Legendary organization and personal Effectiveness Master David Allen recommends a tool called the someday maybe file. That’s a place where you write down ideas of things you would like to do at some point, but don’t have time to do right now.
1. Your Story Matters
Stories matter. They’re one of humanity’s greatest inventions, and a core part of who we are as a species. We use them to carry culture, and warnings, and instructions to younger generations. We are comforted by some, and inspired by others. Stories help us find empathy for those not like us, and teach others to connect with our point of view. From the most epic legend to the shortest “man walks into a bar” joke, they are among the most quinessential properties of being human. Stories. Are. Important.
Do you know what else? Your story is important. It’s the only one that can tell the world about your experiences, thoughts, challenges, celebrations, fears, and loves. It’s the only one that can distill and crystalize what this journey through life has taught you. And only you can write it. Nobody else has the qualifications.
So you should probably get on that.
2. You Can Bootstrap Your Success
Here’s the thing about writing and publishing your first book. Once it’s done, it can start generating money for you. It won’t be a lot of money, at least not at first, but it’s money. You can use that money to promote that book to make even more money later on. If you keep doing that, eventually you’ll make enough money to cut back your “day job” hours and write more books, more quickly.
And each of those books will also begin generating money…which you can use to further promote your books, make more money, take more time off, and write even more. The whole thing snowballs faster than you’re imagining right now, even faster than you’re thinking after reading it’s faster than you were imagining. But it all starts with finishing that first book.
So you should probably finish that book.
3. 27,000 Days
You have about that many days in your life. You’ll spend a third of that time sleeping, and most people spend another third of that time at work. When you run out of days, it’s all over. What’s left is what you made of them: family you raised, causes you helped, memories and stories people tell for years to come, and maybe some things you built or created along the way.
Do you want your book to be a part of that legacy? There’s only one way to make that happen, and that’s to write a book. Since your next thousand days aren’t 100% promised, shouldn’t you spend these next ones making your book a reality?
So you might want to get those first words done today.
4. The Misogi Principle
Misogi is a practice from martial arts training, which consists of taking on a wildly difficult challenge at which you are likely to fail. The purpose of this is not to somehow succeed against all odds, but to realize how much you did accomplish by pursuing an unreasonable goal.
As a writer, you probably won’t write the all-American, breakout novel of the century on your first try. But if you try to do that, you’re almost certainly going to finish a novel of one kind or another. And you’ll learn a lot about writing, and what you are capable of when you make a serious effort, along the way.
So you should learn what that challenge teaches you, right?
5. You Have to Write a Bad Book…
…before you can write a good one. I tell you this because what’s stopping far too many would-be authors from becoming authors who’ve written a book is fear they’ll do it wrong. “I’m not ready” they tell themselves, and let the story stay inside of them for another season, or year, or decade.
But the only way to write a book wrong is to never write it at all. Everything else is just a book ready for an editor. Sometimes the editor will find a great many things for you to fix, but it’s still not a book you wrote wrong. It’s the first book you wrote, and there’s a lot right about that. And once you’ve written that first, bad, book, you’re one step closer to writing a good one.
So get that bad book written.
6. Amazon Does the Hard Work
Via Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon has automated or made easy most of the non-writing tasks around selling, marketing, and distributing a book. You don’t have to worry about paying for print runs, maintaining an online sales portal, shipping hassles, packaging, or tracking inventory. You can make sales and income almost immediately after uploading your copy and cover files.
To do that, though, you need to provide one thing: a book. That finished book is your ticket to all Amazon bookselling has to offer. They’ve made it all easy, if you come with what you’ve written.
So it’s time to get that golden ticket.
7. Do Something That Scares You Every Day
This quote has been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt and myriad others. Whoever said it originally, it’s a truth too few people internalize. If you take risks, you grow. If you face fear, you become brave. Doing scary things on a regular basis simply makes you a better, happier, less limited, and more successful person. Do something that scares you. Every day. Watch what happens.
And what’s scarier than writing a book? Than exposing your inner dreams and nightmares to the eyes of anybody with an internet connection and a credit card? Than writing the best book you possibly can, then seeing just how good it is to the eyes of an uncaring public? Very little.
So let’s get scared, then. This year. Right now.
8. To Hold It In Your Hand
Some experiences are unique, with no comparable feeling or moment those who haven’t had that experience can use to even approximate it. One of those experiences is the first time an author holds a copy of their book in their hand.
Imagine it for a moment. The look of the cover, the curve of the spine, the smell of the pages. More importantly, the feeling of pride in your gut as you hold the results of your hard work…and the looks of pride from the people who love you most. This is all feelings-based stuff, but oh…what a feeling.
So it’s time to move towards feeling it yourself.
9. It’s Free Therapy
On one hand, writing lets you vent your negative feelings. You get to pour your anger into the story, the themes, the threats, and even what happens to the bad guy when the good guy gets hold of him. You get to resolve every “I should have said” moment of your life by putting what you should have said into the dialogue. You get to chase your demons, spend time with your angels, and let it all out on the page.
On the other hand, every book anybody writes is a journey of self-discovery. It teaches you about what you love, what you fear, and what you find important. It can even lead you to solutions you hadn’t thought of to problems you weren’t aware you had. It’s a way to learn about yourself like no other method known to humanity.
So start writing. The doctor is in.
10. If Not Now, When?
This final reason needs little explanation. If you don’t write your book this year, when will you write it? What’s different about how that won’t be true then?
For some people there are obstacles like a job that will change soon, small children who will grow older and more self-sufficient, a major move or project that eats up time this year but not next. Those are valid and important consideration, which should be respected. For the rest of us, though…next year won’t be different enough to put it off.
So get started now, because there’s no reason not to.
I’ll finish with a story from Jason Brick, one of our success stories and a writing coach in his own right. The year he went full-time as a writer, he was debating between writing and other possible career paths. Then he walked into a mentor’s home and saw a poster that said:
“Don’t die with your song still inside of you.”
He decided then and there to become a writer. Isn’t it time you did, too?