3 Big Barriers to Writing a Bestselling Book: Dabbling, Dawdling, and Dashing

Written by Dr. Laura Bush

If you haven’t written the book you’ve always wanted to write, it might be because you’ve been dabbling, dawdling, or dashing your way through the book writing and publishing process. See if you recognize yourself in any of the following scenarios: 

Dabble: (1) to immerse one’s hands or feet partially in water and move them around gently (splash, dip, paddle,) or (2) to take part in an activity in a casual or superficial way.  

Dabbling looks like you’ve been thinking about writing a book (or several books) off and on for years. Sometimes, you get casual feedback about your book ideas from friends or family, but you don’t want too many people to know you’re thinking about writing a book. Dabbling could also look like a stack of notes or fragments of documents you plan to use for your book. If you’re a dabbler, you might honestly fear the time and effort you suspect it will take to get a book written, published, and marketed. You’re waiting for just the right moment to really begin the process. In theory, you like the idea of having written a book, but you’re just dabbling. You’ve only put your hands and feet in the writing water; your t-shirt and shorts are still dry.  

 Stop Dabbling and Commit

The solution to dabbling is to pull on your swimsuit and dive in the deep end of the pool. In other words, fully commit to invest the time and money it’s going to take to write and publish a great book. This might include putting yourself in a writing program with a writing group, or hiring a writing coach and/or an editor. Eventually, you’ll also need a book designer, publisher, and marketing plan. But if you keep dabbling around and avoid jumping in the water, you’ll never finish your book. 

Dawdle: (1) to waste time, be slow, (2) to move slowly and idly (amble, stroll, trail). 

Dawdling is different from but related to dabbling. If you’re dawdling, you’ve actually started writing your book. Congratulations! You might even have a couple of chapters written, but you lack direction. Trouble is, you’re trying to do it all on your own. You think that’s how books are written, and you have little to no idea about how to publish a book.  So you slow the whole process down wondering what to do next. You probably haven’t established a writing habit, either, so you’re barely producing any writing on a regular basis. But you tell yourself going slowly is okay. You’re writing a book after all. There’s no hurry and you have other priorities. It’s alright to stroll along for a few years. Your book will get finished eventually. 

Stop Dawdling and Make a Plan

The solution to dawdling is to make a strategic plan, hopefully inside a book writing program or with a book writing and publishing expert. Investing in professionals will force you to set specific goals and deadlines for your book writing journey. You’ll develop and stick to a writing habit. Having professionals in place will motivate you to make a difference for yourself and your readers because you’ve taken the plunge and invested in the support any expert needs to properly write, publish, and market a book. 

Dash: (1) to run or travel somewhere in a great hurry, (2) to strike or fling somewhere with great force, especially so as to have a destructive effect (hurl, smash, crash, slam, toss, fling, pitch, cast, project, propel). 

Writers who try dashing through the process of writing a book don’t like the thoughts of revising and refining their ideas. They just want to free write (download their ideas from the universe), ask a friend to take a look at what they’ve written, and have their friend tell them it sounds great!  

If you’re trying to dash your way through a book, you might be open to hiring an editor to clean up your brainstorming and get the grammar, spelling, and punctuation correct, but you don’t really care about developing your ideas fully. That takes too much time and effort. You want the book done and out the door making money or making a difference right away. If you’re dashing along through a book, you probably also don’t know who would want to read your book (wouldn’t everybody?), but you believe your readership will sort itself out and each perfect reader will find your book like a soulmate. 

Stop Dashing and Accept the Book Writing Process

The solution to dashing your way through a book is to accept that book writing is entering and preparing for a marathon, not a sprint. Just as your muscles and stamina must be built up over time to compete in a 26.2-mile race, the content of your book must be fleshed out and revised over time—at least nine to twelve months (Unless you’re a full-time author and writing expert, don’t let anyone fool you that it takes less time than that to write a quality book). No one would expect to enter a marathon with just a month’s worth of training.  

Writing a book also requires time for your ideas to percolate, be revised, and edited. Plus, the content needs to make sense to your reader and be well-structured. That takes time and effort too. You need to pace yourself to write a book. You also need to hire a team to travel beside you over the long miles, handing you bottles of Gatorade, cheering you on, and reminding you—when the going gets tough—about why you wanted to write a book in the first place. 

Bottom Line

If you care about the quality of your ideas, and if you care about influencing, motivating or engaging people’s interest to read your book, then you’ve got to stop dabbling, dawdling, and dashing. Bottom line, you’ve got to commit yourself, your time, and your money to write and publish a bestselling book. 

Dr. Laura Bush is CEO and Founder of Peacock Proud Press. She works as a publisher, writing coach, editor, and ghostwriter to help entrepreneurs, speakers, corporate leaders, and autobiographers write and publish high quality books that transform the lives of authors and their readers.

Written by Dr. Laura Bush