Recently I had coffee with a new acquaintance I’d met at a women’s networking event. We knew nothing about each other, and when I told her that I specialize in helping entrepreneurs launch and leverage their bestselling books, she said, “Oh, I’d love to write a book! I actually have a great idea, but I’m just not a writer.”
One of my blog writing clients told me he needed my help writing posts because he “hates writing” and “doesn’t know how to write.”
Another client needed my services because she just didn’t “know what to say or how to say it” – even though she’s an expert in her field.
It’s probably the most common thing I hear from my clients: “I’m just not a writer.” (Even the ones who have written a book!)
And then I push back. Um, you do know how to write. You can pick up a pen and form letters and make words and sentences … you know how to write. Therefore, you are perfectly capable of being a writer. (It’s like of like public speaking coaches who remind us that we’re always speaking in public, even if we’re just ordering a coffee at Starbucks.)
Whenever I hear “I’m just not a writer,” there’s usually something else that’s stopping them from putting their ideas into words and their words into the world. They might be afraid of making a fool of themselves (yeah, it takes guts to put yourself out there), or they may not know the mechanics of character development or the psychology of sales, but they know how to write.
I’ve come up with four super effective strategies to help you break through whatever you’re telling yourself about why you’re “not a writer.” Use whichever resonates with you, so you can get your words onto paper and out into the world already!
1. Defy your fear!
If you’re feeling like there’s something you’d like to put out in the world, but you’re letting your fear of writing get in the way, I invite you to really look at what’s going on. What are you really afraid of? Not sounding smart enough? People tearing you down? Growing past your friends and loved ones? Making more money than your parents did? Not knowing how to handle success?
One of the most successful entrepreneurs I know does not have a college education. He freely admits he might not know as much other people—that would stop a lot of people from pursuing their dreams, right? Many people might stop themselves, thinking “What will other people think? Other people are smarter than me, how could I help them?”
Instead, this business owner gives any sense of being less than the heave-ho. He’ll ask “what does that mean?” without hesitation if he doesn’t know a word or phrase. And he’s freaking amazing! He doesn’t let his lack of “book smarts” stop him. I admire him so much, and would gladly trade of my book learning for some of his sheer tenacity, drive and moxie that’s taking him to great heights.
So, what’s stopping you?
Do a little meditation. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes. Play some tranquil music (I love the Calm app for this). Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly and set an intention that you’d like to see any issues or concerns you might have about writing. Focus on your breathing, and see what comes up. When the timer goes off, write down anything you saw or felt.
And now you’ve got something to work with. Look at whatever issues or fears came up. Talk about them with a trusted friend or mentor. Pray about it. Journal about it. D0 whatever works for you to see and resolve anything standing in your writer’s way.
2. Talk it out.
The one thing that everyone who says they’re not a writer has in common is this: They all know exactly what they want to say! They’re passionate about their topic, can talk for hours about it, and know more about it than most people ever will. They’re smart, they love helping their clients. But put a piece of paper or a blank Word doc in front of them and say “give me 500 words about X” and they freeze.
Let’s use that passion and that ability to talk about your topic!
Let’s say you want to write five blog posts, but you don’t know where to start. Write down the top five questions you’re constantly asked by clients and customers. Or come up with five hot issues in your industry, or head over to Answer the Public and search for your topic and choose five of the most commonly searched for questions about it.
Then, simply answer those questions by talking about them! Talk into the recording app on your phone, or into the audio recording software in your laptop. One client of mine had his assistant ask him questions on a recorded conference line and turned their conversation into a magazine article!
Once you have your recording, have it transcribed using a transcription service. Use a site like Fiverr to find an inexpensive transcriptionist or the Rev Voice app for your phone. [Click here for 6 questions to ask yourself before writing your blog.]
3. Schedule your writing.
I get it. You’ve already got a full plate with running a business, or working a job and a side hustle, plus family, friends, social commitments, and all of that life stuff. How are you supposed to find time to write a blog post a week or—heaven forbid—an entire book?
Honestly, it’s like anything else in life. If we schedule something, we’re more likely to do it. And the higher priority we give something, we’re even more likely to accomplish it.
Be brutally honest about how you spend your time. Commit to tracking what you do every hour of the day for one week or use a timekeeping app like Harvest. Chances are, there are a few hours a week that you can carve out to write. Maybe it’s an hour a morning before anyone else is awake. Or you can turn off your phone for two hours on Tuesday morning and work on your book.
Then, literally write down in your planner and block off that time. Tell your team, your kids, or your dog that you’re unavailable for that time, and just write, write, write.
4. Get assistance with what you don’t know.
Babies are amazing. They are some of the most determined creatures I’ve ever seen. When they’re learning to stand, they get back up when they teeter over. They’re so curious, they want to know everything.
Why do we lose this tenacity, this “I’m going to figure this out no matter what” attitude as we grow up?
A lot of writers feel overwhelmed by the “now what?” They’ve been working on their book for months or years, but they stop short of finishing because they don’t know what to do next.
If whatever is stopping you from writing is related to a skill or a process that you feel you don’t know enough about, learn it or find someone to do it for you. Take an online class with Masterclass or some other awesome provider. Google it. Read everything you can about it. Watch YouTube videos about it.
Whatever it is that you’re using as your roadblock to writing your book or your blog or your sales pitch, get educated on it. Someone else knows how to do it, and is willing to share.
What other excuses do you tell yourself to stop you from putting your message into the world? I’d love to hear them! Add a comment below or DM me on Instagram @deannemarie.creative.
I hope you can use one or more of these strategies in your own writing, no matter what you’re working on. Remember, you ARE A WRITER!
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