This is the first episode in a five-part series on finishing our books and getting them out into the world.
It was inspired by the recent Writer’s Planning Party held on December 30th, when 98% of the writers present said they wanted to finish a book as one of their goals for 2024.
In this episode, I am talking about why it matters so much that our books get finished and out into the world – for us as writers, as creative human beings, and for our Ideal Readers.
Upcoming episodes in this series will explore what goes into writing a book, how to manage a book-length project and how to fit writing a book into an already busy life.
Read on for this episode of The Resilient Writers Radio Show.
Well, hey there, writer. Welcome to the Resilient Writers Radio Show. I'm your host, Rhonda Douglas, and this is the podcast for writers who want to create and sustain a writing life they love because let's face it, the writing life has its ups and downs and we want to not just write, but also to be able to enjoy the process so that we'll spend more time with our butt in chair getting those words on the page.
This podcast is for writers who love books and everything that goes into the making of them. For writers who want to learn and grow in their craft and improve their writing skills, writers who want to finish their books and get them out into the world so their ideal readers can enjoy them.
Writers who want to spend more time in that flow, state writers who want to connect with other writers to celebrate and be in community in this crazy roller coaster ride we call the Riding Life. We are resilient writers. We're riding for the rest of our lives and we're having a good time doing it. So welcome rider. I'm so glad you're here. Let's jump right into today's show.
Hey there, writer. Welcome back to this episode of the Resilient Writers Radio Show. I wanted to record this episode. I'm actually doing a little mini series here and here's why. On December 30th, I did an event that I do for the writers in my community, folks who are part of my email community or following me on social, and I do this twice a year actually, I do a writer's planning party on this one was on December 30th and I do a reset in June so that we can do, part of the process that I teach includes a quarterly review and a weekly review and all of that. It's part of the planning method that I use, and we do that together in June as well.
It's a free event and I love doing it. There's something that is so powerful about being in a room with other writers, thinking about your writing life for the year ahead and learning from the year that's just gone by and applying those lessons.
It was amazing. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to it every year. So if you're not yet on my email list, make sure you go to resilient writers.com, go to the section called resources and download any of the free resources I have there and you'll be on my email list and able to join in June.
So we did this event, it was on a Saturday, the 30th of December, and I thought, let me just check. I was curious, so I thought, let me just check and see what percentage of people have finishing a book on their goal list for the year, because if you have been with me for any amount of time, I am obsessed with helping women writers finish their books, get them out into the world and have a writing life they love. And this is really important to me and it's why I do everything that I do.
It's why I'm here and in particular, I have a soft spot for the woman who has started a book, really wanted to have writing be part of her life, but then life took over kids, maybe school, maybe graduate work, a professional life, making a living, other care responsibilities, being a supportive spouse. All of that just kind of took over and she didn't finish the book that she started, and it's so rewarding to me to see these women commit to their writing dreams again and finally finish the book that's been in their heart and their minds and in the desk drawer for a long time. So that's why I'm here. I love it, love it, love it, love it. Nothing means brings me more joy.
I thought, let me just ask and see of the group, and there were 517 people who registered for the event and we had about 143 show up in person and the rest are doing it on their own with the recording.
So I asked these 143 people is finishing a book on your goal list for 2024, and I'm not sure what I was expecting. I think I was expecting in the range of like 60% and I thought the others will be writing stories or poems or just focused on their process or any of the number of things that we need to focus on as writers. I was shocked, I was shocked.
So it turned out that 98% of people in that room have finishing a book on their goal list for 2024. So if that is you, then this is a podcast series that I'm doing just for you to support you as you dive into 2024, whether you're listening to this at the start of the year or later on, it just got me thinking, how can I provide support for women writers, professionals who are just committed, just really serious.
2024 is the year they're going to finish that book. So I wanted to start off with this episode today thinking about why it even matters because I think a thing that can happen for us is when we start a book and we put it aside, we get caught up in the other things in our lives that of course matter, right? Of course, our kids matter.
Of course our career matters, of course, our parents, our aging parents or anything like that, just making a living, getting through the day, dealing with health concerns, these things all matter and they can get us off track, and so we can begin to feel like the book doesn't matter that there are other things that matter more, and I just want to pause with you and ask you some questions that are designed to help you think about why the book matters.
I think sometimes we also get in our heads about, well, what even is the point? We stop believing in our dreams. We stop thinking that this book can be published, that it can be a bestseller, that we can reach the readers, we've always wanted to reach so that we can live a life as a published author. And I don't think any of those things are true, but of course there's work involved in all of it and always a tiny little bit of luck, but those stories really aren't the point. I think we miss the point.
