17 Mar 89. When Writing a Whole Book Seems Overwhelming
When you think of writing a whole book does it seem like a herculean task?
Lots of would-be authors get stuck at the start line because the process itself can feel overwhelming.
Any thoughts like this are normal, but they don’t have to stop you.
In this episode, I give you 3 simple ways to get past that feeling of overwhelm so you can write your way to the finish line.
For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis.
Mentioned in This Episode
Jump-Start: A free guide to help you jump-start your nonfiction book.
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Complete Author Coaching (1:1 Coaching)
Hey there and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach, Candice L Davis.
I hope your week and your writing are both going well.
I’m recording this after just finishing a webinar with an author whose work I only found last week but who I already admire.
He writes in personal development, but interestingly, the conversation turned to writing and publishing, so obviously that was fun for me.
This author has written six books according to my quick Amazon search but who knows? There may be more out there that I missed.
Six books. Good for him, that’s great. I mean it really is. He’s doing something he loves. He’s using his books to land celebrity clients as a motivational trainer and coach. And he’s been interviewed by huge media outlets.
He’s also delivering huge value with his books. I wish you could have seen the way people raved over him and his books on the webinar. It’s obvious his books have a positive impact on people.
He’s in a great place in his career as an author.
But while he was giving his very engaging and funny and informative interview, I kept thinking about some of the people I’ve met who said they wanted to write books but never did.
I’ve met lots of people who said they wanted to write books but, years later, when we cross paths again, they still haven’t written anything.
And off the top of my head, I can think of at least 3 people who are absolutely brilliant and have at least as much to offer as this gentleman has, but they still haven’t written their books.
I’m not in a mood to throw anyone under the bus, so I won’t name names.
Many of these people get stopped at the very thought of writing a book.
The idea of writing a whole book seems overwhelming.
Whenever they think of sitting down to write, they think of trying to write 300 pages, and they become paralyzed.
The idea of writing a whole book can absolutely be overwhelming.
If you’ve ever felt that way, congratulations. You have a human brain that functions like most other human brains.
Listen. Writing a book is a relatively big project. There’s no way around that. It’s not as big as building a rocket ship but bigger than baking a cake.
So it’s understandable that sitting back and looking at the project as a whole would be overwhelming.
As with any big project, breaking your book down into smaller tasks is the first step to get past overwhelm.
The first 10 or so episodes for this podcast will give you a process for that.
But what do you do when you sit down to write and that overwhelm rears its ugly head.
You’re just settling in to write a few pages for chapter one, and your brain keeps telling you, “I’ve got so much to write. This is going to take forever. I’m never going to finish writing this book.”
Those kinds of thoughts are normal even after you’ve written 50 or 100 pages.
But just because they’re normal doesn’t mean you have to tolerate them or accept them.
When you’re faced with those kinds of unhelpful thoughts, the most effective thing I’ve found you can do is to acknowledge them, process them, and get to the other side.
There are endless ways to do that, but when you’re in the moment, it can seem impossible.
So let me share with you 3 tools that have worked for me and for my coaching clients when we’re faced with overwhelm before a big task—in this case writing your book.
If you’re familiar with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, then you’re familiar with morning pages.
Ms. Cameron recommends you take a few minutes and write three pages of whatever’s on your mind, by hand, stream of consciousness, everything that comes up for you.
This is a great practice for clearing your mind.
However, when you’re dealing with thoughts of overwhelm about writing, I suggest a slightly different twist on the process.
Write out all those thoughts. “I’m never going to finish. This is too hard. I don’t have enough to say to fill fifty pages, much less a hundred!”
Just dump them all out on the page, and yes, I strongly suggest you do this by hand.
But don’t stop there.
The next step in my process is to respond to those thoughts on the page.
Actually write out the answers you’d give if you were talking to someone you love who’s facing the same sense of overwhelm.
If your best friend came to you and said, “This book is really important to me, but I feel like I’m never going to finish,” what would your response be?
Write that all out, and see how it moves your state in a more positive direction so you can take action and jump into writing.
The second thing I recommend you do is a similar practice, but the focus is on having compassion for yourself.
Take 5 or 10 minutes to write a letter to yourself. I’ve talked in a previous episode about writing a letter to your book, but this is different.
This is a letter expressing compassion for the overwhelm you’re feeling and encouraging yourself to write anyway.
In the letter, remind yourself of why you’re doing this and what your vision is for this book and the positive impact it will have on your readers.
And then get to writing your book.
The key to this letter writing is to do it with kindness and encouragement but not to fall for your own excuses. Acknowledge them, and push yourself to write anyway.
Write out your commitment to your writing goal for the day, and then go do the work.
I write myself this kind of letter almost every day.
It rarely has anything to do with writing because that’s not where I typically face overwhelm, but I certainly face challenges on other projects.
This letter, which might be six sentences or twenty-six sentences, helps me make that shift in mindset that’s a lot harder to make when I’m beating myself up.
And finally, if you’re facing overwhelm, reach out to someone who has been there and can talk you off the overwhelm ledge.
Obviously, you don’t want to overdo this if you’re reaching out to your one friend who has successfully written a book.
You might not want to call her every day, but it can certainly be helpful to reach out and just get the support of someone who’s been there.
And if you haven’t bought her book yet, make sure you do before you go asking for free advice.
That’s just good manners. And leave an honest but positive review of her book on Amazon and Goodreads.
If you’re working with an author coach, please take advantage of that relationship.
Message your coach when you’re stuck in whatever way you’ve agreed to be in contact.
Sometimes, my new coaching clients hesitate to reach out to me on Voxer because they think they should be able to figure it out and get over the overwhelm by themselves.
But I make it clear to my one-on-one clients that they can Voxer me at any time if they feel stuck.
I can’t always answer right away, but I’m here to coach them through those moments.
You can write your way past overwhelm with this twist on Julia Cameron’s morning pages.
You can write your way past overwhelm by showing yourself compassion while still requiring yourself to meet your writing goals for the day.
And you can reach out for help from a trusted friend who has successfully done what you’re trying to do or from your author coach.
There’s never a good reason to sit in overwhelm.
Move past it, and write your book.
That’s all for this week’s episode, my friend.
If you want some help getting started with your book, access my free video and guide at CandiceLDavis.com/jumpstart. It will walk you through 5 steps to get a jumpstart on your book.
Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words, I’m your author coach Candice L Davis, and I’ll see you next time.
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