Ego, emotion, and doubt. Oh, my!
“Lions, tigers, and bears. Oh, my!” I never pass up a chance to use this iconic line from the Wizard of Oz. I smile when I think of that small group of friends linking arms and walking faster and faster. Repeating that phrase with every step, faster and faster. They get themselves pretty worked up about what they think they will encounter on their journey to Oz.
Lions, tigers, and bears are a pretty big deal. But ego, emotion, and doubt are just as problematic. Each tend to trip you up, throw you off course or otherwise get in the way of reaching your intended goal. Especially when it comes to writing your book.
In a recent article, I explored three detours you will face on your book writing journey and ways to get around them. However, I didn’t mention the three amigos: ego, emotion, and doubt. These three prickly detours are part of the head game you will play when you set off on your book journey. Let’s take a closer look at how to navigate these suckers too.
As we all know, ego is simultaneously good and not good. If it wasn’t for ego, most of us would not be where we are today: leading organizations, speaking or writing to the masses, married, divorced, honking our horns and letting other drivers know they are #1 in traffic. But ego does get in the way of progress too.
On your book writing journey, your ego will get used and abused. You will need the strength of your ego to even set out on your journey. And you will need it to overcome that other prickly detour of doubt. So anticipate using it mindfully and managing its energy.
But plan to have it kicked to the curb at various points along the way, too. My amazing-hero-woman-friend Sue Hawkes describes her experience this way:
“My book is about entrepreneurs, leaders, business owners. They're a tough crowd anyway. And so I wanted people who aren't afraid to tell the truth. Was I prepared? I think so. And yet, your ego gets a good bashing in this, because nothing is sacred. You want it to be good for whoever's going to pick it up, but you also are hopeful that the editors are going to say it is amazing. And they're not.”
One of my clients was so married to the words she had written and so closed to editorial critique that she discontinued our working agreement. It is unfortunate because any editor worth their salt will be even tougher than me. It’s part of the process. Be prepared. Don’t let this detour send you Thelma and Louise-ing over a cliff.
For women, emotion is something we wrangle with often. We are intimately familiar with the challenges our emotions present. So when it comes to writing your book I have two points of advice to navigate around the emotion detour:
Use emotion to your advantage As women, we have our fair share of negative life experiences. Think domestic abuse, pay and opportunity inequity, and #MeToo for example. The women I work with believe it is important to weave that part of their lives into the story they are telling. The value of these experiences is they are often the root of our passion, the force that drives us to do what we do, to make a difference. And they make for a powerful story.
Find peace with it first Writing your book will be like a bit of therapy. But that is not a good reason to write a book. You must process those emotions, come to terms with your negative experiences and be at peace with them first. Then you will have clarity and ample ideas to tap into.
One of my clients suffered years of physical abuse at the hands of her husband. In spite of her personal challenges, she built a multi-million dollar business. By the time she started writing her book, the emotions of these experiences were no longer boiling under the surface. She was ready to put them to work.
For women, doubt is like gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Nasty, dirty and almost impossible to get rid of. No matter what we do, it stays with us. And just like ego, it can be good and not so good.
When it comes to writing your book, I have two points of advice to navigate through the doubt detour:
Doubt is good: as a tool for countering the other detour of ego. A healthy dose of doubt will keep you on track while you write. It makes you take a second, third and fourth look at your work. It makes you seek out feedback from many people. It makes you do your homework about what’s already been written on your topic. In this way, it’s all good.
Doubt is not good: when it becomes a stumbling block. Doubt keeps many of us standing still, just like its wicked twin sister, fear. Doubt gets you asking crazy questions like:
“What if no one reads my book?”
“What if I look foolish?”
“What if I’m not a brilliant, amazing, superhero after all?”
Trust me, if you are anything like the women I work with you are every bit brilliant, amazing and superhero. I am always fascinated by the way we don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve for our accomplishments.
When women’s stories start to unfold, I find myself in awe. You did that? While you were dealing with that? Really? Let’s get that into words!
For women leaders only: my gift to you is a 30-minute brainstorm session to discuss your book idea and walk through this Blueprint Cheat Sheet together.
Don’t miss this opportunity to save countless hours of struggle trying to figure this out by yourself.
Plus, I don’t want you Thelma and Louise-ing off a cliff. Unless someone’s filming it.