I’m willing to bet that many of you out there have thought about writing a book. You may have even started jotting down a few ideas. Perhaps it’s a fiction book, the next 50 Shades of Grey, or maybe you want to write the next tell-all expose on the life and times of Donald Trump. You might even consider writing the next great self-help book, akin to “The Secret” or “How to Make Friends and Influence People”.
According to a study done nearly two decades ago in 2002, 81% of Americans feel that they had a book in them. This means that nearly 260 million people want to write books in the US alone. Approximately 600,000 books are published in the US each year, and many of those are self-published. Few sell more than a few copies (the average is around 250 copies sold). Yet I’m here today to tell you to write that book that you’ve had on your mind, and to dive into the realm of self-publishing.
Here are 10 reasons you should take that leap and write a book already:
1. It makes you think more clearly
When you first think about writing a book, it may seem like a daunting task. It is an exciting idea, sure, but the more you consider how to actually get started, the harder it becomes. When you actually pick up the pen (or the laptop) and start typing, you will come to realise just what a clarifying effect the writing process can have on your mind.
2. It helps you channel your creativity
Writing is perhaps one of the purest forms of self expression and creativity accessible to humans. We all learn to write from an early age, yet few of us cultivate the skill of self-expression through writing long past our early childhood. Good books, nonfiction or fiction, tap into the reader’s minds by telling creative stories and tapping into psychological forces related to specific emotions. The book you write need not be dry or boring. Think about how you can make it interesting and then go full-steam ahead.
“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” – Ryan Holiday
3. It gives you a sense of purpose
Every November, nearly half a million people take on the challenge of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The challenge is for writers of all ages, talents, and skill levels to set aside time out of their busy schedules to write like mad over the course of the month. The goal is to reach a ridiculous number of words (50,000) in as few days as possible. Taking on a challenge of this magnitude, or just setting a deadline for yourself in your head on a certain number of pages to write in a certain amount of time, can provide you with an incredible sense of purpose and drive.
4. It forces you to plan ahead
Most people who write books don’t do so as part of their full-time job. They don’t have large advances or massive budgets to spend on marketing and PR. Instead, they have to work on their writing, promoting and planning around their already busy lives. Deciding to write a book requires careful planning and attention to detail. It also forces you to outline a plan for when to publish your book and when to start marketing.
5. It motivates you
Once you have an outline in place for your book and a schedule for how many words you need to finish each day (or how many sections of your book you need to complete) you will be surprised by how motivated you become. Just having a set of tasks to complete which align so closely with a creative endeavour is incredibly fulfilling, and will be very motivating over the course of your writing.
6. It creates good habits
The creation of good habits is a positive byproduct of outlining, planning, and writing a book. By planning out your activities, you develop a deeper appreciation for time and the time you spend on certain tasks. You will make an effort to be more productive, to cut out things that are of less value to you, and to prioritise those things which will help you achieve your next goal or task. All positive things which lead to the development of good habits.
7. It develops new connections
Don’t mistake the process of writing a book with the process of editing a book. When you write on a schedule, you may not feel like writing, but the sheer force of will you employ to get the words out on a daily basis will be a powerful motivating force. Not only that, the more you write, the more likely it becomes that you will develop new connections, thoughts, or ideas that you’ve never had before. As you write, something may become clear to you which has been shrouded in mystery for years or decades of your life. By writing, you will uncover these new connections and change your whole way of thinking.
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense.” – Thomas A. Edison
8. It makes you more interesting
Writing a book will make you more interesting. Not only will it give you something to talk about at parties, it will help you understand the challenges that many people face when it comes to motivation or challenges at work or in their personal lives. By writing a book, I would argue that you will become both more empathetic and energetic in your interactions with others.
9. It opens up more doors
When you spend a significant amount of time writing something, chances are that you are a dedicated and trustworthy individual. You are labelled a self-starter and someone who can be self-motivated to reach large goals. By telling people you’ve written a book, you will open doors you didn’t even know were doors in the first place. People will want to speak with you, have lunch with you, pick your brain, learn from you. The sky’s the limit.
10. It drives deeper understanding
Ultimately, writing a book allows you to develop a deeper understanding of yourself, of others and of the world around you. I would argue that writing a book is both a selfless and a selfish act in that it allows you to pour your heart and soul into something which may benefit the world as a whole.
In 2002, an author and professor at Northwestern University by the name of Joseph Epstein told readers in an Op-Ed in the New York Times that they should never write that book. A lot has changed since 2002, and looking at the world now I would argue strongly for the opposite. People should be spending more time thinking about, and writing the books they have buried inside. Only then will we be able to develop a truly complete view of the world and of humanity.