Not to be cliché, but if I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, “I want to write a book, I just don’t think I can,” I’d probably have about...$12.54.
Which, if you do the math, still means I’ve heard it a lot.
When I mention that I've published two books and am working on a third, most people react with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The typical response begins with,“I want to write a novel too and I have this amazing idea!” and almost always ends with, “But I could never write a novel because I just can’t...for no real reason that I can give you.”
For many of the aspiring writers I’ve met, their self-doubt is strong...with the Dark side of the Force. “You want to write a book, don’t you?” the voice in their head says, presumably sounding like Emperor Palpatine. “Your feeble creativity is no match for the power of the Dark side! An entire legion of my best emotional blocks await you!”
And, who knows, maybe that little Emperor Palpatine in your head is right. Maybe it really is impossible to write a book.
In fact, if you’re thinking of writing a book but also think there’s no possible way you can, here are five reasons why you should just give up now and never write your book.
Reason 1: You hate feeling accomplished.
Seriously, who enjoys feeling like they’re doing something meaningful and fulfilling? What good could possibly come from doing something that will feed your soul, or give you the unmatched excitement of creating something new and unapologetically yours?
Fulfillment? Excitement? Pride? Accomplishment? Pfft! Who needs that crap?
Reason 2: You crave fear.
Yes, putting yourself out there for the world to read is scary. People will read your work and *gasp* have an opinion of your work!
Yeah, it’s probably best to shelve that amazing idea you have and just hide your talent and your passions from the world. That way, you never have to see your ideas manifest into something tangible and amazing. Best of all, people will simply go back to having opinions about your job, your home, your dietary habits, and your particular fascination with defunct springtime football leagues.
Reason 3: You already know that everything out there is infinitely better than anything you could possibly create.
Let’s be real. Cats is now in theaters. Bravo TV keeps churning out quality programming. The market is saturated with nothing but perfect, engrossing, universally loved books like the Fifty Shades series. Everything out there is perfect and has set an impossibly high bar for everyone else! In fact, shouldn’t we be turning on the TV now? The Real Housewives of Boise, Idaho marathon is on!
Yeah, there’s no room out there for your work. Seriously, how could anything you create even hope to compete with Keeping Up with the Kardashians?
Better go with your gut and leave the creative thinking to great minds like Andy Cohen.
Reason 4: You loathe admiration and respect.
Funny story. Despite having sold about 12 copies of my books in all, people still have the same reaction when I tell them I’m a published author. They react like I’ve just told them I invented a magical money-growing wallet that sprouts $50 bills every 10 minutes.
Let’s be real. Writing a book is kind of a big deal! And the thing about writing a book is that, once you do, it’s yours. No one can ever take it away from you. You’ll forever be in that small minority of people who didn’t just talk about wanting to write a book, but actually did it!
But, hey, if you’re not into receiving the respect and admiration of your peers, and you’re not into doing something that only about 1% of the population has done, then yeah, don’t write that book.
Reason 5: The thought of seeing a book with your name on it sitting on a bookshelf or listed on your favorite ebook site makes you feel completely dead inside.
When I saw my book Solstice on the display window of a Barnes and Noble, or when I saw the book positively reviewed alongside Terry Pratchett in SciFiNow Magazine, or when printed copies of The Perfect Teresa arrived in the mail, you know what my reaction was?
Here’s a hint: it wasn’t “Meh.”
But, yeah, I can completely understand how seeing your book on an Amazon bestseller list could make you feel dead inside.
I can see how a bunch of positive reviews on Goodreads would be like settling into a drab cubicle on a Monday morning after a 98-minute commute through hell only to find that the coffeepot is empty and the last person didn’t bother brewing a new batch and your boss just told you you’ve got 12 minutes to create a 59-slide presentation on the optimal advertising slots for non-dairy creamer products during the next amateur bowling tournament on ESPN9.
So, yeah, if that’s the feeling you get when you think about receiving copies of your book in the mail, by all means, don’t write that book!
Hopefully by now, I’ve convinced you to play it safe and never share your stories or your ideas with the world!
But if you’re going to be stubborn and try writing that great book idea you thought about in the shower the other day? Well, here’s my last bit of advice for you.
No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.