I remember sitting at a coffee shop writing my first full-length book and wondering how I would get to 50,000 words. I stared at my computer screen, unsure how the words would flow from my head onto the page. Brené Brown says we should put our SFD (“sh**ty first draft”) on paper so we can examine the story we are telling ourselves. I did my best, but storytelling wasn’t a writing strength of mine. I was (and am) still developing that skill. I’d read books by authors I admire and felt so dissatisfied with what I was producing. How would it ever sound as good as those authors’ words?
I left the coffee shop feeling defeated and cried in my car. Writing a book was the hardest thing I had ever done. How could I write about courage and hope when I felt stressed and overwhelmed? Somehow, I had to find a way through my worry and take action because I still needed to meet the objective of writing 50K words.
I set a goal to write 800-1000 words daily, and I did just that. I let go of my perfectionist ways and accepted that whatever I put together, although it may not be good at first, would eventually turn into something I was proud of. My SFD was a beautiful mess, a mini disaster, and a work of art. Or at least I wanted to believe that was the case.
A few months later, I got feedback from my editors. They said that it was good but it needed more work. Okay… As I poured over their comments, I felt crushed. I didn’t know my entire book would be my SFD.Sure, I thought a few chapters might be, but the rest? I thought I’d hit it out of the park. I went to work writing the second draft of the book, combing through stories, refining, and even rewriting entire chapters. I would go through this process a third time before having a final draft.
I did not think I could do it. Over and over, I would tell my editors I had no more words, and they would reply, “You have more words within you; they will come.” They were right. The words did come when I needed them most, and I finished what felt like an impossible task.
I have never struggled with worry the way I have this year. It is an ever-present companion during seasons of transition and the unknown, and I have been consumed with the unknowns and trying to anticipate all the changes to come. The truth is, I have been trying to control things more than I have been trying to release them and live in the moment. Planning is good, but if we plan so much that we leave no space to live, no “room for error” or twists and turns, we are consequently suffocating ourselves with worry.
We will worry when things go wrong, and we will worry when things go right.
Writing a book taught me that I cannot worry about how I will get to the end; I just need to trust that I will get there. My SDF was 45,000 words. My revised, polished, and edited third draft was 50,000 words. Just as it was meant to be. There was no way at the beginning that I could have seen through to the end. If I could, I would never have developed the focus, resilience, and skills that I needed. I wouldn’t have become a better writer.
When we are amid challenges and seemingly impossible hurdles, it’s hard to imagine how we will find our way through them. But we need to learn to stop worrying about how things will all come together and keep writing anyway. Each day allows us a chance to write a new narrative for our own lives.
Sis, will you stop in the middle of the story and give up, or will you keep searching for the words within yourself?Leave a Comment