It’s officially the first full week of January 2020 and a lot of us have set resolutions of things that we hope to accomplish within this next year. Sadly, some studies have shown that only about 8% of people actually stick to those goals and complete them in that year. You get to the gym, pay for a class, or sit down with your laptop and soon the overwhelming scope of what you’ve committed to starts to hit you in the face—and many people quit then and there.
If you are one of those people who set a goal to either finish writing or complete the publishing process for your book, soon it might get tough and you will have a hard time actualizing what you committed to accomplish. So how do you keep that goal? I have some answers for you.
How many times have you sat down to start writing a chapter or research how to get your book published and just stared at the screen for an ungodly amount of time? Starting can be the hardest part! Just like starting a weight loss program, you have to gain momentum first.
In school we all learned about Newton’s first law, which states that an object will remain at rest or stay moving in a straight line unless it is compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. What does this have to do with writing and publishing? Everything! Goals don’t get achieved by wishful thinking. That book won’t just write itself (even if you have a ghostwriter, you still are very involved in the process of the book’s creation), and publishers are not knocking at your door to offer you the dream book deal (unless you are already a New York Times bestseller, which most of us are not).
In order to get your book writing/publishing goal accomplished, you have to start somewhere, and you will feel much better about it if you just begin working on it. Keep reading to get some ideas for how to do this.
If Writing: Just Start Writing!
I have been in the process of writing a trilogy of novels for about a decade. None of them have been published yet, and that’s fine with me because I know it’s not time yet for them to be released. I have always wanted to wait to release the first book until I had not only the second book almost ready to be published, but I was at least halfway through writing the third book. With my busy schedule I was finding it hard to get even the second book done, as I’ve been working at it in my spare time for a few years. I got stuck in the middle because I made the storyline a bit too complex with a lot of sub-plots, and had to stop writing altogether to try to make more sense of everything. Discouraged, I put the book down.
Then my son reminded me of the November Novel-Writing challenge through NaNoWriMo, a non-profit organization that exists to help writers like you and me get writing and complete goals in a short amount of time. Because November is National Novel Writing Month, they created a contest for authors to write at least 50,000 words in the month of November. I decided to join the contest, skip right to book #3, and go for it!
I planned out the whole storyline before November started and was so excited to actually begin writing. November 1st came and I started out pretty strong. I found the best time for me to write was early in the morning when nobody else was awake. Normally I would be out running that early so I had to rearrange my running schedule to do that. I couldn’t cut time away from work, church, worship team, school events, or family time, so I ended up carving out time to write when I would have been playing games or watching TV. On November 30th at about 3:00 in the afternoon I rounded that 50,000 word mark and celebrated! Although I had to make some sacrifices to meet that goal, it was a great accomplishment for me, and it has even helped me straighten out some of the confusion I was having in the second book of the trilogy.
I will post some articles later on about how to begin writing and what to do when you get stuck, but the important thing is to start. Even if all you do is brainstorm or allow your brain to “throw up” all your storyline out into the computer, at least you have something to work with. You can’t work with nothing (unless you are God), so make it a point to JUST START!
If Publishing: Get the Process Started
Maybe you already have the book written; perhaps it’s been written for years and just tucked away in a folder in your computer, and now you have decided to dig it out, gently blow the dust off of it, and get things moving to publish it. You sit down at the computer and Google “publishing” and bingo: millions of publishers, articles, videos, self-publishing platforms, and blogs come up—each of them telling you that they have the all answers and can do a better job than anyone else out there. It reminds me of walking down the aisle at the fairgrounds where they have all those games that can suck the life out of your wallet, bank account, savings, retirement, 401k, etc. (you know the ones I am talking about). They are all shouting out to you, trying to get you to come over to their game and spend all the money you brought, just to win a toy that they paid a few bucks for (and you can find on Amazon for the same price they paid for it).
When it comes to publishing, if you don’t know what you are doing, you can end up spending a lot of money for something that has been rushed through and looks second-rate and cheaply done—and nobody will want to buy it except your friends who want to be nice to you. Or you push away all of the voices screaming at you and decide to do it all by yourself and end up with an even-worse version of the book I mentioned above because you are probably not a book editor who knows the Chicago Manual of Style, a professional book layout designer, or a graphic designer who knows how to best design a book cover that will appeal to your main audience.
After working in the publishing industry for over a decade, I have seen so many books self-published by people (just like you) who had a dream in their heart that was truly from God, but because they didn’t know what they were doing or how to start, they ended up with something that fell way below the mark they had for it. Now they have to stare at the boxes of books in their garage that are going nowhere—a constant reminder of a long-lost dream; and their hope deferred has made them sick of the industry.
Does any of that sound familiar?
My goal here is not to discourage you even further. I’m also not just saying these things to try to get you to work with me. I don’t want to be one of those voices screaming at you to “come play my game.” But I have produced hundreds of books and helped coach tons of authors just like you who were clueless about the industry, but now have a beautiful, quality product that they are proud of, and those authors are now navigating their way confidently through the publishing industry in distribution and marketing because of the help I have given them through the process.
You don’t have to be confused, scared, or disillusioned about the publishing industry. You CAN publish your book without going to a publisher if you don’t want to; and you can be educated about the industry as you step into becoming an author. I’m not saying that your first book will be a bestseller; this is rarely the case. Your first book is meant to reveal you as an author to the industry and help you learn about how to work within it. Most well-known authors didn’t hit success until about their 10th book; but you know what? Even the top seller had to start with book number one at some point. So start NOW!
Set a Goal Date
The next thing you can do to make sure you get that resolution accomplished is to set a date for when you will finish. And I would encourage you to set it earlier then the end of the year. Be realistic, but also be prepared to lay some things down for a while in order to accomplish the goal.
This last Sunday my pastor preached about a similar topic to this, based out of Hebrews 12:1. He said that sometimes the things that are keeping us from finishing the race are not things we have to add, but things we have to take away, and that if you are adding something to your life (like writing or publishing a book) then maybe that won’t work until you lay aside something else for a while.
To wrap this up (because it has officially gotten longer than I intended), let me just reiterate a few things: Your book won’t get written or published through wishful thinking. Decide now how you’re going to get going on that resolution. Maybe you didn’t make a resolution to finish your book, but after reading this you want to. It’s only the first week of January so you have plenty of time!
I encourage you to read some of my other blog posts and take a look at the work I’ve done. If you would like to talk with me about how I can help you meet your goals, I would love to do that! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me through my website. I’ve helped many others see their dreams come true and I can help you too.