Once I had written and published my second book several people I know confided in me they too would love to write a book. Part me suspected they were really thinking, “If he can write a book then surely I can too!”
Soon I found myself giving the same answers over an over to questions like, “How long did it take? How did you do it? How did you get it published?” I decided to form a private Facebook group called Aspiring Authors.
It has been reported that 81 percent of people want to write a book and yet only one percent actually do. I saw this play out in real time with the Aspiring Authors. The first day I posted about it on Facebook over 25 people joined. There was A LOT of enthusiasm. As the weeks went by the excitement gave way to the reality that writing a book is hard work and takes commitment.
I can say honestly for me, writing a book was the third hardest thing I’ve done in my life and it also is among my most proud accomplishments. It’s right behind my first IRONMAN Triathlon and opening my own retail running specialty store.
I’ve also come to realize that writing a book is a metaphor for succeeding at anything in life one wants to accomplish. Why? It takes Commitment, Consistency, Clarity, Community, and overcoming Challenge.
Writing a book, organizing your thoughts, creating sentences and paragraphs that paint a picture and convey a point of view is difficult. Very difficult. Any worthwhile achievement is. It’s never going to be perfect the first time out and is going to require reviews and rewrites. Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Writing a book in many ways is simply about determination and NOT giving up!
I love listening to podcasts and I’ve heard many best-selling authors discuss in great detail how they struggle in their writing. One way they get through this is to be consistent. They set aside time each day and commit to writing for a set period of time; even if what they write that day is total crap. If several New York Times Best-Selling authors struggle, you can bet the rest of us are going to struggle too. Think for a minute about your life, the great parts and the parts you’d like to improve. I am willing to bet, good or bad, your life is a reflection of what you do on a consistent basis. Consistency is the key!
Achieving goals requires a clarity of vision; focus. Completing a book absolutely requires one to, “Have an eye on the prize” as the saying goes. It’s incredibly powerful and necessary to have a strong burning desire of completion. Just when you think you are finished you get the “edit” back and you don’t know whether to scream, cry, pull your hair out or simply throw in the towel. You have to hang on to your WHY, to your vision.
Community is critical in accomplishing goals. Very rarely, despite appearances, is something accomplished completely independently of others. There are always people behind the scenes who play important roles. I was very fortunate to have many friends who read drafts offering feedback and encouragement along the way. My friends Rose and Dave improved my second book a thousand times over, thanks to Rose’s editing and Dave’s magical creation of my cover. I firmly believe I would not be an author if a friend had not recommended that I meet with Patty of Pacelli Publishing. While I certainly did a lot of the heavy lifting, my books were completed with the help of many people.
Every great accomplishment comes with an equal challenge to overcome. Just like most challenges in life, many of the obstacles are mental. “Who I am to write a book? Why would anyone be interested in reading what I have to say? Am I even capable of this task?” These are just a few of the self-doubts and negative thoughts that pummel one’s mind. Here’s the great news: making it through such a monumental task of writing a book will impact your life in ways you cannot imagine. Overcoming the challenges that come up when writing a book make you a stronger person and elevate what you are now capable of.
In many ways, writing a book very much left me with the same feeling when I crossed the finish line of my first IRONMAN and lost 15 pounds from exercising for thirteen hours forty-one minutes and nine seconds in 103-degree heat.
If I can do that, what else am I capable of?
Lance Carter is a triathlon coach as well as a nine-time IRONMAN® triathlon participant who has been training and racing since 1993. He is the author of Six-Word Lessons for Successful Triathletes. See more at lancecartercoaching.com.