How your book is your teacher
As a business owner, I often meet other business owners or people who want to start a business. I’ll never forget one lady who told me she wanted to start a business but, over the years when I’d ask her how her business was going, she’d always reply that she was “researching” and “getting ready to start it soon.”
While I’m sure she learned a lot about her field, she never did start her business. She was always getting ready. A friend of mine calls this the “paper-clip-arranging” syndrome. It’s a syndrome that affects writers and other artists as well.
What is the real problem? FEAR.
I have been guilty of this myself in my writing life. Putting off working on my novel because of my fear of the unknown. Writing a novel is not part of my comfort zone, but I am constantly trying to expand my comfort zone to include “novelist.” And I know what will happen when I finally finish my book and get it published. I’ll say to myself, “What took me so long?”
Like the paper-clip lady, we think we need to know more in order to write our novels.
We take classes. We read how-to books. We even get MFA degrees. These are all great and worthy accomplishments, but the BEST way to learn to write a book is to write one.
In Heather Sellers’s book, Chapter after Chapter she writes:
“The book is your teacher. It shows you, productively, a tiny bit at a time, what to focus on learning next. Writing a book is like taking a perfect class on how to write a book….Your unwritten book is a genius of a teacher. It’s your guru….When you write a new chapter, perhaps trying something completely different, and you put your whole mind and soul into it, the book-as-teacher will reward you with new insight and—like any great teacher—the key to the next room, where you will be stunned and in the dark, not knowing and lost all over again.”
Use your fear to push you forward into the unknown. Once you do so, the unknown will become known and then you can push yourself into your next dark room, learning to write your book one page and one chapter at a time.
To read more about conquering your fears, read my post, “Conquering your writing fears: what you focus on expands.”