Three months ago, a publisher emailed me with a proposal – they wanted me to write a book. And I seriously almost fell out of my chair because I have dreamed of writing a skincare cookbook for YEARS.
I scheduled a call with the publishing company – to talk things through – but it was already an instant “yes!!” from me. Even though I had no idea how in the world I would come up with 60 new recipes in 3 months….. I didn’t have a moment of hesitation. I’d been ready for this opportunity for years.
The contract was signed – and from there the process happened VERY quickly. So much so, I had barely a chance to think about the fact that I.was.writing.a.book! There was no time for reflection, it was all about getting it done.
But now that I’ve completed the manuscript, and handed it in *woot!* I realized how much I went through, what I did that worked well, and the mistakes that I made too.
Maybe you’re in the process of writing or working on a dream project… or you have something big on the horizon! I thought I’d share 3 big lessons that I learned from this experience:
It’s going to be hard
Even though this book was a dream that I begged the universe for – when it came to actually doing the work – I had to beg myself to get it done.
I think I imagined that writing a book would look different, like a highlight reel of amazing moments. I imagined it would be the most creative and fulfilling experience! Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to feel after you’re done.
Because during the writing process – the truth is I had to plead, trick and convince myself every day to sit and write. It was a lonely process – I was at my computer most of the day and easily distracted – and I had to parent myself constantly to get.it.done.
But, see that’s okay. Just because the work is hard and you don’t always want to do it – doesn’t mean that you’re not supposed to or that you can’t.
If you are in the middle of that struggle – keep pushing forward because of the feeling of completing hard work for something that you are passionate about – far exceeds the pain of getting it done.
Feed Your Creativity
When you’re in the process of working really hard on a creative project, you’re bringing an idea into life – it’s important that you feed your body well so that you can be at your best.
In the same way, I also realized its important to feed your creative body.
Looking back, I realized that my most productive creative times – were when I placed myself in spaces that fed me good energy.
And now that I see how important that was to the work – I’m going to intentionally feed myself well, with inspiration.
During my busiest writing time, my herbal studies were scheduled to start. I thought – that’s really bad timing – but it turned out that taking myself out of my routine, going to class and being around other herbalists – actually fed me inspiration and creativity that helped me produce at my best.
And then my husband mentioned that I should work with his friend in Ireland, a talented food stylist on the photography for the book. I had planned to shoot alone at home, and traveling for five days seemed unreasonable. But something inside said, “book the ticket” Now, looking back – that experience fed me so well! I believe it made my writing and this book better than it would have been had I stayed home. The collaboration with another creative, the experience of being bold, of being somewhere new, eating amazing food, drinking great wine, finding yarrow and lavender growing in the fields – it gave me a quality of creativity that I would not have otherwise tapped into – had I just stayed closed up in my four walls.
When you know what feeds your creativity, it’s your job to serve it up for yourself!
Plan ahead for the Chaos
As the book deadline grew nearer, I found myself closing up more and more. I wasn’t on social media. I wasn’t calling anyone, I wasn’t answering emails. I ignored friend’s messages, I even ignored my own business coach – who I pay a lot of money for!
In the thick of the work – It was like I had no room for anyone else and I shut out the world around me. But this made me feel guilty inside, and most days – I beat myself up for not being better at life.
Doing things outside of your comfort zone reveals a lot about yourself. And it’s an opportunity to grow. Looking back, I recognize that there’s a pattern – when I feel overwhelmed I close up and retreat – and then I feel bad about it, which only makes it harder for me to do good work.
So next time, I’m planning on that. I’ll tell family and friends ahead of time “Hey, I love you, I’m thinking of you – but I’m off the radar for the next X days” or I might plan my schedule better “On Thursdays, I check in with the world.” Maybe before I start a BIG project, I’ll get some support – hire a virtual assistant, hire someone to fold my laundry or just ask for help a little more often. I might book a little getaway – so that I can go and retreat somewhere fun and inspiring.
When you know yourself, you can anticipate how you’re going to feel or respond – and put those systems in place to help yourself through it with a little more ease and grace.