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When a businessperson releases an influential business book, it’s tempting to think that they must have been gifted with special writing powers. Granted, some have been! But I believe that your mindset is the key thing you need to cultivate in order to write a game-changing book. One that can really cement you as an industry expert.
The trouble is that there are so many myths about what it takes to write a book. You don’t need a writing schedule. Life and work are unpredictable and who wants to feel like they are behind on their “homework”? Similarly, you don’t need to get up an hour earlier each day to clock in 1000 words.
In more than a decade of being a writing coach, I’ve found that it’s the fears, blocks, shame, guilt and self-doubt that get in the way of completing writing projects. It’s certainly not just a matter of time, talent or tenacity.
Some key issues that crop up for clients again and again are unpleasant memories of someone criticizing their written work; public shaming for grammar and spelling errors and incidents where someone had read their personal diary and used the contents to humiliate them.
Self-expression is easily stifled and if you don’t work though negative emotions and begin to hone a positive mindset, it’ll be hard to deal with the ups and downs that come with writing a book. It’ll be easier to quit during a tricky phase. Or you may find that you have a constant running commentary in your head that you’re just not good at writing, which will make it hard to start in the first place.
Start by becoming aware of what you’re actually thinking while you write. A key exercise to do is to begin a writing task. It could be anything from an email, a report, an article or blog post, to a section of your book if you’ve started writing yours. Then answer the following questions:
- What did you think before you started writing?
Some common thoughts include “writing is really hard” and “people who are good at writing are just smarter than everyone else”.
- For every negative thought, ask yourself: How can I reframe this?
For instance, if you think that people who are good at writing are just smarter than everyone else, you could instead tell yourself that writing is something you can learn. That of course some writers are very smart but that doesn’t mean that good writers are a breed apart from everyone else.
- What exactly did you do once you started writing?
For example, did you click to Facebook or Twitter every so often? Did you get up after five minutes to make a cup of tea? Did you find it difficult to ignore an email alert – even though it wasn’t urgent or important. Did you plan or dive straight in? There’s no judgement here, the idea is just to become aware of your thoughts and behaviors.
- Have you been putting off this particular writing task?
If so, why? Do you tend to put off most writing tasks? Do you leave your work to the last minute and have to face serious stress in order to get it done? Or did you simply rush through it to get it done?
- How did you feel while writing?
This is a question most people wouldn’t usually ask of themselves. But if you feel anxiety and stress during simple writing tasks, writing a book will be too painful. You’ll need to get to the heart of what’s making your heart race, before you can write that business bestseller.
And that’s the thing. When it comes to business books, very few people talk about the best-written ones. They talk about the ones with the best ideas, the best concepts and the best stories. Give yourself a fighting chance at creating these by honing a positive mindset.
March 8, 2019 at 05:15PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs