One thing I often hear from my book coaching clients and writing friends – and okay from myself! – is “I thought I was finished.”
I said it to a friend yesterday. 😜
“I thought I was finished developing my main character. I thought I’d nailed her already.”
When in truth, she’s still a whisper of a fleshed-out person.
(If you’re new here, waving hi and I’m working on a novel thus the need for a fleshed-out main character.)
Here’s why I think we want to be finished before we are:
✍🏻 Your brain loves certainty. Uncertainty is perceived as a threat that triggers a threat defensive response.
Cue eating crunchy snacks, answering non-urgent emails, or the sudden need to buy someone you haven’t spoken to in 20 years the perfect birthday present.
✍🏻 You like to tick things off your to-do list.
We all love a good dopamine hit.
Plus when you can declare you’re done with a poem or a painting or a chapter in your book, it’s one less thing to haul around in your head, lessening your cognitive load.
✍🏻 Finishing your creative project gives you a feeling of being in control.
I’m sure you’ve noticed, the world is a damn scary place.
Rushing to finish makes you feel “at least I can control that.”
✍🏻 Writing and creating can be saddled with the fear of not being good enough.
Finishing can feel like a way to assuage that fear or at least put it to bed.
When in reality, nobody — and I mean nobody — can ever tell you if you’re good enough at anything creative.
✍🏻 Your project feels too big and overwhelming.
Did I mention I’m writing a complicated contemporary fantasy novel with magic laws and multiple plot lines and middle-aged women learning magic to stop climate change?
Super overwhelming IF I look at everything there is to do.
Fun when I only look at what’s next.
✍🏻 You are falling prey to false urgency and thinking that doing your project faster = better.
The only urgency that matters is the urgency of your desires being loved into being.
I could keep going with why we want to be done but let’s switch to talking about what to do when you want to be done and you aren’t there yet.
From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.
5 Ways to Start
Your Non-Fiction Book
You can write your book faster, easier, and better.
I’ve written 9 books with about a million copies sold.
I’m not one of those creepy people who make it hard to unsubscribe or email you again nine years after you’ve unsubscribed. Giving me your email is like a coffee date, not a marriage proposal.
💚 Ask yourself: What is done look like for me and this project?
So many of my clients don’t know what their finish line looks like and thus they keep writing and writing. Or not because they are overwhelmed by the scope.
You have to know what done looks like for YOU.
What will satisfy you?
💚 Ask yourself: What is good enough for this project?
When I was writing Why Bother? (Amazon | Bookshop), I set certain standards for myself: emotional honesty, no shallow suggestions, striving for excellent story telling, and including diverse stories.
I did not set the standard to write a book everyone would love or a book that would sell a million copies or even a book without typos.
💚 Ask yourself: What help do I need to finish?
I have a client who is finishing her book. We started working together in the fall and she will indie publish in late May.
Before hiring me, she worked on her book for 14 years.
Having someone else who is a caring expert guide her and create a structure of what finishing looks like was all it took.
💚 Ask yourself: Do I need a break?
If you are exhausted, either from working on your project or from thinking you should be working on your project, you may need a real vacation.
Give yourself a clear amount of time – two weeks, two months, whatever – in which you do not think about your project, make notes, read about, research, and most of all, beat yourself up for not writing or creating.
By taking a real break, you will create a genuine desire to come back to creating. But it has to be a real break!
💚 Finally, treat creating anything like a meditation.
Put down the cudgel of productivity.
Let urgency skitter off to hector someone else.
Sink into the holy moment of creation with your full attention and boundless openness.
Keep bringing your mind back to the object of meditation which in this case is your next small creative step undertaken with love and curiosity.
This is where life happens.
Nowhere else to be but here.