And it's definitely not some magic outline. (Or a new drafting technique!)
Although people love to pretend that you need a unflinching daily writing practice (!) and a really good outline (!!) with all of your pinch points decided like seven months in advance (!!!) to write a book, it’s been my experience, working with actual writers writing actual books that some people write books with outlines and write every day…and some people don’t.
I’ve not noticed a discernible difference in quality due to approach.
Really, the “how” of book writing only has one right answer: yours. That’s where I actually notice a quality difference; when an author’s approach matches what works best for them, their work is better. Period.
But today we’re not talking about outlines.
What I want to talk about instead is the “around” of book writing. It’s not the outline or the idea that is going to make or break your ability to see the project through this year, or any year. Your book planning material actually doesn’t have a huge bearing on whether or not you will finish your book this year.
Instead, I think it comes down to these five things:
Do you actually want to write the book? Book writing is a lot of work to fake your way though. If you don’t have an actual desire to write, and to write the particular book you are attempting to write, you’re going to have a grueling time ahead of you. If you do have the desire, that little jazzy thrill, deep in your soul? Listen to it. It matters. A lot.
Do you actually believe in your capacity to write a book? And it’s not just the writing. Do you believe in your storytelling capacity? Do you believe that you can stick with a thing for a while, until it’s finished? Ultimately: Do you believe in yourself? Getting to yes here is going to matter everywhere in your life. But it’s especially going to matter here.
Can you generate excitement for your idea? If you’re excited, it’s easier to sit down and write. If you’re jazzed about your story or your book’s ultimate purpose, it’s easier to convince yourself to stick with it when the doubts surface. Book writing’s gasoline, ultimately, is enthusiasm—the opposite of obligation. It’s what’s going to keep you moving forward when things get rough.
Can you decide, and keep deciding, that you’re going to see the project through? No one can make this decision for you. No one can write for you. Book writing isn’t something that happens when the moons align and the magic is rife. It’s a decision you make, and a decision you keep making, every time you make time for your book, even (and especially when) that decision is gentle and full of permission to be human. Commitment is a process, my friends, not an event.
Is there someone in your life that can help you carry the burden of this project when it gets particularly heavy? Books aren’t written in a vacuum. Whether you have a writing group, a book coach, a particularly kind friend, or all three, writers need some support in their lives. There’s a reason we’ve tended towards creative schools and salons, mentors and apprentices. Creative work flourishes in community. Good creative work requires kindness.
These five elements are at the core of everything—every creative project, every finished book. Whether or not it’s consciously curated, this is the environment that’s necessary for creative work to grow.
My mission here is to help you be intentional about using these factors to give yourself the best chance of success. Embrace your desire. Believe in yourself. Be enthusiastic about your creative work. Commit to your work.
And most importantly, get support for the road. It’s long; the journey can be perilous.
You don’t have to go alone.
If you’d like MY support on your writing journey, here are some options.
Sign up for my missive. Each week, I’ll inspire you to write and feel good about it. I’ll be talking in depth about each of these elements directly to my list over the coming month.
Take a free online masterclass with me. I believe that all writing, even book-length projects, can be accomplished with ease. Let's talk about how to make that happen for you.
Enlist my one on one support. Wherever you are, I’ve got your back.