On Writing, prt. 6: Losing Your Way

What do you do when you are losing your way?

Writing had been going great up until last Wednesday. Suddenly I found myself losing my way. I completed chapter six and was excited, but I got distracted. I started thinking about getting my proposal finished.

“If I could just get this stupid proposal done and get an agent, he/she could be shopping this book around to publishers while I’m finishing the content.”

“It often takes a long time to get an agent. I’d better try to nail that down while I’m on sabbatical.”

“How are you going to get your proposal finished? You don’t have enough writing experience.” So I spent an afternoon writing an article for a magazine and sending it out.

“You read the other day that non-fiction writers often don’t need agents but can go straight to the publisher. Should you try that? How does that work?”

“Your opening chapter isn’t strong enough. It doesn’t grab the reader’s attention. You need to revise that chapter.” Re-wrote chapter one yesterday.

“Your proposal is too weak. You need to prove that you know the market better.” Spent the rest of yesterday beefing up the proposal.

“You’re lost, dude. You need advice.” Spent time last night scouring the Internet looking for written advice, or for organizations that help writers learn the process.

Woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed. Had five minutes to talk to my wife so I shared this with her and she said, “Write your book. Just finish the chapters. You can do all that other stuff later, but the one thing you can do right now  is keep getting stuff on paper.”

She was right. And so the solution, again, is to keep writing.

In the meantime I have  made some exciting progress this past week. I wrote to a popular spiritual writer and asked if she would consider reading my book (once I find a publisher) and writing an endorsement for me. Endorsements are a big deal for a book. Every endorsement carries with it a group of people who recognize and trust the writer of that endorsement and will buy it on that person’s recommendation. Anyway, a few days later she got back to me and said she is willing to do that. Doesn’t mean she’ll endorse it, but she is willing to read it and if she thinks the book is good she will write the endorsement. That’s exciting.

Also, this past week I secured a name and email address of someone at an agency. I am not ready to send in a proposal yet, but it’s great to have this information on recommendation of someone I trust who knows the business a bit better than I do.

What do you do when you are losing your way? Keep doing what you know. Refuse to remain paralyzed.