When’s the right time to write a book? How do you even start? Here’s how I decided.
My first pay cheque for a writing job hit my letter box in 1999 — and I’ve been writing professionally one way or another since — but it wasn’t until late 2015 near the base of Oregon’s Mt Hood that something shifted for me.
In a resort conference room with about 100 other eager early-stage entrepreneurs, I shivered at my ah-ha moment while listening to a keynote speech.
From the well-lit small stage, with its set reminiscent of a pioneer’s cabin in the woods, the speaker was talking about dropping ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ in business and tapping into the kernels of desire constantly being masked.
“What would you do if there was nothing left you had to do?” she asked.
I’ll be honest: I got a little teary as the answer rumbled into being.
My freelance editing business is the most lovingly-constructed, elaborate mechanism for procrastination.
On that sunny October morning in the Pacific Northwest, I decided it was time to write my book. The one I had always assumed — in a vague, nebulous way — I would create, but had never actually planned.
‘One day’ had arrived.
When I flew home to Sydney, I enlisted friends to check in with me during coming weeks to ensure I didn’t chicken out. I’d made the initial public profession but it was still such a fragile idea.
One person I’d already mentioned it to before I left America had unflinchingly asked:
Why would anyone want to read about you?
Ouch. But good question. One I had to answer. Until I realised I didn’t.
I could only be sure about why I wanted to tell the story. Why others might want to read it, was entirely up to them. Sure, when the time arrived, I’d market the book and encourage people to buy it because I was sure I’d believe others would enjoy it.
But before a single word had been written, I could only commit to doing whatever would be needed to extract the story from myself.
It took 3 months to confirm my decision — to get the fuel for it deep in my bones.
My dedication to creating the very best first book I could, was invaluable. (Despite many people on the internet quick to advise high standards should be abandoned, in favour of ‘just getting it out there’).
There’s already enough crap in the world.