I was at lunch with a developer friend of mine. He will remain nameless for his own safety. I know some of my readers are those sorts of fans. The sort that wake me up in the middle of the night. Pulling the covers back on me. Tucking me in as I stare. Then put a finger to their lips and say “Shhh we’ll make sure no one disturbs you.” I won’t mention where he lives either. Because I know you guys.
Anyway, at this lunch I told him of a new project I had in the works. He chuckled and said that he had seen it and his first thoughts were, “Those who can’t do teach.” Ouch. You see we, him and I, had both been struggling with getting our stories out there. We were both busy. Him in a full-time high-stress job. He had travelled for work and it had thrown out his writing routine. Thrown into a dark corner like a forgotten gym membership in March. And myself? Oh sweet relentless I… I had been pushing my brain through a sieve trying to get a story out and onto Amazon. To just get myself into that shipping habit, you know – Write. Publish. Repeat.
So I had an idea.
There was a ton of things that I needed to learn. That I knew. I knew that what I was missing was just the know-how. I had some talent. I had the drive. I had passion. I was just doing it wrong. I kept changing my routine. Rearranging chairs on the Titanic even with it on the ocean floor. I needed to learn more. I needed to stick to a pattern. Run through it many times to learn what should change through usage. Not through conjecture. “Oh this will work better, I’m sure of it.”
I needed to learn how to finish stories. How to write them fast. How to get them online and into the hands of gleeful readers. I needed to learn how to turn those people into an audience and how to make a living doing this all. Because this is what I wanted to do. I declared it at that lunch. For the first time actually saying it to someone other than my wife. It was motivating. It was exhilarating. It meant I had work to do.
If you’ve studied anything for a long time. Maybe you’ve completed a degree. Maybe some other sort of qualification. Regardless, motivated purposeful learning that gets tested, generates notes. Those notes have value. And so I thought lets turn it into a book. I wrapped this fledgling idea in a bit of branding. Its my day job, its what I do. Inspired by Justin Jackson and his Build & Launch podcast I threw it up on Gumroad. Within 12 hours I had my first sale. Shit. Now it was real. A person on the other side of the planet had said to themselves. “That thing you want to make – that – well I want it. Gimme.” And they had put in their credit card details and pre-ordered it. It didn’t exist. Not even so much as an outline. But now it had to. Now I had someone I couldn’t let down.
But how do I do this now, I’m not an expert. But you don’t have to be. Your experience, likely shared by others, can still be of value. I am not an expert. I am an aspiring writer. I have a few years under my belt and I make sales every month. But I’m not sitting on the French Riviera. With a large hat and sunglasses avoiding the paparazzi. I pray that never happens. I like my cave. But I had to write this now. I had a sale. I had someone waiting for it. I had three weeks. Thank goodness I didn’t make it one week. That was the original timeline. But three weeks – that was doable. I could do this! Yay!
For an entire week I did nothing. I fell into the trap of it won’t be good enough. My buyer will hate it. He will hate me. He’ll use his military experience to track me down. Then kill my watchful but creepy super fans and strangle me with my own pyjamas. Of course he would because it would be that bad.
Then I shifted my mindset. Carol Dweck helped. A lot. It would start out crap. Then it would get better. I would make it better. Because I couldn’t let that military guy down. That person that wanted to learn from me. So I wrote.
I wrote down everything I knew. I mind-mapped on James Scott Bell’s advice. Ideas bloomed and a I uncovered the value proposition. People well along their writing paths write these sort of books. People already successful. They know what to do. They tell you like it’s easy. They gloss over details, skipping what is simple and obvious to them.
I wasn’t that sort of writer. I hadn’t earned that sort of ‘sit on top of the mountain and profess the gospels’ cache. No, I was still in the muddy stream beds trying to find my own arse with both hands and a map. But that, I thought, that’s useful. I have fears. I have problems. I can find ways around them. So I wrote down everything I knew.
And it was more than I thought. I had absorbed books and podcasts. I had read and listened to hundreds of hours. Sped through thousands of pages. Some of it had stuck. That could save people time. I had ideas about how to put this all together. It wasn’t tried and tested though. Okay but I could still share it. Before I tried and tested it for years on end and that boat had already sailed and taken none with it. So I shared.
And in less than 11 days I wrote my first 20 000 word non-fiction book. I had a ton of fun doing it. It was the best thing I had produced since I had started writing. I poured myself into it. I experimented with a voice that would definitely piss some people off. This wasn’t for everyone. It couldn’t be. It should not be. But it could be amazing for some. So I wrote it. I’ve put it on pre-order. And now I wait for the money to roll in. I’ve bought my hat and sunglasses. I have brochures for affordable hotels in the French Riviera.
Don’t be daft. I’ve started writing the next one. And I’ve put into practice what I didn’t know that I knew. Even what I did know that I knew, but never actually did. You may have an expert inside, with something to say. You might be ignoring that person. Because who are you anyway? Don’t do that. Don’t ignore that person and that story. There are people who would like to hear it. Just go find them and give it to them. You won’t regret it.