It’s an intoxicating idea, right? To be an author. To have the ideas and stories in your head printed on the page for infamy. To dream of yourself receiving those accolades like NY Times Best Seller or a Pulitzer perhaps.
Then there is the reality of writing a book. Many successful leaders and CEOs who can run companies employing hundreds are often brought to their knees by the baffling and seemingly complex notion of book writing. Just like any other craft you set out to master whether its sales, team building or golf, you learn as you go, and then one day, you know. Writing just appears more elusive as an accomplishment due to the nature of the creative beast.
If completing the two hundred or so bound pages of a book is your calling and has been for decades, it’s time to no longer deny the world of readers and information-seekers your unique knowledge. Writing a book is an act of service by saying you have walked the talk, and now intend to share back the nuggets and life lessons of great benefit to others. Think of some of the books that have changed your life as a leader. Books that put a fire in your belly and a jump in your step. Imagine if those authors just decided to not write those books because they didn’t know how. You would have not been guided on a new path or given a needed inspiration. You are going to be that lighthouse for someone when you write your book.
What writing a book truly means is to first get clear on the barriers that can prevent the yes and sustain the no. The emotional and psychological barriers between yes and no of writing a book are what can hold successful people back from becoming best-selling authors.
The Three Biggest Barriers to Book Writing for Leaders
Let’s talk about the top three that I see come up in the countless conversations I have had with top CEOs and leaders who want to write a book.
#1 Barrier is the imposter syndrome.
While this may seem more aptly placed in a discussion about personal development, a book is very personal. The inner critic that can arise for new authors is very specific to someone’s upbringing, the critics in their life, and if they have any misgivings about themselves and their current presentation of authenticity as a leader.
Let me get more specific, there is a belief system that is tripped up, usually from a critic in your past, or messaging received in the formative years, that you don’t in some way belong in the book writing club. I hear all sorts of excuses from people why they don’t write from I don’t have an MFA from some prestigious writing college (guess what, neither do I and I coach people to write best-selling books!). Or they say, I have never written a book before (which no one has before they do…) or just simply I’m not a writer (which is the negative affirmation talk that can talk you right out of telling a story that can help so many people, or entertain or inspire.)
What is the solution to Barrier #1?
Write consistently in a structure and container.
People get the bad advice to just write freely and worry about the outcome. If you want to seriously write a good book thousands of people will read, employing a coach who can keep you accountable and on point with your book’s purpose and mission is critical. You also need a structure for the book which on days that the imposter and critic voices arise will keep you moving forward.
Barrier #2 is what will people think of me?
You are a well-respected leader and change agent. You have built an impressive empire on your courage and drive. The book writing process can suddenly feel like it may expose some kind of shadow side of ineptitude. Writing can feel so terrifying especially when you have only been writing blogs or emails.
What is the solution to Barrier #2?
Write and don’t worry about what people think….
It’s so simple. Apply the same attitude to book writing as you did to building your company and business. You had naysayers then, but now the naysayers are mostly in your head. You also have to remember that the people who may judge you down the road are probably just envious they didn’t write a book. Finally, you will surround yourself with reputable coaches and editors who will make sure you don’t create a literary mess.
That brings us to Barrier #3. The illusion of lost time
You have time to write a book if you want to make the time. If the passion is there to write a book, successful people find the time and money. You can write on planes and in hotel rooms. I have had clients write at 5 AM for six months, or in the bathroom so their kids don’t bother them. I have had clients write books in airports and on flights, through Google dictations and on their phone notepads. Whatever it takes, if you want something bad enough, you will make the time.
What is the Solution to barrier #3?
Understanding that writing a book only happens for a finite period of time.
If you have a good game plan, and a structure and you don’t put the book down for every long holiday weekend, or death or kid event, you will get through the book in a year’s time. Or less. So if in a period of time writing a book, we have to let go of a few yoga sessions, or read less of the NY Times on line, it is only temporary.
Writing a book is one of the greatest hurdles and most profound gifts of your lifetime. If you can push through those barriers and find the path on the other side, you will open yourself up to other gifts, and epiphanies, communities and dreams in your life you never even knew existed. That is what writing a book truly means.
Written by Kim O’Hara.
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