There is a book inside you.
There has to be. Why else are you reading a post about writing a book?
Getting that book out, of course, is the extremely difficult part. The words don’t come out as we imagine. The time to write shrinks as life gets busier.
And so many questions vex us — so many lies that we tell ourselves to avoid the challenge ahead.
But you have to write your book. It’s one of the greatest driving forces in your life.
4 Lies That Stop You From Writing Your Book
Before you can get started, you have to confront and reject the four lies that have probably been keeping you from writing the book of your dreams. Tackle these lies head-on, and replace them with the truth:
1. It has to be long
How long should a novel be? Is there an exact number of words or pages for it to be a success?
This question can certainly stop us in our tracks. The idea of writing a novel always seems enormous, like climbing the world’s tallest mountain.
Yet there is no rule about how long the book has to be. That’s up to you.
Sure, there are genre-specific suggestions about word counts. The good news is that most of them are lower than you might think! Especially if you are a new author, agents and editors want to see how much story you can tell with fewer words, saving on publishing costs.
There is no absolute book length that works. Of Mice and Men is 30,000 words long, while A Game of Thrones is 300,000.
It’s up to you and your creative process, so don’t let false expectations and fear tell you that your book won’t be long enough to count.
2. I have to have the story figured out
This lie is a crippling one. It demands perfection even before we’ve started.
Yet it is impossible to know exactly how our stories are going to go before we’ve written them. Every attempt at a story runs into surprises and roadblocks. Our plans, no matter how exhaustive, always fail to materialize just how we thought they would.
This is completely natural — and it’s really, really good!
Yet our inner perfectionist makes impossible demands. It suggests that deviating from your plan is somehow failure.
But this is a lie! Creativity is deviation from the plan! It is finding solutions when logic and order don’t work!
So while it is extremely wise to have a plan, and know where your story is generally going, don’t give up on your book dream just because you haven’t created it yet!
3. I’ll start but I won’t finish
My favorite Shakespeare play is Macbeth, which features one of my favorite storytelling devices: the self-fulfilling prophecy. By resisting the witches, Macbeth brings about his own tragic doom.
Unfortunately, this trope extends into real life, especially with artists like us. We long to create, but fear that we lack the discipline or talent to finish something good.
So we give up before even starting. Hence, the self-fulfilling prophecy.
Don’t let this lie seduce you. It is especially seductive because it delivers a sense of false control: “If I don’t start, then I won’t fail,” the thinking goes.
To fulfill your dream of writing a book, you have to commit to finishing, no matter what. Even if you fall off the wagon for a season, you can still get back in the writing groove.
But you have to get started first.
4. No one’s going to read it
This is similar to the previous lie because it speaks a prophecy that we fulfill on our own. “No one’s going to read it, so I just won’t write it,” we think to ourselves.
What a tragic lie! Our struggling self-confidence produces tangible failure, all by doing nothing!
We can’t know who’s going to read or buy our book yet. We just can’t. By the time we’ve finished writing it, our life situation will have changed because time rolls on.
I will say this, though: Very few people actually fulfill the commitment to write a book.
Most hem and haw, mumbling about “wishing” and “someday.” Very few actually do it.
By writing a book, you will attract readers to yourself, especially if you serve those readers along the way.
One popular way of writing a book is to blog it, as Andy Weir did with The Martian. One chapter at a time, he posted to his website and slowly gathered a following. While he is certainly a rare and privileged case, it shows how giving and serving with our writing can solve our readership problem.
Commit to Your Book
There’s a book inside of you. That’s why you’re on this website, looking for help with your writing.
Whether it’s 100 words a day, 500, or 1000, commit to working on your book every day.
Join a community, like a local writer’s group, Becoming Writer, or the 100 Day Book Program. Hold yourself accountable by joining other writers with a similar dream as yours.
But whatever you do, own the reality that you are a writer with a dream. There is a book inside of you that is longing to be written. It won’t be easy. It never is.
But it is beautiful and totally worth it.
So commit to your book today, and begin the journey that will change your life forever!
Have you committed to writing your book? Share how you’re keeping up with your commitment in the comments below!
For fifteen minutes, begin working (or continue working) on the book idea you have committed to. When you’re done, share your writing in the comments. Let us know what your biggest challenge has been in keeping your commitment to this book, and how you meet the challenge! And if you share, be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers!