June 19, 2023

Episode 25: Unlocking Your Author Potential: Overcoming Writing Overwhelm

Learn how to overcome writing challenges, from generating book ideas to publishing, so that you can successfully complete and publish your book.

Episode 25: Unlocking Your Author Potential: Overcoming Writing Overwhelm

by Carma Spence | The Author Switch Podcast


In this episode of The Author Switch Podcast, I discuss the common challenges and roadblocks writers face when trying to write and publish a book. I explore various milestones in the Author’s Journey, such as coming up with a book idea, fleshing out the idea with an outline, writing the first draft, and the editing and proofreading process. I provide tips and strategies to overcome these hurdles, emphasizing the importance of understanding personal branding and target readership, seeking help from editors and beta readers, and considering publishing options.

Recap & Takeaways

  • How to use your personal brand and an understanding of your target audience to develop your best book idea.

  • Tips on overcoming procrastination and delving into emotional triggers that might hinder progress.

  • Stop overwhelm by breaking the writing process into smaller, manageable steps and working on chapters non-sequentially.

  • Don’t do your book alone … enlist a team of both hired professionals and volunteers.

Resources Mentioned:

Transcript for Episode 25: Unlocking Your Author Potential: Overcoming Writing Overwhelm

Hello and welcome to The Author Switch Podcast. I am your host, Carma Spence. I am an award-winning and bestselling author. Two books made to bestseller, one book one three awards, but I have many more books under my belt, including some anthologies that I have been a contributor to and they’ve been international bestsellers.

How cool is that? And as your host of The Author Switch Podcast host too. Isn’t that exciting? So this is episode 25 of The Author Switch, and in this episode I’m gonna be talking about how to deal with the overwhelm that a lot of people experience when they even think about writing a book. So there’s lots of different ways … I’ve done a blog post where I talk about different ways that you can make writing a book easy.

So I thought tonight in this podcast episode, I would talk more about this chart that I will be posting in social media soon, and it is basically the author’s journey with various milestones because people get stuck at different places. And the reason why I say this is if you have a hundred people and you ask them, “Hey, who wants to write a book?”

81 will say, “Me! I wanna write a book!” and just in case you’ve seen some of my other videos, I’ve been saying 87 because that’s the number that stuck in my head. But I verified it’s 81 and outta that 81, only 12 will actually start to write their book, and out of that 12, only one will finish and publish. Now, why is this? Why does only 1% of those of the population ever make it to the finish line? I mean, you look at Amazon, you think, “Oh my gosh, there’s so many books out there. How could it only be 1% of the population?”

But it is, and a lot of the reason why there’s so many books is because there are a great number of authors who are multi-book authors. (Like moi!) So what I’m gonna talk about today is this author’s journey, and the various points in which you stick or could stop and give you at least one tip on how you can move forward and get unstuck. Or don’t get stuck at all in the first place. So the first milestone in the author’s journey is coming up with the book idea. What should I write about? Now, a lot of people will raise their hand and say, I wanna write a book, because they already have an idea. But I’ve spoken with a lot of people who they’re like, I know I have a book in me, but I’m not sure what I wanna write about.

Well, the best tip I can give you on how to stop being stuck. Like for example, you may have multiple ideas. You don’t know which one to start on first. The best way to get you to the right book for you right now is to really dive into your personal brand and understand what your brand promise is.

What do you wanna be known for? So for example, I want to be known for helping people get unstuck and get published. So what should I write about? Perhaps writer’s block, perhaps publishing, perhaps how to come up with a book idea. And, actually, secret’s out. I’m working on a series of five eBooks that will walk you through the process.

And a main book that’s about how to get you un-glitched. Get that glitch out of your author switch. So, and it’s called The Author Switch. I know. Keep posted. And as I get more close to it, I’ll let you know. So honestly, the best thing to get you to the point where, yes, I know exactly what I wanna write about, is to really understand what your brand promise is and how that intersects with those people who might be your ideal readers. So you really need to understand your target market. You need to understand what you do, who you serve, how you serve them, what you wanna be known for. All those things play into what your brand promise is and your brand promise is whatever I do in my business, it will deliver on this promise. So it’s not a specific thing because each product or service may have its own narrow brand promise, but your brand promise is overarching. So for example, regardless of what brand I’m working on in my business, the through line is unleashing people’s creativity.

And it doesn’t matter if I’m talking about creativity in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about being a genre traveler. And it doesn’t matter if I’m talking about becoming an author. I’m helping people unleash their creativity and be more who they are authentically in their business and in their life.

So that’s the first point. The next point on the Little Road to publication is fleshing out that idea. And some authors will go straight from, I have an idea to writing whatever it is. And I don’t recommend that. I think the best thing to get you through that writing process easily, quickly, succinctly, without going down writing rabbit holes is to have an outline. Now, this is not a written in stone, thou shalt only follow everything in this outline kind of outline. No, it’s a roadmap. It’s a guideline. It says, these are the kinds of things I want to include in my book. So this is how for nonfiction is, these are the kinds of things I want to include in my book, and this is generally the order in which I want to do it.

Now, for example, you don’t have to completely follow that. So in my book, “Public Speaking Super Powers”, I was writing the book and I realized, wait a minute, there’s a whole chapter missing here. It was not in my out outline. I realized I had forgotten to address the fear of public speaking. Oh, and, and here’s my cat.

He wants to say hello. Don’t you wanna say hello? Here’s Bold Kitty. And now Bold Kitty, you need to get off the table so I can continue with my podcast. But say hello to Bold Kitty. There he is. Bye-Bye Bold Kitty.

Okay. Where was I? All right, so I was talking about having an outline, and it doesn’t have to be your written in stone, dyed in the wool, have to do this. Because like I said, I’d forgotten this entire chapter on the fear of public speaking. So I revised my outline and I wrote the chapter.

Now, if you’re writing fiction, your outline is more like, these are my major plot points, and these are kind of how they interact and why one has to come before the other. But again, sometimes as you’re writing you’ll realize, wait a minute, I forgot this. Or, oh, my character’s taking me in a different direction.

An outline basically helps keep you from going down writing rabbit holes where you have to throw all your stuff away cuz you went down a wrong path. And believe it or not, it can enhance creativity because having barriers, having the things that keep you in actually helps you be more creative.

So for example, a haiku. Five syllables. Seven syllables. Five syllables. That constraint actually makes you more creative in coming up with a very powerful poem as opposed to just say, write a poem. Any way you want. That’s hard. But when it has rules, you actually unleash your creativity.

And there’s research that supports that. I don’t have access to it in the moment, so I can’t share it. But there is research that supports that. So the next step on the road to publication is your first draft. And a lot of people will stop at the outline. I’ve actually worked with people cuz I have a program that gets you to the outline that practically writes the book for you.

And then I’ve had clients stop. They have the outline that practically writes the book for them and they stop. They don’t move on because life gets in their way. That’s where some of the causes of writer’s block come in, because what happens is they procrastinate. And why are they procrastinating? Well, I’ve done an entire webinar, which you can get for free.

I’ll output a link in the show notes that goes into why we procrastinate, and the main reason that people procrastinate is that they are avoiding some sort of discomfort. And if you are avoiding your book, if you are procrastinating writing your book, there’s something about that book that’s triggering you.

Now, the trigger could be that you’re about to write about something that’s emotionally painful, that’s very common in memoirs. Or you could be writing about something that you’re not sure that you’re capable of doing. Or, and this is where your subconscious totally does a number on you. You could be avoiding writing because you haven’t done the work you need to do to write that book well. So for example, there is a book I wanna write that’s got a lot of humor in it, and honestly, I don’t feel like I have the skillset to really write humor. So I keep procrastinating on that book. I haven’t been procrastinating on it, uh, years because I still haven’t done the work I need to do in order to write a humorous book.

Besides, I’ve got other books to write too. I’m got, I got a lot of them. So if you wanna get from your outline to your first draft, here are some tips. One, if you are procrastinating, try to delve into what are you trying to avoid? And you know what, I’ve also written a blog post about this. I’ll share a link to that in the show notes as well. And, try to figure out how you can resolve that emotional issue. Now, if you are procrastinating because you’re thinking, oh my gosh, this is such a big, my outline is really long, and how do I, you’re approaching it wrong. You don’t have to write the whole book and one sitting. Write one paragraph. And the next day write another paragraph.

And if you’ve done a detailed outline, that’s easy because you’ll say Chapter one and I’m gonna cover these five points. Well point number one. Write about that today. And then go to another chapter right about point number two. You don’t have to do it chronologically. That’s another thing that causes people to procrastinate cuz they’re thinking, I can’t work on my book unless I do chapter number one. Then chapter number two, and chapter… no. Do whichever chapters easiest for you right now. Do it completely out of order. You can work on the transitions later. Once you’ve got that messy first draft done. Break it up into tiny bits. Tiny bits, one step at a time, and you can get through this.

So now the next step after your first draft is the editing and proofreading portion.

Now, this is my favorite part of the book. I love editing because editing is where the magic happens. I become a manuscript magician. Poof! This is where you polish and where you bring your book to life because really the first draft is messy. It’s a brain dump. Do not publish your first draft. Please don’t. Let us all agree on this one point.

Never publish your first draft and you don’t have to edit your draft yourself. Once you’ve got this first draft done, you can hand it off to an editor. Now, it depends on what your budget is. You may want to massage it a little bit before you hand it off to an editor.

