In The Busy Woman’s Guide to Writing a World-Changing Book, I talk about how to commit to a monogamous relationship with your book while writing it. Framing it as a relationship seems to help my clients.
We all know how exciting and fun the initial phases of a project is. Early ideation is thrilling. There’s often such a sense of rightness, of things clicking into place in our minds. It’s almost like we can see and feel the whole thing. Like the book already exists and our job is to pull it into form, one word, one sentence at a time.
These early days are heady, and the sense of possibility is intoxicating. This thrill is something we come to expect as the norm. But like any relationship, the honeymoon phase does end.
Drafting the book turns into revising the book. And here’s where it gets a little less fun. Editing is a different process than drafting. We confront our limitations as writers. We bump into confusion, and feel awkward as we wend our way toward clarity. Doubt seeps into the process, turning something we loved into something we may dread.
I remember this roller coaster of love for every book I have written. I remember being in the tub at the time I was writing my first book, thinking, oh, I need to put that thing in the book. But when I went to the manuscript, I had already put that in there. All the ideas I wanted to share felt like a swirly, jumbled mess.
Writing my novel took twelve years and seventeen drafts. It wasn’t all love and roses. It was humbling as I learned how to write a novel by actually doing it.
What I have learned, and what I teach my clients, is to look for the love in all the phases of the process. What’s to love about getting feedback and realizing there’s more work to do than you anticipated? Where’s the love in revising something so it truly speaks to what and how you want to communicate?
These phases of the process call us forth. They challenge is. It might not feel as thrilling as the initial idea, but there’s plenty to love there. When you find yourself bumping up against your limitations, ask yourself this: What’s to love here?
What helps you keep the love alive throughout all the phases of a project? Share your thoughts below.