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Are You Being Selfish Enough to Finish Your Book?

To write our books we need to be fierce about our boundaries.

I write this moments after our Get Your Writing Done Zoom meeting has ended and one person reported that she did something very selfish. She put her book above a person in crisis, someone she’d been supporting for a long time.

Consider the Consequences and Impact

Now, sometimes the “right” thing to do, and the most authentic thing to you, is to rush to someone’s side. But it’s always a good idea to check in with your inner muse or inner knowing. In this case, she’d been pouring energy into two people who meant a lot to her but had also made their situation and hers very difficult by alienating so many people. They put her in a position of being the indispensable “only” support.

book coach Lisa Tener

She could continue to pour energy into that relationship, but what would it mean for her book? With health crises going on in her own family, she had limited bandwidth for anything, and this relationship was impacting her ability to write this book that felt:

a) very much needed right now in the world.

b) important to complete for the good it will do for people, the environment and other grassroots movements that can learn from her group’s groundbreaking environmental victory.

c) essential to complete so that she can write another book that feels equally, or perhaps even more, connected to her life’s mission.

She knew those things wouldn’t happen if she continued to pour in the energy her friends “required.” In fact, she was experiencing health issues of her own as she tried to meet everyone’s needs while working on a demanding book project.

Pause and Choose Wisely

Something had to give.

Yes, it felt hard and bad and selfish.

And it also felt liberating and correct and a relief.

The truth is, she is not responsible for those other people, the situation they got into, and their pain.

She can feel compassion, even sadness, to see them suffer, but it would be a disservice to herself, her mission, her own family, and the world (that needs her book) to let her friends’ suffering take over her life.

I know she plans to see her friend and be supportive. And I imagine he will try to make her the primary support person again. But here is an opportunity for this friend to reach out and reconnect with others he has alienated, a chance to forgive and ask forgiveness. He has his own path that he must find. She can’t do his work for him.

What Seems Selfish May Be the Most Empowering for the Other Person, Too!

writing a book

In the end, I imagine that this writer will not look back on her response as a selfish act but as an act of loving self-preservation, self-care, the wise use of her limited energy reserves, the greatest service for the greatest good, and a gift to her future readers and the many causes and passions they are working towards.

When you decide to write a book, I guarantee that challenges will come to test your resolve and commitment. You will need to change your perspective, habits, ways of being and beliefs in order to write and publish an exceptional book. Every situation is different, and there may be times to put down the book and show up for someone you love the moment they call you. But if you are genuinely committed to the book, you must figure out the boundaries that enable you to care for yourself and your book.

When people or circumstances press on your valuable time, pause, explore your options, be open to changing habits and beliefs, and make the empowered choices that will make your dream come true–for the good it will do in this world.

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.

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