I believe that when you decide to become a writer who is finishing the book, that there's the project itself that is important, and I'll talk about that in a second, why your book is important, but there's also who you become in the process of finishing, right? If for a long time you told yourself the story of “I never finished the things I start,” or “This book isn't important.”
Anyway, in the large scheme of things, there's something about committing to your dreams. If the book matters to you, then it matters. And becoming someone who commits to your own dreams and follows through to make them happen changes who you are for the better gives you the kind of internal resilience that comes from remembering who you are and where your gifts and your calling and your personal priorities lie, and the act of writing consistently, which is what you do when you need to finish a book length project that provides you with the kind of internal knowing and reinforcement that this is who you are and that your dreams matter to you.
And I think sometimes we lose sight of that, and that can be really, really dangerous. Losing sight of and giving up on your dreams and your goals is a really dangerous thing for your emotional and mental health. And if you haven't done that for any length of time, you know what I'm talking about.
So it's about who you become in the process. You become a writer by writing consistently. You become a writer by committing to finish. I think also that the act of writing consistently, my experience with that and the experience of the writers that I work with in First Book Finish, which is my program that supports writers to actually finish a book, is that the act of writing consistently grounds and centers you in a way that makes you more of yourself and makes you more sensitive to the world around you, more responsive to the world around you, a more compassionate and patient person.
Because when we go through our days having given up on our dreams and not dedicating time to them, we get a little resentful. We get a little impatient. And so when you begin prioritizing writing in your life again, which is something that you have to do in order to finish, you find yourself becoming more grounded, more centered, and then you're just more, it makes it easier to do everything else without being impatient and resentful.
I think the other thing about writing, and it's certainly true about literature, so it applies to reading, but it really applies to writing and that writing helps us understand the world and the people in it today just a little better than we did yesterday.
There's this idea that we write to know what we know, and I think that as writers, we're always observing in order to write and in order to represent the truth of the world, which is what we're here to do on paper, on the computer. And so it helps us understand the world just a little better, and I think it generates compassion and empathy in us and in our readers.
I also think that, so this is part of the process, so this is part of being who we are meant to be in the world, really waking up to the idea that we are creative beings who need to create that. That is the point of our existence and setting that aside isn't good for us, but when we finally reclaim it and decide to finish the projects that we've had on our desk or in our desk in my case, or in a closet, in a box, or wherever you've stuffed that manuscript and now has a little thin layer of dust on it, when we reclaim that space, there's so much in us as humans that we also reclaim right?
Internal resilience, remembering who we are, remembering our gifts, claiming our gifts, living into our personal priorities, which I think is really important as women, we give so much of ourselves away to other people in the process of being trained to be nurturers and carers.
And so we give a lot away, and particularly if you have kids, your kids need to see you claim your dreams. I felt really strongly about this, particularly as a single parent for so long that my daughter needed to see me claim my dream and be the writer that I wanted to be. It was important for me and it was important for her.
Writing does all of that for us. It makes us more sensitive, more responsive to the world, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. That's what it does for us. It's a gift to us to be engaged in the process of finishing our work, and I want you to give yourself that gift.
So that's for you, that's what it does for you. Then there's what it does for the reader. So there's a lot of studies around reading about the ability of reading and particularly reading fiction to generate compassion and empathy.
I think it does that for us as a writer, but it definitely does that with a reader. I often think about the idea, what if your writing is the very thing someone needs to read today in order to feel understood or to understand their fellow humans a little bit better, to not feel alone?
I believe that writing and getting our work out into the world is a radical act of care and connection, and I think the world needs those acts of care and connection connecting us to one another more now than ever, more now than ever. So I think that for the reader, this idea of feeling understood, not feeling alone, understanding the world a little better, feeling connected, I think that really matters.
And I think that your story matters in particular. So I think a lot about diversity in the world of publishing and diversity in the world of literature, and the thing is, we only get to a kind of blissful state of diversity where there's so many different stories that you can read and so many different stories you can walk into as a way of understanding the world as a reader.
I say this as an enthusiastic book nerd, so many different books I want to read, and the only way we get to a true diversity of stories and a true diversity of literature is if we're all writing the stories that only we can write. I think writing the stories that only you can write is an incredible contribution to the world. I think that any of us who are creating, who are trying, because sometimes we tell ourselves, look, I'm not a great writer. Maybe I don't have the skills. I have the dream of the book, but maybe I don't have the skills to realize it.
