In my last blog entry I promised to share a miraculous, foolproof secret method for extricating yourself from overcommitment. Okay, get ready. Drum roll please. Wait for it………the magical technique is to simply WRITE A BOOK. Actually, all you have to do is to START writing a book.

I can hear you now, oh skeptical ones. "Oh, great, why doesn’t she tell me to perform brain surgery too. Or paint the Mona Lisa, Part II. Is this a joke?"

Nope. Not a joke. I’ve written two books so far, and I can tell you this. All you have to do is start. Write "My Book" at the top of a page and by "your name" underneath it. There. You’ve started.

Don’t worry about publishing or what to do with it later – write it for yourself. Or your kids. By this time of your life, I know that you have something to say. Or some favorite recipes for your own cookbook. Or a fanciful tale that you’ve told nieces, nephews, grandchildren.

My first book, "The Everyday Enneagram, A Personality Map for Enhancing Your Work, Love, and Life……Everyday" started out as a simple workbook for my students so that they could apply the insights of the Enneagram personality system for themselves. Like Topsy, it just grew. Before I knew it, I was an author. That’s how it starts: one page at a time.

And here’s the best part about starting your own writing project. When you beg off extra committee work or attempt to extricate yourself from yet another volunteer conscription or even to say no to social obligations, all you have to say is "I’m sorry – I’d love to, but I’m working on a book." These words are as magical as "Open Sesame" was in that well worn fairy tale. People will back off immediately and likely say "Oh, I understand." Right after they say, "What are you writing about?" You can tell them if you know your writing end goal or you can say "I’m not sure yet where it is going" or "it’s personal".

I didn’t know the power of these magic words "I’m working on a book" until I started writing my second book. My time became my own again. And I was able to pick and choose which activities to engage in without guilt or subtle pressure. Coworkers, friends, committee members gave me unasked for but desperately needed support. And I didn’t have to choke out that oh-so-difficult word "no". It was understood.

And before you say that you can’t do it, that you don’t have a book in you – remember some books are very small. A large book is only 15 term papers of 20 pages each. You wrote more than that in just your high school career. Children’s stories are often very short.

Go ahead, dear menopause goddess. Free yourself. Start your book. Extricate yourself from unwanted or excessive obligations. And who knows? You might just be in for a very pleasant surprise. You might discover that you have a book in you after all!

(For more menopause and midlife wisdom from our Venus community, click below to order The Big M – and don’t forget our girlfriend’s special – buy one at full price and get the second at half price! the Big M