Rainy day thoughts to contemplate as you craft your next masterpiece: A friend asked me the other day to read her self-help book. It’s not out yet, but she was nervous about her writing because although she’s a successful novelist, she’s never written self-help before. And guess what? I understood her queasiness. The book didn’t yet feel strong enough, fully cooked. In some ways, she was out of her element. But why wouldn’t she be? She was coming to this kind of writing for the first time.
I know the feeling. Years ago, while scripting my divorce memoir (still unpublished, but for which I’ve mined stories for Beautiful Writers), I’d show chapters to my sister, who politely reminded me that although I’d written bestsellers before, they were never memoirs. “What makes you think you should be able to switch genres and succeed without years of practice?” she asked. I didn’t have an answer—other than because I WANTED to.
I wanted to believe that I could write well in whatever genre I chose because I had tens of thousands of hours of writing time under my fingers and had won awards and hit bestseller lists.
I dared to hope that because I’d studied the “rules” of writing religiously and read countless memoirs, the muse and I could collaborate beautifully.
I expected to work tirelessly, edit relentlessly, and even face rejection. But of course, I’d also have guaranteed success.
It was a humbling experience to find that I’d need to study the craft of memoir for a few more years and fulfill many rewrites before my personal stories in Beautiful Writers and the arc of my character felt 100% ready to face the world.
I’m so damn grateful I could calm my nerves, slow down, and work and rework my material. I’ve interviewed plenty of folks on my podcast who say they wish they could take back books in their earlier careers that needed more mastery. What a blessing I didn’t know how hard it would be. And that my sister had the nerve and know-how to tell me the truth.
It takes as long as it takes. That’s why we’ve got to love this writing practice; to cherish our lives while we carve out room for our evolving art. It really is about the journey, as they say. Only sometimes easy to remember, but true nonetheless, even for those lucky few whose path is swift.
To love. To mastery. To community.
I love us. Cheers, and stay dry out there!
PS. Want to love your writing practice more? My next group of magic makers meets on Feb. 2nd for a month-long virtual writing retreat. Ahhh. Heaven. See if it feels like the right time to join us.