Think of boundaries as operating instructions for you and everyone you interact with. We have internal operating instructions for ourselves and external operating instructions for everything or everyone outside of ourselves. Examples of internal operating instructions include rules such as:
- I will honor myself.
- I will respect my time.
- I will give my dreams some energy and focus each week.
- I won’t volunteer for a committee that I have no interest in joining.
Examples of external operating instructions include rules such as:
- I expect you to treat me with respect.
- I expect you to respect my time.
- I expect you to be responsible for what you can be responsible for.
Both internal and external operating instructions are how you teach people, including yourself, how to treat you. If your internal and external instructions are fuzzy, unclear or absent, your interactions with yourself and everyone in your life will be difficult, irritating, frustrating and challenging. The clearer you can be on how you want to treat yourself and be treated, what your needs are, what your dreams and desires are, and what your truth is, the easier it will be for you and other people to treat you that way. It will also be easier for your needs to be met, your desires and dreams to be fulfilled and for your truth to be heard.
When it comes to writing a book, there are five key areas where you need to have boundaries.
- Pursue Your Dreams and Desires
People often feel it is selfish to pursue their dreams and desires. Mothers, in particular, often believe that anything that takes time and energy away from their families is harmful to their families.
What if the opposite is true? What if not pursuing your dream of writing your book is harming your family? If you aren’t pursuing your dream of writing your book you will end up feeling regret and resentment.
These two emotions can take over your life. Regret is a heavy energy that is difficult to disentangle from and it impacts you for the rest of your life. You carry this with you forever and it overshadows everything you do. Resentment affects those around you. When you are filled with resentment, you believe everyone else is supposed to make up for your lost dreams and you make them pay the price.
This is a heavy burden for the important people in your life to carry. It is much healthier for you and your family for you to pursue your dream of writing your book. Pursuing this dream will increase your level of happiness. Your family will benefit from this.
In addition to feeling regret and resentment, if you are not pursuing your dreams, especially as a mother, you are showing your children that there is no point in having dreams as an adult because you will never get to fulfill them anyway. If you want your children to dream big, you must pursue your own dreams. Writing your book is an internal operating instruction.
Sometimes the timing is simply not right for you to write a book. You may have major commitments right now that take up your time, energy and focus. That’s okay.
However, don’t let your dream of writing your book slip away. This dream is the longing of your soul. You need to honor yourself enough to put energy and attention into it each week. If you don’t, you will be making everyone pay the price. This energy and attention doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. Keep things simple.
Each week imagine what your book will look like finished. Imagine what impact your book will have on your audience. Imagine how you will feel when you finish your first book. Imagine how proud you will be of yourself when you accomplish this dream. Imagine how you pursuing your dream will inspire the important people in your life to pursue their dreams. Putting energy and attention into your book on a regular basis is an internal operating instruction.
- Respect Your Time
Time is your most precious resource. It is finite. All other resources – money, energy, attention, focus, etc. – can be replenished. Be very protective of your time and invest it in ways that enrich your life. Don’t waste it in ways that deplete you.
Respecting your time is both an internal and external operating instruction. You need to respect your time before you can expect or require someone else to respect your time. If you have no respect for your time and you are doing everything for everyone no one will believe that your time matters. Once you decide that your time matters others will begin to believe that it does as well.
In terms of writing a book, you need to establish writing times. This is time that you dedicate exclusively to the activity of writing. This is an internal operating instruction. You do not do anything during this time that is not advancing your book. Everything that is not connected to your writing can wait until this writing time is complete. This requires discipline on your part. It is easy to get distracted and allow the distractions to take over. Honor yourself enough to not get distracted.
You don’t have to block off hours of time as your writing time. You are likely quite busy with a zillion things demanding your time and attention. Your writing time can be as little as 15 minutes a day. You can get a lot of writing done in 15-minute segments.
Where are these 15 minutes? You could get up 15 minutes earlier each day and write. If you do this, make sure you go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. You don’t want to run yourself ragged getting less sleep.
Perhaps you pick up your children from their activities 5 days a week. Go 20 minutes early and pop into the nearby coffee shop and make that your writing time. You could use your break-time at work as your writing time.
Regardless of when and where you write, block this time as your writing time. You will come to cherish this. Don’t use time as the excuse for why you don’t get any writing done. While on the topic of time, don’t waste endless hours each week on social media. You will never write your book if you do this and your life will simply pass you by. Respect yourself enough to limit your time spent on social media.
The internal operating instructions here are establishing your writing time, sticking with it and not allowing distractions to take over. The external operating instruction for your time is that you require everyone around you, especially if your writing time is at home, to respect this time. Make sure you clearly state to everyone in your home that your writing time is your writing time.
