Quick fix pitfalls for authors

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve seen a lot from me about how to make writing easier and how to keep your book from taking over your life. What you haven’t seen is any discussion of quick fixes. Why? Read on to find out all about the pitfalls of quick fixes for authors.

I’m sure that if you’ve searched Google or social media for anything related to writing, you’ve seen loads of ads about quick fixes from other providers. In this post, I’m going to talk about the potential pitfalls of two of these: ultra-short book writing programmes and ghost writers.

Writers turn to these kinds of quick fixes out of frustration. But in life as in business, taking the easy way and opting for the quick fix is rarely as rewarding as doing it the right way.

Quick fix 1: Ultra-short programmes

Maybe it’s just my feed and the algorithm’s response to my search history, but ‘write and publish your book in a weekend’ courses seem to be popping up everywhere.

These are great for making the point that writing your book doesn’t have to take ages, but if you write and publish your book in a weekend, you’re unlikely to present your business in a good light.

Why? Good writing requires thinking and editing. Thinking and editing require time. Also, you should never publish anything that hasn’t been proofread by a professional.

Hopefully it’s clear how publishing rushed writing that hasn’t been polished by a professional is problematic. Books written and published this way are likely to be full of typos and awkward sentences.

You may now be thinking, ‘but I’m sure I’ve seen you argue we should write our first drafts as quickly as possible’. You’re right. I do advocate writing your first draft quickly. But I’d never advocate publishing that draft.

The second pitfall of these book-in-a-weekend courses is less obvious, but no less important. Rushing through your writing denies you the chance for growth that a longer writing process would give you.

Since this is also a pitfall of hiring a ghost writer, I’ll discuss it in more detail in the final section of this post.

Quick fix 2: Ghost writers

The idea of hiring a professional writer to write your book is appealing, and it does avoid the first pitfall of the book-in-a-weekend courses.

A good ghost writer will deliver a coherent, polished manuscript.

So, what’s the problem?

The problem is that even the best ghost writer won’t be able to perfectly embody your voice.

Why is that a problem?

One of the main reasons businessowners write books is to establish their expertise with potential clients. If a would-be client reads your ghost-written book, gets excited about what you offer, and books a call with you, they’ll feel a disconnect between the ‘voice’ in your book and the voice on the call.

Most readers won’t be able to consciously identify this disconnect. Nevertheless, it’s enough to cause them to distrust you. Thus undoing all the know, like, and trust your book had built.

Clearly, sowing distrust amongst potential clients is the very opposite of what you want to do. There’s no point spending a lot of money having a book written that reduces your conversion rate.

As I indicated above, the other pitfall of hiring a ghost writer is that it denies you the opportunity to grow from the writing experience, which I’ll turn to now.

How the writing process will improve your life and coaching

When you resist the quick fix and take the time to write and edit your book, you’ll spend quite a few hours in the company of your thoughts. During this time, you’ll be writing about your coaching practice while having to coach yourself through the writing.

I should note here that I’m using the umbrella term coach to refer to all the ‘helping’ professions. These include consultants, speakers, mentors, and healers.

As you write your book about how you help your clients one of two things will happen. Either you’ll allow yourself to struggle on the days the words don’t come easily, until you decide to use the techniques you teach on yourself. Or you’ll consciously coach yourself from the beginning and avoid any prolonged periods of struggle.

Both outcomes are valuable (and neither is available when you opt for the quick fix). Why? Because they teach you to recognise when you need coaching and which techniques work for particular situations. This experience can’t help but make you a better and more compassionate person and coach.

It will improve your understanding of your relationship with yourself. It’ll also improve your ability to empathise with others.

The process will remind you of things you know, on one level, but all too often forget to apply to yourself. For example, you relearn that if you ‘need’ to clean and tidy the house before you sit down to write even for ten minutes, you’re not avoiding the writing. You’re feeling anxious about it.

These are things we often recognise in others, like our clients. But we rarely recognise them in ourselves or those closest to us. When the anxiety-induced avoidance activity happens too close to home, we tend to respond with frustration.

However, the rather meta experience of coaching yourself through writing about coaching will make you more self-aware. It will also make you more likely to respond to yourself and your nearest and dearest with the compassion you show your clients.

If you rush the writing process with a quick fix like a book-in-a-weekend course or miss it altogether by hiring a ghost writer, you do yourself, your coaching practice, and your book a disservice. Your second draft is better than your first both because you’ve edited out the errors and because you are different and more aware after doing so.