She generally gave herself good advice (though she seldom followed it)
Chapter 1: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I found myself down a writing rabbit hole the other week. I was trying to finish work on a book of writing tips, culled from the best of Confident Writing. I was two weeks beyond my self-imposed deadline (the end of October) and I was struggling to get it done.
As I felt myself falling further down the rabbit hole I realised with a wry smile that I was happily ignoring all my best advice.
I was, amongst other sins:
Procrastinating hopelessly: spinning away fruitless hours neither writing nor doing anything else useful
Stuck in a stuck state: rather than doing something to break state I was wallowing in a state of stuckness
Attached to my own words: compiling a ‘best of’ means letting go of things that are rather less than best. Trouble was, once I’d put them in to the first cut I was loath to let them go. (‘Well they are quite good, it would be a shame to lose them altogether’ she wheedled. Yes, like Alice, I talk to myself. Don’t you?)
The last point did eventually give me the key though. I rememberd something I’d written way back on the 5 things you can do with the words you didn’t use. It included (quite good) advice to let them go, and store them for a different time to use them again.
I suddenly realised that the words I was attached to really didn’t belong in this book. But I could do something else with them (put them into a free e-book, coming soon.) This realisation meant I could cut them, quick. The act of letting go, of cutting the words that needed to be cut, helped me to put my editor’s hat on and see the words from my readers’ point of view, rather than my own.
Working on the free material made me realise something else too. I didn’t have any problems finding the time and the motivation to edit the e-book and get it ready to publish here. I’d written two before. I had the format set up. I knew what I was going to do with it. I knew the audience (all of you: friends and supporters.) If pepole didn’t rate it, no bother, I wasn’t asking them for money anyway.
Ouch. I’d hit the nail on the head.
Working on a free e-book was easy. It was like blogging. I was safely in my comfort zone. Finishing the book to publish, market and sell was an altogether different proposition. Moving out of our comfort zones throws up all sorts of fears – which is why we start procrastinating, and prevaricating, and staying safely stuck.
Fortunately I do sometimes know how to take my own medicine.
Once I’d recognised the problem it was easier to work out what to do.
This is an experiment, I told myself. The words are familiar but the format and the media is not. You’re exposing yourself to a new set of readers. That’s a good thing – but it throws up all those imagined voices that the inner critic loves to whisper in my ear.
Luckily for me I’d already worked out a way to beat the inner critic. Focus on your purpose: it’ll trump your fears.
So that’s what I did. I focused on my purpose: to share my ideas, to find new and better ways to help people write with confidence, to get to know a new set of readers.
The first draft is finished, and I’m now into a different, more practical stage. Working out how best to get it published.
I don’t know what the final result will look like, or how it will read.
But I’ve already learned from the experiment – and that for me’s a result.
This piece is a contribution to this month’s Group Writing Project: The Results Of My Writing Experiment.
If you’d like to take part you can write and publish your piece any time up to the end of November. Entries could include:
- Looking back on something you tried, and what you learned from it
- Writing about something you want to experiment with and what you hope will come from it
- Sharing the results of a writing experiment you tried – or are prompted to try by this project!
I’ll include a round up of entries early next month. To make sure your piece is included link back to the original post and leave a comment there to make sure I don’t miss it.
Photo Credit: Down the Rabbit Hole by Valkyrieh116 on flickr