How do you take your writing ideas, write a book and become a published author? This question typically is met with practical advice, tactical tasks, and skill-based tips.
There are other ways to help yourself become an author that have little to do with book structure, producing business and promotion plans, or even writing ability. However, they have a great deal to do with realizing your book idea and writing career.
My new book, Creative Visualization for Writers, is divided into five sections. I believe these areas can help you make your writing dreams real. Let’s look at each one.
Personal development or growth lies at the heart of every writer’s ability to succeed. In fact, it’s the foundation upon which most successful people build their careers.
We all have unsupportive habits, negative thoughts, and limiting beliefs that hold us back. The best way to change these into supportive habits, positive thoughts, and unlimited beliefs is to explore our mind, emotions, and behavior for areas that need improvement.
If, for example, you want to become an author but you never write, you can explore why that is so. Are you afraid? Do you believe you are not good enough? Or is authorship an attractive idea but not your purpose or passion. Have lost interest in your current project?
If you feel afraid, self-exploration can help you discover what you fear and focus on positive outcomes you desire instead. If you believe you are not good enough, you can choose a different set of thoughts that serve you better. And if you don’t have the passion for your project—or for writing—you can decide to do something else.
Without self-exploration, you’ll never know what stops you. You won’t take the time to look at your daily routine and notice, “I always put my writing last. It’s not a priority.” At that moment you can decide to do the opposite and write first thing every day—before you do anything else—because it is important to you.
Such exploration helps you change unsupportive habits to supportive ones. If your habits aren’t helping you succeed, you need new ones.
Self-examination also provides you with the opportunity to discover what you do want and to train your thoughts on that. When you discover why you want to write, for instance, that reason can drive you to success. When you realize you have always been a good writer or you have a purpose to fulfill, and writing a book helps accomplish that goal, you will sit down and write.
Without that knowledge, though, you may stay stuck.
When you consciously daydream about or imagine your goal—successful authorship, your brain fires in ways that help you achieve it. Since the mind doesn’t know the difference between your visualization and what you actually do in the real world, it gives your unconscious and conscious mind as well as your body messages that relate to becoming an author.
Creative visualization has been used in all types of circles including business, metaphysics and sports. Let’s look at a few.
Want to run a marathon? Visualize yourself getting through the tough middle or last few miles and crossing the finish line. Your mind tells your body what to do in that situation, which makes it easier to complete the actual race.
Want to walk on hot coals? Imagine getting to the other side of the glowing pathway and putting your feet in cool water. See yourself walking away unharmed. Your mind registers the fact that you can, indeed, complete a fire walk.
Or imagine yourself finishing your manuscript, sending it off to the publisher, and then holding up your published book in front of an audience of clamoring fans. Also image yourself writing when you don’t feel like doing so, facing your fear of rejection by hitting the send button, and the elation you feel when speaking about and showing off your book. Since the mind can’t tell the difference between what you imagine and what is real, the visualization helps you keep your fear, doubt, or lack of energy at bay. It says, You’ve got this already!
And when you imagine writing, fingers flying across the keyboard, your mind tells your body your are doing so. You condition yourself to complete your writing marathon.
3. Goal Setting
Some writers prefer not to set goals. They figure they will finish their book when they finish—whenever that is. That’s why many are still working on novels after five, six, seven, or more years.
Without goals, it’s hard to succeed as an author—or in any area of life. Goals help you set intentions, commit to them, and measure your progress in a concrete manner.
Goals also provide a way for you to take your visualization and put it to use in the physical world. It’s your way of taking action on what you have imagined.
You can talk about or daydream about becoming an author until doomsday and never become one. But if you set a goal, such as I will write 1,000 words per day five days per week, and you keep track of your progress, you become accountable for completing 5,000 words per week.
Goals are like personal commitments that keep you accountable to yourself. Of course, you can share them with someone else—and have them become your accountability partner. Public goals often inspire us to take action and accomplish them.
Without goals, you don’t know what you need to accomplish or by when. Without writing and publishing goals you also lack a to-do list and task due dates.
Writing a book can seem like a large and overwhelming goal. That’s where smaller goals—your to-do list—come into play. Completing your manuscript may be your primary goal. To accomplish it, you set smaller goals, such as completing a chapter per week. You then determine how many words to write per day.
This provides manageable tasks—mini goals. And it becomes easier to accomplish the larger one—finishing the manuscript. Plus, you now have an action plan to make your visualization real.
4. Creative Exercises
Some writers never write because they are waiting for inspiration to hit. They want their Muse to show up, and until she does, they won’t put fingers on the keyboard.
Most of those writers don’t do much writing. They aren’t productive.
However, successful and productive writers invoke their Muse each time they sit down at the computer. They call out, It’s time to write. Join me. And she shows up on command.
How do they do that? First, they sit down and write at the same time and in the same place daily. They make writing a habit. That habit creates a trigger. When they sit down and put their fingers on the keyboard, creativity kicks in. They get inspired.
Additionally, they use creativity exercises. Possibly the most common one involves having a writing ritual.
Just like athlete have rituals—they may wear the same socks, wake up at the same time, or listen to the same music before a competition—writers have rituals. Some meditate or journal prior to writing. Others exercise and then go straight to their desk or light candles and say prayers.
Writing ritual develop another habit. They tell the mind it’s time to write. And the mind responds accordingly.
However, you can try other creativity exercises, such as writing:
- while listening to baroque music, which helps you focus.
- while reclining, which has been proven to spark creativity.
- at your non-peak time, such as in the morning if you are a night owl.
Additionally, you can call on different parts of your brain and, in the process, increase your creativity. For instance, you can:
- Create mind maps
- Play an instrument
As you begin to use these strategies, you’ll find the Muse showing up more and more often. You’ll get in the creative flow faster each time.
Lack of focus causes many aspiring writers to continue aspiring rather than become published. And with the number of distractions we all face each day, it’s no wonder that focus has become such a large challenge.
You only have so many hours per day, and you may have responsibilities that fill the majority of those hours. Therefore, when you block out time to write, it’s imperative that you focus your attention on writing.
Many articles and posts have been written about how to focus during writing periods. There’s no need to repeat that information here. Instead, I’d like you to focus on your goal of successful author ship in two unusual ways.
- Write affirmations.
- Draw or color pictures related to your vision.
Affirmations are positive statements that negate your negative thoughts. So if you think writing a book is hard, you affirm I am a natural writer and my books take shape easily and effortlessly.
Affirmations are a staple of positive psychology and can help you feel more confident and courageous about your writing project.
You also can try affirmations like:
- I overflow with creativity.
- I have an overabundance of ideas.
- I can write anytime and anywhere.
The recent adult coloring book trend primarily focuses on the relaxation that comes when you color. However, college students find that when they color during a lecture, they absorb and retain more of what is taught. They become more focused on what they hear.
Coloring is like a meditation. It gives the mind something to do, which quiets your thoughts. If you color pictures that relate to your visualization of successful authorship, though, you feed your mind pictures of what you want to create. Your mind focuses on the meaning of the picture.
For example, you could color a picture like this one, which is included in Creative Visualization for Writers. It focuses your mind on writing as you color.
As you put these five strategies to use, you’ll find they complement the traditional advice about how to publish successfully. And you’ll discover that you can move toward your goal of successful authorship more quickly and easily.