Or if you’re really lucky, like I am, you have a spouse who’s a really good writer. I hand it off to him and he edit. We go back and forth and he edits a lot of my work. I, I don’t know what I’d do without him anyway. So hire an editor, get a friend. Get some volunteer beta readers to read this first draft.

Don’t do it on your own. You know how they say like a movie is a team? You know, books are a team too. Never do it on your own. You need cover designers. You need editors. You need proofreaders. You need beta readers. You need all these people who give you the feedback you need to really polish that book into something brilliant.

So tip for getting through the editing, proofing is hire the help or get volunteers to help you. There are a lot of people who will volunteer to do that. Believe me, I’ve spoken with people who’ve said, oh yeah, I’m not really an editor, but I edit this book for my friend and I gave, I worked with them completely for free.

Not that I think you should do that all the time. That’s, you know, you don’t wanna burn your bridges and drive people crazy. But there are options. Take advantage of them. And writers groups. You can give them a chapter at a time and get feedback. There is so much available out there to help you get through that editing and proofreading and it’s … Don’t do your on your own.

So then the next step, the last step, it’s the finish line and that is publishing. Now you got a publish book. So what do you do now? There’s so many options. You’ve got ebook, paperback, hardcover, audiobook. You’ve got, do I wanna do Kindle exclusive? Do I wanna do multiple platforms? You know, it really depends on who your audience is and what kind of books they are going to want to read. I say publish it in as many platforms as you are able to. Always have an ebook version because more and more people will only read the ebook version, especially busy people. And now with Print on Demand, there is absolutely no reason you can’t have a paperback and even a hardcover version.

Amazon gives you those two options. And if you want to get into bookstores, you can go to Ingram Spark and get those two options as well. Now, the choice of doing Kindle exclusive or being on multiple platforms depends on what your goals are for the book. I have always gone with multiple platforms, but with my next series, the series I hinted about earlier, I’m going to experiment with Kindle exclusive because I have heard a little birdie say that you actually sell more books when you’re an Amazon exclusive, because Amazon promotes you more. So I’m gonna do an experiment and I’m gonna let you know. So again, with the publishing, there are people who can help you with publishing.

I can help you with publishing. Don’t let that be your stopping point. So again, the five places where people get stuck are the idea. Make sure it’s in line with your brand and make it so much easier. Writing that first draft. Start with an outline. Break up the process into tiny bits. And publishing. Get help if you don’t know what to do. Get help.

Now, I also wanted to cover some other things that can touch all these points. There’s different things that get people stuck. I’ve already covered procrastination. Again, I will be including a link in the show notes when this airs. I’m gonna include links to the article and to the webinar that you can get. All free to help kind of let you understand what procrastination is and how it’s neuroscience.

Time management. Again, that’s kind of related to procrastination. Often it is a choice. People either decide that the book is a priority or they don’t. If they don’t, time management becomes a problem.

Perfectionism. You know what? Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what editor’s for. The editing process is where you polish it and you make it perfect.

And you know what? It’s never actually going to be perfect, but it will be really, really good.

Fear of failure. Okay? That, that, that’s real. You could fail, but you have to decide what is success for you? What would be failure? Would failure be never publishing at all? That’s an easy one to avoid because publishing can be completely in your own hands.

Now, if you’re trying to go for a publishing deal, that’s a little harder. I would just publish it myself. I’m a dyed in the wool self publisher. I love it.

Lack of support or accountability. Now, here’s where I’ve got something for you. Number one, I’ve got programs that can provide you support, that you could pay me to help support you, but I’ve also got something free and it’s called the Author Switch Sprint.

Once a month, I have a meeting for about an hour and a half where you get to network with fellow authors and then you get 45 minutes of writing time and I’m there if you get stuck. If you have a question, I’m there and it’s free. If you want more information about that, just message me and I will send you the link and I might drop it in the LinkedIn chat a little later and I will definitely include it in the show notes, but make avail of this support. It’s free support.

So those are just a few of the things that can stop you on your journey to publication. And how does all this information I just gave you, help you deal with the overwhelm? It was implied in what I was saying is take one step at a time.

When you’re about to write a book, don’t think of, oh everything. Think of what your next step is. Is your next step coming up with the perfect idea? Is it writing that outline? Is it writing that next paragraph? Is it sending your first draft to an editor? Focus on the next step, and then when that step’s done, focus on the next step. And you’ll get there. You’ll get there.

I believe in you. Well, that’s the end of this episode of The Author Switch Podcast. I am your host, Carma Spence. And I will see you next week in the next episode. Ciao.

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The Author Switch is a podcast dedicated to helping experts, entrepreneurs, and small business owners turn on The Author Switch — and keep it on — so that they can leverage the power of books to take their businesses to a whole new dimension. Learn more about the show and where it is available on its page.