So here I am on this writing retreat in Auckland, New Zealand. I’ve been writing all day and I need to go get some fresh air.
There’s a park nearby that I decide to venture. It’s an odd shape, with a creek and native trees, and somewhere down the bottom there I know I can get through to the ocean.
I manage to find my way through to the beach and notice it’s getting dark, so I start back. Only thing is I’m not sure which path to take. I’m keen to do a loop, rather than go back on myself, but I hesitate...
It’ll probably be too dark to complete the loop if I go down by the creek where it’s all overgrown. Better to stay out in the open.
Then again, I really don’t want to go back the way I came. Maybe I’ll risk it.
So I start off on the loop track, and about a third of the way back, the pathway curves round and down a hill in the bushes.
It’s too dark too see where I’m going and I don’t really want to be in the undergrowth on my own not knowing where I am. It’s now too late to go back on the original pathway, because the way I came involves going through some dodgy patches too. I have no alternative than taking the road.
The road is more open, but takes me an extra hour (!!) to get back to the retreat house. (If I hadn’t had my phone on me, I would still be out there now. What did we do before Google Maps?!)
I get back and everyone is midway through dinner. I turn up late and I feel a bit bad that I have to scoff dinner still sweaty from walking while everyone else is relaxed and engaged.
The lesson I took from this jumped out at me immediately.
Clarity. Clarity. Clarity.
Hesitate and lose.
It applies to everything in life. And it applies to your book too.
Clarity makes the difference between a book that flies and a book that fails.
And I often encounter writers that are pained by their writing.
The bottom line is always that they don’t know where their book is heading. Or it’s not heading where they thought it was heading.
Just like my walk in the dark, if writers hesitate or take a wrong turn, they have to go back on themselves. They’ll take longer to get to their destination. And they’ll be more focused on how to get to the end, by any means, than making the journey a beautiful and enjoyable one. They’ll find themselves where they wanted to be, but having missed out on what made it worth it.
Your book needs clarity.
Right from the start.
And if you’ve started out, it’s not too late to get that clarity now. In fact, I recommend doing this before you go a step further.
Questions to ask yourself
Here are the eight questions I recommend every writer reflects on before continuing with their book.
- Why did you decide to start writing this book?
- What problem is the book trying to solve?
- Who has this problem?
- What solution do you provide?
- What stories relate to you deciding to write a book?
- Why do you want to be an author?
- How will you publish?
- Who will you have on your team?
You don’t have to have the answers from the beginning, but without any clarity, these elements of the book writing process will hold you back.
So many writers won’t finish their books until they have an editor in place. Others are harbouring undiscovered resistance about putting themselves out there as an author that is secretly sabotaging their ability to get on with the job of getting words down. And others again have so many ideas for so many people that they’re probably writing more than one book, but trying to cram everything they know into this book.
Recognise any of these? Or all of them?
Awareness is the first step towards doing something about it.
Want the second step?
Join my FREE 7-day program Destination :: Author to find out if your book idea is The One.