My parents saved all the books I had as a child, so I have the pleasure of reading them to my own children. One of those books is a Sesame Street one: The Monster at the End of this Book. It’s an adorable story about Grover panicking about the monster and doing anything he can to prevent the reader from getting to the end of the book. He builds walls, ties the pages together, and tries other various ways to prevent the inevitable. When you get to the end of the book, though, you find out that the monster at the end of the book is your own lovable, furry pal Grover.
When I read this book to the girls recently, I couldn’t help but see a parallel between Grover’s conundrum and the fear that so many writers have about the end of their own book journeys.
“What if no one reads it?” “What if people laugh or complain?” “What if readers realize I don’t know what I’m talking about?” “What if I’m a terrible writer?” And more and more…
But what if you’re getting in your own way? Let’s ask about the positive possibilities.
“What if my book helps someone overcome what they didn’t think they could?” “What if I love writing?” “What if my book inspires someone to do as I did?” “What if I spark change?” “What if I see a positive change in my career because I really am an expert?”
Why let yourself get wrapped up in worrying about the outcome when you can’t predict it before you’ve even started writing? Better yet, why not take steps in the right direction to ensure a positive outcome? You’re in control! So let’s see what you can do.
1) Practice writing. No one sits down and pens a novel without a little practice first, not even geniuses. It takes time to hone your words and feel comfortable developing a work of any length. When you’re starting out, work on shorter articles, essays, blogs, etc., even if they are pieces that no one sees except you. If you’re nervous about writing a book, getting used to writing, especially in your genre and for your specific audience, will help you feel more comfortable.
2) Educate yourself. Take a class, read a book, or do some online courses where you can learn how to write. Having a solid background in how to develop your work will help you feel more confident if you already have the skills to do it, and if you don’t, it will teach you the skills you need. Please make sure that you are looking at materials developed by someone reputable, so you can get the most from your time.
3) Get feedback on smaller pieces. Show your essays, blogs, etc. to someone you trust who will give you honest critique. Writing can expose nerves, but remember that the people you trust to give critique are trying to help you, so appreciate everything they tell you. Don’t make excuses or think they “just don’t get it.” Remember that your readers won’t get it either, so you want to know what you can fix in advance. Learn, and improve.
4) Talk to your audience about their interests. Find out what they really want to know about your topic. When you write to answer those questions or address those pain points, your readers will be more likely to keep reading and recommending your text to others. This means book sales!
5) Work with a coach. If your budget allows, work with a writing coach who can help you write your book. They can guide you through the creative process and suggest approaches or topics to address that you may not have thought about before. They are also great for helping you get over writer’s block, discussing ideas that you’re considering, and keeping you on track with your goals.
6) Work with an editor. Though many writers consider editors to be the devil incarnate (I promise that we aren’t!), editors will help polish your completed book so you can present the best work possible to the public. Not only do they check for missing or misspelled words, but they can also check for ambiguity or something that doesn’t make sense. Depending on the type of edit you request, your editor may move text around to improve flow, as well. Always discuss expectations up front when you hire an editor, so you know what you are getting.
Even if you only incorporate some of these steps into your book writing journey, you will improve the chances of a positive outcome for your book. Have a little confidence in yourself and your abilities! Don’t glue all the pages together and build walls before you even know what will happen. Keep a positive outlook so you don’t sabotage your efforts before you start, and the monster at the end of your book could be a crowd of adoring fans.
If you would like more writing and editing tips, please follow my blog at www.coriwamsley.com/blog and sign up for my emails. I also offer an eCourse, Put Your Passion to Paper, that teaches experts, coaches, and those with inspiring stories how to write a book. Find out more at https://goo.gl/fY2tP1