5 Reasons NOT to Write a Book

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Every person has a book in them. Many authors and wits have responded to that idea with the observation that, “it ain’t necessarily so.” Somerset Maugham put it this way in his memoir, The Summing Up.

“There is an impression abroad that everyone has it in him to write one book; but if by this is implied a good book the impression is false.”

That may not be you. Like most of my clients, you may want to write a good book. You may even have the experience, expertise, and insight to write a good book. But there are still several good reasons to avoid that temptation. Here are five of them.

Writing a good book is hard work.

Forget those stories you’ve heard about how “the book just came to me,” or “I just started writing and the ideas flowed.” That may have happened a couple of times in the history of humanity, but it’s not how it is for most of us.

Great writing is rewriting. You’ll craft a first draft that will be awful. Then you’ll rewrite it again and again and again. A lot of the “good” in a good book comes from the hard work of refining and sharpening a less-than-good first draft.

Writing a good book takes a long time.

Most of my clients write business books. Those books usually take a year or more to get to the stage where the manuscript is ready to hand to a professional editor.

You’d better love your topic. You’d better enjoy the journey. Your motivation will run out after the first couple of writing sessions are done and the euphoria of starting wears off. After that you need discipline, and you must enjoy the process.

Making time to write is hard.

You won’t “find” time to write. Your calendar is probably already full. You have a life filled with things to do and relationships to enjoy.

Time to write will not magically appear on your calendar. You must make time to write by spending less time on something else. You’ll need several large chunks of time to write well. You’ll need them spaced fairly close together to help you maintain momentum.

Your choices have consequences. Not all those consequences are good.

Taking time to write from sleep is a bad idea.

One common bit of advice to new authors is either get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later and use the time for writing. That is bad advice. When you don’t get enough sleep you may shorten your attention span, degrade your judgment, and increase anxiety and irritability.

Writing is deep work. You do it better when you’re well-rested. In other words, you will probably need more sleep when you start writing your book, not less.

Writing a book can shred your relationships.

You may think you can take time away from family and social obligations. That can work, but only for a while.

The people who love you know that your book is important to you. They love you, so they’ll forgive you the time you take from them to write your book. But that can stop without warning.

You need the support of the people you love while you’re writing your book and long after the book is finished. You need to make time to write that doesn’t steal important time from your relationships. If you have kids, you need to make time to write that doesn’t cause you to skip the wonders of their growing up.

The bottom line is that you must craft a solution that works for you. It won’t be easy, which is why these five things may be legitimate reasons not to write a book just now.

Takeaways

Writing a good book is hard work.

Writing a good book takes a long time.

Making time to write is hard.

Taking time to write from sleep is a bad idea.

Writing a book can shred your relationships.

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