As some of you may know, I am in the process of writing my first book. My working title is “You Have to Say the Words: Practical Advice for Every Leader on How to Have the Tough Conversations.” I am so excited about this project that I can’t help but talk to people about it. I am finding that many people feel they have a book inside of them, but they aren’t really sure what the process of publishing a book looks like, so they are hesitant to begin writing. One of my good friends suggested that maybe if I shared my journey from idea to published book in my blog, others could learn from my process and be inspired to action themselves. So here is the first update on what I hope will be my hugely successful book publishing adventure!
I guess I am lucky that writing tends to come very easily for me. It is one of those things where I seem to lose track of time when I am doing it. I will look up from typing and 1 ½ hours or more has flown by in what felt like a few minutes. I started my book 15 months ago. I always felt I had a book inside of me, as many people do, but I couldn’t figure out what to write about. Then one day it came to me. I was standing in the middle of my family room trying to decide what to have for breakfast and the thought popped into my head to write a book. I dismissed it as I had entertained this idea before with no real progress. Then the ideas came to me so quickly I had to grab a piece of paper and just start writing them down, I was terrified I would lose them. I had the title of the book, the chapter titles, and the content. Even the stories I wanted to include. I almost couldn’t write fast enough. When I was done it was all there, the entire book outline.
I was blown away. I started writing immediately and it came so easily. I wrote for hours at a time. After a couple of days, I had nearly 13,000 words written. Then I stopped. Not because I couldn’t write anymore, life just got in the way. I was in the process of starting my own company and I became distracted. I figured since it came so easily the first time that I could pick it up anytime I wanted. I tried several times during the following year to get going again, but all I did was edit what I’d already written. I started to feel a real emotional block to continuing the book.
Going into 2010 I knew that finishing this book was critical element in my business plan and I again tried to discipline myself to write. The block was there, it was emotional for sure, but I couldn’t quite identify it. Last Wednesday I broke the seal. I sat at my laptop and picked up where I left off. Thankfully the writing came just as easy as it did last time, but as I was writing, I started to notice the voice of my internal critic. It was screaming at me to stop writing and go back to the part I had already written and fix it. It wasn’t perfect yet, and the voice was asking how I could possibly be moving forward when the part that I had already written still had issues. I had gone off outline a bit, the titles of the chapters and subchapters didn’t feel right yet and I wasn’t sure if the stories I’d used as examples were the right ones in all cases. My internal critic’s voice was screaming STOP!
I’d found my gremlin and I know him so well. He is my “Perfectionist.” He was hiding there all along, but he was in the shadows and didn’t come out into the light until I actually started writing again. He was trying his hardest to sabotage my forward momentum because he had deemed my prior work less than perfect. Once I knew it was him, I knew what to do. As I said, he and I are old friends! I instantly made a rule to NOT look back at anything I write until I have the entire first draft finished, and I continued to write. I could still feel him tugging at my sleeve every so often, but my new rule helped me to keep him at bay. Since then I have written another 3,000 words and I love being in the process again.
I would love to hear comments from other authors, aspiring or published. Please share this post if you know of someone on a similar journey.