Book Excerpt from Getting Your Book Out of the Someday Box

Wednesdays we’ll be posting excerpts of Joel’s writings. Today’s excerpt is from Getting Your Book Out of the Someday Box.

Connect with an accountability mentor. You have friends and professional acquaintances who’d be delighted if you asked them to help you get your book done. A couple points on choosing them:

1. They need to believe. Somebody once started the lie that having someone tell you you’ll never succeed would inspire you to prove them wrong. Wrong. You do not need a troll, you need a rabid cheerleader who’ll make you believe when you forget to.

2. They need to not believe. At least, not until they see. Scientific evidence says that when someone says “Good job!” it fills the same slots in our brain as if we’d actually done a good job. Praise can be a powerful de-motivator. Instead, this person needs to keep reminding you that you don’t have a book yet; you will, you just don’t have it yet. When you say brilliant stuff, they need to say, “I’m looking forward to seeing it when it’s done.” They need to keep you hungry; hungry and believing.

Schedule regular chats with your mentor. In person is great, because the look on their face is almost as valuable as getting out of your house or office for an hour. Phone is better than email. But do it. Schedule it and stick to it. If you can’t even schedule chatting with the accountability mentor who’s supposed to be helping you hold yourself accountable to yourself, you’re never gonna write a book.

Getting Your Book Out of the Someday Box“Writing a book is a rewarding life accomplishment and if you’re serious about finally getting your ideas out of your head and on to paper, then this book will give you the inspiration you need. Joel D Canfield provides straight-forward, practical advice to help you get the job done!”Stephanie Chandler, author of several books including “Booked Up! How to Write, Publish and Promote a Book to Grow Your Business”

4 thoughts on “Book Excerpt from Getting Your Book Out of the Someday Box

  1. I hesitated to comment on this post because I have mixed feelings about it. Clearly, it is great advice for most people and my wife is a great example. She is writing what I consider to be a great novel and has a writer friend with whom she meets every Wednesday morning for a couple of hours. They serve as mentors to each other since her friend is also writing a book. Barbara looks forward to these sessions and finds them invaluable as she progresses through her book.

    On the other hand, I don’t discuss my books with anyone while I’m writing. It could be, as Barbara has often told me, that I’m a loner or a grumpy old man, both of which could well be true.

    Normally, I wait until my book is completed and edited fully and then I try to find 10 individuals whose opinion I respect to read a pdf version. I usually offer a free print version once published to anyone who will read it and take the time to comment. I never get 10 responses but I have gotten two or three excellent commentaries that I then go back and include in the book before publishing. This has worked well for me.

    Anyway, that’s how I do it. There is a big difference in that Barbara writes exclusively fiction and I write almost exclusively how to non fiction.


  2. Bill, I especially want you to comment when you feel you disagree.

    Upon reflection my advice works best for folks with less experience (which is my primary audience.) Folks like you who have far more experience already have a system that works.

    I have a built-in cheerleader who keeps me working, whether or not she’s seen my work. But many authors make the mistake of struggling in solitude because they think that’s how it’s done.

    The support-and-feedback process is subtly different for fiction vs. non-fiction, but I think having a cheerleader and a mentor (especially if they’re not the same person) is a powerful help to a writer.

    Always delighted to see you round these parts, sir.

  3. I agree with Bill about showing anyone a work in progress. Even well-meaning feedback can undermine your thinking, making you doubt what you are doing.

    However, there is, for some people, a value in accountability. By that I mean, if you think you should write 2,000 words a day for five days a week, and need motivation, working out an arrangement whereby you have to say, “well I did 25,000 words this week,” or “I only managed 10,000 words this week” can be a helpful prod. I’ve been my own boss for too many years now, and there is no one nastier or meaner about giving me hell for not meeting my targets than me, but I know some folks need outside intervention of various kinds.

    I also think there can be value in having someone you can talk to when your work runs totally aground and you have no idea what to do next. But again, discussing the work on a regular basis is, I think, detrimental to developing your own ear.

  4. Yup, agreed.

    In context, that’s what the excerpt is about: accountability, not writing coaching or feedback. As you say, negative feedback and snap a sapling and positive feedback creates what’s called “symbolic self-completion” where the endorphin receptors for “I finished” get filled by endorphins from praise.

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