3 Limiting Beliefs Stopping You From Writing That Book
I sat in my classroom one day after school as a mentor and colleague encouraged me to write a book. He successfully published an autobiography and believed my story was worth sharing, too. However, it took me over a year before I even began working on my first book. You want to know why? It’s because I never thought my story was unique enough to share and I didn’t think I was a good enough writer. As a result, I couldn’t see myself as a successful writer.
Maybe you’re just like how I was, thinking your life story isn’t shareworthy. It’s easy to look at the G.O.A.T.S. of the writing industry and go fangirl crazy. I mean, these writers have notoriety for a reason. Recently, however, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts (Therapy for Black Girls) and was reminded that we aren’t supposed to use someone else’s life as a measuring stick for our life.
So what you haven’t had a near-death experience, unexpected medical issues, or finished college with a 4.0 as a single mother. Your story is just as shareworthy as the next sister’s.
Try this exercise with me. Grab your journal, notebook, or open up a Google doc. Jot down moments when you remember feeling the proudest. Describe why you felt that way and the backstory leading up to those moments. It doesn’t matter how “big” or “small” those moments are. They are your moments. Who has the right to say what qualifies as “big” and “small” moments anyway? If you didn’t cuss out the lady who swerved in front of you, you better celebrate as if you won the lottery, girl!
Once you’ve written down as many proud moments as possible, you really need to celebrate because you’ve got some solid examples to use in that book of yours! For a more in-depth look at how to find those shareworthy moments in your nonfiction book, grab these worksheets.
“I’m not a good writer” syndrome
Have you ever written a piece you were beyond proud of only to have it rejected by a publishing company or your favorite magazine? Yeah, me, too, girl! To be honest, those rejection emails (or lack thereof) still sting--Every. Single. Time.
In the past, I’ve allowed those rejections to make me question if I should keep writing and pitching. I equated rejection with the whole “I’m not a good writer” line of thinking. But guess what? When I look back on some of those submissions, my work really wasn’t always as good or strong as I thought (can anyone else relate?). At other times, I realized my work wasn’t quite what those companies were looking for.
Those rejections I once loathed actually taught me that I simply needed to continue honing my craft. The rejection wasn’t personal. If your book isn’t accepted by the publisher of your dreams, that doesn’t mean the company thinks you’re a terrible person. There’s a difference between judging one’s work versus judging one’s character. If we can remember to keep those separate, we can learn to embrace our failures and push forward through the mud.
When our work is rejected, we’ve got to ask ourselves, “What am I going to do about it? Am I going to sulk or pull up my bootstraps and intentionally work on becoming a better writer? Am I going to participate in table reads, attend local or virtual writing groups, and writing workshops? Am I going to open myself up to constructive criticism or close my laptop for good?”
Who’s worthy of success?
Writers like Angie Thomas amaze me. Her first published book not only sold more than she probably imagined, but it brought about a lot of meaningful conversations among youth and adults alike. I’m sure you’d love the same kind of success for your book, right? When I published my first book, I did, too! However, I didn’t think my book was much of a success because unlike Angie Thomas and many others, I didn’t see my name on the New York Times bestseller list. Hence, I thought this confirmed my suspicion that I wasn’t worthy of success.
Here’s the thing. Angie Thomas’ level of success doesn’t have to be your level of success (or mine). If we’re honest, everyone’s definition of success is different. Before you publish that book, write down what indicators will make you feel as if your book is a success and why. Be sure your reasons are rationale. Then, create a plan to make those indicators a reality. There’s enough success to go around for all us. I promise. So, get up and get that book written already, girl! We’re ready to read it.