by Jenna Kalinsky.
It’s happening; you did it. All that brainstorming and planning and organizing have finally gotten you to the chair! (That doesn’t sound quite right, but you get what I mean).
It’s not easy to carve out space and time to write your business book: the culmination of all your years of knowledge and wisdom gained in business that you will finally distill and package for your customers and clients.
But you’re serious about making this work:
- You blocked it off in your calendar so your clients can’t get to you.
- You’ve made it equally clear to your friends that during these precious few hours, thank you, but they may not text you inspirational messages.
- Your family may not inform you you’re out of milk, which, frankly they should be dealing with themselves.
This is your time to write. And soon, the fact of you sitting in solitude for those designated minutes, fingers singing over the keys, the smooth nap of the paper rising to meet your ideas, will be your new normal.
Lay the Words, Make a Pattern, and Get the First Draft Done
Because your time and resources are so limited, you can’t let yourself bend to the whims of your heart, ego, or other basic human frailties. Whether you’re just starting out, or you are nearing the finish line, this is crunch time.
The trick to making sure you continue to churn out the pages is to keep your head down and your fingers moving. Best not lift your head or examine your fingers because give yourself an inch and since you’re only human, you’ll take a mile, meaning pausing to think is a veritable minefield, and you don’t have time to navigate through that.
For now, this is, as poet Phillip Larkin once said, your “affair with sanity.” You will be a system of production, a machine of words, or, as we in the business call it, a writer.
Writing, as is stated in the dictionary, is simply “the act or art of forming visible letters or characters.”
On days when it’s easier and on days when it’s hard, remember: just keep typing. Keep at it long enough and you will lay enough words to make a pattern and that pattern will become a book.
Note: of course this is reductive and also unrealistic. You are not a machine of words; you’re a person with feelings. But as my husband likes to say, “It’s just a feeling. You’ll get over it.”
It’s crunch time. Lay the words. Get a book.
You Did It!
Finally after weeks or months of hard, sweaty labor, you will lift your head and see that you have a few hundred glorious pages. As you gaze on them, however, you will have the sobering realization that while some of them are good, many of them are gibberish, and overall they’re mostly shit.
This is actually great. The disorganized, disjointed mess you let happen means you gave over to the ideas and let them pour. Our first thoughts are often a mélange of approaches, anecdotes, errant facts, helpful hints, and so on.
Despair not; this terrific soup of ideas will give you so much to work with and will serve as a wonderful springboard, a true beginning.
What Do You Mean Beginning?? I’ve Been Writing for Months!!
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
~ E. Hemingway
The first draft is what you needed to get in order to create a second. Think of it as the cupellation, the process of extracting silver from lead.
(And because refining iron is cool and also has all kinds of metaphors for writing in it, here’s a neat online course you can take on extractive metallurgy).
Listen and take heart: you’re right on schedule, and that first dreadful, messy draft is exactly what will get you to the next.
“The only kind of writing is re-writing.”
~ E. Hemingway
Get Some Sleep
Draft done, now take a day or two to let the dust of your mind settle and allow some distance to develop. Clear eyes and a few nights away from the manuscript will enable you to more clearly make tactical decisions as you move from the first draft to the second, third, and ultimately your final.
Coming soon: Part 6: Your Second (Third, Fourth, and Fifth) Drafts, when I break down how to go about taking the mess of the first draft and organizing it into those successive drafts until it’s ready for the world.
Missed any of the previous instalments of this series? Here’s Part 4: Getting Started