Above my desk I have a card. One of those square ones you can buy from a trendy pop up shop at Waterloo Station, covered in words relating to the art of writing.
The word ‘writing‘ is written in red text, standing out among the other words, some of which say things like, “Start writing, no matter what – the water does not flow until the tap is turned on.”
And “First drafts don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be written.” Or, my particular favourite:
“Either write something worth reading about, or do something worth writing about.”
If only we could start or finish what we set out to do.
As the promise of the New Year beckons, so does the lure of the New Year Resolution – resolving to stop doing something, start doing something, or do something differently. As long as we just resolve to do it.
‘This will be the year that I get fit/learn tai chi/write a book,’ we say.
But, according to studies by Statista, only 8% of people actually do, with less than 25% still committed to their resolutions one month in.
We so often start something with good intentions but fail to finish.
Says Charlie Gilkey, author of Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done, “We’re paradoxical creatures. On the one hand, we all want to do our best work. On the other hand, we often avoid doing it.”
What’s more, there’s often more resistance to starting doing what matters most, something that we really want to do, will enjoy doing or have been keen to do for a while. Why is that?
According to Charlie, “The more an idea matters to you, the more you’ll thrash, precisely because its success or failure is deeply important to you.”
So what’s a well-intentioned New-Years-Resolutioner to do?
- Just start. As the square card above my desk advises: “Start writing, no matter what – the water does not flow until the tap is turned on.” Taking a tiny action is often the best way. Psychologists have found we are more likely to create a new habit or achieve a goal if we take a small step and then another small step, rather than give ourselves the pressure of a large expectation.
For example, if we want to get fit, committing to just five minutes of dancing around our kitchen, twice a week, is far more likely to kickstart a new exercise habit than trying to commit to an hour long run before work every day. The same is true of writing. Committing to writing three paragraphs or writing one page feels far less daunting than the colossal task of writing an entire manuscript.
- Hire an expert to help you succeed. When you pay a personal trainer to help you get fit, you get fit. They ensure that it happens. You’re paying for a service but you’re also being held accountable for doing what you set out to do. They want you to succeed at your goal. The same is true when you hire a book coach or a ghostwriter to help you write or author a book. In paying an expert, they will ensure that it happens and will bring out the best book you have inside you.
So, with the New Year upon us and thoughts turning to what we might achieve this year, just remember, there’s an art to starting, but there’s help available too. So, this year really could be the year you do what you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t.
To invite one of our ghostwriters to help you achieve your book writing goals, click here.
Cheryl Rickman has written and ghostwritten 17 business and self-help books over the past 14 years. Find out more at www.CherylRickman.co.uk