Is Being A Perfectionist Stopping You From Writing Your Book?
Do you have a dream to write your book? Here are 6 benefits to writing a book for you, your clients and your business brand.
- You get to give value by sharing your ideas, story and tools in a way that’s accessible and affordable for your clients
- You can create a passive income stream that gives you money without swapping your time – do the work once and keep getting paid
- It’s a way for your ideal clients to get to know, like and trust you
- You can become an authority in your industry and create signature talks, programs and courses with your topic.
- It takes time, commitment and not everyone has written a book so it can set you apart from your peers
- It may be simply that you have had a dream to write a book and love expressing yourself through words. Perhaps you have a love for books and reading them has shaped who you have become and you want to share what you’ve learned and pass on the good vibes.
But what if you know the benefits and you have the dream….and yet, years are ticking by with your book still not out in the world? What’s up with that?!
Is perfectionism holding you back from writing your book?
I know that was certainly the case for me. I read books about writing books. I participated in book writing challenges and bought courses. I even wrote the outline and some of the chapters (which over time transformed into the content in the Healing Business Mastermind).
Each time I would sit down to write, my inner-perfectionist said things like:
“All the good books have been written”
“Who am I to write this?”
“What if I write it and it doesn’t get to be an Amazon number 1 best seller”
“Writing a book is daunting. Even writing a blog is hard, let alone a whole book!”
“Ooh, I think the under stairs cupboard / loft / every single drawer in my house needs to be decluttered, shall we start there?!”
Can you relate to these fear thoughts? Which one speaks the loudest to you?
What does your inner-perfectionist say when you think about writing your book?
What thoughts and beliefs are stopping you from starting, writing or finishing your book?
Over the years of writing articles, guest blogs, over 50 guidebooks for the Mastermind and three published books, including the My Fulfilled Life planner, I have discovered some useful ways to overcome writer’s block. You can use these tips to help your inner perfectionist move out of the way and allow your creative artist out to play. Yay!
Have A Growth Mindset
A perfectionist’s mindset is often fixed and thinks in a binary, “this or that”, way. For example, your writing is either good or bad, right or wrong and there’s not much in between.
Conversely, a growth mindset allows for more middle ground and a lot more compassion. What this looks like with writing is making a first draft, or allowing space to create version 1 and then developing it into version 2. A growth mindset encourages you to make a start and then learn and improve as you go. This offers a more expansive way of thinking as it allows space to make mistakes without criticism or judgement and it means you have an opportunity to learn and grow from the challenges you face along the way. In that way, the “mistakes” you will inevitably make actually benefit you and therefore can be a welcomed part of the process of developing your skills and honing your craft.
This way of thinking can be truly transformative for a perfectionist.
Take Messy Action!
To ‘warm up into the writing zone it can be helpful to open a blank document or fresh page and start writing stream of consciousness. It doesn’t have to mean anything and is simply to help you settle into a comfortable state so you can concentrate on writing.
Just start and take messy action. Take off any pressure that what you write has to be “good” and make your goal simply to get into the flow and write. Rather than focusing on the piece needing to be “perfect”, simply focus on it being finished. That way, you will have made progress and have something you can work with, improve and refine.
Perfection is subjective anyway! In my experience, nothing ever quite meets the extremely high standards of a perfectionist. Don’t write for the approval of your inner or outer critics. Write to convey your message to the reader. Connect with the person who will truly benefit from and enjoy your words.
Write First, Edit Later
The biggest flow-blocker is to edit your writing as you go along. It can be very tempting for a perfectionist to want everything to be as neat as possible, but writing in flow and editing require different skills, and have a different state of mind. Simply begin writing without filter, and know that you can, and probably will, rework sentences later if you need to. The priority in the first draft is simply to get your ideas out of your head and onto the page.
My process is to:
Write freestyle stream of consciousness to start getting into the writing zone.
Bullet point my main points so I know the outline and my key message.
Write freely without judgement or editing – which may include jumping around and writing out of the order of how it’ll be read.
Proofread and edit.
When you hit the wall…keep going!
Through every single piece I write, I usually “hit the wall” at some point. To me, it feels like wanting to step away from the piece and never come back! I hear critical thoughts and it can feel physically crushing. Then, I take a deep breath and keep writing! Sometimes I get up for a break, but I’ve found it’s easier to work through that feeling and keep going. The risk of walking away in that moment is that I break the flow and dread going back to it. I prefer to walk away and have a break when I have a positive feeling about what I’m writing. The positive feeling of being in the flow soon comes around again, so hang in there! When you hit the wall… keep going!
