Episode 167- Sixteen Years And Counting

So before I even started writing my first book, I was thinking about writing a book and I was writing a blog at the same time. So I started going to some local book clubs to meet other authors to bounce different ideas off of people, hopefully help some people out and to get some inspiration for myself cause I had no idea what I was going into. I was pretty amazed how many of these people had already written a book or were in the process of writing a book. So it’d be twice a month I’d go to this meeting. We talk about different ideas, we’d share our work, we’d have each other critique them, we would give suggestions, we would give out other books and articles to read and at times we’d sit down and just brainstorm ideas. And it was in one of those sessions that a guy in the group let on that he was struggling with the first chapter of his book.

So I’m usually pretty curious. I love to ask questions. So I asked what he was struggling with and he told me that he’s having a really hard time finishing up the first chapter and being that as the first chapter and it’s essential to where the book is going to go. He just keeps going back and forth on different things and we gave him some suggestions that we helped him out and he came back the next time. And even though we got that part figured out, it was a different part of the chapter that he wanted to change around a little bit. So I just started noticing how much time we were talking about his book and he took some of those suggestions and he went back and it took some time and he wrote about it. He came back again.

He said, I think I’ve got the first chapter done, but it’s the last chapter, this last chapter that’s really getting me because I don’t think it’s just right. And now the cynical part of me is start to be like, what is going on here? Because it feels like we’re playing whack-a-mole with this book. Like one problem arises, we hit it down, another one shows up, we’re going to hit that one down. I felt like it’s going to keep happening. So I started asking him some more questions, but they weren’t about the book anymore because everybody else was just sitting there ¬†offering more advice and just being more helpful. But I was kind of getting annoyed and as he was describing what the process was, I started noticing other people kind of doing the same thing and then it kind of hit me where I thought was happening.

Cause I looked around, I saw at least three or four people that were writing books, but there was no idea of when it was going to finish. There was no deadline to it. And I said to him, how long have you been writing this book? And he looked at me and he nodded his head and very calmly said 12 years and I almost fell out of my chair. I said, 12 years. I said, when are you going to publish this? He said, I don’t know- when it’s right. And you might’ve heard my episode titled Vinny the Jerk. And I can most certainly be the jerk, and I challenged them where nobody else was really challenging them. I said, what are you afraid of? He said, what do you mean? I said, you’re afraid of something. He said, well, I’m afraid it’s just not going to be perfect at the same time, those other authors, a few of them were nodding their heads. ¬†I left that day and I knew that I was never coming back and I knew that because there wasn’t a push to get these books out.

It almost was a support group for procrastination by doing this and not challenging and saying, this needs to be done by this time, perfect or not, which will never be perfect, but they just enabled each other to keep procrastinating, to keep delaying and to keep avoiding facing their fear. And I knew if I stayed in this group, first off, they weren’t going to listen to me because I was going to be a challenge to their entire mindset because even me asking that question was uncomfortable to them and nobody else was asking that question, but I knew there was an incredible danger of me slipping into their mindset as well if I stayed there. So I knew that in there that I needed to get out. But I’m recording this today so that you don’t become that guy and this isn’t about a book. This is about anything that you’re working on that you need to get out.

That guy, and I don’t even remember his name, he truly believed that he needed to make something absolutely perfect before we could put it out in the world and there are so many damaging aspects to doing what he did because by doing that, it delays creativity. I know he has other books that he wants to write, but you can’t write that next one until you finish this one. And I learned that when there is no deadline, there’s no incentive to get it put out there. As much as I hate in the business world, the sleazy, oh you have to buy by 11:59 PM tonight, otherwise the offer goes off the table. I’m not a fan of that because it quite often is preying on people’s fears. The truth is that when people buy, they buy because they feel like they’re going to lose out on something if they don’t and when you don’t have a deadline and when you don’t have a time when you absolutely have to ship and send it out.

Our natural tendencies can be to just wait a little bit longer to perfect it and to procrastinate. I can tell you as disappointing as it was, that lesson was inspiring because within six months I started writing my first book, but I started writing it on purpose with a deadline and that deadline forced me to do the work. It forced me to get things done and say it’s good enough to go and it will never be perfect and it wasn’t long after that the book was finished. Then it went through the editing process, got the book deal with the publisher, and then one day me and my kids walked into Barnes and Noble and there was my book on the bookshelf printed and published, and as much as I was disappointed for those authors because they weren’t facing their challenges, the lessons I learned from them unintentionally spurred me to take action and create those deadlines and get the work done. Because unfortunately, if history is repeating itself, that guy is still in the same book club being supported by the same authors perfecting that last chapter for a book he’s been working on for sixteen years. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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