Those of us who crave creativity and get high from the outward expression of it, go a little loopy for a bit of behind-the-scenes action, I reckon. And I know that we have many a blogger, writer, author, creator among us who grace these pages, so I've made the executive decision that keeping this book-writing process to myself would be rather greedy.
Sharing is not only caring, it's fascinating. When we steal a glance back stage - at what happens before we press publish, or launch, or fall in love (whatever it is that's happening on stage), we get the opportunity to dip in an out of the mind and musings of another.
Such a strange thing this is - describing 'how' I've been writing my book - but I'll give it a shot. At the very least, it might entertain you, and provide me with some therapy.
Writing a book: a quick re-cap.
In Bali, last October, I wrote my first draft. I then proceeded to write a post called How To Write A Book. (With the gift of hindsight, I realise I should have titled it: How To Approach Your First Draft, because far out, the book's done laps around the planet since then.)
I also played with another post on harnessing your creativity, to inspire you to get excited about your lifeblood.
But here we are - gosh - 9 months later, with a little more to add to the story. (Okay, a lot more)
I've written that I was proud to leave Bali with a finished first draft, but I was not, in any way, shape of form, proud of the book itself. I found the process of 'spewing out a draft' quite grinding and torturous, and I guess I can put that down to not having tackled a project of that size before. With blogging, it's so very different. I can have both a post outline and the post itself written and scheduled within thirty minutes. Even the messiest 800 word article can be cleaned up and clarified in no time at all. But a chapter? Not to mention a whole book?
Still makes me uncomfortable thinking about that.
I have friends that have whipped up a finished copy of their book in three or four weeks – I know it can be done, especially when we're in the right place, when our stars have aligned, when we're devoted, and, let's not forget, when we have a killer outline. But that path was not my book's destiny. Her's was a bit more labourous, treacherous, triggering, but ultimately (although we're not quite through yet) one of the most loving, dumbfounding, fulfilling journeys ever.
First drafts, generally, are a process of offloading the thoughts and concepts in your mind. (In other words, downloading from the heavens (whichever you fancy)). It's essentially about getting the words on paper. I was advised against editing, re-shuffling, or beefing out the writing with 'evolved' vocabularly.
Just. Keep. Writing.
Because writing and editing are two totally different processes; it's the embodiment of two different energies; they utilise opposite hemispheres of the brain.
Draft one is all about flowing with the feminine.
Messiness. Fluidity. Irrationality. Blah. Letting it out. Giving it freedom.
As I'm sitting here right now, penning this in my journal, I'm in my feminine.
Editing is stepping into the masculine.
Calculating. Organising. Making 'better.' Creating order. Re-shuffling.
When I edit this post before I publish it, I'm in my masculine.
For a generation of women who have a propensity to oversode on the masculine (guilty!), it's no wonder so many of us had emotional breakdowns in Bali. We wanted to soothe the messiness in our minds and in our Word documents by pressing back space, by making sentences pretty, by changing things up.
Now, I see what a gift that was. I really do.
So. Bali comes to an end, and Kelly, our writing coach says: Give this time to breathe. Come back to your book when you're excited about it.
And I think: Cool! I'll give it a couple of weeks.
I needed 5 months.
My first obstacle was giving myself permission to – quite significantly – press pause, because my mind knew what DONE felt like and it wanted to be there, like yesterday, but every time I thought about taking my seat with it and giving it energy, attention, and most importantly, a whole lot of time, I felt nauseated.
What this process taught me though, is that you don't have to be working on your book to be working on your book.
I started leaning into what felt doable, what gave me a sense of progress, what showered me in inspiration and even a little ease. That looked a little something like this:
- I returned to my post-it notes, and one by one, they started to gather on my wall, just like they did before I wrote my outline for Bali. Ideas - fresh ones, reinvigorated ones, ones that I wanted to can from the draft - up they want on sqaures of hot pink, fluro yellow, and sky blue.
- I'm so blessed to still communicate with and guide the members that joined the Party Girls Guide to Peace online program before I took it off the shelves. I re-visited our conversations, our threads in Facebook, I tapped back into their needs, the common themes, the energy of the group. I still record bi-monthly calls for these girls too, so their questions kept my cogs turning. That community has been my greatest blessing for this process.
- I channelled my inner book worm, and started flying through tomes on addiction, spirituality, awakening. (You know - all the shit I love and read every day in the first place) I was consciously researching for my book, gathering quotes and ideas and incredible teachers to reference. This was an exciting process - I feel as though I was often guided to just the right teaching that would strengthen stories of mine peppered throughout the book. Pages were dog-eared. One-liners were high-lighted.
- And the big one - I commited to keeping my vibration raised. (How could I not include this step?) Meditations, yoga, clean and vibrant food, vivid visualisations (many which revolved around my reader reading the last page of my book with tears in her eyes). Kinesiology. Humming chakras. If I wasn't yet ready to write, I wanted to set a strong foundation, so that when this bout of Divine Procrastination came to an end, I'd be a clear channel for whatever was ready to dance over the keyboards and onto those blank pages.
