Advice to Myself About Writing the Next Book, that I Learned From Writing the First Book.
- The story of writing the book is a story of its own. Document your process in some way so that you can refer back to it, like dots on a map. Because sometime after the book is done and out in the world, you’re going to kind of forget how hard it was. But you’ll have a diary, an Instagram, a Facebook Memory to remind you. And it will fortify your soul knowing that, despite all the fear and unknowing and mental exertion and dealing with your “real” life, job, family – somehow you managed to write and publish a book, and that you ARE capable of doing it again.
- You’ve got gather your grace, and let go of
expectations regarding other people. Social media makes this harder to navigate,
I think. Old friends will appear. Some friends will stay friends. Some friends
will step up. Some friends will disappear on you and offer no support or
encouragement. Friends of friends may reach out and want to be friends and
offer big support. Some strangers will step forward and become friends. Some strangers
will become your biggest cheerleaders. Some people you thought were friends and
have offered initial support are actually not your friends at all. Accept it
all and be grateful and gracious. You wrote a book. You are a badass regardless
of other people. Not everyone gives a shit, and that’s OK. Stay in your lane
and write another book.
- Prepare for rejection. Prepare for miracles.
This gets easier as you get older, I think. Your thin- skinned ego gets roughed
up a bit by life and age and eventually, you don’t give a shit what other
people think about you and your writing. Yes, you want your book to find its
readers. Yes, you want to find and connect with your audience. Yes, you want people to like you and your
work. But it doesn’t affect you in any real sense if they don’t. Who cares,
really? Likewise, keep your heart and mind open. Sometimes you get signs or
meet people who help you along the way.
- You’ve got to turn off the monkey-brain and tune
in to your intuition. You can read all the how-to’s of being a “real” writer.
You can wreck yourself with anxiety over the stupid advice that you must write
a certain way, a certain amount, a certain time of day. That somehow you’re not
a real writer if you’re not writing 500-words-day-everyday. Honestly? It’s
bullshit. Sometimes it’s actually paralyzing to those of us who don’t work in
such a linear fashion. Find time in your week, or in your season of life, to
write. Structure it if you must. Write when you can. Keep a notebook handy. Let
the story find you, let it possess you, and then as Cheryl Strayed says “write
like a motherfucker”. Because when it comes down to it, when you boil it down
to the simplest of things: if you want to write the book, you’ll find a way to
write the book.
- Trust. Faith. Even being a somewhat “anxious” person, I have learned to trust myself, to trust the process, to trust the timing of things, to trust my judgement, to stop looking for validation. That inner voice knows the truth. Be realistic about your writing speed and capacity, going slower when needed, and faster when able. Be gentle with yourself, while keeping faith and doing the work. You only fail if you quit. So, just don’t quit.
- The work itself may not always be writing. It may be a lot of other things. It may be resting. When you’re writing a book, really writing a book, it’s inside you. It’s in your body, in your head, in your dreams, in your playlist, on your timeline, in your belly, cooking with fire – all pointing the way forward, manifesting. You must breathe it to life. But it can also be real work, emotional and exhausting. You may need to pause and rest, especially after finishing a first draft, or a 9th draft, or after a big edit. Sometimes you need a week or two to rest your damn brain. It’s OK to do this. Rest yourself, child. Get back to it as soon as you are able. Because you can do this.
- A new decade will be upon us soon. Let’s finish up our business, enjoy the holidays, and get down to it.