We’ve all had those writing projects – the ones that seemed so straight forward. And then…
It’s okay when you get overwhelmed in your writing project! It doesn’t mean that you need to give up but it does mean that you might need a different approach! Here are 5 steps to cut through the overwhelm!
1. Determine exactly what is causing your stress
It’s my experience that it’s one of three things:
- Lack of a plan
- Lousy idea
Some deadlines can be moved and some can’t! If you’re writing for somebody else, reach out and share that you’re having challenges and see if there’s any flexibility.
And speaking as somebody who writes for a living: sometimes the deadline is what it is. It only takes one (okay, maybe two) crunch assignments when you KNOW you didn’t give yourself enough time to complete it to your usual standards that you either plan better or negotiate the deadline earlier!
The lack of a plan can be two-fold: the timeline plan or the writing plan, aka, an outline. This isn’t necessarily a quick-fix solution to fix a missing or incomplete plan! But if you’re writing for someone else (client, publisher, partner, etc) reach out for clarification.
I’m pulling this article from the archives! It was really well received last year AND has a lot of great information for you.
Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month and every November, participants from around the world begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. The “rules” state that you can plan, outline, think, and research as much as you want in October, but on November 1, you start a brand-new novel with no words already written.
Writing a book is a great exercise in discipline, refining your thought processes, and creativity. Even if you have no desire to write a novel, November is a great month to do the writing you are interested in. Or the writing that you know you’ve been needing to do for your business but just haven’t had time for.
Here are five steps to get you going:
1. Have a “plan”
You most likely have an idea about what book you want to write for your business. Start there! Unlike a novel which needs characters, plot, setting, mood, theme, etc. the book you need for your business has basic sections that are unique to the information you specialize in.
As you create this plan, jot down all your ideas for chapters, topics, and sub-topics. After you have a page of ideas, you’ll organize them into sections. Don’t think too much! Just get all your ideas down. This will become the “plan” for your book.
(This isn’t an outline! It’s a writing plan. I’ll explain more in step 4.)
And a great resource for you is the Book Idea Workbook.
2. Get it all out
My writing instructors used to call this “writing to silence the critic.” It’s when you just keep writing even if you know that you’re not making sense, contradicting yourself, missing steps, and most importantly, writing like crap!
NaNoWriMo isn’t a slow and steady marathon! It’s a sprint to write an insane amount of words in just thirty days.
It happens to the best of us, myself included. You go to get a drink at the Idea Fountain only to find somebody didn’t pay the water bill!
Or the fountain is still running but instead of clean, crisp water brimming with wonderful ideas it’s a stagnant trickle filled with bug legs and only provides mediocre ideas.
BOTH happened to me recently.
The second happened in the title of my teleseminar. Everything else was clear and easy: all the benefits, snappy sales copy, email strings, pain points that had ME shivering.
But the title: uninspiring at best. NOT awesome for somebody who is teaching an entire module about how to craft killer titles. I didn’t have any choice except to run with what I had but, ewww, it was bad.
Enter a mentor:
I was on a VIP coaching call and mentioned the launch. It was going well, I was ecstatic with the signups but… There was something missing. She asked what I was calling it – and started to laugh.
“That’s a TERRIBLE title, Kim!” she said between giggles. “Who helped you?”
Pause. The line crackled.
“I came up with it myself,” I muttered.
This is an excerpt from my book, “The Book Idea Workbook: 10 Can’t-Fail Steps to a Book Your Prospects Can’t Wait to Read (And You’re Excited to Write!)”
Imagine sitting down at your computer, putting fingers to keys, and being excited to share your passion with the world. Feel the feelings of knowing you’re making a difference in the world with your important message. Imagine how good it feels to share your story with someone who desperately needs to hear it.
Your book needs to be fun for you to write about. It really does need to be a topic you’re excited about. If you’re dreading spending days, weeks, maybe even months delving into your topic
IT’S THE WRONG TOPIC!
You may think, “But Kim, it’s the best topic to prove I’m an expert in my field!” And I’ll say: your lack of excitement will shine through every word and every page. The book will be a chore to write and a bore to read.
