The Stormy First Draft
When I started this blog, I couldn’t believe how much joy I found in writing. I love having an idea, giving it life, and sharing it with the people I love the most. Until two years ago, I had never even considered being a writer. In fact, I didn’t really like writing that much. I even remember telling people that, “I don't do well with ‘creative types’.” The blog started as a creative project because I was feeling emotionally stuck. It was the beginning of 2017 and I was bored with myself. Work, sleep, dates, workouts. Rinse and repeat. Yawn.
Two years later, I’ve blogged about everything from career to relationships to confidence and trusting yourself. I blog to share what I’ve learned and I also blog to remind myself that I’m still learning. When I write a post, trust me when I tell you it’s as much for me as it is for you.
And, like so many things in life, one little thing (this sassy sweet blog) inspired another. Because I realized with this blog that I not only loved writing, but I was pretty good at it, I decided to write a book! Now, it’s not what you’re thinking. It’s not a Sips of Sunshine book. It’s a fiction novel. A complete departure from the blog. Me, a novelist! I like to joke with my friends that I plan on being “author rich.” Super rich and respected, but totally anonymous at the same time. Fingers crossed on that, guys.
I started writing my novel in Summer of 2018. I gave my TEDx Talk in Spring of 2018, took a mini mental break (because in case no one’s told you, giving a TEDx Talk is terrifying and stressful) and then dove into my book. The first couple of chapters flowed out of me. It was so easy, like they were inside of me all along and just begging to be released. Then the next couple rolled onto the pages. A little slower, but still coming pretty easily. And Summer became Fall. And I skipped a few weeks of writing because my schedule got busy. And then I skipped a couple more because, well, holidays. And then it was the New Year. And I hadn’t written as much as I had hoped to.
And then one day I was listening to Brene Brown talk about something she calls the Stormy First Draft. When she’s talking about it, she’s referring to the initial stories we tell ourselves when something hits a nerve. She then invites us to tell a new story. But for me, I needed to hear it for the novel. I was stuck because I wanted it to be so good that I was scared to write. Scared it would be bad and no one would want to read it. But sometimes you just have to do the thing. You can always edit and make it nice later, but half (or even more) of the battle is just doing it. And then I talked to my life coach and she said something that changed everything. “Stop trying to write a book that people will buy. Write a book that you would love to read.”
And so, I write. Without fail, I write every weekend. Sometimes it takes me an hour to write two paragraphs and sometimes I get on a roll and write a few pages. I write more than I think I can. It’s just a stormy first draft, after all. The key is to put words on paper. Words I would read and words I love. And as of now, I’m at 34% completion. Everyone asks how I know that. It’s because I’ve set a goal of 100K words. I needed a finish line, otherwise I knew I would get lost in the sea and either give up, turn around, or go the wrong way.
And like so many things in life, I’ve come to love the Stormy First Draft. It’s liberating and I’ve carried it into more areas of my life. At work, sometimes I just need to do the thing. Have the uncomfortable conversation, write the email, finish the project. In relationships, I need to set the date with the friend I feel disconnected with, call my mother, be my most open-hearted. Like my book, it’s not about living a life that others approve of, it’s about living a life that I love.
This isn’t about perfection. It’s actually NOT about perfection. It’s about choosing action over inaction and creation over stagnation. Because in so many areas of life, your Stormy First Draft is actually really, really good. You just don’t know it yet, because you’re paralyzed with fear of inadequacy or lack of knowledge or lack of encouragement. But here’s the truth: you don’t need experience, permission or approval to write that Stormy First Draft. You just need to get out of your own way and do it.