I have a secret ambition to write a book.

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Sophie Deacon on Aug 04, 2016 • 7 answers
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I want to write a book. But I keep procrastinating. How can I get started?


Writing takes time, but the washing up takes a few minutes and I get an instant sense of ‘job done’ satisfaction. No don’t invite me round, unless you’re cooking!
Making tea, calling a friend, checking Facebook. When you’re writing you may be more horny than you have ever been in your life… is that just me… was that an over share? I’m just saying that anything will convince you that you need to do something else.
Even more book research is not writing!
Any drama you are inviting into your life is also a form of avoidance. I promise when you are writing, the friend you have with the most issues will be the one you are hanging out with for a bottle of wine at weekends.
Don’t look for the psychological reason why you are procrastinating, as there may be some deep trauma you need to deal with before you can move on and write. Well, there might be, but the changes involved in
trying to fix it are another procrastination device.
If you are a psychological mess good… ok, not good, but most of the best writers in the world are a little screwy… ok so now I am over sharing!

I recommend The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle Steven Pressfield. It’s a short book and it really makes you think about stepping into a professional zone and not buying into your own BS.
Now having said all of that, there is only one good message procrastination may have for you, which is - I’m not ready. If you’re procrastinating, maybe you are not ready to get committed to writing this book. It’s like being ready for marriage: you know if you are or if you’re not, and if you’re not, be honest! Do what it takes to get ready.
But if it’s just another episode of whatever on the TV, switch it off!
Never start a whole book, just break it down into sections and write what you feel inspired to say. For me a book that has a bigger world change purpose than my own life drives me to finish, how dare you not to, a book is a gift to the world that comes through you. Check out Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic too, another great book about books! Good luck! Becky x

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Becky Walsh on Aug 04, 2016
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Hi Sarah. You're certainly not alone on this one!

The best advice I've ever had around procrastination is to just set a goal of doing 5 minutes. No more, just 5 minutes. Of course you won't achieve a huge amount in that time, but you will have made a start and that in itself will probably make you feel hugely more motivated to continue.

If you want to keep going beyond your 5 mins then great, but if you just stop at that point you've still done 5 mins more than you would otherwise have done. A whole load of 5 minute chunks will soon add up and will be whole lot less daunting than the huge task of 'writing a book'.

If you can tie your 5 min (or longer) chunks into a set part of your routine (e.g. immediately after breakfast everyday or during your lunchbreak) then you'll be more likely to stick to it because it will take less willpower to get started. You'll come to associate breakfast with writing, in the same way that you associate brushing your teeth with your bedtime routine. If you think about any of your habits, like brushing your teeth, you probably don't have to make a great effort to do them. If you can make your writing a habit you'll be making progress before you know it!

Good luck! :-)

Go to the profile of Martin Galpin
Martin Galpin on Aug 04, 2016
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In the next issue of Psychologies, we're got a 20 page dossier about success and achieving the goals that you really want. Magdalena Bak Maya has created a 30 day 'achieve your goals' course that's brilliant. Magdalena is coach who works with the people at Nasa. You can trial the course for 3 days so why not try it? https://lifelabs.psychologies.co.uk/courses/92

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Suzy Walker on Aug 04, 2016
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Hi Sarah. What is the reason behind your ambition? As in what would you like to achieve with the book? Is it to share knowledge? Build credibility? Prove, you can do it? Etc. If you can pinpoint your true 'heart's' motivation we can get closer to helping you get started :) Magdalena

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Magdalena Bak-Maier on Aug 04, 2016
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Great question Sarah. Not so secret anymore, so excellent first move.
This is what worked for me when i eventually wrote my first book 18 years ago:

1. Know your why? What difference will your book make? Commit to that purpose.
I had unique knowledge about Energy, Psychology, Spirituality and Wellness. I wanted to share this with others to Transform Lives. I committed to my Purpose.

2. Tell people, tell everybody, so they can support you.
When I had had enough of people asking me about my non existent book, I actually started writing it.

3. Visualise the result you want to see.
My first book, Opening to Spirit, was published by Harper Collins 18 years ago, and it has changed countless Lives, including mine, all over the world. I have travelled worldwide as a result of it and continue to get invites, this year alone, I've accepted invites to Bermuda, Jamaica, USA and India. All because I stopped procrastinating and wrote my book. I have 5 books now and get to live and work in a way I love.

4. Just start writing
I started to write, in fact I literally wrote, "I don't know how to begin this book, but I want to stay Open to Spirit." And that was it. The title, the book, the inspiration all flowed, simply because I started putting pen to paper. (it was 18 years ago - no computer) Just start writing, magic happens, honestly.

Sarah, I hope this inspires you, to dream big and see in your minds eye what your book can create, I trust you will speak to people, as well as us here at psychologies, about the book you are writing. I hope you recognise why your book is important and the difference it can make to other peoples lives. And I trust you are motivated, not to judge, but to simply start writing. Now!!

Thanks for asking the question, i enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and I trust others are inspired.

I wish you every success.

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Caroline Shola Arewa on Aug 04, 2016
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Read Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic..it's absolutely the best thing to get your writing. Amongst other wise advice she counsels:
Just get on with it
Write for yourself and no one else. Write as if no one will ever see what you write
Write because you have to, because creativity is calling on you to co-create something and you need to show up to do your bit
Understand that all writers have that inner voice telling them they can't, or they're not good enough, or someone else said it better - write anyway
No writer has enough time - get up early, steal hours, have an affair with your writing
Don't expect your writing to pay - it's too precious to be confined by money - just write
Even if people have said it before- you haven't and people want to hear from you

Get going - the world needs to hear what you have to say

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Dr Julie Leoni on Aug 05, 2016
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Hi Sarah
I was listening to Woman's hour the other day and there was a famous author on there and she said they way she wrote was to take herself off to a cafe every morning and with no other distractions ( no wi-fi ) she felt free to write and she did a few hours a day and was much more productive without the distractions of home and within a while she had written a book. Like everything starting is the hardest part but just thought this little second hand advice would be worth sharing with you . Good luck :)

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Ffi Ffi Trixibelle on Aug 05, 2016
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