I’m reading the book ‘On Writing – a memoir of the craft’ by Stephen King.
It’s fascinating, funny, educational and super inspiring.
There’s something that makes me stop and think on almost every page.
The latest thing that stopped me in my tracks, was his description of HOW he writes his books.
If you’d asked me how I thought he writes his books, I could have sworn this is what he did:
Think through the entire book from beginning to end.
Carefully craft the plot.
Do research (or have someone do that for him).
And THEN start writing the book.
Turns out, that’s not how he does it AT ALL.
On the contrary!
He starts with the idea, a situation.
Here’s how he describes his writing process (I added the bold font at the bottom & the extra whitespace):
“The situation comes first. The characters – always flat and unfeatured, to begin with – come next. Once these things are fixed in my mind, I begin to narrate.
I often have an idea of what the outcome may be, but I have never demanded of a set of characters that they do things my way.
On the contrary, I want them to do things their way. In some instances, the outcome is what I visualized. In most, however, it’s something I never expected.
For a suspense novelist, this is a great thing. I am, after all, not just the novel’s creator but its first reader. And if I’m not able to guess with any accuracy how the damned thing is going to turn out, even with my inside knowledge of coming events, I can be pretty sure of keeping the reader in a state of page-turning anxiety.
And why worry about the ending anyway? Why be such a control freak? Sooner or later every story comes out somewhere.”
This opened so many doors in my mind at once, that I had to sit with it for a while.
First, I realized that this is why I struggled with my upcoming book so much.
Instead of following the flow of the book (like King, I believe the book already exists – you’re not making it up, you’re excavating it – his terminology. Mine would be that you channel it.), I was trying to control what the book should be.
Sure, it’s a good thing to have a clear idea of what the book is about and what I want to say about its main topic.
But once that’s clear, it’s time to sit down and WRITE.
To follow the flow of the book.
To let it take me by the hand, and show me the next piece, and the next, until I have a sense that it’s done.
Then, I can see what I have and start editing, shuffling, rewriting, adding whatever is missing and taking out whatever is redundant.
And it wasn’t just the content of the book I was overthinking!
There was also the thinking about the audience.
(Who is it for? Why would they want to read it?
Good questions to ask, but yet ANOTHER thing that took me OUT of the flow and the joy of writing. And in the end, WHO CARES?
My job is to write the book that wants to be written through me. To make it visible and market it. It will find its own audience then. I don’t have to overthink that upfront!)
There was the thinking about the marketing.
(What’s the next step I’d like people to take after they’re read the book? How can I launch and promote it? How can I use the book to get people on my list? What’s a good time to launch, and how long in advance should I start with the prelaunch and the seeding?
Again: good questions to ask. And again: FUCK IT. The HOW will show up by taking the step that’s in front of you NOW. And the next step, and the next. What comes first? Is the actual WRITING.)
And then there were the usual doubts and other inner shit that shows up when you take your soul and your heart and you put them on a platter to show them to the world.
(Who am I to…Am I really good enough / worthy enough / …..and all the other bullshit crap that ONLY serves to keep you small and not fully living and hiding in your cage and not doing the thing you so desperately want to do!)
I got caught up in all of that crap.
And don’t get me wrong:
For SOME people, it will probably work to think everything through upfront: the plot (for books that have one, of course) the audience the marketing the launching the how-does-this-book-tie-in-with-my-business.
But for me?
It does not.
I’m NOT someone who thrives on planning.
On the contrary!
I’m an intuitive, go with the flow and follow where inspiration takes me person.
Which, duh, automatically makes me a go with the flow and follow where inspiration takes me WRITER.
It’s so obvious I was blind for it.
Do I REALLY care how the book fits in my business or business model?
I honestly do NOT give a shit about that.
The book wants to be written and I want to write it and fuck how it does or does not fit in.
If it does, great, if it doesn’t, great.
I was being a super control freak about EVERYTHING having ANYTHINGH to do with writing in general, and my upcoming book in particular.
Even though I KNOW that LETTING GO of your attachment is KEY to manifesting ANYTHING!
And, duh, of COURSE that applies to writing, too!
So obvious I was blind to it.
I had already released a lot of expectations and thoughts and ideas about the book, and opened up to just WRITE the book.
Reading this passage in King’s book made me realize I could let go of even MORE tension and attachment and neediness I put on the book.
(Needing it to finally be done. Needing to it being a good book. Needing it to also make me money when it’s done, ‘cause hey…..I don’t even know why that was such a thing. Needing it to be a bestseller, whatever the fuck that means or whyever the fuck that matters.)
I let go even more.
To make space to follow the flow of the book.
I let go of being such a control freak when it comes to my book, and writing in general.
Which made me realize something else:
How much of a control freak I am in SO MANY OTHER AREAS OF MY BUSINESS AND LIFE.
OK, well, actually:
How much of a control freak I am, period.
I thought I had the whole surrender and go with the flow-thing down to a tee.
I teach this to my clients all the time! I even have a whole PROGRAM on that, for fuck’s sake!
Yes, I can let go, and NOOOOOO, it is SO not my default state yet!
And one by one, ALL the things I’m trying to control (on a daily basis no less!) came to mind.
I’m an out of control control freak, yo.
So this morning, I sat down to make a Release, Surrender & Let Go List.
How much do I try to control!
How much of my time and energy does this take!
And how freeing it is to write it down and let go of it!
I also realized a part of me still sees surrender as a negative thing:
As giving up. Being a victim. Letting life wash over you and let people trample all over you and not doing anything about it. Being passive.
Part of surrendering is changing my perspective on it:
To see it as an act of power, a conscious decision, as a necessary ingredient of going with the flow. As THE key to receiving, to joy, to fun, and to allowing life to be SO much more magical and beautiful than I could EVER ‘make’ it myself.
Of course, I KNOW all this.
And I am already LIVING it, partially.
I’m not half the control freak I used to be these days 🙂
But apparently, there was more to surrender.
More to let go of.
I’m going back to finishing my Release, Surrender & Let Go List now.
It’s not finished by a long shot.
It’s not about finishing or completing it.
It’s about surrendering, opening up, and experiencing MORE INNER FREEDOM AND PEACE as a result.
How about you?
What are you trying to control?
What are you attached to, holding onto, trying to control even though, deep down, you already know that you have NO control over it at all?
Maybe it’s time for you to make a list of things to let go of now, too…
To release and surrender and let go of all the things you have NO control over.
And take FULL control of everything you DO have control over.
It will liberate you, I promise!
It may sting at first.
You may not WANT to let go of control.
Is being a control freak REALLY serving you?
Or does it consume a ton of your time and your energy without getting ANYTHING in return for it?
(Besides the false belief that if you’re not on top of the universe, nothing gets done and the world as we know it will cease to exist?)
I’m right here with you, baby, a part of me still wants to hold on, too.
And I now choose to let go of that too…
To more freedom and flow!
© Brigitte van Tuijl
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