Why “Too Busy” Is the Wrong Excuse For Not Writing a Book
The voices reverberate in your brain.
“If I could just find more mental space.”
“If I could find more blocks of free time.”
“Then… I’d be able to write my book.”
You can visualize it.
A smooth empty highway stretches out in front of you. You sit down to write. Applying fingers to the keyboard, you race easily down the road.
You can see the goal glistening in the distance. It’s a Kindle eBook with an eye-catching cover and an irresistible title. Along with a stylishly-designed paperback edition of your book. On your Amazon page, you count 119 four and five-star reader reviews.
If I weren’t too busy… I’d be done! Finished! A published author!
What’s wrong with this picture?
First of all, there are some good things about this visualization.
Visualizing your goal is important. By all means, scribble your goal (“finish book”) on a stickie. Put it up by your computer, on the mirror, on the fridge. Be sure to add the date. By June 1st. By September 1st.
But there is a problem with the image of a smooth sailing highway: it’s a mirage. It doesn’t exist.
There is no clear, obstacle-free road to writing a book. It doesn’t work that way.
Anyone who tells you that writing a book is an easy process is either lying or doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
That may sound harsh. But I know it to be true.
Writing a book is the hardest thing I’ve ever done
I’ve written a 200-page business book (published by Penguin Portfolio) and it is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Much harder, by far, than giving birth three times.
Don’t get me wrong. Going through labor is no picnic. I found it excruciating. But labor only lasts for a matter of hours. And then a newborn baby pops out (the most wondrous thing imaginable).
Writing a book takes weeks and months, not hours.
Along the way are twists and turns and detours that you never imagined at the outset. It can be crushingly frustrating. It is lonely. Writing can make you crazy, or depressed. You will doubt yourself. You might hate yourself. You will want to howl at the moon. I guarantee it.
So what’s the RIGHT excuse for not writing your book?
Let’s look again at what it means to say you’re “too busy right now.”
What it really means is that you want to delay the pain. Writing a book, to borrow from Jim Collins, is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).
You want to Procrastinate with a capital “P.”
And that’s OK. Who doesn’t want to avoid pain? Put me at the top of the list.
But there’s another way to look at this.
The RIGHT excuse isn’t to focus on pain or avoidance or feeling too busy.
The right excuse is that you haven’t clarified the WHY of your book
Writing a book is a slow, messy process, not a smooth highway. There is no black box that you crack open to reveal exactly how it’s done.
It’s not about feeling too busy vs. wallowing in loads of free time.
There is no right time to start writing a book. There is no perfect roadmap.
But there is an obstacle that will stop you cold and make you feel “too busy” to start.
That’s not knowing the “why” of your book.
Writing a book is part of something bigger
Think of it like this. A book is one vessel for a message that you’re burning to share with your audience.
Another vessel for your message and expertise is a workshop, or a new area of consulting. Or keynote talks that you get paid for. Or a product or service or program that you sell online.
Becoming a published author can change you and the world around you – and beyond you. What change do you want? It’s worth thinking about.
Before you put a word on paper, clarify what the something bigger is. Reframe yourself as an author entrepreneur. Step out of a writer role and into a change maker role.
Ask yourself two questions:
1. How will your book change your reader?
2. How will you make the world a better place with your book – or at least make a difference?
Seth Godin, as you probably know, is all about “shipping” and “stepping up” and “not making excuses.” You know this if you’re a regular reader of his blog or his books.
But in order to operate like Seth, you have to understand the “why” of your book.
Put the “why” on a stickie. Not just the “when.” And stop worrying about whether you are “too busy.”
(Note: the “why” should answer the two questions above.)
So are you “too busy right now”?
I’d love to hear from you. If writing a book is on your bucket list, what is holding you back? Do you feel too busy?
Send me an email at email@example.com. I promise to write back.