Feeling unmotivated or uncertain about your current work-in-progress? In this episode, we’ll dig into an important question that will unearth reasons you didn’t even know were there and give you the confidence you need to move forward!
Hey there before we jump in today, I wanna point out that this is still me. Stephanie Dethlefs, your friendly neighborhood book, coach on what was formerly the Hello Writers podcast. I decided to change the name of the podcast to better represent what it is we’re trying to do here. And to hopefully reach more writers who have a story on their hearts and wanna find the clarity and support they’re looking for in order to finally write their novels. Everything else about this podcast is the same. It’s still a bite sized podcast where each episode gives you one specific thing to work on for the week. Thank you for being here and for staying with me as this podcast grows and evolves now on with the show.
Hello writers. Welcome to the Let’s Write Your Novel podcast. I’m Stephanie Dethlefs, writer and book coach. And this is the place to be if you’ve got a story on your heart, but you need a bit of clarity, accountability, and support to finally write your novel. In each episode, I give you one skill or strategy to apply to planning, drafting, or advising your novel, and will also take a peek into your mindset about the process I’m here, because your story matters. You deserve to write it and you have a reader out there who needs it. I am so glad you’re here. So let’s get to it today. I wanna address any uncertainty you might have around your idea for a novel. Is it good enough? And by writing it well, does it make any sense? Will anyone wanna read it? That kind of uncertainty, the kind that all of us writers feel from time to time or daily?
Hopefully that’s not just me. A lot of the uncertainty we feel about our writing comes from not fully understanding why we are writing a novel. I know you’ve heard me talk about the whys of writing in previous episodes, in my newsletter and in person, if you’re a client, but I truly cannot stress this enough, the lower, your understanding of the reasons why you were writing a book, the more likely you are to give up, to throw in the towel to just say, forget it when it gets difficult. And I don’t want that for you. I know how terrible it feels. So today my goal is to talk through a question that you should ask for every single piece you write. And you can start today with your current work in progress. I’m going to ask you a series of questions. The idea here is that you free write your answers in a stream of consciousness way.
There’s no right answer, and there are no wrong answers either. So grab some paper and get ready to write, bring to mind your current writing project. And if you don’t have a current writing project, then just for exercise for the exercise, bring to mind something you’ve thought about writing in the past. You know, that idea that lingers in the back of your mind, it could be a fully formed idea or just a vague sense of the genre or the structure or the characters, whatever you’ve got. Bring that one project to mind here is the number one question you need to ask yourself at the beginning of a project. Why must you write this book now? Why must you write this book? Now allow all of the reasons to arrive. Here are some of the reasons that came up. When I asked this question of my most recent project, I have this idea that won’t leave me alone.
I want a second book that gets a bigger audience than the first one. Did I wanna have a collection of books for young readers? You can hear that my answers range from shallow to more profound from practical ones to almost like mystical, right? that’s the great thing about this exercise. You’ll realize that you have a number of reasons that you didn’t even know were bubbling under the surface. You’ll see that there most likely isn’t just one reason either. Of course, some of your reasons will matter more than others, but what a gift to have multiple reasons to wanna do something, right? I’d like to break this question down a little further and zero in on specific words in the question separately, let’s start with this one. Why must you write this book? Now this time, you’re only going to think about why you are the person you must, who must write this.
Why can’t your neighbor, write it or your spouse or your mom or someone on the other side of the planet. Why is this your story to tell? Here are some of the answers that I came up with for that same work. These characters are telling my story from that age, this is my chance to explore some challenges for my childhood. I have the perspective of having been a preteen, raising preteens and teaching preteens. So I’m completely qualified to tell this story. As you can hear, these reasons are starting to get a little more personal and I could get even more specific by really getting to the heart of why I need to write this book. It’s gonna show me what my deep personal connection is to it. And the more deeply connected we get to our story, the more authentically it’ll show up on the page.
It’s also, what’ll make it less likely that we will feel good letting the story languish untouched, right? Here’s the next version of this same question. Why must you write this book? Now this time we’re looking at this specific topic. What are the reasons that this story won’t let you go? Why is this topic so important? It’s also a chance to explore why the specific structure genre or style is the way you wanna go. Here are some examples that came up for me. I need to write this as a middle grade novel because the middle school years are the most self-absorbed of all developmental stages and they just need to hear this message. I also wish I could go back to my middle school self and teach her this again. Your reasons don’t have to be profound. As you reflect, you might find that some of your answers might not even seem like they matter, but let them come to the surface. Anyway, you never know what’s gonna be the reason that moves you back to the page tomorrow. You’ll probably also notice that some repetition emerges as you answer these questions. So let me reassure you that this repetition is a good thing. It means that the important reasons are rising to the surface. So bear with me one more time for the final version of this question. Why must you write this book now? Why is now the right time for this story? Why not five years from now? Why is the timing important?
Have you been wanting to write a novel or maybe you’ve started and gotten stuck? Would you like to finally make some progress before the end of this year? , I’m looking for four people who wanna write a novel or have started and gotten stuck to join me in a small group program for clarity and accountability. In addition to personalized coaching and feedback from me, you’ll move through my signature system to move writers from idea through revision, with the support of some fellow writers. If this sounds appealing to you, I’d like to invite you to schedule a free no commitment. Call with me at hellowriters.net/group. We can talk about your project, give you a practical next step and see if the small group program is a good fit. If you’ve been thinking about working with me and the price of one-on-one coaching has been a barrier, this is also a great opportunity for you to take advantage of coaching at a lower price. Again, that link is hellowriters.net/group.
One last thing I’d like to point out is what we’re not asking. Am I the right person to write this book? We’re not asking, is this the right time? Or is this story worth telling, going into these exercises? You’ve already decided that the answer to all of those questions is yes. You want to write this book? So don’t let yourself fall into the whole of trying to talk yourself out of it. Okay. All right. So let’s review our four in one question here. There’s just the straight question. Why must you write this book now? Free write for a few minutes and see what comes up. Then focus on why you must write this book now, then take a look at why you must write this book now and finally ask yourself, why must you write this book now today, your goal is to write, without stopping.
As you answer each question, kind of a stream of consciousness writing, give yourself, I don’t know, 15 to 20 minutes to do this and allow yourself to keep asking what else? Let those reasons rise to the surface. Some will be obvious and others might surprise you. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Writers. At the beginning of writing a novel, ask yourself why must I write this book? Now it will provide you with the clarity and motivation that you need to keep moving forward and move forward. You must do you have a reader out there who needs it? I’ll talk to you next time. Thank you so much for being here. If you like, what you heard, would you please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes so that it can reach more writers who like you could use a little support today? I would appreciate it so much. Happy writing!