Why does writing a business book have to take up so much time?
There you are, sat at your laptop pounding away at the keys for hours, and you’re still on Chapter One.
You’ve already dragged yourself out of bed at 5.30am twice, sacrificed your movie night over the weekend, and now you’re wondering if you’ll be able to make your daughter’s sports match this afternoon.
When you look at the chapters and revisions to come, it’s enough to make your heart sink. It feels like it’ll be a million years until you hold that book in your hands.
Yet you know you have valuable wisdom to share with the world, and a book is the ideal way to do it. It will also be the key that unlocks your potential to move ahead in your field and be recognised as the expert you are.
So why is it so dang difficult to set aside the time?
The two ways your business book writing is going off track
We’re constantly assailed with time management advice. The Pomodoro Method, goal setting, stopwatch checking, time tracking, the 80/20 rule, eating the frog, prioritisation, eliminating social media, checking email only once a day, de-cluttering your office – the list goes on.
And the thing is, they can all work . . . to a certain extent. Some people even find they’re effective enough to help them finish their books (which can make you feel even worse if you’re not one of them).
But they all rely on one thing: willpower. That’s a commodity we only have so much of, and it lasts but a little while. It’s like a muscle that tires after too much use.
This isn’t the only piece of wrong advice we’re given. There’s another misleading fact we’re told about accomplishing a major task, which is that if we think about it in the right way we’ll get it done with no problem. We need to have the right ‘mindset’. So if, for example, we tell ourselves ‘it will be easy and quick to write my book’, it will be, and before we know it we’ll be at our book launch event with champagne glass in hand.
Now I’m not denying the power of thought – far from it. But to me, this just seems like another version of our old friend willpower. Because the truth is . . .
We can’t change our thoughts.
Or at least not long term. It takes too much effort and is impossible to keep up. To prove it, try this: pick a topic to think about, such as what you’re going to have for dinner tonight. Then think about that, and only that, for the next 20 minutes.
I bet you can’t do it – other thoughts will crowd in, distracting you from your main one. You’ll bat them away only for them to hustle back unbidden and unwanted, waving their arms and jostling for attention. Now you’re feeling frustrated with them, which triggers another set of thoughts. And on it goes.
In other words, if you’re not one of the lucky few who already thinks it’s quick to write a book, you’re probably not going to convince yourself by effort alone.
Seems unfair, doesn’t it? Luckily there is another way.
Accept you don’t know how long your book will take
Because . . . well . . . you don’t. It seems that we humans are pretty terrible at predicting how much time a task will take, even if we’ve done it before. ‘My first book flowed out of me like magic, but my second took forever,’ is a common refrain from authors.
At the moment I’m coaching an expert to write a self-help guide and he thought it would take months, but a matter of weeks later he’s almost finished the first draft. On the other hand, I’ve coached others who swore on their mothers’ lives that they’d be done in three months, and who only reached the editing stages a year later.
Anyway, who says a book completed quickly is necessarily any better than one that took years? Sometimes the best rewards are the ones we wait for.
Accepting the unpredictability of creativity and time is key to enjoying writing your book, and the more you enjoy it the faster your words will flow. It’s a win win.
But I want my business book now
Of course you do. If waiting isn’t your style and the constant and exhausting application of willpower is too much effort, then you need some professional help.
Because a ghostwriter doesn’t need willpower – they’re paid to write your book within an agreed timescale and that’s all the motivation they need. What’s more, they’ll save you all those early starts and missed events, because it’s their job to take the task off your hands, writing your book in your voice so you don’t have to. There are many ghostwriters available for hire – take your pick.
So there you have it: the two ways to cheat time. Accept its unpredictability and seek help with your book.
If you need more inspiration . . .
Here I am, looking at a box of brand new books.
To be exact, they’re all copies of my own, just-printed guide Your Business, Your Book. Here it is!
How long did it take me to write? Well, longer than I predicted, that’s all I’ll say. Once I’d got my head around the notion that was fine, I relaxed and enjoyed the journey – which has, of course, only just begun. Publication is 7th November 2019 so feel free to place a pre-order now (sorry, I couldn’t resist the promotion – but neither will you when your book is out).
Now you’re all set to cheat time while writing your book. It’s not about techniques, it’s not about willpower, and it’s not about going it alone. Your secret strength is what you now know: that time is immaterial unless you want it to be.