Are you writing a good book?
Do you worry that you’re not writing a good book?
In a recent survey, I asked aspiring book writers what they feared most about writing a book and they told me their biggest fear was that they might not write a good book.
Of course, you can instantly recognise that this judgement of whether a book is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is brought about by fear. I don’t think there are many authors who haven’t experienced the ‘good enough’ fear at some point during the creation of their book so if you share this concern, you’re certainly not alone.
Fearing that you are not writing a good book can make it difficult to commit to working on it. You’ll probably find yourself sitting down with determination to get started on your book. Then the fear that this whole idea is wrong or not going to deliver the result you want will begin to creep up and you’ll get stuck.
You need to get this elephant out of the room if you’re going to start your book, otherwise it will sabotage you every step of the way. (And the way is already challenging enough without this to contend with as well.)
Sometimes, the fear that your book won’t be any good is just that: a fear. But sometimes you intuitively know your idea is flawed or not working in some way. Before you go any further, you need to work out whether you’re experiencing fear or whether your concern about you are writing a good book has some foundation in reality.
Begin by excavating the fear that you’re not writing a good book is coming from. Does it have its roots in fear or is there a genuine reason why you believe this idea might not work? A fear-based thought might be expressed as:
- ‘Nobody will want to read what I have to say about this.’
- ‘I don’t know enough to write about this!’
- ‘This is rubbish! I should just give up now.’
A genuine concern that you are not writing a good book because it isn’t working or is in some way flawed is more likely to be expressed as:
- ‘This doesn’t flow’,
- ‘This doesn’t feel right’
- ‘I’m not sure what I’m trying to say.’
- Once you’ve worked out whether you’re experiencing fear or whether you have a genuine concern that your book topic isn’t working, you can decide what to do next. You’ll probably find there’s a bit of each going on.
Once you recognise fear-based thinking you can challenge it and work around it. You’ve experienced this kind of fear before so you know you simply need to find a way to defuse the emotions and push on with your work. If you realise that there are aspects of your book that aren’t working, you need to take some time to figure out where the flaw is (or at least the potential flaw) so you can fix it.
A quick heads up
Regardless of what you do to allay your fears, you’ll probably never feel 100 per cent certain about your book 100 per cent of the time. Although you crave certainty that you are writing a good book, you need to accept that you will probably never be sure. That’s because every book, like every product ever made – carries the risk of failure. It’s part of the creative process.
Once you look that truth in the eye, you can move forward because it’s possible to see that although you can influence the success of your book you cannot guarantee it and that knowledge gives you the freedom you need to express yourself without fear that you are sabotaging your success.
That said, you can – and indeed should – do everything possible to increase your odds of writing a good book: one that resonates with your target audience and sells well.
3 practical ways to check you’re writing a good book
- If you haven’t already done your market research, do it now. Check out Amazon for similar books and look on your competitors’ websites to see whether your topic is one that has already been covered (this can be a good thing as it proves it is a solid topic that you can write about in your own way).
- Put out some social media posts around your book topic and see if you get any response to it. You may need to be persistent to get the attention of enough people. Keep at it. You don’t have to declare that this is what your book is about, you can simply explore the key idea through a series of blog posts, social media posts or in your newsletter. If you don’t get any response, don’t despair.
- Get feedback from a few people you trust. Put together a brief book proposal laying out what the book is about, who it’s for and what you’re setting out the achieve. Include three sample chapters (or more if you wish) and then ask for comments and feedback.
Getting feedback and doing research are all great ways to check out your ideas and get feedback, but ultimately, if you are writing a book you believe in, that is authentic to you and that you trust will have value for your readers, you are probably going to publish a ‘good book’. So relax, have some fun and let yourself go. Because when you flow, your book will flow too and a book written from a state of flow will almost definitely be good.
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