I received an email from a book client. She said she had finished the first draft of her life story and was preparing to send me her manuscript for editing. She asked, “What now? Is this story worth going to the next step? For what?” She’s not my first client to experience doubt and fear in the final phases of writing. I call it the “standing naked” phase when you realize that the next step is publication. Soon, you will have to stand naked in front of your public, and your own mirror.
Your parents and friends will have already read your latest draft and told you it was destined for greatness. Are you ready for the reviews of readers who will be honest? Will your book pass public scrutiny? How do you overcome the fear of literary shame or personal revelation?
I asked her to ask herself why she was writing her life story. “What inspired you and motivated you? Are you championing a cause? Giving your descendants a way to remember you? Giving the first interpretation to events you shared with others? Who is your audience?”
By the time she connected with me, she admitted, she had already given her book a lot of thought; her reasons for writing it not so much.
She resolved to think of those questions in a freewrite adventure and then adapt her answers in her book’s introduction.
Of course, you also need good writing and a good editor, but that’s a different discussion.
What motivated you to start your book? What negative force is preventing you from finishing it? Are you ready to stand naked?
You’ve got the time.
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Ken Wachsberger is an internationally acclaimed book coach and editor whose Voices from the Underground Series, about the Vietnam era underground press, was called “the most important book on American journalism published in my lifetime.” He speaks on writing for healing and to preserve your legacy.
The second edition of Ken’s You’ve Got the Time: How to Write and Publish That Book in You launches February 8, 2024. Preorder your copy here.
For book coaching and editing help, email Ken at [email protected].