Everyone needs to understand you are not to be disturbed by anyone for any reason unless your home is burning to the ground. These people, whether they are your children, spouse/partner, parents or roommates, need to know that they don’t get to create a crisis each time you sit down to write. These people can live without you for 15 minutes or whatever amount of time you establish for your writing. Be firm about this. You are teaching people how to treat you.
- Protect Yourself From Naysayers
Not everyone in your life will be excited that you are writing a book. You may have already experienced this. The takers in your life don’t want you to do anything that jeopardizes your availability to look after them. The narcissists in your life don’t want anything good to happen to you and they don’t care about your dreams. The insecure people in your life will resent you for having the courage to do something remarkable.
We generally expect our friends and family members to be excited for us and what we are doing. Most people find that most of their friends and family members aren’t supportive of their dreams. It is discouraging when these people don’t support us. Don’t let this stop you. Don’t let someone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t write your book. Keep writing. These are important internal operating instructions.
You don’t have to tell everyone or anyone, for that matter, that you are writing a book. In fact, it is better not to tell everyone. Do not share this dream on social media. Social media is filled with people who don’t want you to write your book. Be protective of your dream. This is another internal operating instruction.
If someone has always been quite supportive of everything you have done in the past, let that person know. Otherwise, keep your writing to yourself until you are finished your book and only share it with those few who are truly cheering you on. You have the right to protect your dreams and yourself in whatever way you need to. You might even want to restrict or eliminate contact with those who are negative about you writing a book.
When I first started writing my book I shared this with everyone but I had a very clear boundary around this. My line in the sand was someone was either for me or neutral about me writing a book or they were gone from my life. Period. I still have that boundary today.
- Seek Support
Writing a book is a solitary process. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need support and encouragement along the way. If you are starting out and you don’t know how to get started or what to do, hire a book writing coach. A book writing coach can guide you through the process and provide encouragement when doubt creeps in. A book writing coach will help you stay on track and be accountable to both yourself and to your book.
You are worthy of having this support. In addition to, or in place of, hiring a coach, you can take a class on how to write a book. If you do take a class make sure the instructor is someone who has actually written a book and not a book writing wannabe. Educating yourself on what it takes to write a book will make it easier for you to do so.
Regardless of whether you hire a coach or take a class, be open to receiving support and encouragement from unlikely sources. I have two women in my life, whom I know in a very casual way, that are incredibly supportive of my writing. One woman is a clerk at the deli I frequent. When she makes my sandwich she always asks me how my book is coming along and she is always excited to hear what I have to say about it. This interaction elevates me.
The other woman is a young university student who works part-time at a cupcake shop that I stop at for a treat. She is awestruck by the idea of me writing a book. Not many people in my life are awestruck by what I am doing. This is such a phenomenal feeling knowing she thinks what I am doing is remarkable and I am inspiring her to dream her dreams. Engage with people as you go throughout your day. You never know where incredible support will come from.
- Allow the Writing Process to Be What It Is
Every writer writes his or her book differently and every book comes together differently. I learned this very clearly when I wrote my second book. My first book simply flowed from the time I started it until I wrote the final word. Each sentence flowed to the next and to the next and to the next. I sat down to write it and it practically wrote itself.
I thought that writing a book was simple until I started writing my second book. I struggled with this book in the beginning because I expected the process to be exactly the same way as it was for the first one. Boy, was I wrong. The second book was ultimately like putting together a puzzle. I fought this process for quite a while because I was so fixated on the writing process needing to be the exact way it was for the first book.
Once I let go of the need for the book to come together in a specific way, the information started to flow. I captured every thought, sentence and paragraph as they came to me. Then I went through each thought, sentence and paragraph to see where they belonged. I inserted this piece here and that piece there. I was almost finished moving all of these pieces around when the actual structure and layout of the book presented itself.
Your internal operating instruction here is to not get fixated on how your book should come together. Allow the information to flow from you to the page. If it all flows in a nice, linear manner from the beginning to the end, great. If it flows all over the place, simply piece the bits together.
Trust the words. Trust the message. Trust yourself. Your message, whether it is non-fiction or fiction, has an intelligence of its own and it will show up as it needs to. Don’t fight it. This in an internal operating instruction. Fighting the natural flow of your book will only lead to frustration. Once you get frustrated you will feel defeated and give up. Don’t allow yourself to get frustrated. Allow the writing process for your book to be what it is and how it wants to come forward. If you do that you will write your book.
Thinking of boundaries as internal and external operating instructions for your book writing makes it much easier for you to establish them. Having boundaries in place for these 5 key areas will enable you to start and finish your book.
© 2015 Kim Buck, author of The Thriving Woman’s Guide to Setting Boundaries.
About the Author:
Kim Buck, MBA, is the author of The Thriving Woman’s Guide to Setting Boundaries. She is an Empowerment Coach and helps women become willing to be seen, release what’s holding them back from living the life they desire and live in the energy of ease.
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