It's exciting, isn't it?
Writing your first book and then sending the final version to your editor, and later it is available (and SELLING!) on Amazon.
The months (or even years) of hard work are over, and now you can watch with pride as your book goes out into the world.
But, what if you're not there yet? What if you're still struggling to finish your first book?
In this post, I'm going to be honest with you.
I will tell you about five of the most common myths about writing many aspiring authors face when struggling to finish their first book.
These are the myths about writing that hoodwinked me before I published my first book.
1. I Will Finish My Book if I Work Harder
If you’re a new writer, telling yourself to ‘work harder’ or ‘don’t be lazy’ is TERRIBLE advice.
Telling yourself to work harder might get your ass in the chair on day one, but when you miss a day, you’ll feel bad. And if you miss two days, you’ll feel even worse.
Then, your book becomes this BIG THING you’ve got to do.
Like any hard and difficult task, you'll procrastinate about it, put it off, and even forget about it.
Yes, writing a first draft is tough out, but don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
Once I discovered telling myself to “work harder” wasn’t helping me write and would never help me write, I found a solution that helped me get better results.
2. I Should Write Different Things at Once
A short story.
A blog post.
A personal essay.
The great American novel.
There are so many tantalizing and exciting creative writing ideas to explore.
Often new writers work on different writing projects at once, and they struggle to organize their ideas.
That’s fine if you’re Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, or a pro author who has been at this for over 10 years, but it's a mistake when you’re starting.
I've observed the science, and when you switch from one project to the next, it takes between 20% and 40% of your creative energy to associate yourself with your new creative project.
It gets worse 🙁
Because you’re getting distracted and working on multiple projects, you’ll delay finishing your book.
You’ll postpone the feeling of accomplishment that comes when you publish your first book.
This feeling is an essential reward if you’re finding it difficult to create a writing routine that lasts.
3. Good Writers Work Only When Inspired
Let's be logical about the writing process.
A novice athlete who wants to run 26.2 miles for the first time can’t turn up on a marathon day and expect to finish the race.
She has to train when she doesn’t want to, practice when she’s tired, and squeeze her sessions into her otherwise busy week.
She has to practice like a professional.
Similarly, when you turn up in front of a blank page, it takes precious creative time to warm up and figure out what you’re trying to say. And if you haven’t practiced writing in days or weeks, it’ll take even longer.
Look, inspiration is nice.
There’s nothing better than sitting down in front of the blank page with a hot idea and an urge to write your book.
But, if you wait around all day to come up with an idea and for inspiration to strike, what will you do if nothing comes?
Will you wait till tomorrow, next week, or next month for inspiration to tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, it’s time to write’?
Because that’s a sure-fire way never to finish your book.
Believe me. I’ve been there.
4. I Can Write A Book at the Weekends
I don't want to upset you, but…
….deciding it’s okay to write a chapter in your book only on the weekends is a sure-fire way to finish nothing at all.
Sure, there’ll be the inevitable Saturday morning when you write for two or even three hours, produce 1000 great words and say, “That was a morning well spent.”
But, what happens if you don't find time to write on a Saturday or Sunday and you miss a weekend?
Or what happens if the weekend’s writing session is a flop?
It’ll be an entire week before you put your butt in a chair, hands on the keyboard, and turn up in front of the blank page. And if you miss a weekend?
You’re putting 7, 14, or even 21 days in between writing sessions.
You'll never get into the rhythm and momentum of writing your book.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait that long to finish what I started, which is why I changed how and when I write. Good writing demands consistency.
5. Formatting a Book is a Good Use of Time
A few years ago, I worked with a writer who spent a few months writing her book. She got stuck at the final stages while preparing it for publication.
She spent weeks messing around with various book design templates and files. Eventually, she got frustrated with all of this hard work and paid someone to layout her book.
Real writers work with other people who take care of tasks outside of their area of expertise.
If you want to become a better writer, your time is best spent crafting revising your manuscript before a big deadline. Unless you can lay out a book quickly, time spent formatting a book for self-publishing isn't productive.
Tools like Vellum take the headache out of formatting a book so you can get it ready for publication faster. Alternatively, use funds from your day job to work with a book designer so that you can spend more time writing.
As my author friend learned, it's a more efficient use of resources.
Avoid These Misconceptions About Writing
Most people believe they must write for hours at a time to become a successful writer.
Instead, after carefully observing how authors succeed, I’ve discovered harnessing the power of small daily wins is more important if you want to finish your book.
When you harness the power of small daily wins, you'll stop procrastinating about writing answer the more important questions new writers face.
You know the ones:
What’s the best way to avoid going off on a tangent when I’m writing?
How can I organize my ideas?
How do I figure out when to stop perfecting my work and start publishing it?
I’ve used the power of small daily wins to find the time to write three books in two years.
When you tap into the power of small daily wins, you’ll feel like a million dollars.
This method helped me, and (if you stick with it) I assure you it's the quickest way to write your first book.
I help struggling new writers finishing their first book without relying on superficial advice like ‘don’t be lazy.’
If you want to become a better writer, check out the Savvy Non-Fiction Writer's Club.