How big is your vision?
I was at a lunch earlier this month. High Performing Women. We were — all of us, smart, sophisticated, successful.
And, as usual, when I meet people and tell them that I help people write books, there’s always someone eager tell me about their book project.
Your ‘book project’
And at this one I met Niamh (not her real name). She couldn’t wait to tell me that she was well and truly ‘stuck’ with her book project; and did I have any solutions for her.
I usually prefer not to get drawn in to the detail at these events — I’m there to meet people and talk about them, not just talk about books. But Niamh intrigued me. She’d already asked the event planner if she could sit next to me at lunch. She was very serious about her book and was clearly a woman of action who knew what she wanted.
She’d had coaching, she told me, she’d taken a course (and had paid handsomely for it) but she just couldn’t finish.
I’ve done everything I’ve been told to do. I’ve followed the process and I’m just a bad writer. I can’t finish.
So we dug in a bit deeper. There were a couple of tactical things that she could improve on — the structure of her book, and the connection with her reader. Things easily fixed.
And if she really hated writing there were ways around that too.
The writing wasn’t the problem
We talked longer. She told me about the vision she had for her business, and how she wanted to share her message. She told me how she’d been terrified of public speaking, yet she had pushed herself to attend toastmasters. Fought for speaking engagements, and was now being invited to present from the stage at large multi-speaker events.
Niamh, I told her, I have a suggestion for you. I think I know exactly what the problem is with your book.
She looked at me.
Your vision’s too small.
She looked at me again, this time with surprise. I don’t think she thought of herself as someone with a small vision.
I went on to explain. When she’d introduced her book project to me she’d referred to it ‘a simple lead-generating ebook’.
I don’t understand why I can’t write, she had told me. It should be easy.
But it was obvious (to me) why she hadn’t finished — she simply wasn’t motivated enough. There wasn’t a big enough ‘why’ behind it to fire her up.
In her words…
I explained to her what I had heard her say.
She’d told me how committed she had been to her public speaking — and how genuinely fearful she had been about it. She wasn’t a naturally talented speaker, yet she had pushed herself, invested time and money and energy. Because she had a bigger dream. And a bigger ‘why’.
And it would be the same for her book — if she could tap into that deeper desire.
She was driven to get her message out and a book has such a role to play here. It’s something tangible that can be given, and sold, and put into the hands of new readers.
But not if she continued to focus on a simple ‘lead-generating ebook’. No.
She needed something bigger
She needed a real book. Something physical that she could take with her, that she could share with groups and workshops and at events.
And it needed to represent her bigger message. Not just a snippet of marketing material to draw someone in. It needed to be a container for her vision and what she wanted to share with the world.
And if she committed to that dream. Well, we already knew that nothing would hold her back.
I could see she was a little shocked.
I’ll have to think about that.
But there it was. In the language she’d used.
Stop thinking small
Reducing the task of writing her book to something small and unimportant — by making it too easy, she’d squashed the drive to complete it. There was nothing that pulled her beyond finishing the book itself.
It’s easy enough to fall into this trap.
We fear the big dream because it’s scary. We know it will take effort, and still we might fail. People will judge us, and we may not measure up.
But if the vision is big enough. If it drives you enough, then the stretch is worth it. You are worth it, and your reader is worth it.
Make your choice, but don’t fool yourself that staying small is the easy path.