Get it done!

Reading time: Just over 2 minutes

Do you have an idea for a book — but no idea how to get started? Here’s a new program on how to write a book or a thesis…

I finished writing the first draft of my next book this summer. While I didn’t toast myself with champagne, I was pretty happy. Another book. Finished!

Then I started reading it. And my feelings sank like a stone dropping into a lake. I may have some 66,000 words but they are the very definition of crappy. I’ve begun editing but doubt is already rearing its ugly head like an unwelcome cousin at a family wedding.

I’m even reluctant to send my introduction (which I’ve edited) to my first reader. Not because she’s harsh or unforgiving. In fact, she’s the very essence of kind and thoughtful. My reluctance stems from embarrassment. What if what I’ve written is no good? What if she thinks it’s completely wrong-headed and off-the-mark? What if I look like a fool?

Even though I’ve been a professional writer for more than 30 years, I still have these feelings. I suspect that everyone does. Even Alice Munro. Even Stephen King. Even Neil Gaiman. Feeling inadequate and tender about our work is simply part of the writing process. An uncomfortable part, to be sure, but nothing more than a temporary condition.

And here’s the inescapable good news: I have a first draft. In less than a year. For this I have to thank the people in my Write a Book with Me group. If I hadn’t been answerable to them, there’s no way I would have woken up at 6 am every morning to write for 30 minutes before I did anything else. This timing was not a requirement of the group, by the way. I simply had to write five days a week. I just knew that if I didn’t do it first thing, I’d never be able to fit it into my day.

Others in the group are in various stages of their works-in-progress. Another has completed her first draft. One has broken the back of her thesis and is now collecting the final data for it. One is living through history in Israel and continuing to record her story. Here’s the thing about books: They can take years to complete.

But they all start with the simple action of writing a little bit every day. You just have to show up. It’s better if you write without editing. It’s even better if you can hold doubt at bay. But you have to show up.

Writing is like playing a musical instrument or exercising or meditating. It’s something that depends on practice. On not giving up. On keeping your standards low enough to progress and high enough to be meaningful.

After my year of experience of working with other authors, I’m happy to announce a new program for anyone else who wants (or needs) to write a book or thesis. Called Get It Done, the program focuses on helping authors and thesis writers do the day-to-day work necessary for any large writing project. Its aim is to develop the writing habit.

Mainly, it’s an accountability lever. If you join, you’ll need to email me daily (five times a week) with the number of words you wrote that day. (In fact, I’ll even make you sign a contract with me agreeing to this commitment.) I will then post these numbers on my website for the world to see. How’s that for motivation?

People who join the premium version of the group will also have the chance to participate in a weekly call, held by Zoom. Anyone who can’t make the call receives a recording.

You can get your big writing job done. It’s just easier if you have some help.

Are you working on a long project like a book or thesis? How do you keep yourself producing? We can all help each other so please share your thoughts with my readers and me, below. If you comment by September 30, 2014 I’ll put your name in a draw for a no-charge copy of the uplifting read, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. If you don’t see the comments box, click here and then scroll to the end.

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