When I speak with potential clients or colleagues interested in writing a book, I often find they have several ideas and don’t know which book to write.
I sometimes offer strategic advice with my business hat planted firmly on my head. Which idea aligns with your long-term goals? What topic does your client base ask about most frequently? Which subjects have you already developed material for?
But more and more often I find myself asking, What does your gut say? Which idea is calling you? Of these possibilities, which makes your heart sing?
Pay it forward—to yourself
Writing a book is not a trivial task. From a practical standpoint, if something interests and excites you, there’s a greater chance you’ll stick with it. So it’s smart to choose a topic you’ll be happy focusing on for a while (quite a while!).
From a heart and soul perspective, a book is a creation that takes time and energy. Wouldn’t you like all that effort to nourish your heart as well as your business?
The funny thing is, people seem almost bashful about mentioning the projects that call to them. In a recent conversation, a would-be author had a book’s worth of material to work with, but also felt called to a new, more personal project. Another person had three book ideas—two practical business books and a project that would honor a friend and support the business in a less direct way. In both conversations, the writers were hesitant to claim their desire for the more intimate project. (Luckily they had me to poke them.)
Those projects that feel a little scary and maybe mean a little too much… those are the ones most worth doing. Don’t shy away from them.
The person with two ideas decided to start exploring the existing material while experimenting with the new project. The person with three book ideas chose to focus on the most personal one; with passion for the project, the writing is flowing.
Imagine having a sense of ease and excitement throughout your first book project—and the confidence you build as a result. Sounds like it would tee you up for a second book pretty nicely…
Get a side gig
But let’s face it: sometimes we have to crank through projects that are needed but not necessarily exciting. Perhaps, like me, you need some poetry on the side, literally or figuratively. When I write poetry, I find creative satisfaction. (Bonus: As Rita Lewis writes in a recent guest post, the techniques used in poetry can also benefit prose.)
During National Poetry Month (April), poets across the country aim to write a poem a day. My poetry critique group has accepted the challenge (in various forms), and we’ve been exchanging status reports all month. My goal: a chicken haiku a day. Yes, really—chicken haiku. Here’s one for you:
Hens wade in weeds,
eat flowers and seeds—
smell of gasoline.
Or how about:
Five hens preen
perched on patio chair arms—
Saturday night dance.
Sound silly? Perhaps. But having a personal outlet gives me a sense of creative satisfaction—and that puts me in a better mindset for other writing.
If you’re feeling flat or lifeless while working on your current book project, ask what’s missing. How can you inject creativity into it, or can you get a creative fix outside the project so you bring new energy to it? What’s your “poetry”?
Whether you get your creative satisfaction in your book project or on the side, don’t forget your heart.
Struggling to decide which book to write? Not enthused about your current project? Give me a call. We’ll see if we can find what’s calling your name.