Break It Down
You don’t have to write in a linear way, Perfectionists think in straight lines and probably assume that you should start your book at the Introduction and keep writing until you reach the Conclusion.
This does not work in practice. The creative process is by nature a messy one.
You can write the outline first, make a note of the chapters or main points and then fill in the blanks as you go along. Work on the parts that feel inspiring and don’t feel the need to write it from start to finish. It’s normal to hop around. Have fun and go with it!
Creating An Ideal Environment
In a practical way, creating the right space and time to write is so helpful.
Writing doesn’t always look like sitting at your computer actually writing! You may percolate your ideas and receive sparks of inspiration while cooking, driving or taking a shower. You may find that writing the outline by hand works well for you in a book, on a whiteboard, on a huge piece of paper or on little tiny post it notes.
I like experimenting with different pieces of music, from background café sounds on YouTube to a particular classical music playlist I use when I want to quickly activate a state of concentration. Using music to create an atmosphere can be a useful way to “plug in” to your writing zone and eliminate any distracting background noises.
Create a writing ritual to help you to quickly connect with your creative flow
Be open to exploring the resources and rituals you’d like to use to create the right environment for your creativity to flow. Your inner perfectionist may be a bit stingy about this because they aren’t used to being playful, but here’s your permission if you need it to have a lot of fun creating a beautiful and inspiring place for you to be creative.
Productivity looks different for a creative person so may take an adjustment to what you, others or society thinks about what that looks like. Going for a walk and reflecting on a topic or talking with a friend about your point of view to help formulate your ideas are examples of being productive! Release any guilt about your creative process being fun, easy and enjoyable. If you’re enjoying it, it’s a sign you’re on the right track and that energetic alignment will come through in your writing.
Get Support And Accountability
Have you ever checked out your productivity personality profile using Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Quiz? I highly recommend it! It helps you to learn what you are motivated by and in that way you can consciously create the right kind of support that works for you. This awareness has been helpful for my productivity and how I can move forward with my projects. It’s great if you work in a team too.
If you know external accountability and showing up for others is motivating to you, Cate Butler-Ross hosts the Write Club. It’s a weekly writing club where you get together in person for one hour each week to write. There’s no talking, it’s a focused 60 minutes where you can move your projects forward, whether it’s a blog, social media posts, newsletters, or writing a book.
Cate is one of our fabulous guest experts in the Healing Business Mastermind and created the Power Up Your Marketing With Storytelling masterclass and is passionate about helping you to share your stories.
Join A Challenge
My favourite ever book writing challenge was “Write Your Worst Book Ever”! My word of the year at the time was creativity and it felt like a really fun twist on the usual writing challenges, which were all about writing your best book and getting to be an Amazon number 1 best seller. The pressure I put myself under honestly put me off having a go.
I went into the Write Your Worst Book challenge with no expectations and didn’t really know what it was about, but it sounded fun and I was intrigued. The event was really inspiring and the way Bradley structured everything made writing a book so simple! The book outline template alone was worth the sign up fee! I laughed so much during the challenge and my creativity skyrocketed! I realised how easy and enjoyable writing could be when you take the pressure off and don’t worry about it being good, the best or a best seller. From this place of energetic alignment and freedom, I actually created and published a quirky little book called The Ultimate Guide To Being Perfect, how to stifle your creativity and sabotage your dreams in 30 days!
It’s kind of a dark humour twist on a self-help book where my alter ego Pricilla The Perfect explains how to stay in your comfort zone and lock your creative expression away. There are coaching questions throughout to help you to get to know and transform your inner-perfectionist too. And you’ll have more than a few knowing laughs along the way.
We had to write fake reviews about the book being the worst and it was so refreshing to laugh at ourselves- something a perfectionist does not find easy! I gave myself one star and called it “disappointing”. Ouch!!!
I know if you are reading this, there is a story within you waiting to be told. You have words within you that would love to be expressed. Create space to allow your ideas to flow and be courageous so you can share them with others.
Allow your inner-perfectionist to relax, let go and step aside so you can loosen up, have fun and write freely.
Here are some coaching questions to reflect or journal on.
What has been your biggest realisation from this blog about what’s getting in the way of you writing?
How would you like to feel when you’re writing and expressing yourself? How can you move towards that, starting today?
What new ways of being would you like to take forward and commit to?
What’s your next step and when are you going to take it?
Come and share your intentions!
Come and share with your writing intentions for some external accountability and cheerleading at the Healing Business Academy Facebook Group or drop a comment below. Would love to hear your book idea and any tips you have for breaking through those writers blocks.