How To Overcome The Humilation Of Sharing Your First Draft (From A Mom Who Has Had To)
Several people have asked me this question: how do I get started with writing a book? Others have written books yet their words are still inside their computers for years on end. What I have realized about writing a book, entrepreneurship, or even being a creator is that humiliation is the pill we must all swallow especially upfront. This is how you’ll get better. You’ll have to share your words. Get reactions. Learn from them. Move one. Then rewrite.
I first pen to paper for my upcoming book about reawakening the imagination of a mom on May 18th, 2021. It wasn’t until 200K words later and six months from that date that I had the guts to start showing anyone my “book.” I was holding onto my brain dump because showing my work would put me in a vulnerable spot. The assumption that was holding me back was that I thought myself to be a good writer…enough to write a book. Yet, there I was showing my rougher than sandpaper rough attempts that felt inarticulate at times. Talk about cognitive dissonance.
Thankfully, when I first reached out to my editor she couldn’t take me on right away. In the two months before starting with her, I decided to rewrite them from scratch. Yes, I NEVER showed anyone those early 200K words. Instead, I would go on to write brand new 2,500-word chapters week-by-week to then share those versions with my editor. It would be those post-pre-first draft gunk chapters that when shared I had to swallow my pride for. My motto quickly became: I will send whatever words I can piece together and accept that they might suck. This is the belief that got me to hit SEND earlier than my ego would have preferred over and over again. At this point, I did this 25 times i.e. 25 chapters.
For me, it’s about being willing to lift the veil of perfection so that you can get a reaction and then respond with greater intention. This idea that I’d be showing someone my lackluster words humiliated me. Some editorial comments stung too. Yes, there were times that my words on paper did not go over so well by my editor. This was the risk I had to accept in order to get to where I am now which is my third DRAFT.
So here are some thoughts you can use to get over this fear of being judged and feeling humiliated as a writer who must share her message with the world.
1. Your message is more important than your ego. You have an important message to share. The days, months, and years that pass with your message in your head or hidden on your computer are the ones that your message is not getting to the right people. It’s not about you. Imagine your target audience. How many more days will you let them not have access to your wisdom? It feels selfish to me when I think about it this way. This is why I decided to enlist my editor six months after trying to figure things out on my own rather than wait until I had my entire manuscript ready. Give yourself a deadline and shave off some months or years. Your people need you now.
2. You’re imperfect just like any human at a big publishing house. I’ve heard even the big publishing houses print books with typos. Those houses have many people review and edit books. Each person doing this work is a human so it’s no wonder something will escape in a 70K word book. It’s also not a surprise that your “virgin” draft will have errors. Human your way to writing. It’s the only way to get started. You can edit paragraphs until you are green in the face but give yourself a rewrite limit and then send it to an editor or stranger for review.
3. Relatable and honest imperfections are charming, especially from leaders. We’ve been told to hide our imperfections. Yet, we tend to admire the people who share their imperfections. So how does that work? Don’t you want to replicate the people you admire? Just ask yourself: is this good enough to get a reaction? Who can I trust to show this in this raw form? Send it out even when in doubt to a trusted person or expert.
4. A crappy draft is better than an unwritten one. I once thought I would grow up and have access to a perfect work environment. Maybe it’s just me but as a mom to three boys today this blissful serene working environment hasn’t arrived so I’ve let go of being so precious about where I write. This has spilled into me not being precious about whether I got enough sleep for it to be wise for me to write. Seldom have there been the right conditions for me to write the right words. Forget ideal circumstances. Just let it go and rewrite it later.
5. You need to do something bad before you can be good at it. Any Matrix fans? You aren’t Neo. You won’t be able to just read “how to write well” books and sit down to write the next Moby Dick on your first go. Do you want to do something new? The key is to get over the hurdle of not being so great at it. The pro tip is to enlist the help of someone who is already good at it to guide you to be better at a faster pace.
Make peace with that feeling of humiliation if you intend to create anything. Just think about our kids. We created them or adopted them. Just yesterday, they embarrassed me. I can’t step out of the house without someone knocking off store shelves of Nerf guns in a serene department store or them practicing their parkour in malls. Like my writing, I can’t keep my kids hidden from society. I have to take them out and it is in that environment that I will be able to teach them social skills. The same goes for writing. You can write your heart out and never show your writing to anyone. Yet, your growth as a writer will be stunted. Let strangers in. Pick experts earlier than you feel ready. Be unafraid to show the words on your page that might humiliate you. Say no to secret books in secret computer files that no one will ever get to enjoy or learn from.
Your turn: what is stopping you from putting out your work? Who is missing out because of your fear of humiliation in sharing your first draft? What do you plan on doing about it this week?
P.S. The summer weeks are flying. If you have plans of launching into a full-on job search for a marketing job in the fall or finally building your own passion-driven business then let’s have a conversation on the first three steps you should be taking this month to ensure you put your best foot forward. These calls are for moms who are committed to taking massive action because they want to be in control of their career success (not at the effect of their circumstances). It’s for moms who would never want to keep their talents buried on some laptop for a lifetime. Both offerings coaching working moms in corporate and entrepreneurship are why I decided to write a book about how to reawaken our imagination as moms overall. You may want to join me for that ride too.
About Melissa Llarena
Melissa Llarena is an author and coach who helps ambitious moms use their imagination as a superpower to launch businesses and take back control of their income and sanity! She has a podcast called An Interview With Melissa Llarena where she helps curious souls go from imagining to living a bold life. Melissa’s background includes a psychology degree from NYU, an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and she holds a Transformational Coaching Academy certificate. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Austin, TX with her husband and three sons (in that mix are identical twins).
About An Interview With Melissa Llarena the podcast
Do you remember how curious you were as a kid? Some of us never grew out of that and it’s made all the difference. Pick from any of 100+ episodes to learn from humans who courageously and creatively went after their curiosities, and made an impact, so you can too.
Each week, personal development coach, business coach, and “warrior” mom Melissa Llarena helps you go from imagining to living your best life. In this podcast, you will learn how to believe in yourself, unleash your biggest potential, leave perfectionism behind, and build a fulfilling life. You deserve the best. Learn from entrepreneurs (Suzy Batiz, Beth Comstock), creators (GaryVee, James Altucher), world changers (David Meltzer, Asha Curran), beacons of hope (Raphael Rowe, Dr. Joel Fuhrman), and world-class storytellers (Cal Fussman, Jordan Harbinger). Tune in to discover how you can overcome life’s biggest challenges and embrace its wonderful surprises.
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