This is an email from Ryan Maloney, a Bookwiz user.
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You have a brilliant idea. It will make the perfect book.
You google it, buy a domain name, search Amazon, tell your friends and family, everyone says it sounds amazing.
Then you go to take the first step and this happens:
- The voices in your head tell you no one will care
- You go and empty the dishwasher instead, and you hate emptying the dishwasher
- You write a couple of pages one month, then 2 months goes by and nothing
- You lose interest and jump to a new idea or forget about this great idea, writing is painful.
To me, the 3 most painful parts are:
- Starting the Writing
- Fighting through the valley of despair
- Finishing, Publishing, and Marketing
I am getting cold sweats thinking about #3 right now. Through my years of writing, I have developed a few tactics to help me get through these 3 difficult parts of writing. *Disclaimer: I still fall victim to these 3 dragons all the time. But these tactics have helped me write and illustrated 10+ picture books and a 400-page graphic novel. In other words, my batting average is not 1000%, but if I can have 3 books come out of every 10 attempts, those are hall of fame numbers for me.
The first word you write of your book can feel like you’re standing on the edge of a cliff and you step on a crumbling rock. It is scary. There is a long way to go. You may invest years into writing only to be met with crickets, potential embarrassment, and the feeling of defeat. The way to beat this dragon is to zoom out and visualize the entire process of writing a book. You are writing a book to change yourself first. Change is painful. Insert gym analogy here. No one likes doing pull-ups, but they must be done if you want to get stronger. Writing is working out for the brain. It is learning and changing. Your mistake when starting is thinking you are writing a story for other people to enjoy, but you are most likely writing a story for your future self to look back on and enjoy, knowing you beat the fears and finished. Making a great book is not the goal. Finishing the book is the goal. Changing, learning, and living to fight another dragon is the goal.
You know when you stepped on that crumbling rock when you started? Guess what? It collapsed, and you have fallen into the valley of despair. This is the pit in which you want to quit. In the valley of despair live all of your self-doubts. The voices of people who will mock your attempts. You just want to get out of this valley of despair. I have good news and bad news. Good news: You can quit anytime you want. Nothing will happen. You’re free to go. Back to your regular life before you had your great idea. Bad news: If you want to feel the excitement of your original idea, and get what you want (a finished story you and everybody may love), the only way is forward through a valley of thorny bushes. How do you climb out of this mess?
- Habits and routines. Instead of focusing on the huge task of publishing a book, focus on writing every morning for 30 minutes for 30 days in a row.
- After 30 days, reshape your writing like you would clay.
- The compounding of your habits builds a mountain of writing, which allow you to climb out of the VOD.
- Try zooming out like TIP 1 and remind yourself, writing is learning, writing is change. This is the normal process.
When you are climbing out of the valley of despair, you may find yourself developing new habits that keep you away from writing. 30 days may slip by where you think, “If I only wrote on those days, I would be done by now.” You have a fear of finishing. A fear of success. A fear of failure.I played football in high school and college. You do a lot of tackling drills during practice. One tip my coaches taught us, which I apply to creating anything, is ‘hit past your target.’ How does football tackling apply to writing? When you tackle someone in football, you don’t aim for the point of the tackle to take someone down. You aim for the point 10 yards behind them. This gives you extra velocity and strength to push past the goal with greater ease.
If you are focused on finishing your book and this becomes a big deal to you. Change the point of attack to writing 20 more pages than you thought was necessary. This will trick your brain into writing past the finish point. The 20 extra pages may not be necessary, but it got you past the finish point with greater velocity without stopping and worrying about the finish line. You can apply this tactic to publishing and marketing your book.
Don’t put all the pressure on these steps, because it will make you hesitant, fearful, and will take away your speed to getting them done. Trust me, you want to get things done quickly, so time can go by, and you can eventually feel proud of your book writing efforts.
Get things done quickly by not stopping and dragging your feet.
I’ll write more about marketing and publishing in the future here. For now, I will drag my feet on that: If you have any writing tips, respond to this email so the Bookwiz team can see them and feature them in a future Bookwiz email.
Author, Illustrator, Bookwiz user
Find me on Tiktok and Youtube @ryryart