Developing habits happen the same way we develop memory in a muscle. Muscles need to be trained repeatedly in order for them to perform in a way that is ‘second nature’ and likewise, habits can be cultivated through repetition. It’s about small incremental actions. Hundreds of micro actions, all leading toward something; a habit that becomes established and part of our being. Habits then appear instinctual, and like they are part of ones ‘way’. A bodybuilder will train – slowly, repeatedly and he will push the boundaries every now and then. Sometimes the training can feel like a real graft… it doesn’t feel fun, it feels hard and even hopeless. Is this when he should pause and reflect? Or dig deep and find purpose?
Many times we are drawn to the page. It happens in a persistent manner throughout our lives, sometimes at the most inconvenient times. It’s as if we are being pulled by an invisible attractor field. Many times we allow something to interfere with us connecting to that page. We rationalise the calling – the duty of writing and use reason to excuse ourselves from the obligation. Writing, after all, is not a priority—is it? We develop sophisticated well reasoned positions about why we can’t do it now and why we should not, and the voices begin…
It’s irresponsible, now that you have a child, a second child, a third, you just don’t have time—now that you have started a new job, have begun thinking about moving house. You’ll do it once you clear your overdraft, move out of your parents home and are free to explore your creativity. Only then will you do it. You’ll do it when you move into your own one-bed flat, once you have got that desk you have always pictured having and when the kids bugger off to uni. You’ll start writing your book then, because it’s not of ‘prime concern’ right now. Only then when everything is in position, will you accept the call – to connect to the page. Right?
When has writing ever been a concern? Why not just drift to the page like you were going to? Why are we making such a big deal out of it? I know what happened… something interfered with you connecting—it involved itself and barged its way into your flow, like venom it introduced itself, and like poison it lessened you. That may feel like a hard description but this is how incrementally cunning the mind is, it acts like a poison and is the enemy of the writer. The secret is to learn what it is. Only then, can we master it.
In Dealing with Swindlers and Devils: Literature and Business Ethics, Christopher Michaelson writes that ‘One instrumental function of literature is to imitate life, thereby expanding our vision beyond our parochial interests; to see literature merely as a didactic instrument to serve business interests misses the point that literature should expand understanding, our sense of what in addition to business is interesting and valuable.’
I wanted to write a series of articles for business owners who are interested in writing books. I have always been drawn to the entrepreneurs of the world and in a way, I consider myself one and due to the stresses and the challenges of running a business or company, we often find ourselves too close to the action – too connected to the drama, when all we need to do, sometimes, is sit back – and write about it. I have begun to talk to business owners about why a ghostwriter is so fundamental to their business. To begin, the question here is wrong. Why is a book important to a business? This is the question. But to avoid disappointment, please turn back now if you are expecting a blog about ‘business’ perse. This article reminds us what words can do, what books can do. Understanding this helps encourage us to write our great works. So… why a book?
Preceding this question, what is a book? An object with images in it (letters) that link to form words. What are words? What is communication? Understanding what is happening when we are writing a book will help shine a light on these fundamentals, because what happens to a person when they write one can be nothing short of magic. Sometimes that’s what businesses need… a touch of magic. Sometimes what business owners are in need of is a new best friend. As Groucho Marx said, ‘Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.’