Don’t quit, scale your writing process to match the circumstances of your life.
“The thing about denial is that it doesn’t feel like denial when it’s going on.”Georgina Kleege
There are two author myths that, I will admit, I take great joy in debunking. The real goal though, is to save you some time and frustration in your author journey by eliminating thinking that is potentially holding you back from finishing your book.
Myth #1: The Cabin in the Woods
The way this one goes is, you’ve been delaying writing your book until you have a few months (or longer) available to retreat to the mythical “cabin in the woods” and write it all at once. While this is beautiful and inspiring thinking, statistically speaking, you might want to go invest in a Powerball ticket instead.
Another, less dramatic variation goes, “I’ll write my book when I have some spare time,” or “when my schedule opens up.” Well, I can definitively tell you from 19 years of career experience that if you’re waiting for life and the real world to magically retreat so you can tackle a big passion project, you’ll be waiting for an awful long time.
There is no “spare time” there is only time and it’s up to you where you invest it, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. If you have the serious intention to write a book, it’s up to you to schedule it into the life you are currently living.
There’s a quote I heard from a client that, “the universe is abundant but indifferent.” What if we thought of time the same way – that we have more of it than we think, but that time itself does not care how we spend it?
Myth #2: When Life Slows Down…
I call this one – “I’ll come back to my book project when life isn’t so crazy.” I’ve heard this from many authors over the years, and guess how many actually do return to their books-in-progress and finish the job they started? A rough estimate – I’d say 5%. And here’s the kicker – when those 5% do come back, their life usually isn’t any less chaotic than it was when they set their book project aside in the first place. The only difference is that they now realize life will never allow them to write their book, but they’re committed to doing it anyway.
I understand, however, that some of you are legitimately up to your eyeballs in temporary (key word) life chaos, and you simply cannot commit to what you consider an ideal book writing process. For example, maybe you were hoping to dedicate a 4 hour block of writing time once a week.
Don’t simply walk away from your book. Don’t leave it in the drawer, so to speak, to shrivel up and die. Instead, commit to baby steps of progress. Be a committed observer of yourself as an author and determine what is possible during this temporary time in your life. If larger writing blocks aren’t possible now, look at grabbing 15-30 minutes blocks wherever you can (they do exist when you look for them!). Keep plugging away, keep the energetic connection to your book alive, and don’t give up.
Don’t Quit, Scale!
Adjust your writing strategy to your circumstances.
The key is to monitor your situation, and as the chaos lifts, intentionally scale your writing process back up again, even in baby steps – 15 minute blocks, 30, 1 hour… all the way up to the original book writing process you envisioned. Establish a regular writing habit, no matter how small, so you can then scale that process up and down depending on what’s happening in your life. It’s much easier to adjust an existing writing habit than it is to simply stop all forward momentum, like a giant boulder rolling to a halt, and then come back to the near overwhelming task of pushing the boulder into motion again from zero.
Process of Elimination
Sometimes we focus so hard on adding the things needed to make our book writing goal happen, like habits, planning, and writing tools, that it’s easy to forget that eliminating the things we don’t need is equally important. Leaning on the thinking that “someday,” the right time and circumstances will present themselves so you can finally write your book, is an example of an unnecessary obstacle standing between you and your finished book.
If you’ve been leaning on this thinking, what can you do to rewrite “someday” – as “now”? If not now – when?