What if you want to write a book, but you can’t get started?
An old friend took a six-month sabbatical from teaching so that she could finally write a novel, but didn’t write a word. She’s given up, for now — she says she may try again one day, when she has “more time.”
Many people give up on their dreams. We discussed this at a writers’ group meeting earlier this year. One author believes that my friend put too much pressure on herself. She said: “Telling yourself that you’ll write a book is dangerous. You’re asking for self-sabotage.”
Write a book: take baby steps
An author who’s completed her first book said that it’s best to take baby steps. She believes that you need to get used to using your imagination and writing first.
We collected some useful tips which may help if you want to write a book but can’t get started.
1. Build a writing habit: write in your journal
From the article on creating a writing journal to enhance your creativity:
Try making a commitment to writing in your notebook every day, even if it’s just a short sentence. Or a shopping list. Or a task list.
If you’re not writing, you build up “writing” as something big and scary in your mind. Journaling makes the writing process much less intimidating.
Many authors find that they start writing their book in their journal. You get an idea, which sparks another idea, and before too long, you’ve started a novel or nonfiction book without being aware of it.
2. Collect nuggets of gold: what’s interesting to you?
It’s impossible to write if you aren’t inspired.
I’m not suggesting that you must have inspiration to write — you don’t. However, if you’re writing at book length, you need to become inspired at some stage or you won’t finish your book.
Inspiration is a mystery. One way to trigger it is to follow your interests and passions. Authors are magpies. We collect bright, shiny things. If you do this, don’t feel guilty — keep doing it, sooner or later, you’ll become inspired.
For example, an article, Putting Ancient Recipes on the Plate, intrigues me. I’ve read it several times. It’s sparked ideas for a novel set in Pompeii… I may write that novel.
I use my favorite writing tool Trello to collect my gold nuggets; I can use Trello anywhere, whether on my phone or tablet.
If you decide to use Trello, create a board or two, just for your nuggets. I have two boards for my nuggets: a Miscellaneous Research board, and another board: Interesting/ Follow Up.)
When you collect nuggets, you’re hoping that one nugget will combine with another to create something which excites you. Your inspiration ignites and you don’t need to force yourself to write; on the contrary, it’s hard to stop yourself.
3. Keep writing, even if you have doubts
When you’re writing a book, both before you start, and while you’re writing, you have doubts.
These doubts are natural. Action — writing every day — won’t eliminate those doubts, but if you persist, your doubts will fade away.
Can you write a book?
Of course you can. Get started.
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