How to power through 4 common book writing obstacles and write a book that can change lives!

Perhaps you’ve heard the survey stat popular on social media – “81% of Americans feel they have a book in them – and that they should write it.”

So what’s stopping them? If you’re one of the 81% – what’s stopping you from turning “I should” into “I will”?

Listen up 81% – here are some of the book writing obstacles, aka arguments for not starting that I’ve heard from aspiring authors, along with my rebuttals.

I’m too busy to write a book!

I’ll start by shooting down the most common reason – a chronic case of “busy-ness.”

You’re never going to have “extra time” to write your book. There is no isolated, technology-free cabin deep in the woods with your name on the door, complete with circumstance that free you of all your personal and professional obligations for about a year. You’re always going to be too busy to write your book. If you need help organizing your time to fit it in, there are productivity experts and even book coaches who can help you do that.

But if your “plan” is to wait for your schedule to open up before starting your book, let me be blunt and say – that’s an unacceptable answer for your readers who are waiting for it; the people who need your words. You’re either going to write your book, or you’re not going to write it. The second answer isn’t the end of the world, by the way. Be honest with yourself now about which answer you are actually willing to act on.

I don’t know how to start it.

If you don’t know how to start writing your book, 97.3% of the time it means you haven’t asked the right questions.

Questions like:

  1. Who is your target reader (describe in meticulous detail)?
  2. What is the biggest promise of your book, the intended transformation?
  3. Where are your readers (in their life and/or career) when they pick up your book?
  4. Where do you want them to be when they finish it?
  5. What is the most effective and inspired way to architect this journey (sections, chapters, sub-sections, style elements, etc.)?
  6. What will you include in each chapter?
  7. How will each chapter flow from beginning to end?
  8. What is the major takeaway of each chapter?
  9. What is your writing plan – dates, deadlines and word counts – for completing your book?

The more clarity you gain through asking questions about what your book looks like, who it’s for, and why you’re writing it, the closer you’ll get to the starting line!

Writing is hard because I’m not a (professional) writer.

Ah, time for another popular quote! Here it is, courtesy of the late writer Thomas Mann: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

I’ve gotten some push back on this one, especially from my first time authors and book coaching clients, in the form of “Yeah RIGHT!” I see their point. With the millions of words most of us have written over our careers, why on earth would writing be more difficult for someone who does it for a living?

Because we understand and have (mostly) made peace with the mission we’ve chosen to accept. We fully understand the commitment and process needed to glue butt into seat, how to rewrite and edit well beyond our own expectations, the mindset and productivity methods needed to dodge procrastination (also called “writer’s block”), and all the other pieces of a writer’s job description. In other words, we know the true complexities and scope required to write well, and for us, it’s all or nothing. So yes, the bar is set higher and that makes writing harder.

As a new author, you have the advantage of not knowing how high the mountain is. Enjoy the blissful ignorance while it lasts (I kid!).

On the other hand, writing likely seems harder for you because you’re missing the well-stocked toolbox of a more experienced writer. The good news is, there are many experienced writers out there who have made it their business to coach new authors like you, sharing their tools of the trade, deadline-meeting secrets, problem solving strategies, and more. “Writing is hard” is a perfectly solvable problem when you know where to look for help and you’re willing to ask for it to get the job done.

I’m afraid of rejection, failure, and overall embarrassment.

Congratulations – that means you care about quality! This officially makes you 84.3% less likely to write a glorified doorstop.

Yes, it’s true and inevitable that not everyone will like your book. Some people will outright hate it. That’s the sick beauty of powerful, compelling art (presumably your aim for your book). On one end of the spectrum, you will either be invisible or slightly horrifying to people not in your target audience. (Pro Tip: Find the humor in your haters!)

But to your ideal readers, your book will be a miracle. Embrace your fear of failure and let it fuel you to speak so directly to your target readers, that your words merge into a bright beautiful laser beam of specificity, burning through your nerves. Whatever you do, don’t allow your fears to prevent you from taking action! When you make the decision to write a book, you bravely open yourself up to the possibility of rejection. Whether you allow it to paralyze you or power you forward, is your choice.

Finally, anything worth having usually does not come easy. Baring your heart, mind, and soul in the writing of a book, with the intention of transforming or saving the lives of others, is not easy. But far fewer things in this world are more worth it.

Are you up for the challenge?