What To Do When You Don’t Know Where To Start

Written by Mary Pero

Have you ever been so paralyzed by fear you didn’t even know where to start? Maybe you’ve sat staring at a blank screen for hours. Maybe you never made it to your desk.

That fear signals our brain’s fight, flight, and freeze response, which means your brain now sees the blank screen as a real threat. So how do we avoid triggering our brain’s fear response so we can get some work done?

You need to go back to why you wanted to write your book/give a toast/become an author/share your story in the first place. Here are a few of the most common reasons people have for wanting to write a book:

  1. You’ve experienced an incredible transformation and you want to help others do the same.
  2. You have a business that you’d like to raise awareness around through a book.
  3. You’d like to establish yourself as an authority on a topic or within your field.
  4. You want to share your story (or at least a portion of it) with others.
  5. Everyone keeps asking you about … and you’d like to write a book to tell others how you did it.
  6. You’d like to write a book to launch your new business or service.
  7. You are very passionate about a topic and you’d like to raise awareness around it (spread the word).

Although these reasons are very different, they each share a unique element: They briefly show why the author wants to write the book. In his book, Start with Why Simon Sinek writes,

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

-Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action

In other words, people don’t buy what you write; they buy why you wrote it. Writing the book simply proves what you already believe.

So the question of where to start comes down to this: Why do you want to write this book? Your purpose, your passion, and your mission are all tied to this very individual question of WHY.

Let’s step back and take a birds-eye-view of your life for a moment. What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? It’s more than just working to pay the rent. You have an inner purpose that causes you to choose some things over others. There’s a reason why you do what you do.

The same is true of the book you’re writing. There’s a reason you want to write this book (not just any book, but this book). There’s a reason you want to be the one to tell this story.

When you are clear about WHY you’re writing everything else will fall into place.

If you haven’t started writing your book yet, start by asking the following questions:

  • Why do I want to write this book (this topic)?
  • Why should I be the one to write it (not someone else)?
  • What unique strengths/backstory/super-power do I have that connects me to this book?
  • Why do I care?

If you’ve already started writing but are stuck or keep starting and stopping, ask yourself:

  • Why did I start writing this book?
  • What are my unique strengths/backstory/super-powers that connect me to this book?
  • How does what I’ve written so far serve my purpose (how is it connected to my WHY)?
  • Are there areas where I’ve gotten off track, or things I’ve written that don’t connect to my WHY?*
  • Am I able to clarify my WHY and who it’s for in one sentence?

*Sometimes when things aren’t connecting, you’re trying to write more than one book at the same time. That usually doesn’t go well.

Your WHY will carry you through on your most difficult days of writing. It’s what connects you to your book, and what will connect your book to your readers. When you start to feel stuck, take a moment to remember your WHY and then keep going.


Still struggling finding your WHY? I’ve created a Digital Course to help walk you through the steps of developing your book idea until it’s golden.

Last Updated On April 12, 2021

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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