I can’t spell
My grammar sucks
English isn’t my native language
You wouldn’t believe how bad my grades were in English

These are all actual reasons people have given me for why they “can’t” write a book (even though they want to).

And they’re all B.S.

Sure, solid writing skills are an asset, but they’re skills, and like any other skill, they can be learned—and if going back to seventh grade for remedial comma placement isn’t your cup of tea, there are people who can help you.

Let’s break these down, shall we?

I can’t spell
Who cares? Hire a proofreader. That’s what they’re for. Good spelling does not make you a good writer, and bad spelling doesn’t mean you don’t have a worthwhile story to share.

My grammar sucks
People tend to equate good grammar with good writing, but grammar is just a set of rules designed to give your writing clarity and structure; it isn’t the writing itself. A good copyeditor will smooth over your sentences and polish your prose. Only you can tell your story.

English isn’t my native language
I’ve worked with several non-native speakers who wrote entire books in English (I even know one who’s started a career as a romance writer). You can hire copyeditors, proofreaders, or even translators to help you. Again, having “perfect” English isn’t as important as having something worthwhile to say.

You wouldn’t believe how bad my grades were in English
Students tend to get bad grades in English not because they’re “bad” writers, but because they’re not following rules—they lose points for things like grammar or spelling or turning homework in late. It’s also possible that your colloquial writing style wasn’t appreciated or that you were just bored out of your mind (I loved most of my English classes, but even I had a few that were pretty dull). Regardless, there’s no point letting a long-ago “D” get in the way of saying what you want to say now.

So what does it take to write a great book?

A great story. Something that gets people’s attention, compels them to keep reading, and inspires them to take action.

And what makes a great story?

Well, lots of things, but at the core:

  • A strong theme
  • A deep understanding of your reader
  • A compelling narrative
  • A clear reason for writing the book in the first place

These are the elements that can turn a simple how-to book into an inspiring call to action or distill your vast experience and knowledge of a subject into book that your reader can’t put down.

Trust me: the most deathless prose in the world can’t make up for a weak theme or a sloppy narrative.

Fortunately, all these elements are within reach (no sentence diagramming or spelling homework required). You can work through them on your own, of course, but working through a tested process and getting feedback as you go can save you a lot of time and headaches.

That’s why I’m opening up the Book Mapping Bootcamp. It’s an intensive 2-week group program designed to help you structure your book before you start writing. It’s like drafting the blueprints before you start building your house—it’ll save you a lot of time in the long run and you won’t have to worry about the roof falling in.

With your book “map” in hand, you won’t waffle around for months trying to figure out what to write about, and you’ll find that the writing itself goes faster and easier than you would have ever thought.

If writing a book is on your list resolutions for 2017 but you haven’t quite gotten started, the Book Mapping Bootcamp might be the organizational kick-in-the-pants that you need. Check it out.