequently heard themes:
The concern for time. The internal thought pattern sounds like: I don’t have enough time right now. I probably will later. I will start on Friday. Or maybe I will start next week, or next year. I will celebrate by starting on my upcoming birthday! I will begin after the holidays, on the first day of summer. I will wait until I take that fabulous vacation—I am sure I will access my creativity on the beach in Fiji. I will start after the kids go back to school, after they graduate. I will start when I retire …
Starting is always out there on the horizon. It is never now!
The concern for ability. Often the time concern is a smoke screen for the deeper concern of ability! This goes like: I can’t write. I have never been a writer. I got a “D” on my paper in 5th grade and the teacher said my writing wasn’t descriptive enough. I don’t even like writing thank you notes. I won’t be able to clearly say what I want to communicate. There are so many truly talented writers out there, why am I even considering this?
This is really the fear of being judged. Deep down, we have the thought –there is no way I will ever let anyone read my writing. What if they don’t like it? They will think I am uninformed, uneducated, lack talent. Still worse, they may think I am boring, ridiculous or even stupid.
Then we have the extraneous concerns: I can’t type. I can’t sit for long periods of time. What if I get hungry? I don’t like my reading glasses, they hurt my nose. I need to call the plumber first. Oops, I forgot to clean the cat box.
The bottom line is most of our concerns are really excuses. And they aren’t going anywhere. All those concerns and excuses are along for the ride!
I have studied this. I have personally interviewed, listened to interviews and read articles by best-selling authors. Many of them express similar thoughts. There can be temporary relief in knowing we are not alone in our concerns. However, after our temporary relief wears off, we still need to sit down and write. For some of us, sitting down to write requires the same amount of energy each time. It really is amazing that anything gets written
And, we may become fascinated by this. If so, we have what is referred to as “analysis paralysis.” We feel the need to explore all the reasons why we don’t, can’t, or won’t write. We think maybe we need a therapist to uncover the childhood event that caused us to feel inadequate.
And maybe we do need to do this. I was a therapist for many years as well. There is a time and place for therapy. It’s a fact that most of the human population has had at least one formative childhood event that altered our view of ourselves, others and the world. If unresolved, this could still be running the show. Or maybe we just don’t want to commit.
What separates the published authors from those for whom the idea remains merely an idea? The answer I have found is commitment.
Ask yourself, are you committed to it? If not, I encourage you to save yourself the hassle, the worry, the stress and forget it now. And be complete about that. Don’t mess with yourself, just say you aren’t committed.
However, if you say you are committed; if you really are prepared to make a promise to yourself—then go forward. Take the first crucial step and commit. Commit in a way you never have before. Put your word on the line and your butt in the chair. Tell everyone you know you are doing this. Make large promises and create the systems to back them up. Have a time line. Don’t let yourself off the hook. Create structures for support whether it’s a mastermind group, an accountability partner or a coach.
Your initial inspiration will fade. That is what inspiration does. The question is what are you going to do and who are you going to be after it fades? After it doesn’t seem like a good idea any more—when you are staring pen in hand at the blank page or fingers on the keyboard with nothing coming forth. Those moments can be painful. Can you be with that?
If you can, I promise you the rewards are great. My belief is that writing a book illuminates parts of ourselves that we wouldn’t see otherwise. The process can provide an access to our greatness, our wisdom, and our strengths in new and wondrous ways. And, did I mention, it can be painful?
The real question to ask yourself is are you up for the challenge? And if so, what are you waiting for?
Kristen Moeller’s first book, Waiting for Jack: Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie: How to Stop Waiting and Start Living Your Life is available now.