You have an idea for a book. You’ve been kicking it around for a while, your spouse, your friends, your kids might even have heard you talk about “your book.”
But you haven’t started the book. No, it’s not writer’s block. You can’t have writer’s block unless you’ve started writing!
Here are some of the most common fears that keep us from writing a nonfiction book.
It’s already been written. Yes, other authors have written books about the same subject you are writing about. Even in the world of memoir, there are many recurring themes of abusive childhoods or overcoming addiction. You need to be aware of these other books. You need to read them. Because you must find your point of difference. What makes your book different from others in its category? Your unique point of view, the focus of your book separates you from the pack. Nobody else can write your book. Nobody has your perspective.
It won’t be good. You may be reluctant to write your book because you think you’re not a good writer. Perhaps you’re an engineer, more comfortable with flow charts and equations than prose writing. Or perhaps English is not your first language. Know this, for most nonfiction books, such as self-help or how-to, it’s not about the writing. You don’t need to be F. Scott Fitzgerald to write a best-selling how-to book! A well-organized book, cleanly formatted, and written in simple language is often the best way to present your thesis. Professional help, such as a book developer or editor, can also assist you with the nuts & bolts of your manuscript and strengthen your confidence in sharing your story.
It won’t be successful. If your idea of success is an instant best-seller or making millions with your book, you may be right. Consider more realistic expectations. And, do think about what success with this book will look like. What are your expectations and what are your objectives? It’s easier to measure and attain success when you know what you’re aiming for. Your objective may be a desire to “set the record straight” or it may be to increase the number of consulting clients your business has.
I’m too mad/angry/hurt. This fear may be valid if the events in your memoir are recent. Solution: Give it time. The best memoir provides perspective, and that is usually gained with time. If the event just happened your feelings may still be raw. This might cause your writing to be sarcastic or snarky. If you’re still at the angry rant stage, save it for your diary.
I don’t want to hurt or upset people. Again, more likely if you are writing a family story, a memoir, even a legacy book about a family business. Often authors wait until their parents die before talking about a hellish childhood, for instance. But, it can improve your story to get a different perspective of the events of the past. Consider talking with the other people who were there. Their memories might be very different from yours and provide an additional and different perspective of the event.
Keep in mind, at the end of the road, people have more regrets about the things they didn’t do. Like writing that book.