Recently, I turned in my next book, thus beginning the painful process of editing. After hundreds of hours of research, dozens of interviews, and thirty-something books later, not to mention of course the writing, it made me wonder if all this work is worth the cost.
As we begin to edit the book, I will undoubtedly see things I somehow missed. Some will be pleasant surprises, like an unexpected stroke of genius, while others will be difficult discoveries. As in, I wrote that? REALLY? Yuck.
But as I do this, as I put myself through massive scrutiny and subject my work to criticism, I realize something.
I think everyone should write a book.
Yep. And here's why:
- Because it's hard. And everyone should do something hard at some point. That's what shapes our character and makes us appreciate the things worth doing.
- Because it'll humble you. Writing a book (which is hard) will make you see things in yourself — your writing, your worldview, your weird way of expressing ideas — that you didn't otherwise notice.
- Because it'll kill your cynicism. It'll give you a newfound respect for other authors and the work they do. In fact, if everyone became an author, we wouldn't have professional critics. Just a community of people who cared enough to speak up.
- Because it'll teach you about yourself. Flannery O'Connor said she didn't know what she thought about something until she read what she said. I'm inclined to agree.
- Because it's the best way to share an idea or story that matters. And if it matters to you, maybe it'll matter to others.
- Because the book you actually write is better than the one you dream of writing. Most people have a dream of writing a book but never realize it. Not because they can't or don't know how, but because they're afraid. Because an unrealized dream is safer than an action that could fail.
As my friend Marion reminded me, once you've written the book, you've already won. You've done something that most people say they want to do, but don't. You've shipped, which is more than most will do.
And once you've done that, you can go write another.
But everyone won't write a book…
Of course, everyone won't write a book. They'll come up with plenty of good excuses, like “I'm not a writer” or “What would I have to say?” and so on. But deep down, they'll still dream.
No, not everyone will write a book, but you could. And maybe you should. Not so you can become a best-selling author or get heaps of praise and money. But so you can make something important and share it with the world.
So you can say you did something hard, something that humbled you, that helped you care and become more self-aware, allowing you to share an important idea.
Because while there may be too much noise in this world, we can never have too many people who care.
(For more tips on writing a book, check out: 10 Ridiculously Simple Tips for Writing a Book.)
Have you ever thought of writing a book? Tell me about it in the comments.