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5 Tips for Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster of Writing a Book

You know the roller coaster I’m talking about right?

I wrote about how I felt riding the low point on the emotional roller coaster last week as the high from landing my book deal wore off and the work I have to do on my book—plus life—hit hard.

My clients hit some lows too:

  • "How can I draft a book proposal if I don't even know what my title is yet?"

  • "I'm overwhelmed so I'm not doing anything."

  • "How do YOU make time for writing?"

Here's what I told my writers & myself:

  1. The roller coaster is normal.

The Serenity Prayer that is often shared in 12 Step Meetings is a great guide for writers, even if you never intend to darken the door of a church: 

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Accept the fact that the roller coaster will happen. Don't beat yourself up when it does. 

  1. Life happens and it's okay to take a break. 

You may be a super organized person who color codes their calendars and knows exactly when you’re going to write. And yay for you! But life does have a way of interfering with the best laid plans. 

  • You trip on an uneven step like my friend Susanne did and badly break your ankle. 
  • Your elderly parent has an emergency. 
  • Your child gets sick. 
  • Life happens—and it's okay to take a break. 

Give yourself permission to let go for a few days AND set a deadline to get back in the game. Ideally find someone—a book coach or a writing partner—to help you stay accountable for that deadline you'll be setting.

  1. Set tiny goals and chunk down the work. 

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all that's involved in writing a book, and it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can't do anything if you don't have at least several hours to commit to your writing. Set small goals so you can feel successful. 

One hour a day. Thirty minutes, three times a week. 

And in that manageable time you have set aside to write, pick ONE thing to work on at a time. 

Chunk down a big project so it doesn't feel so overwhelming:

  • Tackle one part of your book proposal like the author bio or your comp title list.
  • Write a messy first draft of one scene that you know will be in your memoir. 

Break down the tasks into small pieces so you can feel accomplished at the end of your writing session.

Meaningful memoirs aren’t written in one weekend.

  1. It's okay not to know.

When you begin a book project, there's so much you don't know and that's why my book coaching process starts with some of those big questions:

  • Why do you want to write this book? 
  • What's the one thing you want to say—and to whom? 

My writers get enough clarity on the big questions that they can take action on drafting their manuscripts or their book proposals, but that doesn't mean that EVERYTHING is figured out right away.

Planning and writing a book is an iterative process and things will change. If there's something you don't know right now, that's okay. 

You can always [TK] it! 

That's editor talk for "to come."

You're not sure about your title yet? Type [TK] and write your first scene anyway. 

  1. Reach out and get support.

When you are feeling low about your writing life, reach out and get support. There's something about voicing your feelings that makes things better even if nothing else has changed.

Make sure you have people in your writing life—a book coach, a writing partner, a writing group—who can remind you:

  • The roller coaster is normal.
  • The lows won't last forever. 
  • You're absolutely capable of doing this work—and you can make the time to do it.

Find people who will remind you that your story matters when you forget.

Because your story does matter.

Don't let the roller coaster stop you from writing it.

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