If you had to count on your fingers how many people told you that they want to write a book you’d have to have more fingers than a serial killer with a hand fetish, and that’s if you only counted once a day.
We know it’s claimed 90% of Americans want to write a book, yet nowhere near 90% start their books and so few ever fewer finish. Why?
We also know that, aside from Iceland which has the highest per head of capita of published authors in the world, this desire to write a book is consistent across the world.
People want to write a book for a lot of reasons, to:
This list is not exhaustive and many of you will probably be able to tick off a few on this list.
Why does it matter what your objective is?
Understanding your motivation for writing your book can be incredibly helpful. If you hit a block or slump it will help remind you of why you started and why its important to get it finished.
It can help you stay on track to make sure that everything you are writing is relevant to the book you are writing. It can motivate you when you hit a rough patch or find the words are like getting blood out of the proverbial stone. All of this is completely normal for any writer but understanding whether you are motivated by sharing your knowledge to help people or getting the story out of your brain on to paper will help you on the writing journey.
Another way motivation is important is understanding whether you are motivated towards something or away from something.
As Debbie Fisher, Coach, tells us – neither is right or wrong – it is simply a way of better understanding what makes us tick.
Some of us are motivated towards something. In the case of writing a book this means that the idea of seeing our book in print, with our name on its cover motivates us. The achievement of publishing our book is what will get us back to putting those words on paper and getting it done.
If you’re motivated away from something that means that the thought of putting ‘write my book’ on your New Year’s resolution list again is a huge disincentive. If the thought of people asking how your book is going and having to tell them its still a work in progress frustrates you – then that feeling is more likely to motivate you to get it finished and published.
Use that motivation, those feelings, to drive your momentum to get your story out there.
I’ve been coaching people to write their books for years and the most common reason people give me for not having written their books is a lack of time.
That is not an excuse – our lives are busy. With work study, caring responsibilities – these days children and elderly parents, and running a household – its easy to see why the things we want to do get dropped off the end of our overflowing daily to-do lists.
I wanted to work out how much time busy people would have to commit to get their book written. I went back to the drawing board and to my surprise I discovered it was 10minutes a day.
Surprised? Me too! Don’t believe it? Me either. Except…
I started testing the theory in my online writing tribes – in challenges and with my coaching programme clients. Guess what – it really works! We’ve been testing the 10minute method for more than two years and the results have been phenomenal.
One of my writing tribe members started writing her story in March 2018 in one of my writing challenges. By November 2018 she had finished and published her book. She is not the only one.
Let’s look at the numbers…
The average person writes 40 words per minute (wpm) but let’s be conservative and assume its 20 words per minute.
The average business or non-fiction book is 50 000 words and a novella becomes a novel at 50 000 words. So, 50 000 words seems an excellent place to start. Of course, with self -publishing the word length is completely down to you.
10minutes a day x 20wpm = 200words
200 words x 7 days per week = 1400 words per week
50 000 words divided by 1400 words = 36 weeks
Did you know that…
200 words is less than half a page of typed text, single spaced in 12 font. 400 words is less than a full page of typed text, single spaced in 12 font.
Most of us can write 200 words in an email so can comfortably write 200 words each day. If you’re not sure, test the theory. Write 200 words on a subject of your choice and see how long it takes you. You will be surprised how little effort and time it requires.
Remember that you will know what you’re going to write about in your book, so writing something random will be slightly harder than it will be when you are telling your story or sharing your expertise.
So, I just write 10minutes a day – it’s that easy?
Yes and no – there are couple of rules:
There are very good reasons for these rules.
Our brain is divided into two parts.
The left side of our brain is the logical side. We are used to accessing that part of our brain for our work, study and even running our households. Accessing it and staying there is easy because use it often.
The right side of our brain is our creative side and unless you have consistently used it for some sort of artistic pursuit then, like the rest of us, you will find it harder to access and more difficult to stay there.
Writing is done using the creative side of our brain and editing, reviewing and researching us the logical side of the brain. Jumping between the two is a recipe for writer’s block.
The creative side of your brain is like any other muscle – the more you use it the stronger and better it gets. Write every day even when the words aren’t flowing – that is the only way.
’What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’…. And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’ Maya Angelou
Where can you find 10minutes a day? This might be the easiest question to answer…
10minutes is not hard to find – I know someone who wrote their first crime novel in their lunchbreaks.
Again, this is an easy one. Most writers do not live a glamorous life with spare desert islands or home offices perfectly positioned in English woodlands surrounded by bluebells. I’m not saying they aren’t out there – just that most of us are writing on the kitchen table. Don’t wait for the perfect place or space to write.
As Dan Poynter says, ‘If you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer; you’re a waiter.’
Stephen King wrote in a trailer he shared with his family, with a child’s desk jammed over his knees. He wrote two of his books like that.
You can write in a library, a café, on a park bench – or like the rest of us on our tables at home, surrounded by the debris of real life. Not having space is an excuse!
Great news! Writing isn’t about talent – it’s about persistence.
Stephen King says that if you can string a coherent sentence together you are a competent write, with a lot of practice and some help you can be a good writer.
That is good news – talent is elusive and subjective – persistence and practice are not. The more you write the better you will become – simple!
If you are prepared to be persistent and consistent you will prevail. Don’t take my word for it – here is what Ray Bradbury has to say…
My writing tribes will tell you that I am constantly quoting Stephen King, so here I go again.
Stephen King agrees with Ray Bradbury, he says, ‘If you don’t have the time to read, then you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.’
Again – this is easy – just start writing … it is that easy.
Neil Gaiman says, ‘This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.’
Margaret Atwood agrees, ‘A word after a word after a word is power.’
But…how do you get to that stage?
Here are some great steps to get you started…
Step One – Decide what you want to write.
Do you want to write fiction or non-fiction?
Step Two – Decide which book you want to write first.
This sounds obvious but it is very common for writers to try and shoehorn everything they know into their first book. It doesn’t feel like it now but there will be other books, blogs and articles so keep it relevant. If you try to put everything you know in one book you will just confuse your readers and, let’s face it, it’s all about them.
Step Three – Decide whether you are a plotter or a pantser?
Some people plan their books and some don’t. To keep your content relevant – everyone who writes non-fiction should draft an outline but if you’ve heard ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’ – ignore it. In fact, ignore any advice that tells you HOW you should write. You should do whatever gets those words on paper. We are all different and many of waste time following advice because we are not all the same.
Let me give you an example – James Patterson writes comprehensive plans of his books – every chapter is planned meticulously and he (and his co-authors) follow those plans. He is a very successful author. Stephen King refuses to plan his books – he starts with a character and a situation. He is also a very successful author.
What works for some does NOT work for others. You need to find your way. The writing and planning style that works for you.
See my blog ‘Get started on your book’. This blog covers deciding which book to write and drafting your outline. By the time you finish the step by step guide you will be ready to simply write your book.
How will you know that it is working?
You will get your book written – that’s how! Which brings me to my next point – maintaining momentum and finishing your book. Click on this link for my ‘How to get your book finished’.
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