Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

9 Crippling Beliefs Holding Writers Back From Writing Their Book (and How to Overcome Them)

Note: This is a guest post by Ayodeji Awosika. He is a writing coach who helps aspiring writers develop confidence, build writing habits, and launch their writing careers into the stratosphere. Visit his website to receive your free guide: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Your First Book.

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Admit it.

You’ve been thinking about writing a book for a while now. Maybe you’ve even spent years thinking about it.

I was once in your shoes.

I tried to write a book when I was in high school. It was a YA novel intended for high school kids. I wrote a handful of pages before giving up.

I waited years before trying to write one again, and I still made several failed attempts before I finally finished a full manuscript.

What changed?

I didn’t write my first book until I changed the beliefs I had around writing my first book.

As an aspiring writer, your number one challenge isn’t the writing itself. More often than not, the limiting beliefs in your mind stop you from doing what it takes to build a writing career.

Today I want to share the crippling beliefs that hold you back and provide ways to reframe the internal dialogue you have with yourself so you can finally finish that damn manuscript.

1. I Have to Write a Great Book

You want to create great work, and that’s admirable.

You might dream of writing the next Great American Novel, but if you put too much pressure on yourself to succeed, you’ll never produce anything.

There’s no need to measure yourself against the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, Jeff Goins, or James Altucher. Odds are, the writers you look up to are much further in their career than you are.

Once you realize it’s okay to be a decent writer, your work will flourish. You can still write popular books without being the world’s greatest wordsmith.

2. Writing a Book is Inherently Difficult

I’ve noticed a peculiar phenomenon with certain writers. They have no problem producing content for their blog, but they freeze when it’s time to write a book.

Writing a book requires the same amount of words as 15-20 blog posts.

You can use strategies such as mind-mapping and outlining to create a definitive blueprint for your book.

If you break down the process to its essential elements, you’ll find your book will be much easier to write.

Once you create your outline and gather your notes, you can focus on the section at hand just like you would a blog post.

Goal setting often falls short when you bite off more than you can chew.

If you view writing a book as a step by step process instead of a monumental feat, your odds of finishing it will skyrocket.

3. I Need to do Have a Large Audience Before I Write My First Book

You know how important it is to have a platform for your writing.

You see influential bloggers with whale-sized email lists who launch their books with instant success.

I applaud you for wanting to spread your reach and influence prior to writing a book, but you don’t necessarily need a giant audience to sell a nice amount of copies.

Taylor Pearson, author The End of Jobs, sold 5,000 copies of his first book with a small email list of only 700 people. He wrote a stellar book and created a smart marketing plan.

You can write a bestselling book with a small audience. If you focus on writing a quality book and using smart strategies to market it, you stand a fighting chance of it taking off.

4. Everything’s Been Done

You want to be an original author who writes an earth shatteringly original book.

Good luck with that.

Most subjects have been written about, but nobody else has your voice and your unique experiences.

If you find books similar to the one you want to write, it means there’s a market for it.

Think about it. Do you only read one blog in a given niche or one book in a given genre? No, you gladly read material from different writers within a niche because they each have a unique perspective to provide.

Why don’t you give your perspective the same credit?

Write your book, and it’ll stand out against a sea of competitors.

5. I Need to Get My MFA Degree

No, you don’t. The only thing an MFA degree guarantees is a large sum of money being removed from your bank account.

There are tons of classically trained writers who don’t sell anything. You don’t need a fancy piece of paper to give you permission to be a writer.

If you write, you’re a writer. If you’re a writer, you have the right to write a book. Period.

6. I Need to Find a Publisher

Again, this is another example of waiting for someone to pick you instead of picking yourself.

There are several authors making an impact and an income with Self-Publishing (hint: you’re reading a blog post on a successfully self-published author’s website right now). Gone are the days where you need some stuffy New York suit to deem your writing suitable for publication.

Publishers provide no definitive evidence they can help you sell more books than you can on your own. They usually seek writers with large platforms, and if you already have a large platform you don’t need them.

7. I’m a Fraud

You think you need more expertise and experience before you’re worthy of writing a book.

You suffer from imposter syndrome and fear getting “found out,” for the wannabe writer you really are.

