Last week, I finished writing my first book. After having decided on the main concept (Meaningful Success) and having tried out a few video posts about it's main principles on Facebook, I felt ready to tackle it. I won't hide that the Lockdown in Brasil has truly facilitated the process. In fact, it took me 8 days of meditation/writing retreat to finish my revised first draft.
A friend and fellow coach requested that I share my top tips to help aspiring authors. So here you go, the top 7 things I did that supported my objective:
1- Broke down the seemingly big project into 2 hours writing blocks.
All that mattered everyday was to attend the two hours writing block I had put on my calendar. That's it. Imagine having a meeting with your boss. You need to show up undistracted, fully focused. Same thing for writing. At specific times of the day (same everyday), three times per day, I was sitting in front of my computer to write for two hours.
I could either write, or do nothing. And by nothing I mean nothing. No music, no eating, no distraction what so ever...(I learned that one from Neil Gaiman).
2- During writing hours, cut off all distractions and interruptions (phones, internet...). If you are able to, I even recommend disconnecting 30 minutes before writing. I went all the way and disconnected completely for 8 days. This was great because the cumulative effect of having no distractions made for acute inspiration as I went along. Meditation and Writing turned out to be a wonderful mix. When I Meditated my mind was resting and bursting with imagination that I could integrate into the book. It was great.
3- Distanced myself from my inner critic and inner hero.
"If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those imposters just the same" - Rudyard Kipling
I had many doubtful voices in my head with regards to the process "Whom do I think I am? Writing a book. I failed miserably in literature when I was a kid.", "What the hell am I doing? this book sucks...." Bla Bla Bla...
I also had the other side of the coin "This is going to be a freaking best seller..."
I treated the two in the same way: with Distance. I did not let my emotions run the show and whether I felt like writing or not, I was there, sitting on the chair, typing.
4- Started with what I was inspired Vs supposed to write.
During non writing hours, when I had moments of inspiration, I simply took a small note of my ideas on my notebook. This made sure that I most often started my two hour writing block on previous inspiration. Great way to get warmed up.
I mentioned it before but It helped me so much that it is worth re-mentioning. Meditation allowed me to distance myself from the thoughts and emotions that could easily create inner resistance to writing. Not feeling/seeing ourselves as good enough is the biggest enemy of our dreams. Although we might not be able to get rid of those feelings and thoughts, we can neutralize them by Meditating.
It also allowed me to create space in a relatively short amount of time. 1 hour of meditation was enough to feel refreshed and ready to tackle the chapter I had overdosed on just 2 hours ago.
6- Often revisited the overall structure of the book.
I made sure to lay out an outline that I could fall back on when it would start getting overwhelming. I broke it all down to a simple to do list. Crossing things off that list made me feel like I was making progress and gave me confidence to keep going. Here's what it looked like at the end:
7- Dumped Perfection: Finished a first version knowing that I could improve it.
The goal was to have a good enough first draft. Good enough to send to my closest group and receive precious iterative feedback. Perfectionism was out the door. Well it has been out the door for a long time now. Still, I thought this was worth mentioning. To quote Brenee Brown "I am a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good-enoughist".
I would much rather have an imperfect finished product than an imaginary "chef d'oeuvre".
There you have it. If I was to summarize it all in one sentence, it would be Patiently Trust the process!!
A resource I read a while ago and helped a lot is Steven Pressfield's book: The War of Art. He goes in depth on overcoming the internal resistance of creativity, art and business.
Good luck on your own journey.