Get seriously inspiring writing tips delivered to your inbox Join my author mailing listJoin my author mailing list

Want to plan but don’t want to plan?

Get your book out of your head and onto the page

Want to plan but don’t want to plan?

Are you carrying around the (painful) paradigm ‘I want to plan’ or its evil twin ‘I should plan’ AND ‘I’m not a planner’ / ‘I’m better off not planning’ / ‘I don’t want to plan’? In other words, are you suffering from cognitive dissonance about planning your book?

Perhaps sitting down and actually planning your book would make it too real, too concrete, and you’d actually have to put in the work? Our brains like to keep us safe. Any challenge to our equanimity will feel uncomfortable. So the idea of sitting down and getting your ideas on paper may give you butterflies.

Our brains don’t like cognitive dissonance

Do you tell yourself you want to plan but you don’t want to plan? Let me explain what I mean. Our brains also don’t like cognitive dissonance, or holding onto two conflicting ideas at once. In fact, we’ll go along way to avoid it! We’ll even scupper our own wants and needs – get in the way of our writing goals – to avoid cognitive dissonance, which is perhaps why¬† a state of ‘want-to-plan-but-don’t-want-to-plan’ can be so paralysing. It can make you feel like you’re in the middle of a tug of war, being pulled in two directions at once.

Cognitive dissonance can work in your favour

Let’s think of this in a more positive way: a paradigm – or a way of seeing the world – will come along for the ride (I’m imagining our brains are like open top buses now, bear with me) until it’s challenged. Therefore, cognitive dissonance, if it’s accompanied by a pause, a breath, a moment of awareness if you like, can be highly productive. It allows you to spot a problem!

What’s the solution?

There is a solution and it’s so simple, I can sum it up in two words. I promise you that you’ll feel better once you’ve done it, too. Here it is (drum roll): Turn up. Turn up at your desk or the kitchen table or on the sofa with a notebook when the kids are in bed, and get your ideas out of your head. Only then will you know if you want to:

  • Continue with the idea
  • Commit time and energy to making your book the best it can be
  • Communicate your ideas in book form (or in some other way)

Dedicate some time

Take that tiny first step and commit to turning up. Dedicate some time to getting your ideas on the page. That’s what countless other writers have done before you. I’ll let you into a secret. You don’t write 50,000 words or 100,000 words when you write a book, you write 1,000 words 50 or 100 times or 500 words 100 or 200 times. Think of this way: how many sessions would you need to write 1,000 words 50 times? Even if you only had one morning each weekend, you could finish a first draft in a year. What if you had a bit more time than that? How long would it take?

However long it would take, your book has to start somewhere, and believe it or not, it starts with you turning up and getting your ideas out of your head and onto the page. You don’t have to show it to anyone yet, you don’t have to tell anyone what you’re doing. You don’t even have to decide if you’re a planner. Take one small step at a time, but start now.

Ready to start planning?

I’ve got good news! New and perfectly formed, Plan Your Book in a Weekend, will take you through the planning your book using an easy-to-follow step-by-step process.



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.