This is the thing that Zadie Smith referred to as the Great Gap, and this bothered me for a long time. I used to really, really worry about whether or not my work was going to be mediocre, and I had to stop obsessing over this, and I worked through this a long time ago, and here's why I believe the world needs more people creating, because the act of creation itself is that radical act of care and connection, and it's a kind of antidote to the crazy hard places and spaces in the world.
I think that that's always been true, but especially true right now. So I think the world needs you to be creating and it needs you to be telling your story, and that's got nothing to do with whether the gatekeepers or the powers that be think that your work is good, whether you make the bestseller lists, whether you have the acclaim of critics and win awards, all of that, like the heck with all of that.
What matters most is the act of creation and the care, empathy, compassion and connection that's embedded in the act of writing. So already that the act of writing changes you. If you pay attention to this, think of all the times you read something that you really needed to read, something that opened up the world for you, made you laugh or cry or care if you've been reading at all, you know this.
So if you are someone who's moved to write or other acts of creation, I mean for the sake of all of us, we need you to be doing that. We need you to be finishing your work and getting it out into the world. We need people populating the world with acts of creative imagination, both for the process of who we all become in the process and also so that the product is there for others to connect with.
I think about my dad, who had a bad accident in, it's a while ago now. It was before the pandemic, I think. I mean, what is time? But I think it was late August, 2018 is my guess. And it turns out he had spinal degeneration. So he got up in the middle of the night to go to the washroom and his spine basically collapsed, and he was like, he had to be taken by emergency ambulance into St. John's, which is the town, the big city with the neurosurgeons who could perform surgery on his spine, and he's doing much better now.
And while he was recovering, I had a book in my bag from a friend of mine, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, who writes literary thrillers, is called The Retreat. Really great book if you like suspense of any kind and you like really well written suspense, highly recommend Elisabeth's work. You can find her. She did an early episode on this podcast, if you go back and have a look. So she writes literary thrillers.
This one was called The Retreat, and my dad has always been an avid reader, and it was literally the day after his spinal surgery. I walk into his hospital room and he's deep into this book, and he needed that book right then. It is super well-written and really, really engaging, and he needed to dive into that in order to take his mind off of what was going on in his life and his health that he couldn't control.
What a gift that is, what a gift that is to write something that offers someone a moment of engagement and yeah, escape, right? Just that moment of deep engagement in someone else's brain and someone else's creation that takes you away and sweeps you up is amazing when you think about it, right?
So if you're writing romance, you're writing mystery, you're writing fantasy, you're writing YA, these are all works that sweep us away. Literary work sweeps us away as well, and sometimes isn't that just what we need just to be swept away for a little while?
And I don't know the book you personally are writing, but I believe that out there are the readers who need it, and I believe the world needs it, and I think it matters who you become in the process of creating that work that you learn how to become the writer who learns and adapts and keeps going and writes consistently and feels fulfilled in your creative life so that you can give in all the ways your life calls you to give in other ways.
But I also believe that the story itself matters, that the diversity of stories matter so that all of us feel less alone in the world, so that we foster a greater sense of empathy and compassion among human beings so that people have the entertainment, the escape, the literature that reflects humanity back to them in a way that really matters. So I believe that you're doing noble work. I believe that we're all doing noble work, and I know it's hard sometimes to fit it in. I get that when we're busy professional people with lots on in our lives, I totally understand that it can be a challenge. I'm going to do another little piece in this series about that, about how you can fit that into your life. But today I just wanted to start with why it matters.
So if you were looking at your goal list for 2024 and you have finished my book on it, high five, my friend, I think that is amazing, amazing. I think it's a gift to you and I think it's a gift to the world, and I'm so happy that you are here listening to this and that I can be part of supporting you over the process of finishing your book in 2024. So that's it for me today. I hope you're having a wonderful day wherever you are, and I will be back soon with another episode of the Resilient Writers Radio Show. Take care.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me today and for listening all the way to the end. I hope you enjoy today's episode of the Resilient Writers Radio Show. While you're here, I would really appreciate it if you'd consider leaving a rating and review of the show.
You can do that in whatever app you're using to listen to the show right now, and it just takes a few minutes. Your ratings and reviews tell the podcast algorithm Gods that. Yes, this is a great show. Definitely recommend it to other writers, and that will help us reach new listeners who might need a boost in their writing lives today as well. So please take a moment and leave a review. I'd really appreciate it and I promise to read every single one. Thank you so much.