If writing a book is your dream, what is holding you back?
I was given a quote recently by Elizabeth Gilbert:
“Done is better than good.”
I was at my wits end with a memoir I have been writing for over a decade. I had over 60,000 words that I trashed upon rereading all that I had written.
I signed up with a writing coach and we decided I could start all over and still complete a manuscript in a year’s time. My writing had improved and she could give me feedback and tips as I went. We created an outline and a vision board. She had me write my “why” and go back to it every time I sat down to write.
Someone asked me last night if I have any writing rituals like lighting a candle or a glass of something next to me. Honestly, I don’t. I am most comfy sitting on my bed with the memory foam cushion, laptop in my lap, comfy as can be with one of my son’s big stuffed animals behind me.
I remember reading that Glennon Doyle started writing in her closet because it was the only place she could find some silence and lack of distraction. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, just find that place and start.
I think sometimes we put too much thought into how it “should” look. I get it. I had fear around getting started. I would take myself to the nicest coffee shop, get the perfect beverage, and begin to punch the keys with whatever inspiration came to me. I remember being so excited one morning to be finally writing this book. I ordered my latte and found the perfect corner seat. I started typing, “I am writing a book, I am finally writing my book,” only to have the manager of the shop come over and tell me laptops weren’t allowed there on the weekends—yes, strange rule, but I had to put it away!
I have gained confidence in my writing by working with my writing coach and she has been my biggest cheerleader. She has talked me down when my imposter syndrome was taking over. “Who am I to write a book?” “Who wants to read about my life?” “This is stupid, who cares about what happened to me in 5th grade.”
I would reread what I’d written and want to trash it, but I was encouraged and given support and ideas to make it better. I truly believe I couldn’t have done this alone.
I was constantly encouraged to add more detail. I got nauseous at how many times she asked me, “What was it like?” “What did it look like and smell like?” Or asked to, “set the scene,” “describe it,” “show not tell—we want to be there with you.”
Revisiting places and scenes in my life was not always easy. In fact, a lot of it sucked royally. It was hard enough to be vulnerable and share these stories without having to take my body and mind back to these scenarios and remember the sights and smells.
But here’s the thing. As much as I’ve wanted to stop and give up, through the tears and distress of sharing this story that I’ve known I was born to share, I haven’t stopped. I have taken breaks and distracted myself from working on my book, but I am back and it’s going to get finished. I have a deadline and I will meet it.
I will remember that: “Done is better than good,” or perfect, and that countless people have their writing in the back of a bureau drawer where it will never see the light of day.
We must persevere. We are good enough. We do have words that the world needs to hear. We can do this. We don’t have to do it alone.
Write the book. Take the trip. Do the thing that scares you.
We live this one life. Let’s fully live it, unencumbered by what other people may think.