BOOK DEVELOPMENT: THE MINDSET PIECE
When we build your book together in #WRITTEN, The Writing Cycle’s 4-Month One-on-One Coaching Program, I first emphasize the importance of mindset work.
This is the piece many writers skip when they set out to go from concept to development. Of course, you need to be passionate about an idea. Likewise, acquiring craft skills are essential to elevate your idea into art—that’s why I advocate robust reading and base my coaching on years of experience as a college creative writing instructor.
But . . . first things first. The world doesn’t need more stories. There are millions out there already. What might it need? Your story. Because there is no one quite like you.
Your book starts with you, simply being 100% yourself. When you write from the heart is when you truly connect with community and make an impact. In the end, your personhood is what matters most.
Many writers wonder: What does mindset work entail? Here’s a taste:
Radical Honesty. This means getting honest with yourself: no more comfort, no more lies. It means no longer minimizing your dreams, needs, and feelings, but learning to honor these, even if everyone in your community may not co-sign off on each as “socially acceptable.” It also means learning to reframe uncomfortable emotions (such as envy or anger) from “deadly sins” into feelings ALL humans experience that provide useful information, such as whether you need to act on behalf of a desire, or stand up to a system violating a boundary. Honesty is especially important if you plan to write about real life.
Radical Acceptance. Accepting yourself as and where you are, without reflexively trying to improve, optimize, or apologize, is a challenge in a culture built around an imperative to strive. Even if you wish to move forward, acknowledging where you are now proves the starting point for happiness, growth, and a pleasurable path toward success. (You want to enjoy your creative journey, right?) Too many writers arrive at coaching with a mindset of a book as a “goal not yet achieved” or something they wish they’d published yesterday. This creates an immediate environment of anxiety.
Radical Reframes. Often the biggest mindset shifts writers must reframe is around the concept of “failure.” A lot of writers get lost amidst a sea of pages, with a lot drafted material …and an utter lack of direction. In the back of their minds, they fear that because they’ve failed to finish or publish in the past, perhaps many times, they’re doomed to repeat this cycle.
Reframing your mindset around “failure” is essential to success. After all, writing is hard, and worthy, work. Why expect something worthwhile and challenging for others to be easy for you? All acclaimed writers require multiple drafts before any given book coalesces, and most required multiple attempts at books before completing and publishing a good one. Give struggle and failure their due as part of the creative process leading toward success. When you do, you honor all your hard work, not just the work that “works out” in a worldly sense.
Intuitive Writing results from paying attention to your natural interests and inclinations and, instead of fighting them, consciously employing these in service of your creative goal.
Intuitive writing seduces the subconscious mind to offer flashes of insight that allow you to tap into the big picture of what’s possible. It will remind you of your “big WHY:” what really drives you. Intuition turns vision into reality with dedication and persistence. Yet you can only tap in if you honor your innate process.
Here’s the thing: Most “writing rules” arise from routines of early-to-mid-20th Century male writers who came out of military backgrounds, were paid for their work (or lived off wives’ families’ funds), often abused substances, and worked in narrow forms preferred by the dominant culture at the time.
Today, we live in a different world. Many writers are female-identifying or non-binary. Hybrid genres are on the rise. Writers self-publish, collaborate, and live online. Artists from many backgrounds build books influenced by distinct cultures and experiences without needing to filter these through a “mainstream” lens. Psychology has come a long way in understanding how personality type and neurodiversity affect ways people work (and the work they create.)
Perhaps you’re a night owl. Perhaps you work best in cycles or seasonal bursts. Perhaps you prefer shorter forms. Perhaps your story structure reflects lived trauma or an ancestral mode of storytelling rather than the Hero’s Journey. Perhaps what you’re drawn to write about has little in common with James Patterson. Embrace you!
Sensory Pleasure plays a key role in activating the necessary brain wave state for sustaining creativity and innovation. In addition, it’s essential to train your brain to associate writing tasks with feel-good hormones (versus high-stress states) if you wish to see a book-length project to completion. Put simply, it pays to explore: how can you make your writing process even 10% more pleasurable?
Finally, understanding the larger Purpose any project will play in your life, business, or community will prove more motivating than ego, profit, or fleeting bursts of curiosity. You have to know what you care about and whom you wish to impact to invest your time and money in coaching and editing services. Ready my entire exercise-based article on this here.
Creative Success comes from recognizing what works for you and what doesn’t, and building your practice around preferences that reflect your values rather than established rules. You can enjoy writing a book! You can fit creativity into the life you live today. If you don’t yet see your story represented on shelves, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no market for your material. It may, in fact, be a keen indication the world needs your voice now more than ever.
Want to write a book with clarity and ease? Join The Writing Cycle’s Coaching Program: #WRITTEN.
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an Arizona-based editor who turns ideas into art. Need to get your book publication-ready?