My biggest challenge has been writing a book in exactly two weeks. It would be a self-help book. My twenty-year old ghostwriting client gave me an outline to follow. He chose topics that only such a younger person would. Always think positive and focus wins every time. Although I did not agree with every single thing he said I accept the project. I did not exactly know how much it would take over my life.
For a week I woke up every morning drafting in my head and remembering stories that would fit into my client’s outline. It was something hanging over my head until I sat down to write. If I wasn’t working on it, I was just about to. The deadline was looming and I was not even halfway done. So I had to set up a work area in my apartment and sit there for at least four hours a day. Five days in, I purchased a wrist brace, a keyboard pillow and a butt cushion. This was not fiction, so I could disguise my opinion much easier and the words could gush or trickle depending on my mood. A self-help book was a new adventure for me. One that I would never have taken on myself. Ray Bradbury found them a poor substitute for actually reading and I find some patronizing and simplistic. Still, I found myself actually enjoying the whole advice giving vibe.
By no means am I an expert in mental health, but I have had plenty experience in life. Losing parents, losing friends, break ups, searching for friends, trying to stay gainfully employed, having your heart broken so many times that connections are scary, keeping hope alive when doom is easier, and other things. Fiction has always been my first love and now I was cheating on it with reality.
Then the deadline suddenly was way too close. I had not wasted time, but had not lit the fire under my ass needed to write a book in two weeks. My first book took me close to five years to complete. It was a lovely two week affair with non-fiction. However, I had to end it and quickly. Yesterday I woke up early for the summer and made my couch as comfortable as possible. I layered on pillows and got a gallon of water. I had 12,000 words due in 12 hours; it was go time. Procrastination was not my thing, but I was never going to get it done unless I bit the bullet and sucked it up. I wasn’t sure how I would respond to the pressure.
Ideas stalled at first. I had to write a thousand words an hour to deliver the goods. I had to research different topics and write as if I was on fire. Some of the ideas I could not wrap my head around like showing genuine interest in every person you meet tripped me up. I goggled a few ideas and took off. Just because it was my view that you should only like the people you do otherwise friendships become shallow were obsolete. This was about the client and I had to get out of my own way. Luckily, my hands did not ache and for hours on end as I wrote. I kept track of track by posting my progress on Facebook. My “friends” must have been confused but I needed to gauge my progress. A thousand words an hour became my goal and as the day wore on, I was able to bring it down to forty-five minutes.
Then my nephew came for a visit. When he is around, he is priority and I stopped my writing. He said I looked like a woman possessed as I nested on my couch, engaged in my own speed writing contest. As midnight neared I became on edge. Never one to miss a deadline, I feared this might be the first. My client did not contact me, but another one did wanting a huge chunk of their piece done by Sunday night.
Right after this project another awaited and then the phone rang. Another client rang and wanted to discuss a project. I begged him off telling him I had another deadline and would call when I was done. It is a general rule to make each client feel like the only one, but today was not the day for that. Every one had to be a hostile stranger today.
Around one o’clock, I was done. My eyes were sore and my brain was crispy. The television had not gone on all day. I had been strangely peaceful as if my nervous energy had direction for once. Coming down off the writing high was tougher despite my complete bodily exhaustion. I had not moved all day and I likened it to flying to Thailand non-stop; you want to move, but you have to stay in your seat.
I read about Kim Kardashian’s bad maternity wear choices on the dailymail.co.uk to calm down. My brain needed fluff to stop the rush of ideas and stories still running around. It worked and I was snoring within thirty minutes. My mind had finally gotten the release it craved after so many weeks of running on toxic energy and panic.
I learned that I can be a prolific writer and if I need to punch out a fiction book in a month, I would be able to do it. My only secret is sit your bum on the couch and decide to do it. There are no shortcuts. It helps tremendously if you have already written a book and your mind has a blueprint. If you are a writing virgin, then just go for it as well. It was an empowering day, one I may repeat as the projects miraculously line up as if the universe has been waiting for me to stop torturing myself with self-doubt and start seeing that my energy has a purpose- to create.