Some thoughts about writing books
It’s been approximately 2.5 weeks since I published my book Community Heroes. In those weeks, I’ve had the time to reflect, relax a little, disconnect, and, in fact, move to a new apartment (which was obviously planned well in advance).
One of the things I thought about during this time was, unsurprisingly, my overall experience of writing my book. I reflected on what I liked, disliked, and various other insights about it and decided to summarize these thoughts into the following blog post. Enjoy!
Like and Dislike
It’s a bit self-indulgent to say, but I have to admit that the most satisfying thing about writing a book is finishing it and getting recognition and compliments for it. C’mon, deep inside we’re all profoundly insecure people that need some degree of validation from our peers to make us feel like worthy human beings.
Speaking of self-indulgence, another extremely gratifying aspect of writing a book comes from when you write a really, really fantastic sentence or paragraph. I realized this when I was proofreading my manuscript; there were times when I genuinely thought “Wow, this is actually really good. I can’t believe it!”
I think this meant something to me because, like everybody else, I too constantly question myself. I know I’m a good writer, but… am I really a good writer? So when I was proofreading my content and found excerpts that really made me feel good and proud about myself, I was able to quash some of that lingering self-doubt. Defeating your inner demons is very nice, even if only temporarily.
That said, as romantic as the idea of writing a book may sound, it eventually becomes work. It becomes tiring and stressful just like any other job (work) does, which means that I frequently questioned myself and wondered whether what I was doing was really worth it. I became irritated with myself and, given that it is such a solitary practice, realized that writing really can be a terribly lonely affair.
Another extremely uncomfortable aspect of writing a book relates to having to market it to people that you know. I have no problem whatsoever with marketing it to strangers. But to people that I know? Ugh, I rather pluck my own eyes out. It feels gross, pushy, not genuine, and just utterly unpleasant. However, it’s a necessary evil because the easiest place to market your book is to people that already like you (and people in your network). As a result, I just have to get over myself and force myself to be at peace with it. Nevertheless, be warned; marketing your book to people you know and to your network is will make you feel very uneasy.
At the end of the day though, the most wonderful part of writing a book is, quite simply, the fact that you did it. The fact that, despite constantly questioning yourself, dealing with lingering self-doubt and annoyance about yourself, and wondering if your time isn’t better spent doing something else, you actually accomplish your goal and can proudly call yourself an author.
And that, my friends, is priceless.
You can do it. you can write a book
I know, it’s terribly cliché, but I mean it. Based on my experience, I genuinely believe that each and every person in the world can write a book. I don’t think one person is innately more capable of doing this than anybody else, so you can discard that theory immediately.
It comes down to how much you want it, how much intrinsic motivation you have, and, most importantly, how much time you’re willing to put into it. In fact, if you forced me to pinpoint just one factor that most contributed to my ability to write Community Heroes, it was, without a doubt, the time and effort that I spent on perfecting my writing skills. Which brings me to my next point.
I didn’t just wake up one day and suddenly write a book. My journey of writing it started when I first committed to a habit of writing, which was around early 2010 when I first started journaling for myself. When I started journaling, I didn’t think to myself “I just need to keep this up for 8 years and I’ll have a book published in 2018!”
Of course not.
I kept writing because I had to; I had so much on my mind I needed to get out of my head that I felt compelled to write. Writing was the only practice that could satisfy the psychological mess that I was at the time. As the years went by and my mental state stabilized, my writing habit became more formal and I was eventually asked to become a contributor for an awesome website.
Spurred by that vote of confidence, I started to believe in my writing abilities and launched my own blog and website in December 2016. I put more time into writing, learned from the best in the trade, vastly improved my writing, and realized that this was something that could be extremely useful and powerful in my personal and professional life. Writing a book, therefore, was a logical and natural next step that followed from a habit that I started many years ago and practiced on a very regular basis.
Optimism and Cynicism
My message here is twofold and touches both the extremely optimistic and very cynical sides of the equation. On the optimistic side, I want to reiterate that I wholeheartedly believe that any person in the world can write a book. You can do it, your brother can, your sister can, and your neighbor Joe can. People think that every author was born with some divine, superhuman ability to write. That’s completely false.
As I described in my own case, every author had to spend many years learning and perfecting his/her craft. It all starts with a daily habit and routine that you dedicate yourself to, the day you say to yourself “I will write for 30 minutes every day, no matter what.” If you’re willing to do that for years — if you’re willing to learn to listen to and learn from the best — then I guarantee you that you will reap the fruits of your labor.
On the cynical side, however, don’t think that you’ll just wake up tomorrow, be inspired, start writing your book, and, in a few months time, have it ready for release. It will take years. No, that’s not hyperbole. It will take years of practice before you’re ready to write a book. Like I said, this is why it’s crucial that you commit to a daily/weekly schedule of writing, writing, and writing some more. Remember, this is something that I explained in detail in my Writing Guide, which you can get for free if you subscribe to my email updates.
I know, I know, you don’t want to wait for years. You want that sweet, glorious success right now. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. So I leave it to you, dear reader. Only you know whether you have the patience, the perseverance, and the intrinsic motivation to put years of effort into a craft. However, once you’re finally ready to write your first book, and you eventually publish it, you’ll immediately be ready to write your second one. And your third one. And all the ones after that.
So here’s to hoping that every person reading this publishes his/her own book(s) one day.
And here’s to hoping that you all become far more successful than I ever do.
See you, Space Cowboy.