Write Your Book This Year: Start Very Small

Writer silhouette, copyright Chris LeCraw iStockPhoto.com #000000818351
© Chris LeCraw

Yes, this is the year you’re going to write that book—your first book, or your next book. That’s why you’re here.

However, this is not the usual resolution, or exactly a goal. I love the way Leo Babauta of Zen Habits suggests that we can change our lives in four lines:

1. Start very small.
2. Do only one change at a time.
3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
4. Be grateful for every step you take.

In case you believe you must work harder than that, Leo offers examples of dramatic changes he made by beginning so simply.  You can find that here. And more about Leo here.

So this week, you’re going to breathe, and smile, and be grateful for the enjoyment you will feel this year, because you will enjoy the process. You may think about writing if you like. You can start writing, if you promise to keep it small and enjoy it. Be grateful that you’re even thinking about writing, that you are capable of writing.

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2013. All rights reserved. WritersResort.com

Photo © Chris LeCraw iStockPhoto.com #818351

Related Article

(If you must have a goal, Susan J. Morris has wonderful ideas in this article. Remember–one small change at a time. Not all 10.)

How I Know It’s Your Year!

photo of Issabella at the end of her moulting
Issabella, Red-Tailed Boa, sheds at New Zoo of Brown County, Wisconsin

Things felt tight last year? Of course! You have been preparing to shed. It made your vision cloudy, too. Aren’t you glad it’s time to peel back the resistance and display your new radiance? You’ve grown and you’re ready to share what you’ve learned. Yes, you already know enough to achieve that dream. Yes, it’s the right year. Yes, you’re ready. You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t. I’m magic, that way. It isn’t possible to find me before you’re ready. Happy New Year—Your Year!

 

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2013. All rights reserved. WritersResort.com

Photo from Blog.NewZoo.org.

Waiting for January Won’t Make Starting Any Easier

Congratulations to you who finished writing a book this year! And congratulations to you who started a book. (If that was your intention, there’s still time!) They say, “Well begun is half done,” and that has been proven to me. By the time a new client arrives for help getting started, the book is usually half written, though unrecognizable. It’s challenging to get started—even to know that you have already started. It’s hard to know where to begin, and it usually feels like a big mess. And then it’s common to get stuck partway through, usually right before the end, because there’s a chance you’ll be judged and you’re afraid to let go. (That would be me. I have no qualms about finishing your book!)

Would it comfort you to know we’re not so unique? It’s part of our human process and it doesn’t have to be final. In a Harvard Business Review article Reclaim Your Creative Confidence, Tom and David Kelly of IDEO focus on four fears that block creativity:

  • Fear of the Messy Unknown
  • Fear of Being Judged
  • Fear of the First Step
  • Fear of Letting Go

Here’s part of the summary: “The authors use an approach based on the work of psychologist Albert Bandura in helping patients get over their snake phobias: You break challenges down into small steps and then build confidence by succeeding on one after another. Creativity is something you practice, say the authors, not just a talent you are born with.” Amen! Catch Alison Beard’s interview with the Kelly brothers for the Harvard Business Review Ideacast.

Spiral staircase copyright_TobiasHelbig_iStock_000007040319

Personally, I enjoy that first step and that messy unknown—when it’s YOUR book we’re working on. Other people’s books ring clear for me. But I need others’ encouragement for my own work as well. It keeps me humble, and expands my tool kit for helping others.

So if you’re preparing for a start, or a re-start, check out the Kelly brothers’ article and interview. And remember what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2012. All rights reserved. WritersResort.com

Photo of Spiral Staircase © Tobias Helbig, iStockPhoto 7040319.

Your Writing is a Horse

What if your writing were a horse? And what if you didn’t have to chase it down and manhandle it?

Kafka said if you could only be still–“just learn to be quiet, still, and solitary. And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

Enjoy Koelle Simpson’s TED talk and be kind to your inner horse.

What works for you in approaching your writing more gently?

Koelle Simpson TED talk on YouTube (screenshot of Koelle and horse)

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2012. All rights reserved. WritersResort.com
Image: YouTube screenshot

NaNoWriMo Anyone?

“My confidence comes not from the success of my books but that I keep showing up.”  — Natalie Goldberg on video for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo begins today: National Novel Writing Month. You write 50,000 words in November and win bragging rights. 1700 words, 7 pages a day, and you’re done early. Simple. Not easy.

And no, not I. And not this year again. I do have several friends who have done it. Each finished, and now raves about the experience. Some are repeat participants.

There’s now Camp NaNoWriMo, “An Idyllic Writers Retreat Smack-Dab in the Middle of Your Crazy Life.” That about describes the writer’s life whether you brave the novel-in-a-month challenge or not. I love founder Chris Baty’s book title, No Plot, No Problem, and his whole emphasis on word count first, because first you have to get something on the page. There’s also the gift of community: where the craziest dreams become sane and even possible. The same folks host April’s Script Frenzy, but let’s not get overwhelmed.

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All rights reserved. WritersResort.com

Friday Flick: Music with Shining Eyes

If you’ve never loved classical music before, give Ben Zander twenty-one minutes to change your heart. If you’ve loved it already, share this with someone who could use a little healing. Ben conducts the Boston Philharmonic and speaks about his transformative experience with Landmark Education–a beautiful combination. This is Benjamin Zander’s TED talk.

Benjamin Zander at TED: Music with Shining Eyes
Benjamin Zander at TED: Music with Shining Eyes

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011

Image YouTube screenshot

Thanks, I Needed That!

WordPress showcased “10 Prolific Post a Day/Week Participants,” and I’m one of them!

Shall I tell you what this meant to me?

I realized today how burned out I’ve become in the last few weeks. New quarter, new classes, new students, new preps, new circadian schedule, forecast of 116 degrees and no rain, no summer vacation. When students whined, I felt their pain all too well, and my short fuse required amends. Already, life had been warning me so strongly of impending burnout that three of the four classroom projectors I had touched in the past week had refused to shine, and today, the fifth worked barely long enough before burning out. Colleagues comforted me, assuring me that vulnerability is wonderful for my growth as a teacher, and my students received me better in that vulnerability. The spill gates had opened and I came home weepy.

My son is writing a musical, Invincible, in which he explores vulnerability. (He’s wise beyond his years. And we were discussing it way too late last night.) So maybe I can receive the message now?

So here is the unvarnished truth: I came home, looked at my computer, and resented my blog for the sixth blogging day in a row. I hadn’t even been here in a week. I wasn’t being consistent anymore, felt I’d lost my stride, and had nothing I wanted to say in public. Vulnerability schmulnerability. (There, Drew, we’ve finally rhymed it.)

Here I’ve been writing all year to encourage your writing fluency and confidence–and my own had fizzled out.

I did check e-mail this evening, where I found several congratulating comments on this recognition. It could not have been better timed. This challenge itself has been a blessing in my life, and today, when I hit that wall and wondered whether I should quit, there you were, handing me a cup of water and cheering me on. Bless you all!

I look forward to visiting the other nine. Maybe one of them is as thirsty as I was today.

WordPress Daily Post
WordPress Daily Post

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.