You. Yes, you. I’m talking to you.
You, who likes to claim that you have a dream of a book inside of you. You, who claims loudly and proudly to anyone who’ll listen that you’ve been stuck for ten years and that if only someone would tell you how to fix that problem, you’d be on your way. What wouldn’t you give for this novel to be out of you and into the world?
And then someone shows up. An agent at a writing conference who wants a synopsis, an editor who offers to guide you through the process, a coach who can help you remove the psychological blocks once and for all.
And what do you do? Be honest now. What do you do?
You say, “Let me think about it.” You say, “I won’t be ready until next year.” You say, “Let me ask my partner.” You say, “I’m busy with other things right now.”
You think, “Oh my God, oh my God, I don’t know how to write a synopsis! I can’t afford an editor. The coach can’t tell me anything I don’t already know.”
And I’ll tell you something I’ve learned from working with writers for almost two decades. The writers who consistently refuse to ask for and receive help, even when they know they’re stuck, are writers who are far too committed to the struggle and will not break out of it unless they change the stories they tell themselves.
Because if you have a problem and the solution presents itself and you don’t say “Hell yes!”? You’re basically saying, “Hell, no!”
You’re saying, well I haven’t struggled enough yet. I haven’t earned this success. Let me see how much pain I can really take on my own before I’ll ask for or agree to accept help.
Ten years later, when you’re broken and wondering why it didn’t work, you blame the industry for not understanding your talent, you blame your book for being so damn hard, and worst of all, you blame yourself for being so incompetent.
You’re not incompetent. You’re just refusing to commit to your dreams.
I know this. I know this more intimately than you can ever imagine. Because I went through it. I know what’s in store for you when you say you have a dream but you refuse to commit to it, to go all in. I know what’s in store for you when you continuously drone on to your partner, to other writers, to anyone who’ll listen about how much you want to write a book. I know what’s in store for you when you let yourself down, day after day after day, until you don’t even believe in your own self anymore.
You know you’re stuck. Maybe you even know why you’re stuck.
You’re not going to get unstuck by yourself, I can almost guarantee it.
The people who helped me get unstuck were my husband, Sam, and my editor. (Sam and I have together, now coached other writers successfully as well.) Sam made me think deeply about not only why I wanted to write my book but about why I didn’t. He made me articulate, for the first time, what the book was about and how writing it would negatively impact my life. Then, when the chips were on the table, we examined them one by one and asked, honestly and realistically, whether I was willing to accept those negative consequences for the greater good of writing the book.
There is no right answer to this question. There are projects I have shelved because the answer was no.
In this particular instance, I was.
And you know something? The book got finished pretty damn quickly after that because I was no longer in a mental and emotional struggle with myself.
Could I have done this examination by myself? Nope. In fact, in addition to Sam, I work with an editor who is responsible for launching the careers of many well-known authors and she looks through every single chapter as I write it. She worries about the market so I don’t have to. She liaises with my agent and works with me to first, understand my vision, and then help me bring it to life.
And I know, I KNOW, that without these two people, I never would have finished my first novel, let alone my second one. I wouldn’t now be thinking about screenplays, short story collections, and other projects besides. I no longer think of myself as someone who is “writing a novel” but as someone who is launching a career as a novelist and writer of fiction.
It’s why I’ve recently become so passionate about helping other novelists. It’s why Sam and I have talked to dozens of writers to try and understand where most of us get stuck, and to see if we could understand the source of this pain.
I used to think that if I just worked hard enough, tried more, found the perfect techniques and systems, then I’d be able to figure it out. And the piece that I was missing all along during the writing of my first novel, for seven long years, was that you can take the years and the decades of trying to get unstuck on your own or you can take the help you need and do it in seven months or seven weeks. When a mentor showed up in my life, I didn’t even care what her services cost. Forget the money, the struggle had cost seven years of my life!
It was scary as hell to hire that editor and I had never before paid such a large five-figure sum for anything. It was scarier still to actually trust that my husband may actually be telling the truth when he said that if I continued to do things the way I was, I would never finish this, or any, novel.
See, the help you need is already out there. An agent, an editor, a coach, a mentor, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The help is there.
But here’s the thing: You have to WANT it. You have to want it more than you want your excuses and you have to want it more than the comfort of your struggle.
Most writers claim to want it, but they don’t. Because when asked to commit, they bail. They won’t. They can’t. They’re too scared of the dreams. Most writers I know are not afraid of failure—they’re used to that. Most writers are afraid of success. Because we’ve been told for so long and by so many people we respect that it’s super hard and involves sacrifice and pain, when someone like me comes and along and tells you that it can be easy, you refuse to believe it.
It is easy for me now. But because I too, have often believed that good work involves struggle and pain, I have sabotaged along the way, not writing for six whole weeks this summer when my book was over the halfway mark. Yet, when I sit down to write and truly commit to it, it’s not a battle anymore. I enjoy the process. I love the actual writing, not just what I think may come at the end. And because of that? This one is done in seven months instead of the seven years with the first one. And the next will go even faster.
I’m so passionate now about leading writers out of the struggle and into a process that makes them feel happy and that they describe as fun. I’ve been incredibly successful at launching several writers’ six-figure journalism and content marketing careers and now Sam and I want to find our next novelist success stories.
We’ve put together a free masterclass that outlines the process that we use and teach, that shows you how to think about your novel and screenplay in a way that gets you to the finish line faster AND helps you outline a vision that you can share with agents and publishers when you’re ready.
If you want to spend your time writing draft after revised draft and yet more revised drafts, this isn’t for you. You’ll find plenty of writing workshops for that. This is specifically for writers who are done with the bullshit and ready to commit to getting their damn novel out. NOW.
See you there!