In psychological terms, context is almost everything. Much as we like to think that we know how we will act and react in a given situation, without the richness of...
I pondered whether to use this blog on consumer behaviour to detail my book-writing journey and have decided that, since the book is (of course) about consumer behaviour and market research, it’s fair enough. And I’ll be explaining elements of psychology that crop up along the way too, so I hope it will be interesting from a number of angles.
So, I’ve written my book.
And writing a book is quite hard. Between making the decision that I wanted to write a book and sitting there thinking, “Bloody hell, I’ve finished” there were weeks of sitting and researching and typing and hoping and wondering.
The wondering is quite preoccupying. Writing is a very solitary process and you occasionally wonder if what you’re writing is worthwhile, whether anyone would be in the least bit interested in what you’re writing about and, perhaps most worryingly, whether you’re capable of writing at all. The problem is that there’s no easy way of answering any of those questions until you’ve finished, and even then you probably don’t really know.
The best writing advice I received was from published author Kevin Hogan who said that I should never go back and edit before the book was finished. Too many people end up with a perfect first chapter, or first page, but nothing more. You just have to write until it’s done, then make it better.
For me the best writing aid was the Microsoft Word ‘word count’ feature. I’ve always found numbers reassuring and it was comforting to track the progress I made (which I did on an old envelope). This provided me with the most astonishing discovery; if you write at least a little each day the word count increases and you get closer to your target (I know, astonishing isn’t it).
What I discovered, psychologically-speaking, was that if you want to become a writer you have to pretend to be a writer for a couple of months, after which time you forget you’re pretending and the ingrained habit of writing becomes something you find yourself doing. Fairly soon the serotonin buzz of seeing the word count tick over another 5,000 word threshold was significantly greater than the low doses available from watching re-runs of Friends or some other TV show that I wasn’t really that bothered about.
I’ve heard people say that you should stop watching TV if you want to make time to write. Undoubtedly that’s a great idea, but in order to want to do something else like writing you have to push yourself to the point where that something else is more rewarding. Just like with dieting, wanting an outcome is unlikely to be enough for most people, you’ve got to force the behaviour first. It’s easy to be smug and say, “Stop watching TV and write”, but it doesn’t work that way for most of us.
So having written my book what now?
Over the coming weeks I’m going to share my experience of trying to get a book published.
Some of what I’m going to write about has happened (but over such a long time period that you would have undoubtedly lost interest if you’d been living through it in real time – I nearly lost interest and it’s my book!).
You’re going to meet some interesting characters, a few villains and perhaps even a hero or two.
One thing is clear, no one knows what the ending will be.
Next time I’ll talk about the different routes to getting your book into print, what I believe the benefits are of each, and which route I plan to take. I’ll hope you’ll come along for the ride.