What’s keeping you from writing your book? It may be perfectionism.
There’s no such thing as a perfect book, and if you try and write one you will never finish it. – David Gaughran
Not only will perfectionism keep you from finishing your book, it’s one of the primary reason many would-be authors never start their book.
Here are three mental tricks to fool yourself out of your rut of perfectionism and into a finished book you can be proud of:
- Make your first draft your vomit draft. Many first-time authors make the mistake of trying to write a perfect book starting with the first word they put on paper. That’s simply not how writing a book works. A book starts with research and lots of notes. Then you create an outline. Then you write a first draft, which we call your “vomit draft” because it’s a big mess that you clean up later. Don’t let anyone read your vomit draft. It’s for your eyes only. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or anything other than getting all your ideas out. Let your motto be “Messy now, great later.”
- Put the pressure on someone else. There’s no rule that says you’re only an author if you do all the work on your book by yourself. 90% of the books on the New York Times bestseller list weren’t written by the person whose name is on the book. If you read a book by someone like Richard Branson you can be confident a ghostwriter wrote the book. I’m not recommending you hire a ghostwriter (although that’s a viable option if you have the budget for it), but you should certainly engage others to help you edit and proofread your book. If you know you’re going to bring others into the picture to help you with the technical aspects of your book that takes a big weight off your shoulders and allows you to focus on what only you can do, which is to come up with the ideas that are in the book.
- Realize your book will never be perfect. I’ve read books that took the authors decades to write. They’re still not perfect. I’ve also read books that took the authors mere weeks to write. They’re not bad. Good enough is good enough. Accept that your book will never be perfect, then figure out what good enough looks like and shoot for that. Remember the words of Winston Churchill:
Writing a book is an adventure to begin with, it is a toy and an amusement, then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.
An imperfect book can still be a great book. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of getting your book done at all.
Is anything else holding you back from getting your book started, or finished? Let me know in the comments below.
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