Murphy’s Law and the First-Time Business Author

May 21, 2019 | Writing A Book

You’ve heard of Murphy’s Law, but do you know where it came from? I don’t either, at least not for sure. One origin story says it’s named for a Captain Edward Murphy. He was an Air Force engineer working on a project at Edwards Air Force Base in the late 1940s. No one is sure if he actually said what we call Murphy’s Law or even something very much like it.

It doesn’t matter where Murphy’s Law comes from. If you’re a first-time author, you’ll become very familiar with Murphy’s Law.

Nothing Is as Easy as It Looks

If you’ve never written a book before, it looks easy. All you need to do is make an outline and write your book. If it were that easy, book-writing coaches like me would be out of work.

An idea that seems like it will work in your head rarely gets to the page in the same way. We imagine our thoughts as clear and coherent, but we find out we’re wrong when we try to put them on paper.

The other problem with “just writing it” is that your brain connects ideas in many ways. That’s one of the marvelous features of your brain. But when you write a sentence or a paragraph or a book, you need to take those same ideas and put them in linear order.

Great writing is rewriting because great writing is iterative. You write it. You evaluate it. And you write it again, only better.

Everything Takes Longer Than You Expect

Most first-time authors I’ve worked with imagine that they will have their book done in a few months. Reality is that a year is about the minimum. Sure, you can write a book faster. It’s just unlikely to be a book you can be proud of.

If you’re thinking about writing your first book, it will take you at least three or four drafts to get things right. If you have a full-time job besides writing the book, it will take a year or more to finish those drafts.

I’ve outlined the entire process from concept to published book and put it in a free white paper. Download it here.

If Anything Can Go Wrong, It Will

We plan a project, like a book, when we know the least about it. Things just take longer than you think they will. Sometimes, an event occurs in the world that forces you to rethink or rewrite your book. Sometimes, something happens in your life (illness, accident, natural disaster) that slows you down. Stuff happens.

That’s okay. It’s normal. Don’t craft a perfect plan and try to adhere to it no matter what. Instead, stay agile and take what the world and your life give you.

Bottom Line

Murphy’s Law is a fact of life for you if you’re a first-time author. Nothing is as easy as it looks. Everything takes longer than you expect. If something can go wrong, it will. And one more thing. Murphy was optimistic.

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