“I’ve always wanted to write a book,” is a common reply from people when I tell them I’m an author.
In fact, 81% of Americans feel that they have a book in them and should write it.
That’s about 266 million people and very few will even attempt it. Of those who take the plunge and start writing a book, only 3% will actually finish it.
Why is it so?
The usual suspects (excuses) are:
- They can’t decide on a good idea for the book
- They don’t know where to start
- They are afraid it won’t be good
- They don’t have time to write
I’ve already addressed how to come up with a book idea in another article. Here, I will talk about the lack of time and will give you some tips on how to find time to write and finish your book.
Change your Mindset
It’s amazing how the most busy people on the planet find time to do what they really want, like watching a sports match. They may be postponing important things for weeks, but suddenly there is an opening when a friend comes with tickets to a game or a concert.
Things get moved around or cancelled. Whatever they need to do to make it to the event.
Why? Because it’s something they want to do, it’s something fun and different that stimulates their amygdala (the part of the brain that is the center for emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation).
But writing a book? It sounds like a lot of hard work and the amygdala pulls away from it, just like some people do with exercise.
Have you heard of the phrase, “I don’t have time to go to the gym” or “I don’t have time to workout”?
There’s not a strong motivation, you need a big why to do it; if not, it’s easier to blame a lack of time.
That’s why you need to change your mindset with these three tricks.
1. Let the book idea grab hold of you
Find an idea you are passionate about, one that resonates with your values and that defines your mission in life. Then imagine communicating that idea in a book and making a huge impact on others. Let that idea percolate in your mind as you go to bed each night or as you are commuting or working out.
Keep nurturing the idea in your mind, even if you haven’t written a word.
After a few days or weeks, the idea will make your hands itch, telling you to write it down, until you can’t do anything but write.
2. Focus on the outcomes of publishing your book
How will you feel when you finish your book? What will the business outcomes be?
Perhaps more clients, being recognized as a thought leader, speaking engagements, new consulting and coaching opportunities at higher prices. Your book may feel like a lot of work today but it will bring great rewards tomorrow.
3. Associate the process with something pleasurable
Neuroscience tells us that the greater motivators for human behavior are avoiding pain and gaining pleasure. So, to change your mindset and create the writing habit, you must associate pleasure with the process of writing your book.
Here are three ideas:
💡 Use your most comfortable chair ONLY for writing during the time you need to finish your book.
💡 If you love coffee or tea, drink a cup while sitting down to write.
💡 Reward yourself with something pleasurable (a snack, your favourite playlist) every time you enter your writing space.
That way, your brain will associate the process of writing with something positive and will look forward to it.
Make Writing a Priority
I wrote my second novel between 5am and 7am every day during 3 months.
At 7:15 my two boys would wake up and I had to get the oldest ready for school while my wife took care of our toddler. At 8am, I had to start working at my job.
I had a busy schedule as a parent, husband, employee, and more. But I made finishing my book a priority.
That meant finding time to write when I had no interruptions or distractions.
It was 2009, and I was already working from home, so my best time to write was early in the morning, because:
- Everyone at home was sleeping
- My mind was fresh as I had no mental baggage from the day
- No emails or messages from work would interrupt me at that time
- It was a set time for the purpose of writing, so there was no need to multi-task
Waking up before sunrise was not always fun, but it was a commitment I made for those three months.
I had a word count quota to meet every day and nothing was going to stop me from achieving that.
I think you have not written your book because of lack of time, but because it’s not your priority… yet.
How to find the best time to write
Are you a morning or a night person? When can you write with less distractions? Those are things you have to consider when scheduling writing time in your calendar.
But before setting the appointment with your book, you must find the best time to write.
Writing productivity coaches Bec Evans and Chris Smith came up with the traffic light scheduling technique, which is very useful to find out the times you can’t write as well as those you can. This is how it works:
1. Red Times
Go through your diary and work out which periods of time in your week are totally out of bounds for writing. These are your red times, and they could be times when you’re at work or busy with other stuff. Don’t write during this time.
2. Yellow Times
Look for the times in your week which are possible writing times. These are your yellow times. You might have a few distractions during these time slots, or you might be a little tired, but there’s probably something you can do in those times, like research, or editing existing material.
3. Green times
These are times in your week which are clear for writing and that you can always commit to. Tell family and coworkers that green times are writing times and need to be respected. No interruptions allowed!
Add those times to your calendar in 45 to 90 minutes per day, with a break for sessions longer than 45 minutes.
How bad do you want it?
At the end of the day, if you really want to write a book, you will find the time.
Busier people than you are writing books and more. So you can do it as well.
Perhaps the problem is deeper than that. Be honest with yourself: when in the foreseeable future will you have enough time to write a book?
Have you even considered how much time it really takes to write and what would be the daily commitment?
If you haven’t, then you are just guessing and your guess is probably an overestimation.
What if I tell you that you only need to invest one hour per day (weekends off) during three months to finish your book?
Is that too much to ask or can you commit to that?
When you are ready, here are three ways in which I can help you:
1. Sign up for my free email course How to Finally Start Writing your Book. This mini-course will provide a simple plan to stop procrastinating and start writing daily. Sign up here.
2. Grab my course, Write your First Business Book in 90 Days. Learn the 7-Step System to Write a Book Fast. This course will guide you to write your business book in 90 days, even if you have little or no time to write, you’re not a skilled writer, and your book idea is half-baked. Buy it here.
3. Work 1:1 with me: If you want to work 1:1 with me to refine your book idea, find a niche and develop a plan to write and publish your book, then set up a 1:1 coaching session with me. Click here to book.