When I tell people that I am an editor, one of the most frequent responses I hear is: “Oh, I have a book I have been working on for two / five / seven years. When I finish it up, I’ll totally send it to you!”
More often than not, this statement is followed by a diatribe about the state of the publishing industry or about how hard it is to write and work. Oh, I know. It is impossibly hard to write and work / write and have kids / write and breathe. And yes, some books–published books that do very well financially–really, really suck.
But that’s not why the book’s not done.
It’s not about the state of the publishing industry, or self-publishing, or work-life balance, or the fact that they can’t get the conflict quite right.
It’s about being terrified to actually start. And that’s okay.
Stephen Pressfield calls it resistance. Seth Godin calls it the lizard brain. It’s fight and flight; it’s rocking back and forth in a corner. It’s a million things from a million angles. What it boils down to is: you’re never going to feel ready to put your work out there. And it’s going to totally suck in a variety of new and unimaginable ways when you do.
But, if you want to BE an author and not just tell people that you’ve been writing a book, it’s all about the execution. The difference between the people who tell me they’ve been working for half a decade and the people who are published is not qualitative. It’s not that some of us feel the resistance and some of us don’t. If you do anything remotely creative or remotely exciting, you will feel the push back every single day.
The trick is finding ways to work through that feeling and execute anyway–even when it feels like you can’t. (I use Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty–it’s worth every penny.) I’ve worked with seventeen different authors over the past three months. Every one of them has been nervous. Every one of them has wanted to know if they’re any good, if they have what it takes, and whether the world is going to love what they write just as much as they do. There’s not a writer the world over, published or unpublished, who doesn’t worry about this stuff.
The secret here, though, is that “what it takes” is not an inherent ear for cadence or a magical story-telling pen. What it takes is hard work and a willingness to show up every day. (And maybe a good editor.) You can do it. They can do it.
We can do it.
Something that keeps me moving forward when it seems like it is too hard to keep pushing is this quote from Marie Forleo:
Every successful person has decided to start before they were ready.
I hope this knowledge is as useful to you as it has been to me.
So, friends, let’s get this thing done together. And, once you’re finished, send your book my way.