Victory

The Truth About Writing a Book

I’ve been swimming in a sea of self-doubt and nursing my insecurities about this book (and myself) for far too long now. Although I’ve had bouts of “I can do this!” moments, they’ve been few and far between, and have afforded me very little forward movement in terms of my book.  I’ve learned that you can’t rely on those rare spurts to fuel an entire book. Warning: not a sustainable fuel source. So, I’ve decided to come clean and fess up about what writing a book is like (at least for me... so far...):

 

1.) I’ll be honest. It’s f*$&ing hard. 

Even for someone who loves writing as I do, and can’t function optimally without periodically doing a brain dump in my journal--writing a book takes the writing process to an extreme level.

“Wait, you mean I have to write every day? on topic? coherently? with structure?” Yeah. And that's just the beginning of it.

The last few months of minimal work is evidence of the power of Resistance on work that I actually do enjoy--and yet...my book still sits un-worked-on, gathering digital dust.

 

2.) It’s scary. 

Now, I don’t know if every writer goes through this, but if you ever want to face your fears, writing a book is a great vehicle for just that (you masochist, you).

On more than one occasion, the process of writing this book has found me curled up in a crying heap on my bed, alone in my apartment, paralyzed by fear and wondering why in the world I was choosing to do this. Because of this book, I’ve now hung out with some of my biggest fears, conquered some, and discovered others.

Here are a few of mine that arrest my progress on almost a daily basis:

Feel the fear

“Who am I to write about XYZ?”

”It won’t even be that good, why should I even try? I should just go get a normal job like everyone else and give up my delusions before somebody gets hurt.”

“As soon as I put it out into the world, someone will figure out I’m a big fraud, and shoo me back to a cubicle where I belong.”

or insecurities like these:

“I’m not a good enough writer.”

“I don’t even know who I am yet, though. I thought I knew, but now...”

“What if I my book doesn't actually help anyone?”

“I wasted another day without being productive. I might as well just give up now. It’ll never get done.”

“Someone will be able to poke holes in all my arguments/beliefs...”

and on and on it goes...

 

Not to mention, I’m writing about some of my highest highs and my lowest of lows--and even after only a couple hours of digging around in there--wrestling to get the right words out in a way that accurately and articulately describes all of me and what I’ve experienced and have gleaned from the process... in the wise words of Taylor Swift,

“This is exhausting.”

3.) That said, it’s also incredibly rewarding. 

Like any healthy relationship with something you love, it challenges you, it makes you grow, and you learn more about yourself and what you’re truly capable of. The process of writing this book has pushed me, refined, and changed me. And I still have a ways to go.

Regardless, one of the aspects that I love the most is that even through the many days that just plain...suck...when the words aren’t coming out right or I waste another afternoon and hate myself for letting Resistance get the better of me... Even through all of that, I love this.

I love the struggle. I love the triumphs (big or small). I love it because I chose to be here doing this. I love it because it’s teaching me the need to show up consistently and do good work. And I have faith that truly satisfying things take time to build, and that’s ok. It’s worth working towards and worth waiting for. And for each day that I write, I win a battle and prove my inner-nay-sayer wrong...and that, my friend, feels f*$%ing good.

 

I know there will be critics of my work.  I've heard it said that we can safely assume that at least 10% of all people just won't like you, and that "there is absolutely no work beyond criticism" (-Liz Gilbert).  Some might find my beliefs to be wrong, and silly, and filled with froufrou non-helpful “advice."

But...

What if I didn’t let that stop me?

What if I said, “Screw you” to my fears and shipped my work anyway?

What if my work wasn’t perfect (gasp!)?

What a gift to myself it would be if I did what I set out to do--and built my self-esteem on a firm foundation of hard work and passion, instead of the frail and fleeting efforts of a “dabbler”?

What if by finishing the book, I freed myself up for future opportunities? And what if, then, I didn’t have to look back and wonder “What if I had written that book?/devoted myself to that skill/tried to get into ____school?/finished that screenplay?/started that business?/etc.”

 

The Man in the Arena by Theodore Roosevelt

That way, I’d never have to wonder.

That way, even in defeat, I'd know that at least I was in the arena and not just on the sidelines of my life.

That way, I’d never have to look at my future husband or down on my future kids playing on the floor and resent them for being an excuse as to why I couldn't follow my dream(s).

That way, I know I’ve done my part to show up in this chapter of my life. And I’ve subsequently created the space for my future-self to fully engage in each succeeding chapter of my life and not wish I could be doing work I should’ve been doing when I had had the opportunity (I’m not sure that last one made sense, but hopefully you catch my drift).

 

 

This book is not just about me writing a book for a book’s sake. It’s about stretching myself to step into the woman I want to be, and the woman I really am by doing work that I love, and hopefully inspiring others to do the same for themselves.

 

Like Liz Gilbert (world-renowned author and one of my favorite TED speakers) said in her book talk last night, “Always, always, when given the choice, choose creativity instead of fear.”

Getting to meet Elizabeth Gilbert at her book talk in Dallas, TX

 

 

 

For a recording and transcription from the talk last night in Dallas on “Getting your work out there,” click here.