Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Cynthia Morris, excerpted from her upcoming book, The Busy Woman’s Guide to Writing a World-Changing Book.
Oh, the heady excitement of your book idea! You feel a lot of creative juice about it. Perhaps you have cornerstone content for your business and want to share your message with a larger audience. Or maybe your book is a personal story you hope will inspire or help others. Whatever “it” is, we know it when we find it. We feel a sense of rightness about our book for its ideas ring clearly inside us. We have to get our ideas into a book in order to share them with the world.
There’s evidence from outside, too, that you should write a book. Perhaps people have listened to your ideas and encouraged you to publish them. Or maybe you teach and see how your material changes lives. You feel the call in your bones — your book must be written, and you are the one to write it. Now you are fired up to share your work!
And then… Life happens. Your other obligations take precedence over getting to the book, making it a challenge to devote time to it. Eventually, your idea to write a book becomes more of a burden than a blessing. If only you had more time to focus on it!
Over the decades I have been coaching writers, the most common (and seemingly legitimate) excuse we use is lack of time. It’s easy to believe this is the real obstacle. We’re all pressed for time. But when we look closer, we often find a bigger reason for why we’re not writing: lack of confidence.
Almost everyone I have worked with experiences this simultaneous certainty and lack of confidence about their book.
Worries lurk under the surface:
Who am I to write this book? How will I write it? Will anyone read it? Will it matter?
You know this voice well; it’s your inner critic wanting to contribute practical, sensible advice to ensure your safety. You may not even consider yourself a writer. You might have spelling or grammar weaknesses that keep you from writing. The evidence you shouldn’t write can seem as compelling as all the reasons to write.
When this self-doubt creeps in, we must have tactics to counter it for it will be there nearly every step of the way. One tactic that helps my clients make their writing a priority is to connect to their deep motivation for writing. Simon Sinek calls this our “why.” I call it your rallying cry.
Write Your Rallying Cry
Often we simply need a nod from someone else. A “Yes!” you can do this, or a permission slip to do what we deeply crave. I always encourage my clients to write a permission slip. I recommend the same to you because it’s a simple way to find your motivation and return to it when doubt tries to drive you away from your writing.
Consider why you must write this book now. When you think of your book, its impact on your reader and the way it will change lives should move you profoundly. You’ll know when you hit upon your topic’s core reason for existing — you will feel it deeply. When you connect to this, it can be used to fend off fears.
The free-writing method can help you drive past the doubts and into the heart of the matter. When we let ourselves flow in an uncensored way in our writing, we often access a deeper truth. For this exercise, use free-writing not to justify to the world or yourself why you are legitimate. Instead, free-write to clarify for yourself why you must devote time, energy, and attention to get your idea out of your head and into a book.
Free-writing is easy; it’s simply a timed writing session where you:
- Use a prompt to get started
- Keep your hand moving
- Don’t worry about correctness
- Give your honesty free rein
Use any or all of these prompts to start, or write your own prompt:
- What I love about my topic is…
- What’s important to me about this book….
- I must write this book now because…
Set the timer for 15 minutes. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and go!
When you’re finished writing, set the words aside for a day. Then read them over. As you read your writing, highlight any words, phrases, or sentences that get you most excited about the book. Then, extract one power sentence or phrase that sums up your why for writing this particular book.
This is it, your rallying cry. It will inspire you when you lose your motivation, restore your courage when fear tries to sideline you, and light you up when you need to get your butt to the writing chair or standing desk.
Keep your motivation front and center. Print your rallying cry and hang it in your writing zone. Blaze it on the cover of your author notebook. Make it your screensaver on your phone or computer. Keep your rallying cry in front of you to inspire yourself to do the writing.
Why I Believe You Must Write Your Book
There are plenty of books in the world. But not your book. Not yet at least!
I believe that if your book has been burning unwritten inside you for some time, you have to give it a chance. Our untended creative projects live inside us, pestering us regularly. If we don’t heed the call, we can lose confidence in our instincts. But when we listen to those creative urges and give them space in our lives, we develop a self-trust that allows us to easily make time for the things that matter most to us.
So… Who are you to write a book?
You are the person upon whom your great idea landed. Like a brilliant bird circling for landing, your book idea has alighted on you. It has roosted in your psyche for good.
Your book is an expression of you and what you believe, know, and do. No one else could write this book that you have inside you. This is the book you were meant to write. (Tweet this.)
So write it.
Your inner psyche and the world will thank you.