As I sit here reflecting on my journey since I first began blogging this Writer Unplugged series, I’m surprised (but not really) to see that nearly five (5!) months have passed since I fully committed to my work-in-progress.
Yes, I realize I was launching Doable in the middle of all that, plus the holidays and such. But still…
FIVE MONTHS from putting my stake in the ground to being where I am today—organized, focused, with a clear vision of the book, and the writing begun.
WHY AM I SHARING THIS? BECAUSE BOOKS CAN TAKE A WHILE TO WRITE.
I know different people have different philosophies and approaches for writing books—some people crank them out quickly, in a matter of weeks or even in a weekend. And if that’s you or someone you know, great.
But for most of us? Writing a good book takes much longer. I believe books need time to marinate, to brew, to form. And, at least for me, that oh so messy phase of being completely confused about what the hell the book is going to be and become, is a critical part of the process.
The last month of working on my WIP—writing the outline—just about did me in. The mud I was wading through was thick and I didn’t even know which path would lead me out of the dirt. Yet, I’m here to say I did get through it. I’m in a forest now, but one I can easily make my way through. Yes, there are different paths that will lead me to the other side, but they’re all passable, open. I can see the clearing in the distance.
If you’re in the mud with your own project, I know you can get through it too. Here’s how:
6 WAYS TO GET THROUGH THE “MUD” WITH YOUR WRITING PROJECTS
1. BE IN THE MUD. IT’S OKAY. Being stuck and confused is part of writing—welcome to the club! In fact, once you get to the mud, you can celebrate—you’re getting somewhere juicy, where the really good stuff, the inspired stuff, lives. So don’t fight it—instead, take off your shoes, dance around barefoot, and trust in the process.
2. GET HELP. I have zero problems reaching out for help when I need it. That’s what I did with my WIP by scheduling a session with Theo Nestor to get myself in gear, and when I sent a rough outline to my sister and scheduled a Skype session for the weekend. Whether your help is a coach, a sibling, a partner, a colleague, or a friend, reach out and ask for what you need. When I’m in the mud, what I need more than anything is someone to bounce ideas off of.
3. CHIP AWAY SLOWLY. When you’re in the mud, sometimes wiggling a toe is movement enough. Take a tiny step, rest when you need to, and inch forward again.
4. DON’T GIVE UP. Actual writers are the people who write. So keep writing. You will get through the mud. I promise.
5. READ COMPETITIVE BOOKS, OR DON’T—LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. Sometimes immersing myself in “competitive books”—books in the same genre or that are written for similar audience—can help me get clearer on exactly what I want to do. Other times, it can fill me with doubt and give my inner lizard plenty of fodder for doubting the viability of my book. That’s where I am with this WIP. So rather than reading other titles, I’ve been avoiding them like the plague. Tune into your gut and do what feels right for you.
6. DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO MOVE FORWARD. When I’m stuck in the mud, I get experimental. Since I don’t know what what will ultimately be the key to finding my way out, I find ways to approach my WIP from different angles. I know if I do this, I’ll eventually stumble upon the solution. For example, the picture at the top of this post is my THIRD iteration of an outline, one which organizes the themes and material in a completely different way than my other attempts. This approach was the one that finally clicked for me. Bottom line: be playful and curious about your writing and your process.
* * * * *
In my last post, I had very simple goals, and I managed to nail them both:
- Begin draft of one sample chapter for work-in-progress – YES
- Write a blog post for author community, continuing my behind-the-scenes look at Doable – YES
In fact, I finished a sample chapter of my WIP and sent it off to Theo for her feedback, which I’ll get during our call this weekend. Until then, I’m diving into the book proposal, and in coming posts I’ll share some of my personal strategies for tackling book proposals. For now though, here are my new goals.
* WRITING GOALS FOR THE COMING WEEK *
- Finish the Competitive Review section of my book proposal
- Finish the Markets for the Book section of my book proposal
- Begin draft of second sample chapter for proposal
- Have a call with Theo to go over feedback on first sample chapter
- Write a blog post for my author website / Doable promotion
- Follow up with possible VA for doing research on blogs and podcasts for Doable promotion
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!