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Why Writers Need Good Boundaries

Books don’t write themselves. They need you and me to make the time and space to get them written.

book coach Lisa Tener

And yet, it’s so easy to say, “Of course I’ll take you shopping tomorrow, Mom.” “The committee can’t find a new fundraising chair? Sure, I’ll take it on for another year.”

Guess what?

Blurry Boundaries are the Enemy of the Author

If this is going to be the year of your book, then no. You cannot take on fundraising chair another year. Instead, find a replacement, train them and get yourself off that committee! You have writing to do. Once your book is out there, doing its work in the world, you can reevaluate whether you have the bandwidth to take on that committee once again.

Or not. Maybe there’s another book in you!

How to Make Time for Your Book and Keep to It

To get your book written, you need to do four things:

  1. Create space in your schedule by reducing time on specific activities or cutting out some activities.
  2. Schedule the specific dates and times in your calendar–with notifications–and keep those times sacred. I know. You’ve probably heard me say this a million times.
  3. Let people know about your book (or vague project is fine, too) being a priority and therefore you’ll be less available for partying, volunteering and unscheduled outings.
  4. Keep your boundaries. Don’t let them get mushy! And don’t give in to pushy!

How to Keep Your Boundaries to Get Your Book Written

Tempted to let a boundary go? Ask yourself, “How will it affect my book if I say yes to this?” That one question can keep you on track.

On a call today with a client, she mentioned she might not be able to make our group writing sessions because the folks in a meditation group she founded wanted her to join them on zoom while she’s traveling.

So I suggested what I always do in such cases. “Let’s ask your muse what she wants you to do.” Perhaps her inner muse viewed meeting her meditation group via Zoom as essential for her well-being. But perhaps her muse viewed it as one more way she was sacrificing her book for other people’s needs. And maybe procrastinating, too.

So we asked. What was the priority? Get Your Writing Done sessions or meditation group by zoom. Her muse was loud and clear. “Write! Make the Get Your Writing Done program a priority. You already meditate regularly!”

She shared that her personal meditation practice is on track. She’d be joining the group because they want her presence and they asked her to join by zoom, not because it it something she needs. But what the world really needs is her book. We both know what a powerful story she has to write.

Can Get Your Writing Done Help You Complete Your Book

One boundary to consider is a commitment to a group program that you keep sacred and show up to weekly, in the same way that my client recommitted. Here’s a little more about the program from Creativity Coach, Artist, Blogger, Podcaster, Poet and Yoga Nidra Teacher Sharon Burton, who started in the class as a participant and is now one of our facilitators, along with me and Laurie Hunt, Founder of the More-In-Me Movement.

You can read more here about the Get Your Writing Done program.

How Are Your Boundaries?

How about you? Is it easy for you to blur boundaries and say “yes” to make others happy? How can you prevent yourself from sacrificing your book to avoid conflict or avoid disappointing people? How can you really commit deeply to your book and stick with it?

Share your ideas, insights and commitments in a comment below. Or ask your questions, too.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Patrice Perkins says

    Hi, Lisa!

    “Why Writers Need Good Boundaries” hit my inbox at just the right moment.

    I especially appreciate your 4 ways to help you make time for your book and stick to it. They run circles around my previous method, “Alex, I’ll take blurry boundaries for a thousand, please!” [wow, I sure miss that guy!]

    Your client example about the meditation group resonated. Often I found my boundaries getting mushy based on a false sense of obligation to someone else.

    When I subccumb to that impulse I realize I’m not giving my book the honor, priority or creative space to develop that it deserves.

    Last year I helped an aspiring author by ghostwriting, researching and heavy copyediting her first book. She was so delighted with our initial deep dive and collaborative process that she referred me to another aspiring author and I’m almost complete with ghostwriting that 2nd project.

    I help other authors bring their books to fruition while my own writing languishes on the vine.?

    A distractionary and procrastinistic tactic I’ve fallen prey to is not settling in to focus and write ONE book at a time. I have several books burgeoning within, titles and themes sketched out but when I say I have BOOKS to write, there’s no impetus to settle in and write.

    Your tip to schedule in times and dates to write sounds simple and doable; I believe it will prove helpful.

    Last month I finally decided to choose a title and start to write. I bought The Joy of Writing Journal but haven’t begun using it ?

    • Lisa Tener says

      Hi Patrice,
      I’m so glad my blog post was helpful. I’ve struggled in the past with having time for my books, as I used to always put the client work first.
      And boundaries are key. One thing I did was to focus on my own books in the morning, before the workday starts, often after journaling.
      This helps tremendously.
      And I also write during my Get Your Writing Done program while everyone else is writing! That helps.
      Dan Janal is a colleague who is also a book coach and ghostwriter who recently completed his upcoming book on Pickleball in Get Your Writing Done. He was having the same challenge as you, despite having written and published 13 other books of his own. And he used Get Your Writing Done to write and edit his book.
      Here’s what Dan says about making the time (a video).

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