4 Fears That Are Stalling Your Book
We often cite lack of time among the main reasons that of the 80% of people who desire to write a book, only 3% actually write one.
Lack of time is certainly a valid reason for women in particular. Besides their careers, women still shoulder the bulk of the household and family care workload.
Skeptical about that? See this NPR article, this NYT article, and this Gallup article. And let’s not overlook the time we waste proving ourselves…
Anyway, back to the lack of time. In my experience writing and editing books, lack of time often serves as a convenient cover for the true culprit: fear.
Using lack of time to mask the fear of writing your book may not be intentional, but it sure is handy. For any gender, fear is a serious roadblock in your book writing journey that can stall you for years.
Fear is non-discriminatory. It afflicts all of us regardless of gender, race, age, or socio-economic status. My most successful clients who’ve built multi-million dollar businesses struggle with fear.
What is your favorite fear?
Working with my clients on manuscripts has a way of unearthing the unpleasant reality of fear. Ask any author about their book writing journey and they will tell you it has indelibly changed them. How could rummaging through the past to take an honest look not have an impact? And rummaging through the past is an important step in writing nonfiction, memoir, self-help, and business books.
Fear comes in many flavors, but shows up as some variation of these four:
1. Looking foolish, being wrong, or being found out Ego and lack of self-confidence play an equal role in this one. Some might say that ego is a cover for lack of self-confidence, but that’s an article for another day. Impostor syndrome makes you question yourself, that maybe you don’t really know as much as you thought.
Maya Angelou once said, “I have written eleven books. But each time I think ‘uh-oh. They’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”
Solution: write it anyway. That pesky little voice in your head is fanning this fear, but it can be shut down with good coaching and redirection. Find a book industry professional (editor, book coach, agent, etc.) to give you feedback.
2. Exposing your weakness, emotional side, or past failure Well-received books are the ones that give the reader a peek on the inside, a vulnerable look at the reality of the topic. As the hero or expert, readers want to see how you overcame challenges. It makes you relatable and real. If you want your book to be all sparkles, rainbows, and unicorns, you might consider writing something other than nonfiction. All humans face weakness, emotion, and failure. It’s part of the gig of being a human.
Solution: find a book professional to help you develop these parts of your manuscript. When written well, these stories will become the most powerful parts of your book.
3. Criticism, negativity, or being attacked You don’t have to write a book to become the target of interweb trolls. An innocent post on social media can garner a swift and harsh response these days. It’s an unpleasant aspect of our over-connected, over-opinionated tiny little world.
Solution: find a media/marketing resource who can advise you or manage this part for you. Bottom line - anticipate and be prepared, because it’s going to happen.
4. Risking important relationships Of all the fears you might have, this one is a truly valid concern. Some authors are hesitant to write their accounts of an experience for fear of alienating family, friends, colleagues, or entire industries. Some authors take the “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” approach, figuring they’ll deal with the repercussions on the back side.
Solution: Write your version of the stories. Get them out of your head and onto the page. I tell my clients that just because you write about it doesn't mean it goes in your book. Then find a book professional to review these stories, provide feedback, and help you discern how best to present them, or not.
You probably think that I recommend finding a professional resource in every solution because I am one.
You are right, but only partly so. I recommend that you not take your book writing journey alone because I believe that is dangerous. Dramatic, I know. But stick with me for just a few more sentences.
The best way around these roadblocks of fear is to plow through them. And the best way to plow through them is with the help of a professional, especially if this is your first book writing journey. A little of their perspective goes a long way.
Two more points to ponder: your book will be a significant investment of your time and money, and it will outlast you to become your legacy. It’s worth it to produce the best book possible.
So what’s got your book stalled?
Email me if you'd like to jumpstart your book journey.