Do you know the obstacle to writing your book? (You might be surprised.)

A recent survey of writers claimed overwhelmingly that lack of time was the biggest obstacle to writing their book.

My writing mentor told me once in the beginning of our relationship that the problem of not enough time—my complaint—was  a problem of commitment.  I sensed she was right but I resisted her reply. I wasn’t ready to face the fact that I might have a commitment problem.

So if you are feeling challenged to find time to write, that may be the place to look first.

COMMITMENT:  A promise or resolve to do or give something; a state of being obligated or emotionally impelled

Where does the commitment to write a book come from? What creates or fuels it?

The three most common:

  1. Strong conviction in your idea, your mission, or your story
  2. An inner drive or passion that never lets up, refuses to go away
  3. Momentum that gets created as a result of a regular writing schedule.

For some aspiring authors, the sense of mission predominates. Others rely on passion, many on habit. They all work. But sometimes none of them work. Then what?

It's a Decision

My breakthrough came through another direction that is seldom discussed in articles and books about writing:  self-value.  It was self-value that pushed me to finish my book, make it the best it could be, find an agent, and get published.

Are you worth it? How do you know? Whether you feel confident or full of doubt isn’t actually the issue. Because deciding that we are worth it is a DECISION WE MAKE. And it’s a scary one.

When I decided to value my work I made a decision to be seen, to get my work evaluated, critiqued and rejected. To ask for and receive the feedback that I needed.  I agreed to slog before I could soar, to write when I didn’t feel like it. The commitment was based on my decision to value myself and my work.

Commitment doesn’t mean you don’t struggle

As an editor and book coach, I see writers struggle every day to stay the course. Many authors I work with tell me they wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t give them a deadline. (Yes, deadlines help us to be accountable.  If you’re not working with an editor or coach, join a writing group or take a class.)

As a writer and published author, I still struggle with this every day, and so do most writers that I know.

There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, the writing muse is demanding. You can’t do writing unless you are 100% focused and present.  And given life’s other demands, that can be challenging.  Add to the fact that you’re stuck in chapter 3.

Second, this thing called writing is ephemeral.

Imagine it’s time to write. You pause at the doorway, unsure of whether to go in or not, to knock, to even bother with this THING that isn’t even a thing.  Words. Words strung together in questionable sequences and patterns, words that might be disappeared or never seen or read by you or anyone again. 

I’m talking about the idea you got last night to write a story about your sister’s wedding. Or the sudden change you realize you have to make in your book’s introduction, that came to you as you were putting gas in the car. I’m talking about the writing that doesn’t yet exist. The writing that’s so new it’s still in your head and you can’t have any idea whether it’s “promising” or “crap”.

But you’re discovering. You’re exploring. And I believe it’s a sacred journey that you’re on and I urge you to come to the empty page with a kind of reverence for it and for the creative impulse that longs to fill it!

The phenomena is this:  If in spite of the ethereal unknown quality of what we scratch out, in spite of its probable ridiculousness or even potential genius, when it’s new, when it’s fresh, you can’t know what it is.

You may regard your idea as the grandest you’ve ever had. Or believe it’s complete garbage. The next day when you come back to it, you may discover it has life and is destined to turn into a compelling article, a chapter or story. Or maybe you’ll find yourself smiling and delete the whole thing as a lark. So be it.

1.     Believe your work has value. Remember that belief is a decision you make.

2.     Before sitting down to write, clear your mind.  Set interruptions and distractions aside, including your email and cell phone.

3.     Be faithful to the time you have set, whether it’s 30 minutes or 3 hours. Measure your success by the time you spend writing not what you produce.

Please share with other writers. What helps you value your work and get through the tough times? Do you benefit by a consistent writing schedule?