February 9, 2023

Once the project is underway, it’s a good idea to continue listing steps, a course in miracles free (i.e., find correct citation for quote from poet, MO; locate block of text on the ambiguities of time; find files from summer of last year).

The point is, it is absolutely impossible to “write a book.” It is only possible to take one specific step at a time toward a completed book manuscript. This may seem ridiculously obvious, but almost everyone forgets it. And then feels needlessly overwhelmed by the prospect of tackling that impossible task –“writing a book.”

Whatever phase of your project you are currently working on, there is a next step. The most effective and motivating way to proceed is to write each step down, in five- or ten-step lists. This is because you need to know, exactly and precisely, what each step is, in order to mentally gear-up for completing it. Think of your ongoing list as a kind of “anti-overwhelm” tool.

Obstacle Two: Fear

It is almost axiomatic that, if a project doesn’t cause a modicum of fear (can I really bring this off?), that it probably isn’t sufficiently challenging or interesting to sustain the level of involvement you need to feel in order to see it through to the end. But how do you deal with the urge to avoid your book project, because the mere thought of getting to work on it stimulates overwhelming feelings of fear, self-doubt, and . . . sudden exhaustion?

The answer is all too obvious, though most of us find it hard to see. Get into it. Get involved in the actual work. Fear immediately disappears when your attention is engaged by the work at hand. It is similar to what happens to a baby’s attention: there she is, wailing away full blast with her entire small being, when the neighbor’s miniature dachshund appears. The tears shut off like a faucet, because the dog captures her attention so completely that she forgets to cry.

Engage your attention in completing the next step on your list, and fear, doubt, and terminal tiredness will dissolve (at least for the short-term; when they return, simply engage your attention in the next step all over again).

As extra-added reinforcement, keep in mind your overall reason for wanting to write a book. Is it to convey a message, engage in a quest, nurture your talent, or to express the inspiration you feel when reading another author’s work? If you add inspiration (your reason for writing) to engagement, fear won’t have a chance.

Obstacle Three: No Time

Almost everyone has too much to do, and no time to do it. But that’s no reason not to write your book. It is reason, instead, to outwit your particular version of having no time. (Keep in mind, however, that we all somehow find the time to do those things we truly want to do.)

Most often, it’s not so much having no time that’s the problem. It’s the feeling that the job is much too big for the much-too-small amounts of time that are intermittently available.

Make the following strategy into a game you play on a daily basis: accumulate an hour’s worth of five- or ten-minute periods spent doing something towards your book (refer to your list of steps for small, specific tasks, and if they’re all too time-consuming, cut them in half, or even into quarters).

Spend, for instance, a free ten minutes between appointments making notes about what to include in chapter ten, instead of simply frittering that time away. (It’s a good idea to have a bound journal dedicated to your book project. Keep all your notes there for reference, and for the inspiration of seeing the material you’ve gathered accumulate and grow into something substantial. A journal is also portable in more circumstances than a computer.

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