14 May 2016

Day 3: On Being a "Writer"

via Palmetto Publishing (a source of constant inspiration on my Facebook feed)

I'm going to Shut Up & Write and I'm scared.

Not because they're a bunch of Judgey McJudgersons (although my mentor is because that's how he rolls), but because I feel like a fraud.

The group solely exists to give one an hour to write uninterrupted. The unspoken rule is one it to work on a body of work. But it seems like I just do my client work or social media marketing planning instead.

But I'm planning all this stuff for an ebook I haven't finished the first draft of.

My editor (as gracious and patient as he is) has asked me to write more. "You were doing so well!" he said, trying to motivate me while I was slumped on the floor, overwhelmed with my workload. "Just keep going..."

It's a funny thing about building an empire: you don't expect all the supplies you need to build it up will arrive at the same time. And when they do, you're like "WTF, mate?!?!"

I feel like a fraud cos he also had said something to the effect of "I bugs me when people start marketing stuff they haven't even created yet. How do they know what they're even putting out there?"

*hangs head* *mumbles* I just do. Trust me...? Please?

And, really, I need to trust myself.

I think that trusting ourselves as creative humans requires an inordinate amount of trust. Like, I'm talkin' RIDICULOUS!

Sometimes it may be due to the fact that we feel as if we may need to prove our "worth" to those around us. That we deserve to take up the space that we're currently inhabiting in our little corner of the creative universe. 

But, dude - that's a waste of energy. We don't need to prove ourselves to anyone. We could just create.

When I trusted myself a bit more, I accomplished the following (p.s. I love lists - it's a chronic condition):

  • I've put words on pages. 
  • I've outlined the shit outta two books. 
  • I've got a marketing plan that will be tweaked as we go, as allllll good marketing plans are (because they take into account the feedback they're receiving from the target audience and tailor it to them... JUST to hit them babes in the FEELS)!
  • I've assembled a brain trust of humans I will allow to build me up and tear me down at will.
  • I've taken class after workshop after lecture on alllllllll things literary
  • I've made a bunch of connections with people I truly admire and want to help in any way I can
  • I've seen a return on my investment in myself that I quantify with the amount of work piling up (in my notebooks, inboxes, event invitations, business lunches/coffees, meet-ups, etc.)
  • I'm scared shitless of the success because I've been used to not being successful for a very long time.
Now I'm at Shut Up & Write. I was stoked to see my friends that I've gotten to know over the last two months reporting on the incredible progress they're making with their projects. Two folks even FINISHED THEIR BOOKS! How amazing is that?!

In SU&W tradition, we all quickly introduced ourselves and shared the current state of our projects. When it came to my turn, I read the few lines of this blog post out loud.

It was scary to do that because I was basically admitting to a group of accomplished humans that I felt shitty about my efforts.
Before the meeting had started, I was delighted to see that Natalie from Gad About the Globe (a rad travel blog which centers around "Bringing the World Home") was already set up at a table. We'd met at an event for the Nonfiction Authors Association MeetUp and had an instant connection over humor, travel and gay dads (for more on that, you'll have to check out her memoir). 

As I settled into my spot, we started talking about different groups we were a part of and what we liked about them. Natalie has been in the game quite a bit longer than I have. I really enjoy hearing about her journey and she always has this uniquely thoughtful perspective that I admire. So when we started discussing a group that I was going to attend, she asked me to let her know what I thought of them. We both agreed when we went to a group, we wanted to take something away from the time we put into it. 

"When I go to an event, I want to grow from it. When I don't feel that way, I have to step back," she said, wisely. "Most of these folks haven't even written their first book yet and so they're still figuring it out. I need something that's gonna help me with where I'm at."

She made the most sense ever in that moment, but also seemed to speak to the tiny anxious monster hidden in my belly - the one constantly jumping around, stomping, shouting about how I'm a faker and I'll never make anything of myself.

After a shallow breath, I voiced that to Natalie, shyly... but it took all the courage I had to open my mouth in the first place.

"But there's a difference: you've got skillz!" she smiled. "You've DONE things and MADE things. You know what you're talking about. You've got SKILLZ!"

Your FACE has skillz, Natalie. *blushes*

Of course, she was totally right, you guys.

She reminded me of something I've been trying to prove to folks (and remember what I said about "proving yourself to others" and how fricken useful THAT is *eye roll*) and to myself.

I know the things. Things be hella familiar to me. I can teach the things because I've taught the things!

But when someone who had only met me ONE TIME before could tell that I knew the things after a 20 minutes conversation... 

THAT shut the little bugger in my belly right up!

My aim as a writer/consultant/mentor to the creative business owners & freelancers out there is to take what is new to them (i.e. starting a business and selling their skills for money) and make it familiar so it's not so scary.

Cos this is scary business. Even I get scurrrred. And the things I've learned are familiar to me... so that should make them easy to translate. Except for the fact that I'm new to writing them down and giving them to people.

Thank you, Natalie and Shut Up & Write for making me face my fears and do the things I already know how to do.

And a huge thanks to Liks for believing in me when I don't quite believe in myself. And for trusting me even when I don't make sense quite yet. If you need an editor for ANYTHING, he's the man! Contact him here.

So... I guess I am good enough. Even if no one believed in me (and I'm lucky that a few people do), I would still be good enough to call myself a "writer."

What are you calling yourself these days?

No, but FOR REALZ! Tell me...

- Steph

1 comment:

  1. YES! You go girl! I'm on it Monday! JUST WRITE!!! xoxoxo


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