So you’re stuck at home, wondering what to do with your life right now. Should you consume more media? Share another meme on Instagram? Yell at your dad for touching his face too much? Nope. It’s time to write that book you’ve always wanted to write.
As an online teacher to writers for the past decade, I have long maintained that writing a book is an important and serious undertaking and not one to be considered lightly. Writing is hard work, and, no, I don’t think everyone should do it. In fact, I recently argued the world doesn’t need more books; it needs better books. That said, there are plenty of reasons to write a book, and now just might be the right time for you to do it.
The world is changing. Whether you think our current crisis is an overblown hoax or the great equalizer of modern society, we can’t deny this coronavirus crisis has suddenly and dramatically altered the state of our lives.
So what do you do? How do you cope? What does healthy and constructive processing of such an experience look like?
Well, you could write about it.
There is something cathartic about capturing the experience of a life-altering event while it is happening. These past few weeks, writing has been a stronghold for me. I’ve been drawn back into the world of poetry, both reading and writing it as well as a few new book projects for clients. Quarantine and social distancing, as challenging as these circumstances have been, have made me more creative.
Times of crisis reveal what’s really important to us. You might find yourself feeling drawn back to an old interest or passion, like an old lover who calls you from out of the blue. This may even mean starting that book project you put on the shelf years ago. How do you know if you should actually write a book? What a wonderful question.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Because you have a unique experience worth sharing. No one knows your story like you, and though a story in itself is not enough reason to write a book, it’s a pretty good start. Do you have something unique that has happened to you that would be helpful or interesting to others? Is there a challenge you have overcome that could inspire others? Telling your story is a great basis for a book.
- Because you have a unique perspective on an already established subject. If you have an idea that no one has ever shown any interest in, this is a big red flag; don’t write a book on something that nobody else has written about. There is a fine line between being on the cutting edge and being absurd.
- Because you have unique expertise that is needed in the world. Do you know something that, in the words of Derek Sivers, is “obvious to you, but amazing to others”? That may be the very thing you’re meant to share with the world. Teaching a skill, sharing an idea, offering a solution to a felt need are all great bases for a good book. And here is the final and most important reason to write a book:
- Because you can’t not write a book. You’ve tried and tried to avoid it, and it just won’t leave you alone. At this point, I am with Madeleine L’Engle when she said, “You have to write the book that wants to be written.”
There is something mysterious, even spiritual, about the process of bringing an idea to life through the written word. I believe it is a calling, writing a book, and if you are called to a great task, I don’t think you can run away from it—at least, not forever.
So, if you’re going to write a book, you should write a real one, something worth our attention and time, a book that requires every ounce of your passion and love. I mean, heck. Even Gwyneth Paltrow says you should do it.
Yes, it’s time to write that book you’ve always wanted to write. Because if you don’t do it, who will? And as you look back on this time of staying at home, what do you want to remember? Spending every night bingeing Netflix (not that there’s anything wrong with that, because I sure am enjoying some Tiger King), or using this time to write your book?
The choice is yours.
But before you do that, you’ll need to start with a goal that is far simpler than writing a book. Before you write anything substantial—an article, blog post, manifesto, or even a full-fledged book—you first have to master the daily discipline of writing every day.
That’s why I’m hosting a live training later this week on how to start a daily writing habit.
Spaces are limited, so make sure you sign up and don’t be late!