What’s the point in writing a book?

What’s the point in writing a book
Last weekend, I read a book that was 20 years in the making.

Bookends: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Literature was written by Zibby Owens, the host of the smash hit Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast.

 It’s a story of finding your voice and navigating life’s challenges and losses by finding solace in books and writing.

Zibby first tried to get this work published in the early 2000s. After losing her best friend on 9/11,  she took a year off to write their story, before pitching the book to publishers. It was rejected. She was advised to rework it into a novel. Another year off. Another book rejected.

Now at that point, Zibby could easily have given up on her story. Many people would have.

Sometimes our writing dreams get tangled up in our need for validation.

We don’t see the point in writing a book unless it’s going to get a stellar book deal.

Unless we are going to be ‘chosen’ by a publisher, then why bother? 

If it isn’t going to be a best seller, then what is the point?

If it’s not going to generate thousands of dollars, then why invest the time? 

And all of those questions are missing the point.

The act of writing a book is a commitment to yourself.

You have to show up to the page, day after day, and commit to the work. Even when it’s hard. Even when you have doubts and fears. 

If there’s a story that you feel compelled to write, give yourself permission to write it first for you. Get the words onto the page, and as best you can, put thoughts of publication out of your mind. Know that there is value in the writing alone. 

As for what happens next, well to a large extent that is out of your control. But when you follow through on your commitment to write a book, what you will gain amounts to more than just words on a page, pretty words on Good Reads, or Amazon sales figures. 

Cheryl Strayed says that she felt like a successful writer the day she finished writing Wild

Not when she struck a book deal.

Not on the day she hit the NYT Best Seller list.

Not the day of her appearance on Oprah or the day when Oprah’s book club chose her book.

The day she finished writing the book. Because she had done what she said she was going to do and answered the call to write a book. 

So what’s the point in writing a book?

If it’s a personal story you are telling, writing a book can be both a journey of self-discovery and an act of healing. Sometimes you need to write that story, even if it will never go further than your desk drawer. In doing so, you’ll hone your craft, learn invaluable lessons and free yourself of carrying that story around in your head, so you can go on and write the next book.

Do not let your desire for validation squash your self-expression and your writing dreams. Focus on that inner flame instead of your desire to tell this story. Quit worrying about what’s to happen after finishing your work. 

And who knows? Some day the right time to tell that story may come.

Just as it did, for Zibby.

After being rejected that second time, she kinda did give up on her book, for a while. She began working as a ghostwriter helping others find their voices. Later, over her 11 years at home with her kids, she wrote essays on parenting, among other subjects, and helped friends and family start businesses. She also read, read and read, studying the craft of writing, and eventually, started her book podcast on a whim.

And now, finally, Zibby’s time has come. Alongside her (rewritten once again) memoir, she has released a children’s picture book Princess Charming, and recently signed a deal for her first novel, Blank.

As she said in a recent interview, maybe she needed to get to this point in her life to be ready to publish the memoir.

So if there’s a story you’ve tried to tell many times over but you’ve never quite managed to do it, that doesn’t mean the story is dead.

On the contrary, maybe the time is now? 

And if you need help, let’s have a chat. Book your free book consult right here.

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