January 9, 2020
Last week I started rewriting the first two chapters of my next book.
I'd sent it out to reviewers and several of them had identified problems they were having with the text.
The key to hearing feedback is often people are complaining about the thing that hurts but not the thing that is causing the pain.
Your knee might hurt but it's because you are walking a certain way because there's something wrong with your hip. Addressing the pain in the knee by working on the knee is not going to fix the problem.
So I reread the chapters and decided that the problem was I'd forgotten how to write.
I was terrible as a writer and couldn't write anymore.
Yes, I know how stupid that sounds but it doesn't matter. That's what I thought at the moment.
Meanwhile a friend of mine was editing chapters for a book that a bunch of us contributed to. There were a few small corrections he wanted me to make to my chapter and so I did.
But I noticed when he was giving feedback to the other contributors he was telling them how good their chapter was. He would take pains to say how much he'd enjoyed their chapter.
He hadn't said that to me.
What's wrong with my chapter?
I'd actually encountered this during my time in radio. I wasn't a star on the station and I wasn't bad so I got very little of the Program Director's attention. I was fine - there was no reason for him to spend time working on me. I was never going to be a problem and I was never going to be great.
So what do you do when you're sure you can't write anymore?
You write a lot.
The truth is, you probably aren't any better or worse than you were the day before. The problem is you're comparing the final version of what you once produced to the initial version that you must produce.
If you want to write a book, you have to write.
Fix it later.
Someone on twitter pushed back. They said it's like starting to write an app too early.
But I've done the preliminary work for this book. I just need to get a draft down so I can look at it and decide if it's right or if it needs reworking.
If you want to create a podcast, start recording and see how it feels. What needs to change?
I've been meaning to produce videos for many years. I've fussed with the format and content and pace.
This year I need to press "Record".
My first of my three words for 2020.
Produce something. Get something concrete in your hands.
Now it's real.
Once you've written, you're a writer.
It may not be good enough to share.
You need to record but you aren't done when you record.
Recording is just the beginning.
You have nothing until you begin.