Most of you are aware that my wife, Julie, is a teacher. About 2 years ago I went with her to a conference in Atlanta where she was asked to speak. After she spoke, a lady approached her and asked if they could talk. That discussion took place on a bench outside the main hall where people were coming and going. The lady who approached her was an editor for Stenhouse Publications. This editor, Holly, asked Julie if she could take what she just presented and make that into a book. She was flattered and thrilled. Many times when we get that way we say things and then wonder if we really knew what we were saying. Julie said yes and the journey began.
1 - Remember what you agreed to and don't back out. How often do things come our way that we choose to tackle, only to decide we just can't do it and we bail before ever really giving ourselves a chance? You know what we call those people? Quitters. I'd rather not ever be lumped with people like that. Julie had many times she wanted to say, "I've had enough. Writing is not for me. I'm done." In fact, I may have even encouraged her to do just that at times when she seemed frustrated. However, she would not fall prey to that feeling and she would press on...remembering the promise she had made.
2 - Get mad, get over it, and get moving again. No one likes to be judged. We get tense if we are evaluated on our work because our work is personal and our own and we don't want to hear anything about it. "You can state your opinion, but I'm not changing my ways" is our statement. In book writing, you can't have this attitude. Your editor has a vision for you and your work and you have to be willing to trust them when they ask you to change this or expound on that. It's tough to do and you'll run the gauntlet of emotions. However, on the other side of that is a moment of clarity and you realize that what you thought you had may look different but now it's a little better. Basically, humility rules the day and that's a big life lesson we can all learn from.
3 - Don't think outside the box...eliminate the box altogether. Everyone has a story to tell and something to say. We have thoughts and ideas and then we think to ourselves, "I'll just keep to myself because people have already said all this" or "I don't want to have people make fun of my ideas or tell me 'that's not how we do it'". While I witnessed the process this book took, I was amazed at how Julie's eyes would light up as her brain sparked a new idea. Fortunately, she was working with a wonderful editor who encouraged her thoughts and ideas. What came out of a pretty black and white process was a product full of color that could not be duplicated. In life many things tell us to think or feel a certain way. Those are the boxes we live in. I got rid of mine and you know what happened? Things got really colorful and kind of fun.
4 - Just when you think you're done, there's just "one more thing". If you think there is an end to something, be prepared for one more thing. Often times we miss this little detail or forget something completely. There is nothing more frustrating to us and we pound our heads on the desk and call ourselves stupid. There were many times a chapter seems finished or the order of the book was set, but guess what...there was usually just "one more thing". The end result of that one more thing could be the difference in something that is finished or something that is AMAZING! If one more thing will make something amazing, I'm in.
5 - Be confident in your work...no matter who notices. As you can tell by now, writing a book is a huge undertaking. It's not like just putting things down on paper like we did our term papers in school. However, when Julie looked back at 23 hard months of writing and re-writing she had moments where she thought to herself, "What if nobody reads it?" "What if nobody cares?" That's an easy road to take but it really diminishes the process and the fact that what she had to say already had caught the attention of an editor who felt she had a voice that needed to be heard. What we need to remind ourselves of is that we should never apologize for our hard work. Our confidence in our work will always shine through and people are bound to notice.
There are some other things that I took away from watching Julie go through a process where she was so deeply involved, but those are what come to mind right away. By the way...her book was completed and released just a few short months ago in June! You can see the official page for the book here
Does someone or something inspire you? Have you learned some great life lessons through the process of others? Feel free to share in the "Comment" section of this blog.
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PS - Guess who is working on ideas for her next book.