Face it, books don’t write themselves. You may have the book as a nebulous idea floating around in your head and it probably sounds really exciting rolling around in there. But just thinking about it isn’t enough. Staring at a blank page won’t help you. Making sure the house is spotless before you start won’t help either. Using the kids and the day job as an excuse will keep pushing you backwards.
Like anything else, a finished book is a goal. To accomplish a goal you need a plan. Not just any plan, one you know you’ll be able to follow. You can’t make it too big or too small. It has to be just right. Make it too big and you’ll get overwhelmed. Make it too small and you’ll feel like it’s taking forever to get to the end.
Here are the biggest excuses we use to sabotage our writing priorities and how to avoid them:
- I’m too busy! If you’re using this one, just forget about writing a book at all. Life will always have something for you to do. The list never ends. Do this: Make a list of everything you do in a typical week…and include the time you spend surfing the web looking at funny pictures of cats, or the time you spend channel surfing or gaming. It all counts. You’ll be surprised how much of it is a distraction and you’re not as busy as you think you are. Wendi and I are busy too, but the way we make our writing a priority is we schedule in a day where we step away from business and focus a full day on writing. We may not actually “write” any of the story, but we are still planning, refining the plot, figuring out where the story will go next, etc. Whether it’s a full day once a week or an hour each evening or morning, set that time aside and stick to it.
- Writer’s Block. Hate to tell you this, but writer’s block is a myth. Behind each block is a deeper trigger putting you off your game. What’s really bothering you? Are you not happy with the way the story/chapter/scene is going? Are you worried about something else? Are you feeling burnt out? Take a deeper look and get to the root of the issue. Once you find out what it is, you’ll be able to take steps to resolve it and open the floodgates to your creativity again.
- What Am I Doing?/No One’s Going to Read This. This falls into the “Lack of Confidence” category. Are you listening to all those inner and outer voices telling you you have no business writing a book? That you’re not an expert and what you’re doing is a waste of time? Tell them to zip it. You have as much right as anyone else to express yourself. Tell the story and get it out of your head. Editors and writing coaches can help you clean it up later.
- Your Round Tuit. What’s a “Round Tuit”? It’s this: “I’ll get around to it later.” It’s procrastination in its purest form. Usually the Round Tuit is tied to one of the other excuses above. It’s nothing more than a means for you to put off the task, it’s fear. Or it could be writing a book really isn’t all that important to you. Someday never comes. Someday stays firmly fixed in Tomorrow Land. Someday will forever be a day away. You’ll never reach it, and if you keep that as your final destination, the book will never get written.
So how do you set your writing priorities? Do you have a set plan or are you still stuck in the excuses phase? And if you are, what’s your biggest excuse?