19 Mar 91. Are You Really Ready to Write Your Book?
It’s not always easy to know if you’re ready to write and publish your book.
You can have the best book idea in the world.
You can have a fantastic outline and plenty of time and energy to write.
It could seem like all these stars have aligned and you can still not quite be ready to write your book.
In this episode, discover four signs that you’re not ready to write and learn exactly how to get over those obstacles so you can get ready and start writing.
Mentioned in This Episode
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.
In today’s episode, I’m inviting you to reflect on your readiness to write the book you feel called to write, the book you desire to write, and the book helps you fulfill your purpose.
If you’ve been struggling to write, even though you’ve done all the parts of the pre-writing process—you’ve nailed down your subject, you know who you’re writing for, understand the purpose of your book—it might just be that you’re not ready.
I want to encourage you to honestly assess your readiness to write that book.
The good news is that you can overcome any of these readiness obstacles and write your book.
Some of these solutions will take longer than others, but they’re all available to you.
In this case, I’m speaking mostly of memoirs and personal development or professional development books. This would include anything you consider how-to or other instructional non-fiction books.
I’m also including narrative nonfiction in this discussion. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it generally refers to a book that tells stories of people and events that don’t involve the author.
Let’s dive into the 3 signs you’re not ready to write your book.
Sign #1. You constantly reference your guru, teachers, or the book that changed everything for you.
Don’t get me wrong. Of course you can and should credit the people and works that helped you get to where you are.
But you also need to have formed your own opinions. You need to have your own system and your own philosophy.
It’s understandable to be so excited about another author’s work that you want to tell everyone about it. Happens to me all the time.
But if your book is just regurgitating what that author said, or what your coach taught you, or what your “guru” teaches, you’re not ready to write your book yet.
You might just need more time to implement what you’ve learned and garner your own insights from applying that work.
Or try this exercise. Sit down and write a list of the philosophies, strategies, or steps you learned from that person.
Then write out where you disagree, even a little.
Maybe you found a different twist on the process.
Maybe you have a slightly different value system, and your philosophy diverges from theirs at some point.
Make a list of the ways you’ve altered their steps and strategies to make them work for you.
How have you applied what you’ve learned from that expert in ways that might surprise even them?
How have you integrated that knowledge with your other knowledge as well as your experiences to make it your own?
Every expert learned from someone else, but it’s up to you to make that knowledge your own.
Sign #2. You’re telling stories, but you’re not sharing the lessons.
This is particularly obvious in a memoir, but it can pop up in other nonfiction books.
Yes, readers want to hear your story.
And no, you don’t want your memoir to become a preachy, “learn at my feet” sort of book.
But if I read your story and I don’t see any arc, I don’t see how you’ve changed in any way, I don’t see that you’re able to look at the story through a clear lens and extract something from it, your story may seem superficial.
I’m not saying you need to announce, “And this is what I learned from my horrible 5th grade experience.” Not at all.
There are lots of ways to show growth and change and share those lessons in your book.
Just the fact that we see the author grow and change in a memoir is a sort of lesson in itself. A lack of growth can be too, but the best memoirs let you close the book feeling like you learned something through this person’s life.
You might choose to spell out the insights or to write them more subtly in your storytelling and trust the reader to get it.
It doesn’t always have to be some sunshine-and-rainbows lesson either.
If you’re still in the middle of the story, it may be too soon for you to even have any insights about it, much less write about them.
So you may want to delay writing your book until you’ve had more time to process those events.
If you don’t know what the insights are, that’s okay.
As you write, ask yourself: “What did I learn from this? What do I want other people to know about this?”
And then write out your answers in full.
You might decide to cut back all that explanation so it doesn’t weigh down your book.
That’s fine. Sometimes a sentence will do, but going through that exercise will help you get clear about the insights you want to share.
Sign #3. You’re nowhere to be found in the pages of the book that’s supposed to make you an expert.
If you’re writing personal development or professional development, the odds are you want to be seen as the expert.
But why should readers trust you?
Why should they try your system or process or strategies instead of someone else’s?
Some authors just want to share their knowledge and not show up on the pages of their book.
That can work, I guess. But it’s not the most effective way to position yourself as an expert.
Some authors share their stories throughout the book, in every chapter, sometimes multiple stories in every chapter.
You can do that too, but you don’t have to go that far.
Instead, you can convince us of you being the expert from the beginning of the book, and then choose stories, examples, anecdotes, or case studies from clients or from public figures.
And work on getting comfortable being seen now because if you don’t, marketing your book is going to prove quite difficult.
Sign #4. You don’t know what you’re talking about.
I say that jokingly, but also a bit seriously.
If you’re writing about a historical event in your book, but you only know as much as you learned in high school about it, it’s time to do some research.
If you’re touching on statistics of any kind in your book, don’t guess or generalize.
Do your research.
Even when you know a topic well, there are times when research is called for.
Don’t be afraid to do it.
Don’t fall for the lie that everything you write in your book has to come from your own head.
Do your research.
Cite your sources.
And get on with writing your book.
You don’t have to stay stuck.
And you don’t have to write a book that makes you look like the author who wasn’t really ready to write it.
Do whatever you must to get ready to write a book that will outlive you because of its quality.
Use your own ideas—even if they’re inspired by your favorite expert.
Share your insights from stories and events.
Show readers some of you on the page and demonstrate your expertise.
And do your research when you need to.
That’s all for this week’s episode, my friend.
For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis.
Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words, I’m your author coach Candice L Davis, and I’ll see you next time.