A Pre-publication Manifesto

Two months from my pub date for Raw: My Journey from Anxiety to Joy, the white spaces on my calendar from May through November are evaporating and I continue to receive plenty of opportunities to practice letting go—of judgments, worry, stressful thinking, outcomes, and fear of failure. It’s a practice. Some days I get it. I have flashes of insight and know that all is well. Other days I forget and get sucked into thought storms, which send my emotions swirling.

Still, I know my default setting—my natural state—is equanimity and love. The only thing that keeps me from these positive states of being is my thinking. I told my mastermind group yesterday, “I am a believer.” This means that I believe I am both a human and a spiritual being. I believe that my natural (formless) state is love and light and that this resides within me (and everybody else) no matter what personal thinking catapults me onto a rollercoaster ride of my own creation. I believe that if I leave my worried, anxious, insecure thinking alone it will pass—as everything does—and I’ll return to my natural, healthy, happy state. I know I don’t have to do anything to achieve this. Awareness of the Three Principles, a branch of spiritual psychology that explains how mind, consciousness, and thought create our experience of life, has given me liberating insights and new understanding. I believe every person has a say in his or her own health and happiness and I believe that the body, mind, and spirit are inextricably linked. I believe that I am safe and free and that it’s absolutely fine not to know what’s going to happen in the future. I believe that my book is an extension and expression of my spiritual practices and creative work, and that I will always be a student as well as a teacher. I believe that the success of my book is a small matter compared to my daily practices and creative work. This applies to the work I do with others as a teacher and coach, and also to my solitary work: meditation and writing. I hesitate to call any of this work, however, because it’s all a labor of love and I’m grateful for living a purposeful life.

But I forget. I used to beat myself up when my mood plummeted or anxiety hijacked my day. I’d judge myself. I’d chide, You should know better! But I’m learning that the divine side of me doesn’t negate the very real and flawed human aspect. They go together, so I experience both—my divinity and my humanness. And the human part can be challenging and painful, especially when you have a memoir coming out in two months and you tell yourself, There’s so much to do! I spend hours in my office, work harder than I know is healthy, and tell myself I should work smarter, not harder—but how? This question always yields the same response: Let go!

Here’s what else I do when I find myself dizzy with to-dos as I approach my book launch:

  1. Remember It’s Not About Me. Most people who read my book won’t care about me, per se. We read memoirs to see ourselves reflected in their pages, to get a better idea how to navigate our own lives.
  2. The Message Is Key. While writing, I had to be a vessel to allow what wanted to be expressed through me to come forward. I had to keep the channel open. The same is true for promoting my book. I have to keep making sure I don’t get in my own way, so that what wants to be discussed can flow freely through conversations in person and online.
  3. Lean Into The Unknown. When we drop down into the unknown with a feeling of wonder and awe, when we say, Yes, count me in. I’m up for this journey, then miracles can happen. The unknown is a place where possibilities reside. When I forget this I can get grumpy, resentful, and scared. But my feelings are a barometer of my thinking, so when I’m feeling crappy I know I’m caught up in negative thinking. This is fine. There’s nothing to be done about it. It passes when I don’t cling to it.
  4. Outcomes Are Not Up To Me. All I need to do is show up. Do my part. Let the universe take care of the rest. The universe has a plan for us all.
  5. Nervous Energy Feels A Lot Like Excitement. Both are charged emotions. Emotions are energy in motion. The salient word here is motion. Movement. Change. Everything in life is constantly shifting and flowing and in any given second I can shift focus and connect to a healthier state of being. I can slow down, shift gears, hit restart, and find myself in a calmer place. Anytime.
  6. Remember That My Limitations Are Self-imposed. We are so much healthier and more capable than we think. I don’t have to invest my belief dollars in negative thinking. And the less I do this, the fewer negative thoughts will come around begging for my attention. These days I’m just trying to enjoy the ride, which is so much more fun when I don’t grip the safety bar, when I realize the only real safety bar is my faith and visceral knowing.

This helps me maintain perspective—most of the time. But when I struggle, I’m learning to have more compassion for my bad habits, my mistakes, insensitivity, ignorance, impatience, urgency, and fears. The brain is malleable. Neuroplasticity is a brave and beautiful new frontier that proves the science behind spiritual psychology. I believe that despite the incomprehensible state of our county and world today, we are evolving in consciousness as a species, and that spiritually speaking all is well. So, although I want my book to be “successful,” no matter what happens on that front I will keep coming back to the larger picture of my life. This anchors me in what’s real.

How have other authors managed pre-publication stress? I’d love to hear from you!

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  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Thank you, Christine! Apologies for my delayed response. I'm just seeing your comet now. It's wonderful to just say, “Yes, this is it. This is great. This is enough. I've arrived.” And in so many ways, this is true. Wishing you much success and joy, as well! What's your book?

  • Bella Mahaya Carter

    Hi Joanell, Sorry for the delayed response here. I'm not sure why I'm no longer receiving messages when people comment on my She Writes articles. I'll have to check into that. I'm so glad this piece resonated with you. It's definitely a balancing act, right? Best of luck to you. Keep that self-care going! xo

  • This is so helpful. My pre-launch promotion work is getting in the way of my writing and yoga and even deep breaths. Enough of that! Really appreciate your reminders. My novel is a creative work I am unleashing into the universe. Not my job to knock on every door. It is my job to keep writing, and practice self care. Thanks again! You wrote this for me!

  • christie nelson

    Hi Bella, I, too, have a May pub date and I'm either gripping the "safety bar" or also realizing "it's not about me" and when the time comes and the work is done, "all I have to do is show up." Wishing you much success and the joy of having arrived.
    Christie Nelson