The secret to writing the book you’ve always wanted to write
The hard part of writing a book is not the publishing or marketing. It’s tapping into a state of flow. Here’s how you can do it.
Writing a book is one of the most popular items on people’s bucket list. Those who accomplish this know how difficult, how much energy it takes to do this and use a practice that creates their best work.
I use to hate writing. It was boring, it took too much time, and when someone told me I had to read if I wanted to become better, I laughed.
“Why the hell does a writer need to read?”
At the time, I was a huge procrastinator. I use to procrastinate about a lot of things; Working out, eating better, making social plans. Instead of committing, I would sit my ass on the couch telling myself I’d watch one more episode of a TV series, play one more game of Madden on the Xbox. Years passed, and it hit me one day that I was making excuses and talking with friends about projects I never finished or ideas I never started. I was bragging more than I was doing.
I decided enough was enough and I was going to do something I never imagined myself doing: Write a book
After 3 years of pouring time into endless edits, drafts, character development, I accomplished my goal. I sold copies. I told my story publicly, and the thrill of having something I finished was one of the most significant accomplishments of my life. Now, I’m hooked. I can’t go a day without writing, and it feels I am finally living my truth.
Writing is my saving grace of mine now. During the dark times, writing helped me escape them and enter a place of peace and therapy. I don’t plan on ever stopping. In fact, I have more I want to write and share.
Here’s the thing about writing: It’s going to be painful. The first couple days of sitting at my desk were filled with pain and frustration. Everything I wrote I thought was absolute crap but once I pushed myself to sit down for an extended period, the floodgates opened up. Soon, words and scenes would pop into my head, and I would describe them as best as possible. This is called flow, and when you experience this, it becomes a complete immersion.
You lose track of time, and there is nothing in the world that feels like this.
Flow will come to you when you write for a period of time and the more you do it, the easier it gets to be in that state of creativity.
To those of you who want to write that novel that’s been sitting in your brain for years, the graphic novel, the blog posts whatever it may be, it is time for you to get into the state of flow and start living out your truth.
Here are some things to help you get into the flow:
Sit your ass down, in front of a computer and get to work
There is no simple workaround for this. In fact, this is my number one. Sit down and start writing. Who cares what comes out? No one is going to read it right now. That’s what editing process is for (I’ll save that one for a future post.)
Turn off the phone
This is the one thing that will pull you out of your flow.
If you have to have it on, flip your phone upside down and set a timer for a minimum of 10 minutes. Set your sight on writing for 10 minutes uninterrupted. Once you nail that down, increase to 15 and see if you can bump it up until you reach 30.
My ultimate goal is to do 60 a day but with a day job and trying to have somewhat of a social life, I carve out 30 for now.
Get yourself a pair of noise canceling headphones
This is a game changer. Buying yourself a good pair of headphones (I have this pair) will allow you to write anywhere you want. I can write in a noisy coffee shop no problem at all.
Coffee is king, but any warm drink works
I posted a question on Twitter a while back and asked “What some good things to have when you write?”
A friend and mentor of mine tweeted back.
“Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.”
I couldn’t agree with him more.
Coffee is the one thing that helps me get focused. It’s not the caffeine as that takes awhile to kick in since I drink a fair amount. It’s the taste and the warmth that gives me a calming feeling to help me stay focused and centered.
Not a coffee drinker? Tea works just as well. When I don’t want to do coffee, I either go with Hojicha green tea or Earl Grey.
Tell yourself before you write that you will not judge what comes out on the paper
This is just as important as turning off your phone.
Judgment kills your writing. You want to never finish your book? Be critical of what comes out.
When I wrote my first book, I was so hard on myself with every single word I wrote. I hated the way something was phrased, the way I painted the picture of war and coming home. Even when I gave it to my publisher, I told him I didn’t like it even if he was happy with it.
“I don’t know if I should publish this. I don’t know if reads well.”
“Mike, you’re a writer, and you should focus on writing. That’s why they have editors, so you don’t have to punch yourself in the face with what you’re creating. They do that for you.”
Hearing that freed me from being critical of my writing while I was doing it. I still am always evaluating, but that comes when I review the second and third drafts. You should as a writer always look to improve but think of your first time to write that story or blog post as laying the foundation. You can shape and mold it however you want. Trust me you’ll look at your manuscript or post so many times that you’ll lose your mind.