Getting through my first round of major edits in this book I've been writing has been a trial. Not because I've lost my enthusiasm for the subject matter, but because there is so much so much so much in my head about it. Here's what happened:
- I took three months to write the book. I vomited it out as fast as I could, words barreling down behind that blinking cursor at the speed of 180 WPM just so my resistance didn't have a chance to catch up with me.
- Then I stopped.
- I felt guilty about stopping. Said things to myself like, "A real writer would be done by now." Or this fancy favorite, "I knew you couldn't see it through to the end."
- Then that started to be tiresome so I decided to stop being so rude to myself.
- Alas, magic happened. I felt the benefit of stopping. I put my ideas on the back burner and let life happen. I went on vacation. I allowed myself time to do absolutely nothing. I thought about the book unintentionally here and there, but made sure to shut off my critical mind. I stopped scouring ideas and metaphors that got lodged in my gray matter and opened myself up to what was actually in front of my face.
- I became re-inspired.
- Three months after I had stopped, I decided I was ready to sit down and read it again. I did this and realized that about 80% of what I had written I no longer believed.
- The three months I took away from the book gave me new access to that first draft. I had a re-invigorated sense of what I wanted to say, and this time around it was much better, much more helpful, and much more effective.
- I started to get to work and for two chapters, I had energy! On chapter number three, my old friend resistance showed up again. I fatigued. And personally, when I fatigue, I'm mean to myself.
- The three months I took off taught me enough to know that resistance was part of my process, so I made a plan: I'd only edit one chapter a day. If I ended up doing two chapters, I would get a bonus point.
- So I did one chapter a day. And I'm halfway through. And I have a feeling I'm going to start this process again for a third draft before I let other critical eyes see it.
- I like the process that I evolved out of following my instincts. It works for me. I could never have gotten this from the self-help aisle or "How to Write a Book in 75 Easy Steps!" from the website howtowriteabookin75easysteps.com.
- I'm absolutely certain the book will be done and be better than I originally hoped.
- I'm now inspired to use this process on other creative acts.
Sometimes all we need is time off. Sometimes all we need is to put our noses to the grindstone. There's no magic bullet answer that's going to make us more or less creative, but following our instinct is the closest we'll get.