A little bit of Practical Inspiration… for all who struggle to write

A guest post by Grace Marshall

An unconventional plan

Conventional advice for writing a business book is to create the structure first. Get your Table of Contents clear, then take it one chapter or section at a time. It’s good advice, but it doesn’t always work out that way! Indeed my first two book were written that way, because I was writing what I already knew and had a clear plan of what I wanted the finished product to contain.

All the wrong sizes

At the beginning what you come up with often looks wrong. Too wordy, too brief. Too academic, not enough research. If we put our editor’s hat on too soon, we can discount so much of our raw material. The need to get it right can stop us from getting anywhere.

The shitty first draft doesn’t just look like shit — it can also feel shit!

My friend and fellow author Graham Allcott often says that writing a book is 1% writing and 99% lizard brain management. Who am I to write this? What do I know? There’s a high chance that much of your writing journey will be plagued by wrangling, wrestling and doubt. Know that this is all completely normal. And that you’re not alone.

Hello lizard brain!

Our lizard brain, otherwise known as the limbic system, is the primitive part of our brain that’s responsible for keeping us alive. It does that largely by telling us to stay safe and don’t change anything. It sees all uncertainty as threat. It also treats social and reputational threats the same way as a physical threat. Because in the tribal days of old, social rejection — being exiled from the tribe — was indeed a life-threatening situation.

We’ve been reading the signs all wrong

Maybe struggle isn’t a sign of being wrong at all. Maybe it’s a sign that we’re in absolutely the right place. The place of creativity, discovery, learning and growth.

The art of letting your work breathe

By the way, writing doesn’t always look like writing. It looks like pondering, staring out of windows, ruminating, running down rabbit holes, reading, researching, talking, gesturing, laughing, crying, wandering and wondering, getting lost and being found.

Grace Marshall
Grace Marshall

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