In today’s article, Cynthia Morris helps us with approaching a big writing project in the right way.
It comes in a blinding, glorious flash of inspiration. “This could be a book! I’ll write a BOOK!”
You dance around your house, full of promise and enthusiasm. What had just been a seed of an idea has sprouted into a book. A book: something big, something tangible. Something others can hold in their hands, read and recognize your brilliance. A book: a passport to the rich lands of fame and legacy.
Alight with potential, you settle in to write this thing. You eke out a few rough pages, hit ‘save’ and close the project down for the day. In the ensuing weeks, you tell everyone that you’re writing a book. You come to relish your new self-generated identity as an author. Visions of you sitting next to Oprah fuel your days.
There’s only one problem in this new, better version of yourself. After that initial foray into the content of the book, you’ve stopped actually writing the book.
Your fantasy of yourself, once so seductive and energizing, has coiled back on you like a snake let loose from its charmer’s basket. Your dream is now coming back to attack you – as a monstrous, frightful demon.
You avoid writing anything, and soon you also avoid all the people you told you were writing a book. You can’t stand the innocuous question that drives you crazy: “How’s the book coming?”
Convinced that you’re a putty-spined loser, you let the vision of writing the book fade as you settle back into your routine. Who were you to think you could write a book, anyway?
The ‘B’ Word
But you’re not a loser. It’s usually not your fault. For first-time authors especially, the ‘B’ word – BOOK – can be too much to hold.
Think about it. Pause right now and consider your book idea. (I know you’ve got one – 80% of all Americans want to write a book.) Imagine holding the book. Peruse the table of contents, shuffle through the chapters, riffle the pages. See everything in it.
You can’t do it, can you? A dearth of imagination? No. It’s because a book is a big project, and it’s too much to hold in our minds. It weighs too much, and without a strategy for breaking it into smaller pieces, it’s likely that the weight of the book will be too much to bear and soon, you’ll put it down for easier, more manageable tasks.
Shut Up About It
I have a theory: the more you’re talking about your book, the less you’re writing it. Blabbing to everyone about it, outlining the story, the structure, the essence of it, isn’t writing it.
It’s seeking approval. It’s getting your jollies on the content without doing the work. It’s robbing your book of its chance to come into the world and have an impact.
So hush about it. Keep it to yourself or talk to your coach or writing peers to help you stay on track. Sit down and write.
One Page at a Time
This despair often happens to my clients. Once we’ve identified their intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, planned out a schedule and gotten them going, the surge of energy and momentum often sputters to a halt. They call in despair, convinced that they can’t write a book and were foolish to even think they could.
I talk them down from the ledge, and agree with them: they can’t write a book. But they can write one page, one chapter, one section at a time. They can hold that and they can act upon it.
Break it down, one section at a time. If you’re a blogger or are accustomed to writing short pieces, consider each paragraph, chapter and section as its own self-contained unit.
It’s that simple.
Has this happened to you – has your beautiful inspiration turns into a monster with a capitol B? How did you overcome it? Please share your success with overcoming the ruinous B word in the comments below.
Cynthia Morris helps writers, artists and entrepreneurs make their brilliant ideas a shining reality. She writes articles, e-books, blogs and is finishing a historical novel set in Paris. Get your creative juju back with Cynthia’s creativity workshops, from her Juju Infusion videos and from her free newsletter, Impulses, all found at Original Impulse.