4 Reasons I'm Afraid to Write a Book (and the 1 Reason I Might Do It Anyway)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Books HD
Image by Abhi Sharma via Flickr/Creative Commons

Because of my work with See Jane Write, at least once a month I am asked about "my book." Some people want to know if I'm working on a book. Others simply assume I am and ask what my book is about. While some people assume I already have a book on the shelves of their local Barnes & Noble or that they can order it from Amazon.com.

All these people are sadly mistaken.

I have not published a book, nor is this a goal I'm even striving toward right now.

This may be surprising, and perhaps even seem hypocritical. Here I am working day and night to encourage women to write and share their stories, but I have no plans to pursue publishing a book!

I could say I have no interest in writing a book, but that would be a lie. I've thought about writing a book. A lot.

The truth is, I'm afraid to write a book. Here's why:

I'm afraid I'm too indecisive. Before I write a book I would need to actually decide on a topic. I have three book ideas I've been kicking around for years, but I can't settle on one. So I simply choose to not make a choice and push those publication pursuits to the back burner.

I'm afraid I'll get bored. I have commitment issues. I get bored with things (and people) very easily. I will stop watching a favorite television show mid-season if I'm disappointed by too many episodes. When I was younger, I didn't even have plans to get married because I feared I'd wake up one morning utterly bored with my husband. Writing a book is a long, arduous process that takes serious dedication. I'm afraid that if I get started on a book I'll eventually get bored with the project and dump it for a shiny new idea.

I'm afraid I'll have to abandon my other goals. Writing a book -- a good book -- takes a lot of work. It's like a second job. And since I essentially already have four jobs (teaching, freelancing, See Jane Write Birmingham, and See Jane Write Magazine) taking on a fifth would mean I would have to completely give up exercising, showering, and sleeping -- or I'd have to give up teaching, freelancing or See Jane Write. Right now, that would be like asking me to choose and give up my least favorite child.

I'm afraid I'm not smart or talented enough. Two of the three book ideas I have center on feminism, which I'm sure is no surprise if you've known me for longer than 5 minutes. But I don't have a degree in women's studies and for that reason I don't feel I have the knowledge necessary to write a solid book on feminism. And what if I don't have what it takes to write a solid book on anything? Sure, I can write blog posts and news articles, but can I really write a entire book?

But then I started reading Sexy Feminism: A Girl's Guide to Love, Success, and Style. This book is by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudulph, the authors of the blog SexyFeminist.com. Armstrong and Rudolph don't have PhDs in women's studies. Like me they are journalists, bloggers, and imperfect feminists looking for ways to practice feminist activism through their writing and through the decisions they make in their everyday lives.

Armstrong and Rudulph empower me to believe that I can write a book about feminism.

Yet, I'm still faced with the issue of when on earth will I find the time to write it.

I've heard fiction writers talk about characters speaking to them and poets speak of verse chasing them through space and time. Perhaps the non-fiction book I carry inside me will tell me when it's ready to be born and one day I'll just wake up and know it's time.


  1. Write it - if you want to share it with the world then do. But WRITE IT!

  2. Yep and yep. I can so totally relate to "I'm afraid I'll get bored" and in fact, I did get bored with my book I was writing. And the other is a constant in me, "I"m afraid I'm not talented enough." I think I'll stick to blogging.

  3. I can so relate to this post! I've tossed the idea of writing a book around more times than a few! Thanks so much for writing this post. It really caused me to do a bit of self-reflection.

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  6. I started writing . . .and you win some in 2008, got bored with it and abandoned it for about a year and I just published it this week. It'll all come together in time. I don't think you to have to choose. Start writing down thoughts, words, phrases and the top one will eventually choose itself. During my break from . . .and you win some, I wrote a book during NANOWM and ended up incorporating that one into the first one.