I don’t know exactly how many people start a book but don’t finish it, but I bet it’s a big number. If you don’t want to fall by the wayside, here are some ideas about how you can keep good work going.
Two Big Challenges
Most of my clients are mid-career professionals. They face two big challenges.
They’re writing a book while they’re living their lives. Their lives are full to overflowing with relationships, obligations, and things to do. Their first challenge is to squeeze the writing into their already full life.
The other challenge is maintaining momentum. It takes most of my clients a year or more to write their book. That means maintaining momentum for over a year.
Recognize That You’ll Probably Have to Give Up Something
If you’re going to put productive writing into your already full life, you must give up something. Don’t give up sleep. Sleep is critical if you want to do good work and maintain your sanity. And don’t risk your close relationships by cutting back too much. The people who love you will support you and lift you up, but they don’t have unlimited resources or patience.
That means you need to get your time for writing from something else. It might come from recreation, things you do for fun. It might come from revenue. Many of my clients who are independents find cutting back on some revenue-generating work is a good investment while they write a book.
Establish A Writing Habit
You’re more likely to make steady progress if you establish a writing habit. Write at the same time and the same place every time. When you do that, people around you can adjust their schedules to your writing work. And having a regular writing habit sets your mind up to write when it’s time.
It would be nice if you could do that without ever missing a day. That won’t happen. We all miss a day. The trick is not to miss two in a row.
Do Things That Help You Maintain Momentum
There’s an old saying that when you’re up to your backside in alligators, it’s difficult to recall that your objective was to drain the swamp. When you’re writing and trying to make it fit into your life, it’s difficult to recall why you’re doing what you’re doing. So, take time to write down your big why. Review your statement when you need to, so you always keep your eyes on the prize.
Touch your project every day for just a few minutes. Review your files. Write down ideas you’ve had about things to do. Do a little bit of research. Explain your project to someone else. Touching your project every day keeps it fresh.
Always quit a writing session when you know what you’re going to write next. Ernest Hemingway swore that this was the secret of steady progress.
You must give up something to fit writing a book into your life.
Don’t sacrifice close relationships or sleep.
You must maintain momentum for a year or more.
Establish a writing habit.
If you miss one day, don’t make it two.
Remember your big why.
Touch your project briefly every day.
Always quit writing when you know what you’re going to write next.