How I Got Over Myself And Got To Writing My Book (Finally)
"Reading this is like hearing a clarified version of my own voice."
- A protagonist interviewee
When I embarked on this eight-week journey of cultivating a creative passion project through Majo Molfino's IGNITE program, I didn't know what to expect. I only knew that I needed to find a way to get a book (any book) out of my spirit womb and into the world. I am a writer, after all, and the ultimate objective of the writer is to birth a book, is it not?
While I did not end up birthing a book in eight weeks (does anyone even do that?), I did end up with a 32-page (!!) book proposal that's been sent to 5 book agents (and counting!).
See what my book's about here.
The last time I wrote something this long was when I co-authored my 106-page grad school dissertation with two of my classmates. We were so fucking over it by the time we were done (okay, way before that), that when we receive email alerts that it's been "downloaded by 42 people this month," we co-guffaw that 1) we pulled it off, and 2) that anyone would want to read it, though we're, like, 1000% certain it's being used as a filler reference for someone else's whatevs-ass dissertation. I guess a PhD is not in my future.
As usual, I digress. But who am I, if not a digresser?
It's somehow been both a long and a short eight weeks of moving past resistance and deeper into vulnerability, away from perfection and into the blessed possibility of the unfinished, through fear and into surrender. Infinitely more has been gained than lost, if anything has been lost at all, other than, thankfully, my own bullshit.
Here are three invaluable (but simple) lessons I learned in these last two months, that helped me get over myself and finally get started on the damn thing:
1) Structure and accountability.
For someone who was ready to drop out of college as soon as I began, and for whom the thought of booking flights more than 2 weeks in advance causes an interesting combination of indigestion and resentment, structure and accountability have become my two new best friends.
I apparently thrive on deadlines, the word "mandatory," and having to show up for the good of a group. So much so that when one of the week's prototypes was changed from mandatory to optional, I had 1/4 of a mental breakdown. "How am I supposed to get this done, then?!" I thought. I did, eventually, though not by the date I'd planned back when things were set in "stone." I know it's all ultimately up to me whether anything gets done, and when, but if having a set structure and other people to whom I must be accountable makes me werk, then those are tools I will happily use moving forward!
2) Nobody cares.
Okay, maybe they do, but not in the way I feared they would (i.e., think that they think I suck and am a terrible writer and not funny at all and why am I even doing this?). And even if they did, well, they're not my intended audience. But really, I'm my biggest critic, and I relished in what became an unintended echo chamber of praise. The second I had the tiniest bit of "meh" feedback, I had to decide whether I'd let it eat me alive or take it for what it was and, without emotion, discard it.
With the help of the group and our fearless leaders Mindy and Majo, I was able to see that that was a viable option, to take into consideration what the majority was saying, and gauge whether the voice of "meh" was really the person I was speaking to through my written words.
3) Stay scrappy!
Having a one-hour time limit for prototyping is the best idea ever. I was forced to let go of things looking "perfect," and just allow the essence of whatever I was creating to be spilled out. Everything can be changed, edited, altered! Anyway, better to make a prototype quick and scrappy than spend forever on it only to become attached and unable to pivot. Also, people get the point. Give them credit, for chrissakes.
While I wasn't able to completely stick to the one-hour time limit for some things, the idea that I was simply accruing extra bonus points for myself in the form of karmic overtime helped to release the pressure and agony of staying in any given task longer than I needed to. The "mandatory" hour (or less!) rule was perfect for getting me to do more of the "letting go" that I'm always going on about.
While I await having to field all of the literary agents who will be trying to get me 7-figure book deals, you can sign up here to stay updated on this labor of love and necessity!