As a book coach I find one the biggest challenges writers encounter is procrastination. Strangely, as excited as they are about publishing a book, many falter at the starting line, when suddenly a million priorities pop up like dandelions after a spring rain.
- I don’t think this is because writing a book is hard work: it is, so what?
- I don’t think this is because they are lazy: they are not. They are actually high-achieving superstars.
- I don’t think it’s because they don’t have something important to share with the world: they do, and how!
If we are all on a hero’s journey, then we also represent an archetype of our higher natures. This means we harbor saboteurs (old habits), such as procrastination, that hold us back. Procrastination and perfectionism are bosom buddies. Many people who yearn to write a book seem fearful that if the words aren’t perfect the instant they put fingers to keyboard – it means they aren’t clever enough to tell a story about their purpose and passion. Enter procrastination, who whispers in their ear, “Do it later, after you think about it some more. Here. Have some toffee. You’ll feel better.”
Did you ever do anything perfectly the first time you attempted it? A homerun the first time you stepped up to bat? A perfect souffle the first time you cracked open The Joy of Cooking? Smooth sailing the first time you drove a car in rush-hour traffic? Not likely. The perfectionist in you probably tried to talk you out of it immediately. But you wanted it badly enough to push through, to work through the crunchy bits (there will always be crunch bits), and finish the job.
Delay tactics simply don’t work when it comes to pursuing your passion. There is no later when that uncomfortable itch magically fades and the book writes itself. There is no writer alive who hasn’t stared at a blank page (screen) with thunderstorms of anxiety crashing in their brains. The writers who actually publish want it bad enough to bravely push through the doubt, through the misgivings, through episodes of bad grammar, and slog their way courageously to writing the last sentence in the last paragraph of the last page. They want it badly enough to write a crappy first draft and keep going.
The truth of the matter is publishing a book is thrilling. But so is zip-lining or bungy-jumping. It’s not for everyone. Starting and finishing the challenge of committing your genius ideas to the speculation and public opinion is enough to stop many would-be writers from walking straight up to their destiny, looking her in the eye and kissing her on her sweet lips and saying “I’m in. Choose me.” Writing a book isn’t for sissies, but with vision, a bit of grit, and maybe in collaboration with someone who has stared down the blank page and survived, it is totally possible.
Cynthia Gregory is an award-winning author and founder of Journal Camp writing workshops. She lives in Sonoma, California with her two rescue pups: Winston and Blue. To join her six week Author! Author! Bootcamp starting in January 2021, go to Eventbrite: Author! Author! 2021, or visit www.cgregorycreativity.com