Is writers block really stopping you from writing your book?

We are all experts at creating reasons why we haven’t finished (or perhaps even started our book). How do I know this? Because I have been a master at inventing more important things to do than write. 

You can so easily become a ‘busy fool’ or, if you are like me, you put the needs of others (and your bank account) ahead of getting on with the writing of your books. There is nothing wrong or insidious about this, it’s just a fact of life especially in these credit crunchy days. 

Make no mistake, by writing your book there is no guarantee of instant riches and retirement. Like the lottery, you have to play and be in the written and published category to have any chance of ‘winning’. You will also learn your craft and about the vagaries of the publishing industry by writing and publishing something no matter how small. 

Perhaps it’s a collection of poems or short stories. The literary world is full of authors who only ‘made it’ through tenacity and persistence. Some also only achieve fame posthumously. While this might not be of any benefit to you, just think of how you can leave a cultural legacy for the world and perhaps a financial legacy for your family. 

Speaking personally, I cashed all my pensions in early before they lost even more money and I plan not only to make my writings my passive income but also to have life style that supports what is essentially a hobby. 

Apart from financial considerations, you may have a full time job or a family to look after. The latter of course being a full time job in itself. Of course, you may have both. I am sure you will be able to think of many factors that will contrive against you getting on with writing. 

For example, the physical space you want to write in may be messy and there’s a much needed clear out to be done. 

Now I am a great believer in the win-win situation as a motivator. Forgetting for a moment about the benefit of having a book published, this little exercise at the end of this article is designed to find out what will stop you from getting your book written.  In the second part of the exercise you will elicit the collateral benefits in other areas in your life you will achieve by writing your book. 

Exercise: Identifying Blocks

List the things that you think are currently preventing you from getting started with a book. Here are some examples:

  • Full time job
  • Family commitments
  • Untidy office
  • No computer at home
  • Needing to do some research first
  • Confidence in writing
  • Lack of self esteem
  • Fear of ridicule, failure or success

Now list things in your life you would like to change, perhaps some bad habits:

  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Watching too much television
  • Issues at work
  • Family or relationship problems
  • Playing computer games

Finally, write down how you would feel if you managed to not only write and publish a book but also deal with these issues in your life. 

You can find out about the numerous ways to banish writers block in my new book BLOCKS!

How to beat writer’s block – get in the groove!

The more you write, the better you get at it and, not only that, but you will find your vocabulary improves. Conversely, you can choose not to practice and you may get rustier.  

Like all mental activity, writing uses dedicated areas in the brain. Simply doing it brings blood with oxygen and nutrients to that part of the brain and the connections between neurons are exercised, strengthened and multiplied.  

If you want to run that marathon, you would start by building up stamina, muscle strength and endurance with some shorter runs. You may also meet and speak with some people who had done it to get some tips. Unlike marathon running though, you can stop for a rest anytime when writing and just begin again when the mood takes you.  

The exercise at the end of this article is to be repeated daily and is designed to work the bits of your brain that perhaps are somewhat neglected.  It’s a technique recommended by Julia Cameron in ‘The Artist’s Way’ which I shamelessly borrow here. By the way, I thoroughly recommend you read her book as there are loads of other great tips too.  

Julia recommends you write something every day, ideally just after waking and in a quiet environment. She calls them “morning pages”. If you want to make them your midday or evening pages, that’s fine too and feel free to write more than once a day. If you wake in the early hours, writing can be very cathartic and help you get back to sleep once you’ve downloaded those ‘inner thought’.

You may also find that writing a blog each day works for you. As mentioned before, many books have emerged from blog.  

What happens is that all of a sudden you see that a collection of your writings and musings can be collated into a whole book and, without knowing it, you’ve written it. They may be a selection of short stories or poems. It may be a self-help or personal development book like this one which came from a set of PowerPoint exercises I run in my workshops that I then scripted and narrated for an online course.  

Breaking the writing of a book down like this also allows you to serialise it, say either in a magazine or perhaps in an email autoresponder sequence. 

Exercise: Getting in the groove

Complete 2-3 sheets of your A5 reporter’s pad or a couple of sheets of A4 every morning. This exercise should be done every day in lieu of actually writing your book.

You can write anything you like and here are some examples:

  • Base your writing on your dreams
  • Describe the events of yesterday, especially what was good
  • Describe your ideal day ahead or be creative & make up your best day ever
  • Describe the room you are in–or the room you would like to be in
  • Have a go at the next chapter of your book you are stuck on
  • Write some poetry
  • Write a blog you want to post that day
  • Write a story in just Six Words or Six Sentences

Spend between 10 & 20 minutes on this exercise – or, if you find you get in flow, keep writing. You will be amazed what comes from this process.  

You can find out about the numerous ways to banish writers block in my new book BLOCKS!

How to Write a Book – Finding Time to Write

Many writers and aspiring authors say that they just don’t have the time that they need to finish (or even start) their book. At a recent speaking event I asked the audience  how many people wanted to write a book and a few raised their hands. I then asked them how many would want to write a book if they could find the time and knew how to get started – 95% of the audience raised their hands!  

Once you have the structure for your book, you will know how many chapters you need to write and can start the planning process.

For a normal paperback book, a chapter might run for 6 to 12 pages with each page having between 250 and 300 words. When you are ‘in the flow’, I reckon you can write a chapter in half a day to a day. To do this, you should resist the temptation to edit and research as you are going along. 

This means, for example, a twelve chapter book will take 6 to 12 days of your time to write. You will need to find this time or engage a ghost writer. 