Eventually, I was ready for a second outline.
Intuitively, I knew a few things:
- Draft two wanted to consist of ten long chapters, rather than twelve lopsided ones. (Which meant I had a lot of culling and re-working to do)
- I was feeling called to really hone in on relationships, sex, addictions, presence.
- I became resolute on my message: The Party Girls Guide to Peace is not about sobreity. (Happy to say I've made peace with that it the most awesome of ways. I wrestled with a few internal monsters that were trying to convince me that a book of this nature isn't worth writing if you're not sober, clean as a whistle, and abstinent. Thing is though, I'm not Gabby Bernstein. Why pretend to be?)
- I wanted to totally own the memoir element of the book (which sits at about 60% - with 40% prescriptive/ how-to).
- I wanted to keep my reader in the forefront of my mind, during the entire process. (This changed everything, and was a huge shift from the self-conscious way I wrote the first draft)
- I guess you could say that I created some Core Desired Feelings for my book. Not so much for me, but how I wanted the book to feel, and the type of experience I wanted it to give the reader. I honed in on these before Bali, but during this time, I anchored into them even more: Beautiful, Powerful, Compelling, Practical. There's something about tapping into the feeling of an experience and a process, that brings it more alive.
The first thing I wrote?
My acknowledgments section.
That's why they should call it manifestaction rather than manifestation. We can daydream till we're borderline levitating, but we need to crystalise things – make them feel real, and tangible, and here. My scrawled out acknowledgements gave me the lift I needed to get started.
I gave myself permission to start slow: just 500 words a day, and I did, and suprisingly what often happened was that I would get so sucked in that I'd come up for air after writing for an hour or so and be well on my way past 1000. That was nice.
And then the most magical thing happened. When I revisited my first draft, I realised it wasn't the dog's breakfast that I thought it was; that there was actually a gold mine of insight lodged within it. I brought over whole paragraphs and nestled them carfeully in and amongst the new content, and also – this part is critical – threw what wasn't an aboslute YES in the trash immeditately. It felt so good (I can't even tell you how good) to throw the Meh words away, never to see the light of day again. I felt like an excavator – piling huge chunks of words into my tractor and transporting them one from chapter to another. Making a cocktail out of this paragraph with that paragraph, intuiting that chapter two actually needs to be chapter six. Man, I loved this part! It was own very unique Party Girl jigsaw puzzle and I never, ever got sick of those lightning bolts of clarity that would illuminate what goes where.
As I continued to chip away at the new content, here's what else I did to energise and re-inspire the process:
- I starting making 3-4 minute videos for my Party Girl community, in which I'd share a little of the book content (I'd just read it straight off the screen). It was my way of simultaneously serving them more, and hearing instant feedback.
- The more focus I put on my book, the less time I felt I could give to a few other pursuits. One of the things that needed to 'go' was the time it took to write my weekly newsletter. Interacting with my tribe via email is one of my favourite ways to do it, and I didn't want to cut contact, so again, I decided that each week, I would share an excerpt from my book. Copy, paste. Totally transparent. Unedited. Real. (It seems as though you're loving those emails, by the way). A nice reminder that just because we're busy, doesn't mean we need to quit being of service.
Hint: If you're creating something, talk about it! Social accountability gives you unparalleled momentum
Next, I upped the ante and rallied my team:
- I shared my vision with my assistant, Niamh. We're still working out launch stuff, priorities, and the ways in which I need support.
- I had a meeting with my beautiful friend and PR maven, Vicki.
- I locked down an editor – Kris – for July. (Hey, it's July already!)
Now, I officially had a loveline (I've struck 'deadline' out of my vocabulary), and I'm grateful that the cosmos carried me through. It certainly felt that way.
In Part Two, I want to talk a little more the process on deciding what stayed, what went, as well as how I dealt with resistance this second time round, and ultimately how I reigned supreme over something I sometimes doubted would ever eventuate, but guys, before I go...
I bloody love my book.
I can barely believe how much I love it (in all humility).
It has distilled me with such a clear metaphor for the creative process.
The ego vs grace.
Pushing vs surrender.
It truly has felt like a rendition of Joe Campbell's Hero's Journey.
I hope you'll tune back in soon for Part Two. :)
PS: Because I know you're probably curious: Right now the book is with a few people I trust. When I hear back from them, I'll take on their feedback, make adjustments. Then, it's off to Kris for editing. In the meantime, I've decided to get to work on a book proposal, because yep, I believe she's worthy of being picked up by a publishing house. On that note - know of any amazing agents? :P
Thanks for being here wonderful people. Catch you back here soon.
Are you writing a book? Feel free to share this post with your creative buddies, or leave me a little love, below.