As promised, this episode is a book update. I’m sharing behind the scenes of my writing journey here on the podcast as well as over on my YouTube channel.
I’m going to be honest, sharing at this stage of my creative process has not come easy. Putting myself out there in this way is wildly uncomfortable because I want you to see me in my best light.
I am a perfectionist. I recognize that about myself and it is something I’m actively unlearning. That doesn’t stop the discomfort though. Creating and sharing in public opens me up to other people’s opinions and criticisms. Which I can choose to ignore but it still stings. For me personally, that triggers my fear of judgment which opens the door that leads to feelings of shame.
However, I’m committed to making my journey as transparent as possible even when I don’t feel like sharing. My goal is to shed light on what it takes to successfully write and publish a book, especially if you’re someone who has a book inside of them. I want you to write it. So I volunteer as tribute to give you an idea of what that could look like.
ICYMI: Book details
- Book Title – Don’t Let Fear Have All The Fun
- Release date – Dec 14, 2022 (pre-orders will start in Oct)
- What it’s about – This book is an expanded version of my tiny book The Fear Guide. I’m sharing how to go after the things you want in life by learning to quiet the Chorus of Fear. This isn’t a rehashing of The Fear Guide, I’ve added a book’s worth of new material and shared personal stories. For context, the Fear Guide was just under 5,000 words and my first two completed chapters combined are over that amount.
How the writing is going
I thought I would just sit down, open a Google doc and start typing as they do on TV. This is my romanticized vision of how it looks to be a writer. In reality, opening a blank document with a vague idea of the points I want to make or what I want to say is my exact recipe for writer’s block. I need a detailed outline laying out the entire plan for each chapter. Otherwise, I would spin my wheels for weeks.
In December and January, I spent the majority of that time preparing to write. I was either working on the outline or collecting stories for the book. Now that I’ve done that I’m hoping that I’ll write at a faster pace.
I haven’t found the right balance of writing time versus planning/ thinking/ research time yet. I try to touch the book every day but it’s not all writing. Some days it’s outlining and planning. Others it’s thinking about what you want to say. The clearer I am about the points I want to make the faster I write.
I’m done with 3 of the 8 chapters that I plan to write. I received really good feedback and suggestions on those chapters. That has helped keep me excited and motivated to finish.
Like every large project, there is an ebb and flow to the process. I’m mostly still excited about writing this book. I also have days where it sucks. I’m annoyed, frustrated, or being overly critical about my writing and I want to quit. Knowing that the bad writing days pass makes it easier to keep writing.
- Getting stuck on Ch 2. Skipping it. Coming back and getting stuck again.
- Getting out of my head.
- Constantly editing and tweaking my draft.
- Asking for help.
Lessons learned so far
Writing the first draft takes longer than you expect. I thought I’d be able to be done in about 3 months. Take the timeframe that you want to finish writing in and double it.
Resistance is my new daily companion. I don’t understand how I’m so desperate to finish this first draft but also willing to skip a day of writing. Here’s a secret: the real challenge of writing is actually sitting in the chair and doing the writing.
Feedback does not equal validation. Amber shared this nugget of wisdom with me early on. Feedback is to help me polish my writing. Not validate me as a writer or author. I’m already both of those things because I decided I am.
Things I’m looking forward to
All things design. You know I love design. My coach has given me great feedback about creating visual elements to wrap up each chapter and to use for future speaking engagements/ workshops. I also can’t wait to dive into designing swag for the book launch.
With everything that you do, how do you find time to be creative?
I don’t find the time. I make the time. The idea that we make time for the things we want rings true. I have daily time blocked off on my calendar. I have distraction blockers installed on all my devices. My phone goes into focused writing mode and silences calls and notifications. Writing a book takes focus and for me that has meant being intentional about it.
I’m sure you have a ton of material that you want to talk about. How do you prioritize or organize your book to be a cohesive work?
The OG blogger/ content creator in me has tackled writing this book in the same way that I create all of my content. I started from a brainstorm. I thought about all the things I want the reader to know about moving through fear. What were the big ideas? What concepts could I introduce them to? I considered the order that those big ideas should be presented. Those became my steps. This was easier in some ways because I think in steps.
Then, I went back to my big ideas and brainstormed the main points that support those ideas. Thinking about the what, why, and how of each step. The what is me telling the reader here’s what you need to do. The why is me making a case to the reader for why they need to do it. The how is me telling them how to do it. It’s the basics of helping someone make a mental shift. People are skeptical/hard headed/don’t listen and you have to convince them that this is the thing they need to do.
After that I tried to link the main points to stories that serves as examples or illustrate the point I’m making.
I’ve spent a lot of time on my outline and I’m still making adjustments to it as a write more or get new insights. I also got a useful tip early on that I don’t need to include everything in this one book. I can save material for another book.
How did you start?
I thought a long time about this question because I didn’t have a better answer than I just did. It was time. I’ve known I wanted to write this book for 3 years. I had a good jumping-off point and plenty of support so I set a date for my first writing session.
Are you working with a book coach?
I’m working with Alexandra Franzen and Lindsey Smith over at You Can Get It Done. They have a team of coaches, editors, and book designers that are helping me bring this entire thing to life.
What are your writing rituals?
I make a cup of vanilla black tea. Pick up my office and clear my desk. Light a candle. Put on noise-canceling headphones and I either listen to Brain.fm or a LoFi channel in Apple Music. I try to write for an hour uninterrupted. If there’s a good flow I write until I get to the end of it. If not, I call it as long as I put my time in.
How do you break down the structure of writing a book so it doesn’t feel overwhelming?
Tiny actions! Thinking about filling an entire book is overwhelming. Thinking about writing 40,000 words when I was starting with 4,000 is overwhelming. I’ve broken the book into chapters and sections. Within the chapter, I have 3 to 5 sections where I’m explaining the main idea of the chapter. I focus on writing a section at a time. I create a segue to the next section or reference back to a previous section so that it eventually ends up as one well-thought-out chapter. I think of the sections like writing a series of related blog posts.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I haven’t experienced true writer’s block. I’ve had days or even weeks where the words haven’t come the way that I’ve wanted them to. I believe that has come from not having clarity about what I wanted to say. In those moments, I’ve gone back to my outline to look at what I have and put it into a new medium like a mind map or bulleted list. That has helped me see new connections or even remove points.
The simpler way I’ve overcome blocks is by starting with what I’m most excited to write about or what I feel I know best. I’m writing a self-help book so I don’t need to write it in order. I can skip chapters or sections within a chapter until I’m ready to write them.
That’s all I have for this episode. Remember not to underestimate the big importance of tiny actions because over time they compound and deliver big results.
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Link to writing vlog – https://www.youtube.com/c/moniquemalcolm/