I wasn’t sure how my writing projects would fare during two-and-a-half weeks of travel in the US for the holidays. Of course I was mega-ambitious about all the things I would do, including catching up on some e-courses on things like SEO, Pinterest, and Hacking Amazon, as well as writing every day, finishing some collateral for the Doable launch, and finally getting clarity on my work-in-progress.
If my life were a sporting event, the final score of the season would have been: Vacation 10, Writing Projects 2.
I purposely decided not to keep my writing tracking log while I was gone, as I felt the need to simplify my obligations in an effort to fully enjoy and embrace the break. And though I don’t have the nitty gritty details to share, in this post I’ll update you on how I did with my goals for the past 2-plus weeks, as well as give you the status of my two big projects.
Here’s how I did with my stated goals:
- Write one hour per day on my work-in-progress (9am – 10am each morning) — SOMEWHAT. Wrote 10 out of 17 days, or nearly 60% of the mornings
- Finish reading The Memoir Project — NEARLY
- Continue sharing the promotional content I’ve created for Doable and crossing items off my launch plan execution list — MEH
- Continue working on Hacking Guide for Doable bundle — YES! COPY IS NEARLY FINISHED
- Write 3 blog posts for my author site community — ZIP, ZERO, ZILCH
- Complete some of my e-courses that I’m in the middle of (Instant Bestseller + Hacking Amazon, etc.) —UM, NO
Probably looks like I did very little, right?
Well, yes and no.
Once again, I didn’t hit a lot of my goals. But what I did do was: Spend quality time with my family and best friends, go for a gorgeous hike with my sister, dine at the best restaurant in Baltimore, wrap fifty-plus presents, shop my booty off, eat my body weight in Christmas cookies, complete a quarter of Rosetta Stone Dutch, get my fix on things I miss like soft pretzels, whoopie pies, Tasty Kakes, New York pizza, and Chinese food, visit the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, visit an exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory, celebrate fifteen years of marriage to my hub, run nearly every day, send out books and special “Doable” cookies to my blurbers and the girls I feature in the book, sing my heart out at a piano bar, read a lot, and nap a lot.
If you know me, you know I’m a big believer in self-care, and that’s a lot of what this vacation was. Apparently I needed it, and, in addition to it feeling super “in the moment,” I’m trusting that I’ll reap the benefits in the weeks to come.
A REVELATION ABOUT THE WIP
To be clear, I fully reserve the right to have more revelations about the work-in-progress (lest you think this is “the one” that clarifies everything, because it’s not), but I wanted to share with you some shifts I took in my thinking about this baby over the past two weeks.
As you know, I’ve been treating my WIP like a memoir. And in the past month or so have been writing out the “story” in a linear fashion. I knew it probably wouldn’t ultimately be told this way, but that’s the way it was coming out.
But still, I haven’t been able to write that “sentence”— the one that sums it all up, that clearly states my book is about X. Period. Boom.
Though I did not have this sentence, I’ve continued to write because I knew the words would eventually be part of the journey, whether they’re used in the book or not.
There’s a lot of trust that goes into this whole writing thing.
If I’m being honest, me writing a straight-up memoir never felt quite right. But because I didn’t know what else this book could be, I’ve been assuming it had to be that, and moved forward accordingly.
Enter January 1. As my husband and I walked along the High Line in NYC with my two best girlfriends, my friend Alice and I got into a lengthy conversation about my book. I’ve known Alice, an educational psychologist, since we worked together on Blue’s Clues back in the day, and she is one of my most trusted advisors. I know Alice is completely behind this project, but over that conversation, which continued after we moved into a tavern in the West Village because we were freezing out bums off, I realized the book she was envisioning was completely different than the one I was writing.
Now I know this is my book, but I also am completely open to hearing what others have to say, especially because it’s still so muddy and messy in my mind. I was especially open to hearing Alice’s POV because she’s watched my whole journey with Asher, she’s not one to mince words (I love this about her), and I knew she’d give it to me straight and infused with passion.
Soon Derin and AnneMarie joined in, and there we sat, over beers, bloody marys, and hot toddies, talking about what the book could be, how it could be approached, how it could be organized.
Truth? I have only written one day since that conversation. I’m feeling a need to regroup, to perhaps take a giant step back (again), and see if I can get a clearer picture of what I want this book to be. And I’m okay with that. As I’ve always stated, books will eventually let you know what they want to be. You just have to be willing to listen.
I tend to work best when I have a “model” to refer to—a book that is structured in a way I see my book being structured. But I just don’t know what that model is yet. It’s not memoir and it’s not self-help. It’s somewhere between. And maybe the model doesn’t exist, at least not in the way I’m expecting.
So, that’s where I’m at. And here’s what I plan to do next:
- Research other memoir hybrids for structure ideas
- Go back through my binder and start making a list of major themes I want to include the book
- Revisit my initial ideas about audience and message for this book
- Schedule a phone call with my agent to hear her ideas, learn more about market, etc.
THE COUNTDOWN TO THE DOABLE LAUNCH
After what’s seemed like months, I’m finally down to the two-week wire. Doable comes out on January 20, so between now and then, I plan to up my online presence about the book to generate as many pre-order sales as possible. While I’d initially hoped to do more of this while I was traveling, I knew my content would be lost in the fray of holiday madness and I worried about promotion fatigue. But now it’s time. So I’m going to go for it. At least as much as I can while I recover from jet lag and assimilate into our regular life…
* WRITING GOALS FOR THE COMING WEEK *
- Continue sharing the promotional content I’ve created for Doable and crossing items off my launch plan execution list
- Complete the Hacking Guide for Doable bundle (to be designed in InDesign) by end of week
- Write 2 blogs for author community – behind-the-scenes of Doable
- Email more women about doing Doable Interview
- Schedule phone call with my agent to discuss plan for book
- Write outline of my talk for Beyond Words Live Google Hangout (scheduled for Jan 28)
- Start going through my binder and making list (index cards?) of my major themes
* * *
I hope you enjoyed this installment of Writer Unplugged! If you aren’t already on my email list, I encourage you to sign up below so you don’t miss any of the series!