Your problem isn’t the fact you feel this way. It’s the fact you wish this feeling would go away.

Every writer is plagued with feelings of insecurity. The writers who succeed realize the feeling never goes away.

Once you acknowledge your insecurities and accept their existence, you’ll focus on doing work that matters.

If you’ve been writing for a while, you have people who look up to you. It’s about what they see, not what you see. If you do work that matters, they’ll see you for who you really are—a writer willing to put their soul on the line for their craft.

And they’ll love you for doing it.

8. I Need to Get my Ducks in a Row

Let me guess, you want to write a book but you need to:

  • Tweak your ‘about page’
  • Redesign your author website
  • Reach out to three influencers
  • The list goes on

Writers have an uncanny ability to prioritize everything in their life above the necessary work they need to do in order to build their careers.

When it comes to book writing, your level of procrastination increases tenfold.

Forget about the ducks. They’ll never line up the way you want them to.

When you finish your book, they still won’t stand single file, but you won’t care. As Steven Pressfield mentioned in The War of Art, the sheer act of finishing your manuscript will cause euphoria.

The quality of the book won’t matter. Once you realize you’re able to finish something substantial, the doors of opportunity swing wide open.

9. I’m a Terrible Writer Who Will Never Amount to Anything

All of the other fears tie into this one, don’t they?

Writing is almost a masochistic practice. The more you practice the more you realize how much you need to keep practicing.

Your words never quite match your taste, and you feel your writing career is destined for mediocrity and obscurity.

Keep writing my friend. Look at the archives of your favorite writer’s blogs like Bryan’s. You’ll see their writing improve with time, and it’ll help you see the power of growth and practice.

Maybe you won’t write a massive hit with your first book, but you’ll have added another important milestone to your practice, and one day you’ll pen your masterpiece.

I believe it because I’ve seen the power of growth in my life and the lives of many other writers. Writing is a learnable skill and the only true obstacle lies between your ears.

The fact you chose writing shows you’re special, because who would choose such a path for their life?

The writer’s path is filled with struggle, but the rewards are oh-so-worth-it.

If you commit to writing your first book, your life will change forever. Change your mindset, finish your book, and the sky’s the limit for your writing career.

Go.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins
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  • Carrie Aulenbacher

    It’s not the first book for me; it’s the second. Lost a dear friend to the first book and without that support, that sounding board, it’s difficult to write anymore. Dare I admit that out in public? Eep!! The first was easy for me and now it seems like my last and it’s crippling.

    • Ayodeji Awosika

      Hi Carrie,

      I’m very sorry for your loss. There are several groups and communities online where you can reach out to fellow authors and bounce ideas off between one another. In fact, I’m sure there are plenty of Positive Writer fans who’d be glad to help.

      Feel free to shoot ME and email anytime ayodejiawosika@gmail.com

  • Judy Peterman Blackburn

    I declared this morning I was finished with my novel. You’re right it’s a feeling of euphoria to be able to say it’s done. Thank you for an encouraging post. And thank you, Bryan for this blog and your books. 🙂

    • Ayodeji Awosika

      Hi Judy,

      Congratulations on finishing your novel! I actually wrote the post, but Bryan does run an amazing blog, doesn’t he?

      • Judy Peterman Blackburn

        Thank you. Yes, I knew you wrote the post and I am going to read it again, such an encouragement. And yes I really like Bryan’s blog. 🙂

  • Marley

    Thank you so much for this blog post. I am writing as part of November’s write nonfiction in 30 days. I have an outline finally and a direction. This post though comes on a day where I was just questioning whether I have something new to add to other like books on my topic.

    • Ayodeji Awosika

      Hi Marley,

      You’re welcome. I think you have a great deal to add. I hope you share it with us all. Feel free to email me about anything writing related – ayodejiawosika@gmail.com

  • samcarter44

    Thanks for this guest post! These are all feelings I’ve experienced, and I appreciate the way you spelled them out and offered encouragement through each one. Putting this post in my folder of blog posts to keep!

    • Ayodeji Awosika

      You’re SO welcome. Feel free to email me if you’re looking for guidance or would like to chat – ayodejiawosika@gmail.com