I had carried the dream of writing a book for at least twenty years. I’m not quite sure where the dream emerged from, but for most of my adult life it lived like a seed inside a tightly sealed packet inside of me. It wasn’t a lack of time that stood in the way of planting that seed (as a life coach I challenge clients who use the lack of time or money as excuses for not pursuing their passions), it was a backpack full of fears and internal negative chatter (who are YOU to think you can write a book?) that held my book writing dream hostage.
Even after my mother died from a swift illness and I felt an urgency to stop my procrastinating and find a way to write my book – the truth of my own mortality more acute than ever – I was still stymied by doubt.
But one day I was walking on my favorite wooded path when it hit me – I was living under a false assumption that I could only write my book if and when my inner critic was conquered and my doubts, fears, and judgments had evaporated. Challenging that erroneous assumption was the first step in moving me forward in my writing journey. I realized I could take my doubts with me and still move forward. Big exhale.
Here are some other things I did to wrestle my inner critic into submission long enough to write and publish my book:
- I gave myself permission to write a bad book – realizing that I would rather write junk than write nothing at all.
- I separated out the writing from the publishing aspect of creating a book and made my first goal to write my story. The decision of whether and how to publish could come later.
- I practiced reframing some of my most virulent self-criticisms:
Me: Yes, but it’s never been said by me.
Inner Critic: Cheryl, you’re not a writer, you’re a coach. Your father and brother are award-winning writers who make a living writing. You majored in psychology. You don’t know the difference between an adverb and an ad lib.
Me: That may be so, but no one can tell my story but me. Plus, I can certainly hire someone to help with the editing. A writer writes.
Inner Critic: Hasn’t it all been said before?
Me: Well, that’s like asking hasn’t it all been painted before. There are only three primary colors in the world but an infinite variety of colors.
- I hired someone to take me seriously.
- I gave myself a deadline.
- I told my three best friends I was writing a book and asked them to hold my feet to the fire.
- I gave my inner critic only ten minutes of air time a day and not one minute more.
- I focused on what I wanted more than what I was afraid of.
I sat myself down at my desk and wrote my book. Page by page. Story by story. Day by day.
I wrote my book.
And you can too.
Where Have I Been All My Life? is a compelling memoir recounting one woman’s journey through grief and a profound feeling of unworthiness to wholeness and healing. It begins with the chillingly sudden death of Rice’s mother, and is followed by her foray into the center of mourning.
With wisdom, grace, and humor, Rice recounts the grief games she plays in an effort to resurrect her mother; her efforts to get her therapist, who she falls desperately in love with, to run away with her; and the transformation of her husband from fantasy man to ordinary guy to superhero. In the process, she experiences aching revelations about her family and her past—and realizes what she must leave behind, and what she can carry forward with her.
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Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
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