Two weeks ago, my copywriter returned the first draft on my debut self-help book on self-love and personal finance via email.
And to be honest, I was far from thrilled. With just a cursory look, there were so many strikethroughs and comments about redundancies, awkward word choice, and lack of coherence that the thought about having to revise it made me nauseated.
But I know that I will get it done.
I know that I will get it done because the dread that I feel during the revision process could never match the regret and personal disappointment that I would feel if I did not complete this process and publish my book.
And I believe that is the thing that many authors keep secret about the writing process. Some of us hate the process of writing with a passion. Writing can be a very lonely and emotionally intense experience— one that many of us avoid by finding laundry to do, books to read, and random friends to call instead of write.
I used to think all of my avoidance tactics were a sign that I really did not love writing or that I wasn’t an authentic writer. But what I find more often than not is that writers love writing but feel a lot of anxiety as they move an idea from inside their heads and hearts into full, complete manuscripts.
But once they get passed the initial pain of having to sit and stare at a blank notepad or computer screen and be captive audience to their Inner Bully, they feel at home. They feel that all in the world makes sense once they submit to the mercurial nature of the process.
So, if you are thinking that you have a book in you yet find that you are engaging in chronic procrastination, let that be sign that you probably have a lot to say and a lot to share on the page. You must go for it. Even Mama Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Instead of believing that you should be free of feelings of inadequacy and fear when you write, understand that you may always feel that way and it is okay as long as it does not deter you from getting the thoughts out on paper.
The best way to ensure that you actually write your book (as opposed to thinking about writing) is to eliminate any sort of expectation around quality. For some reason, many new writers (including myself) have the belief that their first draft will be their only draft and that only draft will be perfect, which is the lie that will keep you afraid of the sound of your voice.
On my way home from work tomorrow, I will bring myself to stop at Kinko’s and print out all one-hundred and seventy pages of my crappy first draft. I will hole-bunch the pages, stick it into a three-hole binder and get up Saturday morning, procrastinate a lot, curse out my editor, and then bring myself one step closer to the sweet pain of publication.
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