The hard part of writing a book isn’t getting published. It’s the actual writing. In this article, I offer 10 steps for writing a book along with 10 bonus steps to getting your book done. Books don’t just write themselves, after all. You have to invest everything you are into creating an important piece of work.
For centuries, historians believed the great Renaissance master was just another Starving Artist, struggling to make ends meet. Michelangelo himself embraced this image, living frugally and often complaining about money. He once wrote in a poem that his art had left him “poor, old and working as a servant of others.”
But it turns out he wasn’t telling the truth.
These days, I seem to be going through a personal renaissance, re-thinking who I am, what I do, and my contribution to the world. I keep running into other writers, artists, and creative professionals who seem to be struggling with the same thing: What does nurturing your creative life in a pandemic actually look like?
Before you can create anything, you must first create yourself. The process of changing your life—of pursuing a vocation, finding a true love, even making a career transition—always begins with an understanding of who you are. But it doesn’t stop there.
In creative work, there is a spectrum from “starving” to “sellout,” and somewhere in the middle is where most of us find ourselves. How do we make sense of this?
The world is in crisis, and many people are telling you to do something new. But what if you didn’t have to do that? What if, instead of pivoting into new and exciting opportunities, we who make things considered this a call to our true work? What if we doubled down on our strengths, taking these familiar skills deeper than we thought they could go, seeking new ways to do old things? What if we asked, “What role is being required of me right now?”—and then did that?
What role is being required of you when you feel like the thing that you offer the world isn’t even needed? In this week’s episode of The Portfolio Life, I interview my longtime friend and mentor, Michael Port.
Hello there from quarantine. You might be feeling some shame for being unproductive or lazy or depressed during this time of crisis and social distancing. Please allow me to make you feel better. I am doing this worse than you, I promise.
So you’re stuck at home, wondering what to do with your life right now. Share another meme on Instagram? Nope. It’s time to write that book you’ve always wanted to write.
Is it an act of bravery to merely survive a crisis? Maybe. But if you have the potential to be remarkable, why wouldn’t you be? Now is the time to give your greatest gift to the world.
“What did you do with this crisis?” This may be what our children ask us about this time. And as you’ll see, a crisis is an opportunity to create something new.
We don’t need you to write a book. We don’t need another story on cancer survival or escaping an abusive childhood or overcoming addiction. We don’t need another seven steps or five hacks or twelve rules for life. Sorry. We just don’t. We need your respect for the craft and your audience. We need you to bring all of you to the table and share your message with a willingness to believe it before anyone else does. We need a voice worthy of our trust.