Business book authors decide to write a book in one of two ways. Sometimes, the decision is part of a business development plan. More often, the decision is a two-step process.
There’s our perspective business book author going about his or her business in the everyday world. Perhaps they read a book by someone else and think, “I can do that.” Or maybe friends and loved ones tell them, “You should really write a book.” In any case, not much happens right then.
The second step is more decisive. The stars align, opportunities pop up, and the could-be author becomes a would-be author. That’s how it works for most of my clients, who are mid-career business professionals.
If that structure looks familiar to you it’s because it follows the pattern of the classic “hero’s journey.” Their commitment to writing a book is like the mythic hero’s decision to enter the enchanted forest. In both cases, the result is life-changing. And neither the author nor the hero has a clue about what they’re in for.
The Great Ship of Enthusiasm and the Rocks of Reality
At the start, it seems like things will be easy. The author is excited and filled with dreams about great outcomes. He or she probably hasn’t thought much about what it’s going to take to turn that book from concept to reality.
The danger at this point is that you will abandon the project because you run into difficulties you don’t know how to solve. It’s time to remember a bit of rabbinic wisdom: “All beginnings are hard.”
It really is hard. You’re going to have to do things and make decisions about things that are new to you. So do some research. Talk to some people who have written a book to find out what it was like for them. Engage a coach as your spirit guide to the book writing and publication processes.
If you haven’t done it, writing a book can seem oh so romantic! The truth is it’s a slog.
You probably had a pretty full life before you decided to write a book. Now you’ve got to shoehorn the writing into an already packed schedule. Not only that, you’re going to be working on the book day after day and week after week for a year or more. When you’re in the middle of that, there will be times you want to quit.
When that happens, don’t depend on motivation or self-discipline to get you through. Develop solid writing routines and habits instead.
Develop a cadre of friends and loved ones who will support you when times are tough. Remember your why. Get help from your coach. Sure, writing a book is hard. But just about everything important you’ve ever done was hard. Embrace the grind.
Pushing the Book Over the Finish Line
Two dangers lurk when you approach the end of the book writing process. By then you’re tired of the grind, tired of the constant revisions to make things better and you just want to be done.
One danger is that you’ll rush to finish and do slipshod work. Vince Lombardi said, “fatigue makes cowards of us all.” He didn’t say that fatigue also makes us lazy and willing to lower our standards.
The other danger is that you will keep revising the book until it dies a quiet death. You’ll never have a perfect manuscript, so you have to be willing to declare the book done at some point. You’ll need to remember that no book you haven’t finished can help you or your career. It’s scary, but you must let your book go. Great authors finish
Writing a book can do wonders for your reputation and career. It can be a major life achievement. But there’s another way that writing a book is like the mythological hero’s journey. There, lots of would-be heroes enter the enchanted forest, but most don’t make it out. Many would-be authors start writing their books with enthusiasm, but most abandon the project before they’re done.
Don’t be like them. Understand reality. Get help. Embrace the grind. Finish. Reap the rewards.
Enthusiasm can only take you so far.
Know your “why.”
Forget self-discipline – routines and habits will save you.
Writing a book is a grind. Embrace the grind.
Most people who start writing a book never finish it. Don’t be like those people.