To find this time, answer these questions: 

  • When are you most productive? 
  • What old habits can you change in your life to create this time? 
  • Do you have any ‘me time’ in your life and would you like some? 
  • Is it time for you to take a well deserved break? 
  • Does your desk or office need tidying? 

What unnecessary clutter do you want to remove from your life? 

Now it is said that every time you switch a task, you waste five minutes. So in preparation for writing, make sure you will not be interrupted.  

Get an answer phone if you haven’t already got one. Switch your mobile off. You may look at your emails every time they come in. Set your email application to get them every four hours.  

If you can be disciplined enough to write on a set day, tell all your family, friends and work contacts about it as they will respect you for it and leave you alone.  

You may watch 2 hours of soaps every evening to relax and switch off.  Now it may sound counter-intuitive but, once you break this habit, creative writing has many more therapeutic and relaxing benefits. Who knows you may even write your own soap!

By the way, if you like to learn how to stretch time so one hour seems like four or more, the techniques for doing this are what I teach on my courses and in one-to-one mentoring.  

To give you a clue how to do this, my best time management tip is one that sounds the most counter-intuitive. 

Before each writing session, spend 20-30 minutes meditating. If you are not sure how to meditate or have trouble silencing your over-active mind, just go for a walk or do some non-strenuous exercise – stretching, yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi are especially effective.  

What could be better than getting fit, having some ‘me time’ and writing a book at the same time. 

My philosophy by the way is always to create a ‘win win’ if not a ‘win-win-win’.  

You can find out more about writing and publishing your own book in my free Ebook – How to write a book and get it published.

How to write a GREAT book

So how do you go about writing a great book? 

How do you write a book that people tell other people to read?  

Well first you need to ‘go inside’ and examine why you are writing a book in the first place. If you want to pitch your book to a publisher, they will want to know the answers to these questions anyway so it’s worth considering them even if you are self publishing or writing an ebook. 

Take some time to think about the following and make some notes and these are the things you need to know for yourself and are the kind of questions that any potential publisher will want to know: 

  • Why you?
  • Why now?
  • What’s different about your book?
  • What genre does it fit into?
  • What other books is it like? 
  • What books do you like?
  • What are your influences?
  • Who is the target reader for your book?
  • What will the reader learn and take away as a result of reading your book?
  • What ideas do you have to find your target readers?
  • What are your aspirations as an author?
  • What do you plan to do under your own initiative to promote and sell the book?
  • What would you like to happen as a result of writing your book?
    • For you
    • For your business
    • For your readers
    • For the planet

You can find out more about writing and publishing your own book in my free Ebook – How to write a book and get it published.

Clearing Writer’s Block with Mind Maps

They say we only use 5% of our brains. If so what’s the other 95% doing and how do you tap into it?

Well the answer to this lies in learning the art of Whole Brain Thinking and a really simple way to do this is to use mind maps – this brief video explains how to start …

Come along to my workshop or take my home study course to find out how to go from idea to 1st draft of your book and why one attendee said:

Duncan Bolam thumbnail“Taking on the dream of writing a book can be intangible so many would-be authors float around frustratedly, lacking structure feeling anchorless. I left Tom’s course energised with a spring in my step. More importantly I had 13 well-engineered mind maps instilling a sense of shape to my plan and a bearing upon which to set my compass. Tom is a skilled facilitator who gave a great deal of himself. It is rare that I walk away from a workshop so energised – truly rare. You are a prime example of what I would call someone who is in the zone, centred and filled with innate conviction.” – Duncan Bolam, Career Dovetail, Surrey

How to write a book and get it published

tbwGuideToWritingYourBook_220I am discovering more and more recently  that it’s not just aspiring authors wanting to write their first book who need my help the most. It’s also authors who may be on their 2nd or 3rd book and are stuck for inspiration and held back by the dreaded ‘writers block’.

I’ve also having great success with those that hadn’t seriously considered writing a book before but who I have helped to unleash their creative writing talent and to build the confidence to get stuck in and have a go (and many have gone on to write and publish their first book)!

And although I have been blogging for ages and sharing chunks of my knowledge and experience about book writing & publishing and creativity, until now I hadn’t put it all together into a neat and easy to read little ebook that summarises the basic but fundamental steps to writing and publishing your book.

So here it is at last, and it’s called, funnily enough, “How to write a book and get published”.  It does what it says on the tin.

What’s in the book?

  • How to write a great book
  • When to write your book
  • The pros and cons of the four routes to publication
  • Loads of useful links to resources for authors

And the good news is you can download it – absolutely free!

Follow this link to claim your free copy

I hope you enjoy and I’d be really grateful for your feedback and suggestions.

Creative Writing with iMindMap v4.0

iMindmap version 4 is now available and has some enhanced features that are really useful in the creative writing process.

Audio notes

I come across many writers who would rather “speak” their book rather than write it. Now you simply record your thoughts and even the text for your book for later transcription.

Box Branches

Sometimes the single word mode which is recommended for mind map brainstorming can be restrictive. The new box branch mode allows long text strings like chapter titles to be entered and to really stand out.

Presentation mode

As your maps and child maps grow in complexity, it can be difficult for someone new to the material to grasp your thinking. This new feature simplifies the sharing of even the most complex ideas about your book to an editor, literary agent or to readers at a book presentation or signing.

Text Mode

The revamped Text Mode allows interactive editing of your Mind Maps really quickly.  You can now edit any text, graphics and even links whilst in Text Outline Mode.  Combined with an enhanced Word import, this is one of the fastest ways to create a map from existing material.

Upgrade v3.0 or get a trial copy of version 4.0 today

Watch this video to see all the new features