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How NOT to Write a Book: 4 tips to go from idea to published book 10x faster

This blog post is about how I wrote a book. It was my first novel so I made a loooot of mistakes along the way. Things you wouldn’t want to repeat so I’d like to save you some time and angst by telling you how NOT to write a book.


Woman sitting on a stack of books using a typewriter (Canva)

I think the first thing that I need to mention is that you should never at any cost …. oh excuse me, I had to take a phone call. Where was I? Oh yes, you should never let your phone become your personality. Don’t let it distract you so much that you miss out on the moments that will make you a great writer. Don’t let it inform your thoughts — have regular phone-free days where you connect with nature, books and the people you love. That also applies to streamable TV and movies. Limit your consumption of television. Read books and go to places where you can observe human nature. Airports are great places where you can see humans at their best.

These are pretty basic suggestions that you’ve heard before from most other writers and wellbeing experts. It’s more than lip service — your life will improve if you do these things and not the easy option of binge-watching 11 episodes of Brooklyn 99.

Let’s get straight into it.


#1 DON’T IGNORE YOUR MINDSET BLOCKS

Okay, now for something you have not read about yet: don’t ignore your emotional baggage. Confront your mindset blocks head on and your writing will be raw and honest. Engaging and un-put-downable.

The reason it took me ten long years to get to the point of publishing is because I had to fight the belief that it wasn’t possible for someone like me. The scarcity mindset is real and it doesn’t just apply to finances — it also applies to experiences, happiness and belief in ones’ self. It’s easy to self-sabotage when you don’t believe you deserve success or at the very least — goal completion.

I’ve done so much therapy and mindset work over the last 5 years that I feel like I can diagnose a stranger’s dysfunctions at a glance. I can’t of course, but the gut feelings are strong.


#2 DON’T BE A PEOPLE PLEASER

It sounds almost biblical but here goes: thou shalt not crave approval. The things you write are gifts for you — they exist in your mind for a reason, and whether people like it or not is secondary.

If you’re constantly craving approval from others, your writing will never be sincere. It will be a homage to whomever you are trying to please. Whether that is a disapproving parent, a judgemental acquaintance, or even a negative Nigel in an online forum. Stay true to your voice.


#3 DON’T PROCRASTINATE


Flow diagram showing the journey from overthinking to decision, then to action.

Move as fast as you can from overthinking ➡️to decision ➡️to action. The best way to do this is by incorporating a level of accountability into your writing practice. You will need to find the best way that works for you, but here are some of my top suggestions for getting to the point of action faster:

  • Focusmate — this is an on-demand accountability tool where you can have a focus session with a ‘mate’ who is also working on their project. Doing it together provides accountability, short-term partnership, and motivation. This is great if you have ADHD and need external triggers to motivate you.

  • Anti-procrastination meditation — listen to this while you are trying to get to the point of action and even when you are already writing — this will give you a sense of urgency and physical action.

  • Kitchen Timer — yes, you can use a good old-fashioned kitchen timer (not your phone because you’ll get distracted). Put it on your desk and set the timer for 15 minutes. Work for just 15 minutes and this will break the procrastination inertia and you will most likely want to keep going — doing longer and longer sessions.

  • Freewrite — using a Freewrite writing machine has zero distractions and takes away the urge to edit while writing. It’s the closest you can get to using a typewriter without using an actual typewriter. You can also use any computer or notebook and turn off all notifications so you’re not distracted.

  • A personalised desk — for me this includes a candle, a figurine of Calliope (the Greek muse of writing and poetry), writing dice, and a box of writing prompts. I use these things to get into a writing routine or open a writing doorway. For example, I will throw the writing dice to get a writing prompt and write a quick short story that opens up my imagination.


#4 DON’T ABSORB NEGATIVE OPINIONS

Everyone you know will have an opinion about your writing. Some of it will be useful and some of it will not. People’s opinions are usually based on their own capabilities and they may project their limitations onto you. Don’t take it personally. Absorbing negativity will only slow you down and create blockages in your writing. If you need to set a boundary with the negative person in your life, you are wise to do so. You know yourself best and you know how their negativity will affect you. Feel free to edit your time and energy carefully.

There’s probably 11 more things that you shouldn’t do while writing a book… but these 4 are the ones that held me back the most. You indeed have to get your mindset on board with your creative endeavours. Some tricky little limiting beliefs will pop up and try to tell you ‘you can’t’. But trust me — you can. I did.

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