Finishing the first draft of my second book is magical—for a moment—then it’s kind of, well, nothing. Having set aside the whole day to write, I’d been feeling a little weird all day, kind of shaky, gut churning. And when I finished, well there it was, finished. And I immediately started to think about the whopping amount of revision I would have to do, the next hill to climb. Sigh…
Now, before I share some lessons, let me tell you that the anticipation of finishing this draft was a done deal. I had negotiated with the book and the characters that today was the day. Having conversations with the characters and the book, letting them tell me the story, is all part of the writing process that Tom Bird teaches. He is definitely worth checking out if you are serious about writing and tapping into what he calls, your divine author within.
So, here’s the next book update. I’ve finished this draft in 6 weeks, and this is not a pamphlet people, the first draft is 111,719 words. Much quicker than my last book Breathing While Drowning, which took 7 months (and twenty years). I’ll write about the process another time ‘cos today it’s all about finishing, fun and fitting in, lessons from the fauna in my life.
Have a think for a moment
What do you do when you have finished something you have been wanting or trying to get done for ages? Do you stop and celebrate, do you move on immediately to the next thing, or are you somewhere in between?
Lesson number 1
Remember to have fun, be noisy and hang out with your family and friends. A great reminder as I emerge from working in the office is the screeching of a mob of cockatoos who are regular visitors to the trees in our backyard. You can’t help but smile at their antics, they always sound like they are having way too much fun. Mind you if they were human, they would probably be asked to leave for being too noisy.
Stopping to celebrate finishing is definitely the way to go. So, get noisy – like a mob of cockatoos. Have fun, screech loudly about what you’ve achieved, tell friends, family and anyone who will listen.
Celebrate every little milestone, not just the big ones. My second book is a long way from finished, but hey, the first draft is finished. Fun needs to be a regular entry on your calendar, it will help you re-charge those creative batteries. Have time with friends, book yourself an artist’s date, chill out with a good read or a good wine. Mmm, maybe I’ll do all of these.
Lesson number 2
Check out the picture.
The cat bed is not big enough for Ash the cat, she likes to have her whole body stretched out lounging in front of the fire so that all of her is exposed to the heat. She ignores the obvious cat bed, and chooses the most comfy bed for her, the dog’s bed. Great lesson.
Just because there is an obvious or expected way to do things, doesn’t mean you have to choose that way.
Choose a way that works best for you, even if it means stepping out of the box.
And let’s face it, cats will always choose exactly what they want, they are the ultimate practitioners of self-indulgence.
When was the last time you were a little self-indulgent?
Do you let yourself choose the first slice of cake, or take the last biscuit? What about at work? Do you put your hand up straight away for what you want, or do you always let other people go first and end up with the left overs? Being self-indulgent is tricky for obligers like me, we always tend to put other people’s needs first, and leave our own expectations out in the cold.
Do you need a little practice at putting yourself first? Try being a little self-indulgent this week and see how you go. Choose one thing you really love and go do that—and don’t forget to enjoy it.
Lesson number 3
Now look at the Gibbs the dog. Trying to squeeze his huge frame into the too small cat’s bed. What lessons can he teach us? He is a super friendly dog, and he gets on well with Ash so rather than push her out, he took the left-over bed, even though he obviously doesn’t fit. He’s made the best of what he had available, and hey, he is snoozing and he does have prime posi in front of the fire, so despite being a bit uncomfortable, he’s made it work for him.
This can be a good thing or a not-so-good thing.
Is there something you have been trying do that feels too small?
What have you settled for in your personal or professional life that is really not a good fit—and is never going to be? Even though you tell yourself that being close to the fire makes up for the teeny tiny space you have.
Maybe it’s time to get a bigger bed, a bigger idea, a bigger dream? Or to be even bolder, go build your own fire.
Have a think about where you are trying to squeeze into a smaller life. What could you do to change that?
How could you start?
You could download the journal exercise “I Love, I Value, I Choose” and get closer to working out what’s important to you.
Thanks for reading.
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If you’d like to read my first book first, gift yourself a copy of Breathing While Drowning: One Woman’s Quest for Wholeness.