It’s been almost two years since my dear friend Sue passed away. She was a vibrant 58-year-old woman who gave her time and compassion to our community. On the day of her funeral the church was overflowing with mourners. And I was asked to speak. But I struggled. You see Sue died unexpectedly. And it left a gaping hole in our lives.
Sue was one of those ‘center of the universe’ type women to those who knew her. The church secretary, captain of the local EMT unit, mother of two daughters and a devoted daughter herself caring for her mother who had cancer. And boy, did she have stories. Especially over a glass or two of wine. And her stories would have made an awesome book.
Yes, I am sharing Sue’s story to get your attention. And I share this story to help you understand my mantra for this year and every year from here on out:
Don’t let a lifetime of experience wait a lifetime to be shared.
I talk with a lot of women who know they have a book in them. It’s amazing how often the mention of writing a book sparks animated conversation. Most women believe that they simply don’t have time to write a book. In fact, women are overloaded managing career, business, family, and personal responsibilities. Most think ‘it will have to wait until I retire.’ But putting it off means you lose valuable insights and details that are vivid right now. And you miss the power and leverage that being an author and expert will give you right now.
The fact is finding the time is quite simple. Not easy, but quite simple. The secret to finding time is getting out of that overwhelmed, overloaded mindset.
One of my favorite authors, Jen Sincero puts it this way:
“When we are forced to do something, suddenly the time is there. Which means it's there all the time, but we’ve just chosen to limit ourselves by believing that it isn't.”
I know many women who are far busier than you and I who found the time to write a book. Make that several books. How did they do it? In a word: priority. They made the choice to make their book a priority.
How did they make it a priority? They chose to stop doing some things temporarily. They fit it in wherever possible, like weekends. They put it on their schedule and stuck to it. Some even got up at 4 AM to write. And they annoyed a few people in the process. Because it was that important. Because it was a priority.
And speaking of priority, another one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, made this comment during a recent keynote address:
"So what's your favorite TV show? Really? Must be great to have time to watch TV..."
These six steps are a few things women do to make writing their book a priority:
1) Make it public. Tell your friends and family, colleagues, post it on social media. My clients find that publicizing their book journey means lots of people are expecting you to get it done. It’s a great motivator.
2) Take inventory. Find some quiet time to take inventory of your current schedule and responsibilities. Make a list and identify tasks that could be postponed, delegated, or eliminated entirely.
3) Be patient with yourself. It may take some time to reduce your workload. Don't panic and think that you've got to free up all this time immediately. Small steps are still steps, and are often even more effective than big ones. Pick one time-drainer to eliminate in the first month. Then another and so on.
4) Build the habit. Stick with it until you find a new rhythm that works for you. Allow time for this writing thing to become a habit. Like exercising or putting on makeup, let it become part of your routine.
5) Build the habit (Part 2). Set a regular time in your calendar for working on your book. Make it non-negotiable, like a medical or hair appointment. Because it is that important to you as a woman and author. Remember, it’s a priority.
6) Be an author. Shift your mindset into author mode by calling yourself an author. Remember when you first started a business? First became a wife or mother or athlete? It’s awkward at first to call yourself those things. But it gives you a sense of pride and purpose.
Now I know what you’re thinking; I have a major project coming up, I’m traveling a lot this quarter, I’m under a lot of stress already. In fact, it may simply not be the right time to begin your book journey. Only you can make that decision. But be fair to yourself and your potential audience. Be sure you’ve taken the steps outlined here before you make that choice.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Sue and what she taught me during her time in my life. But I honor her as the inspiration for my mantra. Thanks, Sue. Miss you tons.