August 22, 2017
Writing the book- My Process
So I have wanted to write a book for a long time. It's been one of many goals I start off the year thinking 'this is an important milestone I really want to beat'. There are several of such goals that are still waiting for me to get down to executing but I won't think of those now, from experience that's a short cut to discouragement. All I have to do is think of what I haven't done and my head swaps the image of the 'Nike the achiever who can do anything' for the 'lazy Nike who hasn't done 1, 2, 3 & 10' and the more I see myself like that the more I don't think I can based on my mind's selective evidence to the contrary. (In the three decades since I've known my mind, I recognise its tricks a little better now and I don't fall for its selective memory but take into account the gazillion other goals I have accomplished- I am Nike- the- achiever after all!)
But I digress... yes, the book!
It's been lots of false starts and restarts.
Two months ago I achieved a goal with my exams (doing a masters- another goal that lay dormant for 9 years or for what I prefer to call 'the appointed time'. I tell you more about that later). I prepared for three exams in thirty days and met my goals, even exceeded them on one of the modules. (Ah, I have a lot to tell you about goal setting as well- why aim for an impossible 100% and scare yourself out of the game when you can make an achievable 50 and live to fight another day? Remind me in the comments to gist you if you want to hear).
What I tapped into about myself during the exam prep period was that I don't have the attention span to focus on something for a long period of time and sustain the same intensity. Forget the stereotype of what being an unserious student or lazy student is, I have always been a last minute, back- end loader. So cramming my entire semester into a month rather than reading over six and forgetting what I read by exam time kind of worked better for me.
Anyway, I decided to adopt the same approach to my book.
I gave myself thirty days and watched. Work and life played a role and I only succeeded in some 10-20 hours of work over a total of 5-7 days in that month. The result was a bunch of post- it notes stuck on a few pages. And 2,232 not-so-great words in chapter 1.
The disease of perfectionism is to say, at the end of thirty days I didn't do it so it's not done while overlooking that something did in fact get done- the foundation was laid.
I accomplished the important part of planning the book. Putting down all the ideas about it out of my head and onto paper, tapping into my 'why' for the project and coming up with a title for the book and a framework for the content.
I did good! And I am adopting a more observe-as- you-work approach to see how I am working best within the constraints in my life rather than a strict schedule that says I must complete 50,000 words in 30 days. Based on that I am expecting another 10-20 hours from myself in another 30 days. If that then becomes the realistic pace of work for this project, it becomes the goal rather than me setting unrealistic timelines for myself that leave me feeling like 'lazy Nike who hasn't done 1, 2, 3 & 10'! Again why aim for an impossible 100% and scare yourself out of the game when you can make an achievable 50 and live to fight another day?
Writing a book is not an easy process, it's like two people engaged in the same old, recurring and difficult conversation they've disagreed over for a long time. It takes several of those hair- raising stand offs to understand what each side has been trying to say to the other for years. It will take several drafts to get to what I really want to say, so yes there will be several tries. I will get it one day, then not know what I am talking about the next. I will spend one hour in drudgery here and then find ten hours of pure inspiration there. I will write for days then have nothing to add for weeks after but slowly it will all come together. So I better fail fast, stumble a lot earlier and churn out not- so- great drafts now so I can get to the great stuff like I always do.
So on that note, I'm still in the game. If anyone asks, I am still writing- even when I am not!