You’re going to stop lying to yourself. And I’m going to help. For years, you’ve been telling yourself you’re going to write a book. But deep down, you know it’s not going to happen unless you adopt a new approach.
That’s what I had to do to start and finish writing my first book. I killed every one of my excuses, which were disguised as obstacles. I found a way around them, eliminated habits that were holding me back, and got focused on writing my book.
I changed everything about the way I approached my book project.
Instead of writing sometimes, I started writing every day.
Instead of waiting for inspiration, I followed my outline and wrote (even if I felt uninspired).
Instead of keeping an open completion date, I set deadlines.
Tracked my progress, picked two writing podcasts to follow (not 20 different podcasts, just two), got to the root of what felt most scary about writing and publishing a book, posted in groups (to hold myself accountable), referenced three specific writing books and blogs and put the others out of my mind, and took them off my reading list (at least until I finished my rough draft).
And it worked. All of it.
I don’t know what your specific obstacles are. So, I’ve addressed a massive list of common obstacles aspiring authors face, along with resources that help.
Choose what you need and ignore the others.
Because I help travel memoir writers, toward the end of this list, I’ve included a few that are specific to memoir writing.
You don’t know how to organize your book outline, research, and content.
Some people resist outlining. If you also resist it, but you’ve been struggling to gain momentum and finish your book, try creating an outline. We’re all different but I find writing without an outline almost impossible. My writing is scattered and takes twice as long when I don’t follow some type of structured skeleton. Here are a few resources that may help:
Use an app like Evernote. Here’s a video with how-to-tips for writers:
If Evernote isn’t your thing, try Notion. I love Notion and use it for personal and professional information, and resource organization. But it’s also useful for storing notes and research when book writing. Here’s a video by Sarra Cannon with tips for using Notion for book projects.
The Writer’s Journal is designed for authors, freelance writers, content creators, and anyone who wants to build and sustain a productive writing practice.
You’ve thought about self-publishing, but you’re not sure if it’s best for you.
If you do decide to self-publish, how will you get your book prepped and ready for the market?
You don’t want to self-publish and need help to get an agent.
PODCAST: How To Pitch Your Book To Agents, Publishers And Readers Creative Penn’s Joanna Penn with Kate Harrison.
PODCAST: What Does No Mean? Mur Lafferty of I Should Be Writing Podcast.
You often get writer’s block
You must write something (even if it’s the word ‘something’ repeatedly) UNTIL you start writing purposefully. If you don’t write, you’ll never overcome this feeling of writer’s block. In fact, it tends to get stronger the longer you’ve been feeling it. There’s no magic inspiration download that’ll happen. Quite the opposite. The less you write, the more uninspired you’ll feel. But there may be times when the feeling is overwhelming and you’re stuck for days, weeks, even. You need to figure out what’s stopping you.
ARTICLE: Get Rid of Writer’s Block Once and For All by Jeff Goins.
You’re intimidated by the idea of writing a massive, 250+ page book. You also don’t have the time or motivation.
Depending on your topic, maybe your book doesn’t need to be an epic tome. Maybe you can first publish a tiny book. Alexandra Franzen has an entire COURSE: How to Write a Tiny Book.
Here’s an excellent GRAMMAR RESOURCE: Grammarist.
Remember, you’ll have your opus proofread and edited before it’s published. Stop stressing about the grammar. Start writing.
Get accountability and support help. I run monthly co-writing sessions. We show up, share our skills and resources, and most importantly…we write. Join us! CO-WRITING COMMUNITY.
You find it difficult to sit and write for more than a few minutes.
Years ago I recorded a video on ‘how to read more’ it has much of the same principles needed for writing more. The content is still valid. It’s about focus and concentration.
Also, here are a few of my favorite apps to help you focus on writing:
You don’t think of yourself as a ‘writer’. You’re afraid readers and critics will judge you and deem you unworthy of writing a book.
These thoughts stem from fear. We all have it. You can learn to write despite the fear. Here are a few tools that may help:
FREE EMAIL CHALLENGE: The Writing Courage Challenge– This challenge helps you build a smash through fear and build a consistent writing habit.
Here’s a list of top writing podcasts if you need more inspiration and encouragement: WRITING PODCASTS.
Getting started is half the battle, right? With that in mind, here are a few tools I’ve gathered that will help you:
Here’s a unique PODCAST EPISODE where writer Tim Grahl gets live feedback and advice on the beginning of his book from an accomplished author and editor, Shawn Coyne.
You’re not sure how you structure your memoir.
ARTICLE: How to Structure a Memoir by Marion Roach Smith. An excellent breakdown of memoir structure.
Interested in writing a memoir about your travels? Here’s my ARTICLE: How to Travel Memoir You Can Be Proud Of.
Four of my favorities:
“McDonnell draws on this impulse, as well as on her own experiences as a writer and teacher of memoir, to give us what should become the definitive book on writing ‘crisis memoirs’ and other kinds of personal narrative. She provides specific techniques and advice to help the writer discover his or her inner voice, recognize—and then silence—the inner censor, begin a narrative, and develop it with such aids as photographs and documents.”
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr.
“For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.”
Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart:
“In the tradition of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, a critically acclaimed National Book Award finalist shares inspiration and practical advice for writing a memoir.”
“Done properly, memoir is more than just a recitation of facts about a person’s life. It’s a journey, connecting writer and reader in that shared space where we all experience what it means to be human. “
Whichever tools and resources you choose to help you write your book, they’re all useless if you don’t W-R-I-T-E.
Gather the resources you most need.
Then, sit (or stand) and write. That’s the most important bit. The actual writing.
Butt in chair. Distractions out of reach.
Over and over and over…