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How to Conquer Your Fear of Screwing Up the Book You Want to Write, Part I

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When you start to write your book, you will feel some fear. Guaranteed.

We all do. It goes with the writing process.

You worry about adding to the trite prose that already clutters the market, and becoming the victim of searing criticism in the process.

All this worry paralyzes you, rendering you too scared to get started or get past the inevitable writer’s block.

You may even engage in the fruitless task of editing as you write. This is like running on a treadmill. You’re burning energy but not really going anywhere.

We will cover some of the ways to conquer this fear in this series.  (See Part 2 here.)

Before we start. . .

Consider writing a nonfiction book

  • They are easier to write.
  • They are easier to sell.
  • Customers are already looking for the solutions in your nonfiction book.
  • You are already an expert in something that could become a nonfiction book (more on that later.)

Don’t let me discourage you from writing your novel if that’s your passion and goal right now. It’s just that fiction takes most authors longer to create and without established credibility, harder to sell.

Good news: you don’t have to choose. You can write both nonfiction and fiction, as more and more authors are doing.

Now that I’ve pushed you to write nonfiction, let’s talk about the first way to conquer that gripping fear that you’ll screw up your book.

Forget about being original

It’s unlikely that you can write on a topic no one has covered in some way, especially in nonfiction. Even if you did, you have no guarantee that anyone would want to read it.

Instead think about how you can write a new twist on a topic that you and other people are interested in.

The most popular nonfiction topics are

  • dieting/weight loss
  • relationships
  • self-help/personal growth/happiness
  • money/finances
  • dating/sex
  • healthy cooking
  • spiritual/inspiration
  • career/leadership
  • parenting

Find a way to tell us something new or in a different way on one of these topics, and you’ll have the potential to write a bestseller.

Let me give you an example.

A quick search on Amazon indicates that as of the day I’m writing this post the category of dieting/weight loss has 11,487 books, 2,135 Kindle books and over 160 products that are tagged “dieting.”

In spite of this mountain of dieting advice/tips/products, someone is creating another book on dieting right now.  If this upcoming author (maybe you) can tell us a healthy way we can eat what we want, skip exercise and keep our ideal weight, her book will be bestseller overnight.

Put a new twist on favorite topics

When you see new books emerge that give solutions in a new way, you may think, “I could have done that!” You’re right. You could have. You just have to turn your thinking cap at a different angle like these authors did.

  • True stories of inspiration, love and courage are not new. But when Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen compiled stories like these, they enjoyed impressive sales of Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Advice about parenting and pregnancy has been around for many decades. When my kids were born, Dr. Spock was the go-to parenting expert who turned childrearing advice on its head.When the mother-daughters team of Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi Murkoff and Sandee Hathaway wrote What to Expect When You’re Expecting, their book gave us a fascinating new guide to pregnancy and created a phenomenal self-publishing success story (since the first one of what became a serious was self-published.)
  • From the beginning of history people have sought answers from God. When a former Oregon radio talk show host Neale Walsch wrote the responses he was hearing, Conversations with God won him a 7-figure advance from Putnam-Berkley.

    Repurpose your own content

    You must not plagiarize anyone, even yourself. But there’s nothing wrong with breathing new life into your already-produced content, especially your blog.

    Before it was a trend, for example, I gathered the posts from my blog, Color Your Life Happy, and wove them together with results of happiness research, ancient wisdom and added activities and cartoons. The result was my book, Color Your Life Happy: Create Success, Abundance and Inner Joy You Deserve available in print and Kindle versions.

    This is a popular approach, and one I recommend in an e-course I created to help you get over your fear of screwing up your book so you can get started.

If you’re ready to conquer your fear of writing your book, I’m ready to hold your hand in my 4-week e-course, Rockin’ My Book. It’s an on-demand course, meaning you start when you register. Because it’s an e-course you complete it at your convenience. What makes it stand out from many e-courses is that you will get feedback from me when complete the suggested tasks.

I’d love to have you learn about Rockin’ My Book here and then tell me what you’ve done to conquer your fear of writing your book (or even blog posts, articles, etc.) in the comments.



  1. Flora,
    Thanks for sharing these tips on conquering the fear of writing a book. Can’t wait to read part 2!

  2. Thanks, I was drawn in by your statements of fears. i.e., adding to the trite prose, or fruitless editing.

    I like editing while I write, I feel I appeal to different age categories, at different times of day. I don’t suffer from writers block, more so than I suffer from maintaining a usable work schedule.

    I’m not writing non-fiction, I’m writing a fairy tale, and would like to continue along those lines, if you think you may have advice that could help. Do You?

    • Hi Rob,

      There are some who believe that nonfiction and fiction are not as far apart as we think. There are substantial differences in getting them published.
      Do you plan to submit your novel to a traditional publisher or self-publish? Once you decide on one of these paths, I can offer you better advice.

  3. Hi Flora,

    It’s really interesting to learn that non-fiction books sell more easily than fiction books. I also appreciate the list of top selling tops in non-fiction. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Sandra,

      Nonfiction books address problems and offer solutions that folks are seeking. It’s like looking for a dentist. You’ll find one in a hurry when you’re suffering from an excruciating toothache. Otherwise, you may take a more leisurely approach.

  4. I used to want to write a book, but now I’m a bit more excited about blogging. It just seems like a longer time between writing and saying, “look, I did that”. I guess I’m in the “maybe-later” phase. I do enjoy reading, though. I even miss Ms Snark!!
    ♡ Jill

    • Hi Jill,

      Being excited about blogging great since blogging is a good place to start your writing. Many authors start a blog first and then convert those posts to the chapters of their books. This may work for you.


  1. […] (This is the second in a series. Check out Part 1 here.) […]

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