You’re writing a book. Publishing it is just around the corner, right? Sadly no. I’m working with a couple of authors who are having an horrendous time writing and publishing their books. The main problem is that they can’t finish their book.
Judging by the messages I receive from ezine subscribers, these authors have company. Many writers start their books with enthusiasm, but when it comes to finishing and hitting the Publish button, they face a big wall of resistance.
Hold Your Nose, Bite the Bullet, Use a Timer… Just DO IT
Lots of cliches in that sub-head, but whatever. You get the gist. JUST DO IT, like Nike. As you can tell from my writing journal entries, sometimes the writing goes well, sometimes it goes slowly, but no matter how you feel, you need to sit down at your computer.
I guarantee this: it won’t get done if you don’t sit down. Treat yourself like a recalcitrant child if you like. Tell yourself that you’ll sit in front of your computer for an hour. You can choose to work on your book, or not. However, for that hour, you’ll do nothing else. You can sit and vegetate, or write. You can’t read Facebook, or listen to music, or play games. You can write, or sit, your choice.
Occasionally I’ve written a book, either my own or a client’s, and I HATED writing it. I hated every moment. That’s OK. You’re allowed to hate it. I’ll bet that your average baker hates baking sometimes. Timers help. You can stand anything for 25 minutes.
Let’s look at WHY you’re not finishing and publishing your book.
If you’re not finishing your book, the reason’s simple: you’ve stopped believing in yourself.
Believe This: Your Book is Not as Bad as You Think.
Many writers live in an unsupportive environment, and it’s a challenge. When someone says: “Why bother writing, you know you’ll never make real money at it” you may be able to stand up for yourself at the time, but that drop of poison has lingering effects.
When you feel uncertain about a book: you know there’s something not right with it, but you’re not sure what, the memories of careless words come back. What if they’re right? What if you “weren’t meant” to be a writer?
If you’ve sold your writing before, tell yourself that your book is FINE. It either is, or it will be. If you’re just starting out as a writer, tell yourself your book is FINE.
You won’t believe it, but that’s fine too.
3 Tips to Help You to Finish Your Book
1. Written More Than 80%? Start Editing
If you’re written more than 80% of your book, start editing it. If you’re not sure how to edit your book, get help. I do writer coaching, as you may know. I’m more than happy to coach you through your self-edits.
During the edit, slash and burn first:
Want an easy way of editing? Here you go: delete your first few paragraphs of an article, or the first chapter of a book. You can usually delete the first scene in a short story to make the story stronger.
The first sections of a piece of writing tend to suffer from “throat clearing”. You’re nervous. You’re feeling your way into the piece. Once you’ve completed your first draft, you can delete all the messy stuff you with which you started out.
Then start adding new material to fill in the holes. Keep going. Tell yourself it’s rubbish, but that’s OK. Rubbish sells all the time. Ignore your inner editor: don’t fight him, agree with him. This stops your mental chatter, paradoxically. 🙂
2. Copy-Type 500 Words
If you’re halfway through your book or less, use the copy-typing trick. Split your document, and type 500 words. It’s a way of jump-starting your enthusiasm. Sometimes it works.
If it doesn’t… here’s what you do.
3. “200 Reasons This Book Will Fail”
This tactic is brutal, but it works. Over the years, I’ve suggested it to several students who’d lost their self-belief. Not only did they finish their books, they went on to write others. It might take you a couple of days to come up with 200 reasons.
By the time you get to 25 reasons, you’ll be laughing at your fears. Keep going for the full 200. Here’s why. You’ve build a habit of denigrating yourself. Writing out TWO HUNDRED reasons will break you of this habit. You’ll learn a lot about how your mind works, and how it tricks you. In future, instead of listening to your inner editor, you’ll giggle.
Writing and publishing your book can be a challenge. You can do it… keep writing, until you hit that Publish button. 🙂
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