Overcome the overwhelm: How to actually start writing that book

You’re right in assuming that writing a book is a big commitment. Especially when you’re stuck at the bottom of the mountain looking up. It can look daunting, and it’s tempting to quit before you’ve even got started.

However, in our years of experience we’ve seen countless clients write incredible books with a few solid systems in place. With a plan and a supportive team, they’ve realised their book-writing goals and encountered a whole lot more fun, learning, and growth than you might expect.

How then do you get over the overwhelm?

When you’re overwhelmed, it’s normally because your head is full and the path seems confusing. That’s why before you dive into writing your book, you need to put a clear plan in place – to show you where to get started and help keep you on track.

The first thing we’d recommend? Get clear on why you’re writing this book. What are you hoping to achieve with it? Who is it for? What impact do you hope it will have on readers? What’s the message you want them to take away from it?

Next, it’s time to do a brain dump.

The key is to get everything out of your head. Write down absolutely everything you know about your subject matter, then organise it into a logical structure you think your book could follow. Post-its or mind maps – whatever it takes. It’s like dumping out all the pieces of the puzzle onto the table first before you try to begin assembling them. You need a bird’s eye view.

There’s your very first hint at the blueprint of your book. Instead of trying to write a whole book all at once, you now have chapters or sections to tackle one bite at a time (with your core message in mind that ties them all together).

What do I write first?

Now that you’ve got a structure, you can start writing anywhere you like. Because you’ve already done the work to figure out the overarching structure, it doesn’t matter if you start in the middle – it’s just about getting words on a page that you can work from.

Whether you go through it chronologically or pick and choose which chapter you work on, this first draft is what we call an ‘ugly draft’ – a draft that will without a doubt need significant editing but gets you past the hump of getting started.

Set time aside each day or week to write and just start – try not to worry about whether it’s perfect and instead just focus on words on a page.

How do you keep up the momentum as you wade through the chapters?

Far too many half-written books are abandoned at the two-month mark when enthusiasm and motivation begin to wane.

That’s the best time to lean on your support system for encouragement and a kick in the behind. These are your go-to sounding boards, those that encourage you on the down days, and those you trust with your drafts to always return constructive feedback.

Perhaps your supporters are further afield – the research you could draw from that makes your argument stronger, someone who has gone on the book writing journey before and can lend some advice, or a professional who could offer a new perspective to consider?

Have a peek at the acknowledgements of whatever you’re reading currently, and you’ll realise no book was ever written by only one individual. It takes a team of supporters to get to the finished product, and we’re privileged to have been a part of that for so many over the years.

If the prospect of writing a book feels a little bit too much to digest, or you fear you won’t have the will to finish ones you get started, our Better Book Project might be a great fit for you.

Book a free discovery call with one of our book coaches to chat about how we can help you get past the overwhelm and turn your book from a dream into a reality.