Trust me on this one! I’ve experienced it myself and I’ve seen it in my clients. It’s a 1,000% easier to write a book about a topic that excites you. And even if it’s a narrow area of your business, that excitement will help you get your butt in the chair, fingers on keyboard, and words on the page.
Your excitement about the topic and your excitement to get started writing will really help on the days when you just don’t feel like it. Sometimes you’re not going to enjoy the writing process. But if you try to write a book you feel you SHOULD because it proves you’re an expert or you think it will be easy to market and you’re not joyful about the topic, it’ll fall flat.
If you read my newsletter (you DO subscribe, right?) you know I regularly expand my comfort zone: so far in 2014 I’ve:
- Learned how to rappel
- Done a 5-day backpacking trip
- Flown a helicopter
- Went kayaking on Lake Powell during a holiday weekend
- Learned how to rock climb
- And these are just the highlights!
Fine me on Facebook for pictures!
Tomorrow I’m expanding my business comfort zone: I’m offering my first-ever free training call.
I LOVE speaking from stage. I can’t sing (or dance or act) but I love being handed a microphone! And this is just another “stage” – although I’ll be a voice on the phone instead of in person.
So why is this expanding my business comfort zone?
Because I’m slamming up hard against one of the misconceptions that keep people from writing their book:
Even if I publish it, nobody will read it. Nobody wants to read what I have to write.
I received some excellent questions last week about what types of ghostwriting I offer and how I work. This is a bit different from my normal article style but I wanted to highlight exactly how I work!
1. I write in YOUR voice and style
Of course it’s not going to be 100% perfect but you’d be surprised at how much like you the writing sounds. This is a skill that I’ve been developing for years.
The writing will sound like you BUT it will also be written using proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. For one of my ghost blogging clients, we are making the transition from a prior ghostwriter who wrote in a choppy, uncomfortable manner. The writing sounded formal, stilted, and a bit like a non-native English-speaker was writing. We are making the transition to convey the “author’s” ideas and thoughts but in a writing style that is professional and conversational.
For me to write in your voice and style, I need to examine your writing. Which means I spend serious hours reading and examining your blog, book, and newsletter – stuff you’ve written in the past. The only time this falls apart is if you DON’T already have samples of your own writing; in that case, I have a great Plan B!
Have you ever thought of joining a writing group?
Hang on – do you know what a writing group is? There are several different types:
- Writing groups – authors hanging out together and typing away
- Critique groups – examine each other’s writing for tone, style, clunky passages and moments of brilliance
- Commenting groups – for blogging, usually, where you read and comment on each other’s blogs
- Review groups – swap reviews on Amazon.com or other online reviewing sites
So, back to my original question: Have you ever thought of joining a writing group?
Here’s why you want to take a look at joining one or more groups:
Writing is a lonely business so it’s nice to get together with other people who are doing the same thing. It’s a lot like when I was in college and would head to a study room to work. I wasn’t studying the same subject in a group – like quizzing each other but rather working on my own stuff in a room of other people who were really focused. It always helped my concentration and focus.
These types of groups can quickly become a social event. Which is totally fine (and fun) UNLESS you’re really just there to work and everybody wants to chat. There’s also the challenge of hauling your materials to a location and hoping you have all your resources, research, and tools.
Writing groups usually accept any type of author. They might not be the best place to make connections for clients or referrals but you can also be inspired by sharing a table with a novelist, poet, or playwright! Remember that the purpose of the group is to write – not to network so be respectful of the rules of the group.
It’s always a great idea to have somebody read over your work! Critique groups might focus on the technical aspect of writing (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.) but they usually are more of big-picture view looking at flow, rhythm, tone, plot, etc.
When you’re picking a critique group, it’s easy to fall into a group of writers who aren’t experienced. While I believe that everyone has something to offer, if you’re years down your writing training road, you might not get a lot out of a group filled with college students. Try to find a group with a mix of wanna-bes, trying to break ins, established authors, and career writers. Also look for a mix of ages – you’ll get a better perspective on your work. Also be wary of groups who ONLY tell you everything is wonderful – that doesn’t help you grow as an author.