Top 5 Excuses That May Be Stopping You from Writing a BookBy
Author and book marketer Lynn Serafinn tackles the most common excuses she hears from aspiring authors, with tips for how to move past them and write your book.
Over the years, I’ve worked with authors at many stages of their writing development. While most authors come to me for help with self-publishing and marketing, others come to me because they’ve found themselves stuck somewhere in the writing process. Maybe they have a wealth of ideas but are finding it hard to express them in words and develop them into a book. Maybe they have written hundreds of thousands of words, but they lack cohesion and focus. Maybe they’ve got into a pattern of starting and stopping, and now their project seems to be dragging on forever.
Whatever the scenario, all of these aspiring authors feel frustrated and powerless by the writing process, rather than empowered. The more powerless they feel, the more frustrated they become. The more frustrated they become, the less they feel like writing. And, of course, the less they feel like writing, the less they get done.
Writers are supposed to be great storytellers; but sometimes their greatest stories are the ones they tell themselves. Authors who get stuck in the vicious cycle of non-productivity often do not realise that the problems they are experiencing come from their own stories—their unconscious beliefs about themselves as writers and about the nature of the writing process in general.
The trouble is, once these stories take hold in their belief system, they become justifications and excuses for why their book isn’t getting written. And the more we feel justified in our reasons for not doing something, the more it will NOT get done.
So, for anyone out there who is struggling to start, make progress with, or complete a book project, I’d like to share the ‘Top 5 Excuses’ I’ve heard throughout my years of working with authors. As you read, ask yourself whether or not these same excuses might be getting in your way.
Excuse 1: ‘I can’t find the time to write.’
Truth: There’s no such thing as ‘finding time’. You have to create it.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard authors use this excuse. My response to it might sound brutal, but it’s the truth: there’s no such thing as finding time; you have to make the time.
Saying that you have to ‘find the time’ to write your book means you have not yet given your book top priority in your life. When I set the intention to write a book, I block out chunks of time to get it done. That could (and often does) mean taking a month off from ANY other work commitments, so I can write full-time. Or, it can mean setting aside specific days or specific hours of the day when I am 100% focused on the book project.
Of course, everyone’s life commitments are different. But even if you have a 9-5 job and a family, you can (and must) block out time that is sacrosanct for your writing and nothing else. Even if it’s only 2 hours every Tuesday night, you’ve got to create the space for your book project.
Unless you consciously schedule this time into your life, you will ALWAYS leave your book as your last priority. And when you do manage to write, your book will probably lack cohesiveness. Not creating time to write will also make your project drag on and on, which can dampen your motivation.
Excuse 2: ‘I’m not good enough.’
Truth: NO writer is ‘good enough’ unless they spend time at their craft.
Good writers are the product of diligent practice. If you don’t write because you think you’re not good enough, you’ll never find out how good you can actually be. In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell talks about something called the ‘10,000 hour rule’. This ‘rule’ states that for someone to excel in their craft—any craft—they need to have spent a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice at it.
How long is 10,000 hours? It could be 3 hours a day for roughly 10 years. It could be 6 hours a day for 5 years. Or, it could be 8 hours a day for about 3 ½ years. Gladwell cites several examples of people who spend virtually every waking hour on their craft (such as Bill Gates’ time spent working with computers), showing what it takes to become a leader in any given field.
There’s another ‘rule’ that one of my high school English teachers told me: If you want to learn how to be a great writer, you must first become a great reader. An integral part of honing your craft as a writer is reading. As writers, we read at a different level from those who read simply for pleasure or diversion. Reading improves our vocabulary. It reinforces grammar. It gives us creative and structural ideas. And it deepens our aesthetic appreciation for our craft.
So, if you want to be a good writer, start by writing every day for at least a couple of hours. And when you’re not writing, be sure to read a couple of hours a day. But the one thing that will never get you going is to avoid writing altogether because you don’t think you’re good enough.
Excuse 3: ‘I can only write when I feel inspired.’
Truth: Real writers know how to write ‘on demand’.
This is a HUGE excuse for writers, and it is possibly the one that creates the biggest obstacle. If we wait for the ‘muse’ to touch us with her wand before we sit down to write, we will never get our books written.
Inspiration doesn’t always strike BEFORE we write. Sometimes, you have to sit down and start writing and THEN inspiration will hit you. Back when I was a musician, I practiced every day, whether I wanted to or not. I didn’t feel particularly ‘inspired’ when I went to practice. But after I got started, and I felt my muscles wake up and my fingers move with more dexterity, I started to gain momentum. Sometimes I started out by telling myself that I’d practice only for an hour, but then end up practicing for three, four or even five hours because I got into it.
Make it a daily practice to sit down to write regardless of how you feel. Believe it or not, inspiration will arrive even if you feel totally unmotivated before you start.
Excuse 4: ‘It’s all been done before.’
Truth: Every author has a different story to tell.
I’ve heard this excuse SO many times. An author wants to write a book on a particular subject, but they cite a dozen ‘famous’ authors who have all done it before. This kind of thinking zaps their confidence, and leads many an author to abandon their writing project.
The fact is, even if the ‘story’ has already been told, every author has a unique angle to bring to it. Think of all the best-selling vampire stories on the market right now! If Stephanie Myer had said, ‘Gosh, Bram Stoker’s already said it all,’ her career would never have taken off.
Writing non-fiction is no different. Ok, let’s say you’re writing a book on alternative health. Instead of thinking that authors like Louise Hay have ‘said it all before’, think of ways of citing your predecessors’ work in your own book, and expanding the topic. When I wrote The 7 Graces of Marketing, for example, I cited hundreds of other authors to show my unique angle on the topic of ethical marketing. If I had really wanted to sabotage my efforts, I could have told myself that there were already ‘enough’ marketing books on the market, and that there was no need for mine. That would have been a huge mistake, both for me and for my readers.
You also must remember that every reader has a different preference, and that different authors provide readers with different reading experiences. For example, in the field of personal development, I love Susan Jeffers for her simple, direct style, Martha Beck for her relaxed, humorous style, and Deepak Chopra for his philosophical, poetic style. All of these authors talk about authenticity and inner connection, but they all bring something different to my reading enjoyment.
For a reader, being able to have these varied reading experiences is just like having a rich and varied diet: it makes us healthier and happier. So never doubt that there is room for your perspective on the market.
Excuse 5:’No one will be interested.’
Truth: It’s up to you to create the interest.
The only way people will be interested in your book is if you are really clear about who might be interested in the subject AND you create a way to connect and communicate with them.
By identifying who might be interested, you are identifying your ‘target audience’ (I prefer to call this your ‘ideal’ audience). By creating ways to connect and communicate with your ideal audience, you are making your marketing strategy. Without putting care and attention into both of these things, it’s true: ‘No one will be interested’.
This is where my job as a marketing consultant comes in. I help authors create public interest in their books by identifying their ideal audience and creating marketing strategies. Regardless of whether or not you work with a marketing consultant to do this, it is something that MUST be done to ensure your book reaches the public.
Book marketing is not luck or rocket science; it’s a craft just like writing is. If you want to learn more about book marketing, I invite you to browse through the many free articles on the Spirit Authors website.
And, of course, if you are looking to build a marketing platform for your book, drop me a line via the contact form on this site to discuss the options our team at Spirit Authors have to offer you.
25th September 2013
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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.