There I was, sitting on a bench outside of the Apple Store bawling my eyes out.
I had lost everything.
My hard drive had crashed and a book I had been working on – or talking about working on – for a year and a half was gone forever.
I was in shock. All was lost. Nothing could be done. I couldn’t move.
I was on that bench for 45 minutes crying and texting my friends. Sniveling pathetically in front of a bunch of strangers at the mall. Not my finest hour.
And then it hit me.
This book is not meant to be.
You’re not meant to write it.
Let it go.
And the tears stopped. The panic stopped. And all the fear dissipated. All that was left was stillness. I got up, walked out the door and got on with my life.
The lesson for me, other than the obvious –back up your work, people! – was that it was time for me to let that book die forever. Recently, I was talking to a friend in a similar situation. We had a conversation about recommitting to his book, which he has been working on for the better part of two years. And the question came up: When is it time to finish and when is it time to let it go?
How do you know which is the right answer:
1. You’ll know in your gut. When you think about killing the book, do you feel relief or pain? Does it make you sick to your stomach or does it make you feel free? That’s your first sign.
2. You are writing your book for the wrong reasons: When I look back at that time, I see that I was hanging on too tightly to the idea of the book. My Ego was very attached to how much attention I would get from publishing this book. I had been talking about it so long, and had so much invested that I was having a hard time letting go of it, even though it wasn’t really working. My book had its own Facebook Fan page, its own Twitter handle, a following of raving fans, and campaign partners all lined up to help me with the Launch. It had the best title in the whole wide world. I had so much enthusiasm from the community and support for its completion. My book was going to be wildly successful. I couldn’t possibly not write it. What would people think??
… but the book writing itself had been fraught with toil and pain. Writing it was like pushing rocks up a hill. Had I not been so stubborn, I would’ve seen that I wasn’t the one meant to write that book long before that fateful day outside the Apple Store.
This is where I got myself into trouble. You can’t ever write for others. EVER. You gotta do it for yourself. You gotta do it ‘cause it feeds your soul, because not writing hurts, because you have something to say that is so damn important that it pours from you like sweat in a hot yoga class.
That book was getting in the way of what it is I was really meant to be writing. Are you doing the same thing? If your writing is blocked, you have to ask yourself: is this really what I’m meant to be writing, or just what I think I should be writing?
3. You don’t have a big enough WHY: Your book is not about talent or discipline or motivation or good content or any of that stuff. You already have all of that. If you are stuck, what’s missing is why you’re writing it. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Think of the last time you got really excited about something? Picture it. What did it feel like? Why were you excited? Now ask yourself, why don’t you have that same enthusiasm for your book? I can tell you why: Because you’re making the book about you. When you start to see the far-reaching benefits your book can have on others, you’ll begin to understand that every day you don’t write your book, you’re robbing someone of your brilliance. (Tweet this!)
Here’s the thing about that book. It’s killing you. Energetically, you need to take action to clear up space. Incompletions drain and suck energy.
You have three choices to get complete on your book:
→ Do it now: The first way to get complete on something is to complete it. It’s pretty basic. Suck it up, put on your big girl (or big boy) pants, and finish it.
→ Schedule time to do it later: Schedule a time to complete it, and then put it out of sight, out of mind. This does require a little bit of organization. Create a system and schedule time to make sure the writing gets done.
→ Declare it complete: As an entrepreneur, sometimes we have to make sacrifices to realize there are things we just won’t get done in life. Instead of leaving them on your list to feel bad, accept that you are never going to do them. Check it off the list. “I’m never going to finish this. I declare it complete.” If this book been on your task list for more than a year, chances are it’s not as important as you think it is. (I can almost hear you protesting now – but it is! If that’s the case, revisit #1 or #2 on this list.)
You’ll be surprised how it frees up your energy. DO IT NOW or eliminate it from your life completely.
I’m interested to hear your thoughts. What have you done to get your book done? Leave a note in the comments below.