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13 Book Demons That Bar You From Writing Your Book -- And How to Slay Them

If you're like most Americans you share that dream of becoming a published author one day. Maybe it's for that new dream career of public speaker, coach or consultant. Or perhaps you want to transform the world one reader at a time. You might fancy yourself as the next Elizabeth Gilbert and your book is the next "Eat, Pray, Love." Or you just have a story burning inside you.

Or maybe smoldering. You just can't seem to get that fire truly burning and write the darn thing.

Sure, maybe you're not that serious. It's just a fun fantasy. But more likely there truly is a book inside you yearning to get out and you're just suffering from one of the 13 Demons of Book Block.

How do you slay your demons? Well, first you need to name them:

Phantom Priorities: Do you volunteer on numerous non-profit committees? Take on too many projects at work? You're going to have to say "no" to some things for a while and put your book first to get it written. And make e-mails and Internet surfing your reward for getting the writing done. Just don't do them first.

Boundary Bogeymen: Listening to the ranting of your former college roommate at three in the morning? No more. You'll need to set firm limits to get your book written.

The Troll of Time: No one has time to write a book. And most successful authors have less time than anyone. So you'll need to find time in your busy life. Schedule your book writing time into your calendar and keep it sacred -- like an important business meeting.

Overwhelm: It's easy to get caught in that thick soup of overwhelm. Find a step-by-step way to tackle your book one step at a time -- identify the book concept and write your outline before you ever write a word.

Muddle: A relative of overwhelm, muddle keeps you confused. Keep coming back to your outline and vision for the book. Find the support of a writing buddy or class to keep you clear and on track.

Fear of Failure: Oh that fiendish fear -- to slay it, you'll need to ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen?" Truly imagine that. Can you be okay with it? Now you can focus on the best that can happen.

Fear of Success: Oh no! The best that can happen is you become rich and famous and the paparazzi follow you everywhere. No privacy. Or worse, you get lots of attention and people hate you. What do you do with that one? This truly is a realistic fear. We all fear change and success brings change. The more you can imagine your success and come to terms with it, the easier it will come.

Haze and Murk: If you're not clear of your vision and goals, you're more likely to fall into this trap. Write a vision statement and read it daily to serve as a beacon of clarity.

The Voice of Self Doubt: Maybe it was your fifth grade elementary school teacher. Maybe it was your dad. Someone told you that you couldn't write. Or children should be seen not heard. Or another of the endless variations that now play in your head. Change the station. Thank that voice and move on. And find supportive people to build confidence.

Vampires: You know those people who suck your energy when you talk about your creative pursuits. The solution is obvious -- never mention your book to them. And if they bring it up, change the subject. Married to a vampire? Um... garlic. And find a few book angels to even out the score.

The Ghoul of Perfectionism: Oh perfectionism looks all pretty on the outside, but it really just keeps you from getting words on the page. Allow yourself a lousy first draft and you can edit it (or have a professional go at it) later. No one writes perfect prose on the first try.

Lack of Knack: Maybe no one taught you to write well. Read a few good books on writing, starting with the classic, The Elements of Style and perhaps the newer Writing Tools. Take a class and learn from a seasoned pro. Most poor writers just never learned the skill -- maybe you were never taught. Remember, there are always good editors to take you to the next level.

Isolation: Don't write your book in seclusion -- get a community to support you -- a writing buddy, online class or workshop, or a coach can keep you accountable, confident and supported. Some workshops offer direction. Others can help you get into a state of flow and write. In my Get Your Writing Done class, for example, we use movement and breath to enter an inner state conducive to creative flow. We briefly set intentions and then write in community on the zoom call, so it's more like an in-person workshop, where you do a lot of writing, and less like a virtual presentation.

As you identify your Book Demons, you may get clearer about the type of workshops or community you need to write and finish your book!


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