A while ago I decided I’d officially write my book, (later named 496 pages) not just think about it. Not believing I was a writer, I hired Kate, the most perfect coach. And even though I had no idea what our process would be, I free fell into my writing journey, trusting she’d guide me along the way.
How Did I Write 496 Pages?
Each Monday through Thursday, committing to write before I did anything else, I sat armed with a café americano and my favorite music at my favorite coffee shop and got into a groove by writing for just twelve minutes at a time. I developed a habit of writing, and let my thoughts flow, without purpose, without a destination. I shared my stories, without judgment. Writing for short sprints built my writing muscle, and gave me confidence that a writer lurked within me.
A month into my journey, Kate suggested I begin writing with my book’s message in mind. For the next few weeks, I mined the 25 exploration maps I’d created for golden nuggets of dialogue to convey my points. These exploration maps were documents I created while exploring the choices of my closest friends, family and special people who showed up in my life over the last year. We took a deep dive together to understand why they made their choice, what fears they conquered, what shifts occurred and what became possible for them and I captured it in a map.
Extracting and creating this dialogue from the maps was a glorious process for me. Using the maps as my guide, my writing flowed. But because it came so easily, I still resisted acknowledging myself as a writer. I felt I was cheating. But Kate suggested I reframe my thinking. “Can you acknowledge that you spent your time having a deep intake with another person about their choice, and from that intake you used your intuitive process to create your maps, and from those maps you pulled the dialogue?”
Rather than make myself small by calling myself a cheater, I acknowledged I had a different process. While she believed the dialogue was pure gold, I was too close to it to see its value and appreciate how it might fit into the book, which still didn’t have a form at this time.
I chose not to worry about it. I trusted her and continued on in our process. While I dream daily of my book being complete. And getting out there to share my message. But I don’t want to speed through and miss the journey. I’m committed to staying present and enjoying the process, even if that means days of overwhelm, or the inability to envision how it’s all going to come together.
Had I begun writing my book the day I had the idea it wouldn’t be what it ultimately will be. The initial idea was a small seed that needed time to percolate and grow. Over these months, I’ve awakened to record messages from my dreams. I’ve captured perfect words while in conversation or watching a movie that I’ll flesh out later into something more meaningful. Giving myself time and space has allowed me to create something much richer that I would have had I felt the pressure to begin immediately.
As the new year began I wanted to make a choice that would impact my year. Having been very undercover with all I’d learned about the power of our choices and what becomes possible as we step into choices that matter, I chose to host an event called The Journey to Possibility so I could teach all I’d learned. Eleven women joined me to experience a new process I created. Our conversations, and their wisdom gave me added invaluable dimension and depth for my book.
I continued to bubble with content and pages and didn’t worry about its organization.
As my ideas expanded I mapped them out so they wouldn’t get lost. I condensed all my note-taking documents into one page. Along with the vision that I’d use my newly created map as my guide. Sitting to write one morning at my coffee shop, I stared blankly at my screen. Paralyzed. Incapable of putting anything on the page.
I stopped, packed up and drove home. I went back to my communication medium of choice – my voice. Moreover, I shut my eyes, spoke and allowed my ideas to channel through me. I sent the recordings out for transcription and reworked the content. This process was much more fun for me as I often speak with greater fluidity than I write.
I just had to let go of the judgment I was placing on myself for not being a “normal writer.”
A month ago, Kate suggested I print all I’d written since there’s something different about working with physical content than digital. I assumed I had a hundred pages, I was shocked when I sent my order to the print shop for four hundred and ninety-six pages. 4-9-6. I marvel at the 5″ binder that houses those pages and must now own that I, who always believed I couldn’t write, wrote 496 pages.
In those pages are lots of golden nuggets as well as lots to be edited, and tossed. For now, it’s time to stop writing and get down to the skeleton and the gems. I will not allow any words to be precious. I will edit critically. Moreover, I will trust I can rebuild as needed, and not fall prey to the fear that I’ve written all my best stuff. And have no more to give. With Kate’s support, I will continue to go deeper, and make my message clearer. I now sit in my coffee shop with colored markers and multi-colored stickies chopping and reorganizing eager to see what’s going to emerge.
The process continues…
I love the imagery of markers and a coffee shop, of whittling words into form.