That Magnificent Manuscript
"I don't have the time," she said.
"We make time for the things that are important to us," I said.
"This isn't high on my priorities, just yet," she answered.
We left it at that for now. I get it. We're all overwhelmed, working feverishly to meet deadlines and stay ahead of the crowd.
I have deadlines, too. I have work that has to get done. And that book I've been meaning to write is still sitting in a folder on my desktop. It's not forgotten, nor languishing in the manuscript cemetery as are so many of my other attempts at a finishing my book.
No, the book I'm working on is simmering a bit and I am determined to make it happen. (hint: it's the second in our How to Write a Book Book series.)
That's the key. That determination.
None of us have the 'time' to do the frivolous things we'd like to do. The after dinner drinks meeting; the nephew's birthday party; the pizza party with girlfriends. They all go by the wayside because we're so damned busy!
I was taught by a mentor, long ago, that if you make a thing (a task) necessary, it gets done. Only necessary things get done. Everything else falls by the wayside.
Your book is a necessity. It's a necessity because you're the only one who can write it successfully. It's not a 'task' you have to get done. It's not a chore to be ignored or procrastinated over.
It's a Great Accomplishment Few Achieve
"I was so excited to hold my book in my hand," a friend of mine told me. "It's just marvelous to have it here, done, and ready to be shared with the world. I can't even believe how heavy it is!" The awe in her voice was shining in her eyes, and I couldn't help but share in it.
That finished book, that magnificent manuscript is so much more than a collection of words and paragraphs. Yes, it's an accomplishment few achieve, but it's also a birthing of a new you.
According to writer Joseph Epstein, “81 percent of Americans
feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.”
That's approximately 200 million people
who aspire to authorship. May 26, 2011
And still, most of them don't do it. Most of their books will never be born. They will never hold that dream come true in their hands.
There are common excuses for not writing your book. The first being, who cares? Who will read it? The second being, I have nothing to say. My story isn't worth writing down.
I've probably heard all the excuses there are. In face, I have a whole book of excuses in our Books & Programs page. I had to write it to try and inspire someone, you, maybe, that the time for making excuses is over. It's time to sit down and write.
Your story is so unique and so full of the human experience, it is worth writing down.
Today, I am writing to you about the joy of that completed manuscript. The joy of of your very own published book. The sheer delight of knowing you wrote your book! There it is. All 230 digital and/or print pages of it! Completed! (or 200 pages or 250 pages... one hopes to keep it under 300 pages)
I've passed over the trials and tribulations of writing the book. I've passed over the weeks of agony where your developmental editor made you change this paragraph and that word and deleted so many of your wonderful adjectives and adverbs! It's painful to remember all that!
Writing the book might have been painful because you had to remember things you'd thought to never share. You had to dig deep and connect with the reader as if she were there in the room, and you were telling the story out loud to her. You had to write, and write, and revise, and revise, and laugh and cry, and work every day, every week, to get to that finished magnificent manuscript.
And now, your story, yes, the story of you, told in many different moments, is more than the stuff of dreams. It's the stuff of inspiration and purpose. It's your speaking foundation. It's your platform to build community and mastermind groups from. It's a peek into your soul, shared with the people who need it most. People you want to connect with, work with, engage with, and become a mentor to.
If Time is the Issue Then Let's Time Travel Together
I hear you about the time. All the effort is doable. You're ready to be coached. You can write the book. You just can't find the time. Time. Time. Time.
But we all have the same amount of time in our day. We organize our work accordingly, and we try to fit in those personal moments with family and friends, at least once in awhile.
I'm here to say, time is not your enemy.
You could write your book in 15 minute increments of the day. Just take 15 minutes and you could have your book in just a few months.
Well, speak it. Dictate it on your phone as you take your routine walk at lunch. Dictate it as you cook dinner. Open Google Docs and use the 'voice typing' tool.
When time is the thing holding you back, you have to seriously consider the idea that this book isn't all that important. Tomorrow, or the day after, or the week, month, year after, is time enough to get your story told.
Until it isn't. Because every day you procrastinate piles up like a big stack of Jenga blocks waiting to tip over. Only in this Jenga game, you're the only one removing blocks you think will give you more time to 'think' about your idea of writing a book. You're the one who will be caught without a book, when the tower collapses.
Time is fluid. Time is relative. Time is not a good excuse for not getting your book done.
My first book was written while sitting on the toilet in a factory that employed me to sweep floors.
You can imagine the fun I have when people comment – on finding out that I am a writer –
‘of course I’d love to write a book but I haven’t got the time’.
Invariably their faces scrunch into question marks when I ask ‘is there a toilet where you work?’
So, I ask you, do you own a smartphone? Can you record yourself speaking your story into it? Then you can write your book. Speech to text, or recordings can be turned into transcripts which I, at my end, turn into prose.
Easy peasy. 15 minutes a day.
Ready? Let's get started. That magnificent manuscript is dying to get done!