Now that I’ve written a book, friends are looking to me for inspiration.
“How did you do it? I don’t have the discipline”
I have no idea how I did it either.
This is for everyone that yearns to embark upon, or complete a project, but doesn’t know where to begin. I used to admire other authors, and assume they lock themselves away in a cute little writing room, drinking tea, looking out over fields of deer and wild fennel. Guess what. NO ONE I KNOW DOES THAT.
I want to dispel the myth that the creative process is one of isolation and a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality. I had tools in place, that for lack thereof (oooh, that sounded fancy), there would be no book to speak of.
- I finally admitted to myself that if left to my own devices, I would happily spend the rest of my days watching reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and researching consumer products online while heating up Thai takeout.
- Given the minor obstacle of my innate laziness, I signed up for a memoir book proposal writing class that I could attend after work. As luck would have it, the course was taught by writing teacher extraordinaire, Andrew Craft.
- The teacher assigned homework. The good news is, unlike high school (or even college for some of us), when you are shelling out your own money, and you are over the age of 30, you are motivated to do the homework assignments. Trust me.
- When the class came to an end, I employed the buddy system. This is the one lesson that took years and years to sink in. I DO NOT WORK WELL ALONE. In fact, I do not work at all alone. During the last class, my by then new friend, Valerie, and I looked at each other from across the room with the same expression of horror. What now? After class, we decided to continue to meet twice a week at a cafe, in order to maintain the momentum we’d built up over the course of the six week session. And it worked! Having someone to show up for, and to share cookies with, made writing time fun.
- Deadlines. It’s all about deadlines. My buddy and I created deadlines for each other. And guess what? Deadlines work. (Especially if you add in little incentives, like, If I meet this deadline, I can get those overpriced lavender-sage bath salts I’ve been eyeing at WholeFoods lately.) Granted, I was fortunate enough to get a book deal, and guess what a book deal is made up of? More deadlines.
When I moved to Paris, I was terrified. I had a year to write a book, and no buddy system. Guess who found a writing buddy within the first week of arriving? Guess who wrote her entire book using the buddy system? There is no Lone Ranger here. I need structure, and someone to text me, “Where are you?” when I’ve overslept.
I’ve been wanting to share this, because I know how easy it is to see a shiny book on the shelf, and say, Wow, I wish I could do that. I used to say that too.