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By Suzanne Falter-Barns

Why You Don't Write Your Book

In the ten years that I’ve taught people how to get on with their books and creative projects, I’ve noticed a phenomenon that I’ll call “Author’s Block.” Would-be writers can, indeed, sit down and work when pressed to it. The problem is that they’re not so sure they want the pressure of being an author. But they do want it. But they don’t. And so on.

Ah, the agony of getting on with your book.

Well, I’m here to diffuse that situation with a list of the key reasons we have trouble sticking to our writing or other creative projects. Perhaps this will help the next time you find yourself polishing doorknobs instead of sitting down to work.

Check all that apply to you:

q       You lie to yourself about why you can’t write the book. You think your stalling is about lack of time or too much pressure at work or not enough solitude in the evening. But guess what? Chances are a deeper, darker reason may be at play, like ‘I’m not supposed to be bigger than Mom’ or ‘What if this thing really takes off?’

q       You fear the impact your book could have. Sometimes when I coach writers in my Self-Help Author’s Crash Course (, I’ll ask them what’s impeding their progress. And after some probing, it will come out that they’re afraid of the big exposure a book can have if it takes off. I’m here to assure you that should that happen, (and chances are your book will not unleash wild mobs of millions), you will be able to handle it. How do I know? On that deep level where psyche meets karma, you won’t create a single reader more than you’re ready to receive.

q       You think your book doesn’t matter, so why bother? One writer I know put this succinctly: “I’ve tried getting up at 5 AM to write or staying up late or even leaving my home, but none of it works. I have this tired feeling that none of my effort is going to amount to a hill of beans.” In fact, writing and publication can be an entirely self-determined activity these days. If the publishing pundits don’t go for your book, there’s always the option of self-publishing paperback editions or e-books and selling them on online booksellers or your website. In other words, your book DOES matter, and you really have no excuse. (Acid test: if the book keeps on patiently urging you to sit down and write it for months and even years, chances are you’d better do it.)

q       You think you don’t know how to write a book. Guess what? Neither does any other first-time writer. And that may be a wonderful thing. As a beginner, you don’t approach your book project with a carload of professional expectations and demands from your process. You can just be open, like . . . well, a nice blank book. All you really need is your intuition to guide you and the will to write your book as honestly as you can.

q       You have no support. You need someone in your corner, cheering you on, to get through the long and somewhat tiring process of birthing a book. Because writers need a way to show up and be accountable for their progress. They need someone to keep saying, ‘Yes, you really can do this” or even “How’s it going?” Minds can be tricky and difficult when fully challenged by something like a book. And steady external support is the best way around that.

q       You’re afraid you’ll run out of material. There isn’t a writer out there who hasn’t had this fear. And I’m here to say that if you just stay loose and open, and willing to receive the ideas, they will show up. All you have to do is commit—really sit down, and begin to bring that book into being—and the work will magically appear. Sometimes it won’t flow that easily, and sometimes it will scare you with its speed and power. But it will, indeed, show up.

q       You think ‘Who am I to write a book?’ And yet, you are the perfect person to write your book, because you’re the one chosen to receive this material. (You don’t have to be spiritually inclined to believe this.) I personally believe that books are given to us when we’re ready to receive them… and when we do, our lives are changed by that process.

q       You fear uncomfortable moments. Ah, but that’s the most exciting thing about writing your book. You will be given challenges and lessons that just seem untenable along the way. And if you’re committed enough, you’ll rise above them and so become stronger in the process. This is especially true for self-help books: we naturally write what we need to learn.

Got a few categories checked off from the list above? Good! Awareness is the first step to diffusing your fears. Meanwhile, PLEASE do get on with your book . . . despite your misgivings. Not only do you deserve this work—so do we.

 . . . .

Suzanne Falter-Barns is the author of two self-help books. Living Your Joy was recently named one of 9 ‘Best of the Best’ self help books by SELF magazine. She can teach you how to successfully craft and sell your own non-fiction book proposal with her Self Help Author’s Crash Course—radically reduced on sale this week only.




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Last Updated 02/16/2005