This is an important reminder that has stuck with me over the years in my writing…
I realized I needed to stop taking the damn words so seriously, and I finished my first novel–A dream I set for myself when I was just a little boy.
I felt like I was learning from someone that understood why the writing matters. Someone who appreciates the art.
And I learned more about writing in those three days than the last decade.
And I know many more of you will be having experiences just like I did when I started. I felt more excited and more productive. I was having more fun in my creative work than ever before.
Now on to a second and final lesson I’ve learned….
It’s a concept that will ignite your imagination. Once upon a time, I wrote about adding disclaimers to a book or project… And how it gives you artistic freedom by putting a protective frame around your work. Disclaimers are one part of a frequently overlooked section of a book.
In the publishing world, this section is called:The front matter. In other words, the stuff at the front of the book, or the pages before the first chapter. The value of intentionally designing your front matter… And to think of it like curtains opening on a theater production. Each page has the power to set the tone for the journey ahead. And for most authors, this is a lost opportunity. Rather than just having a plain title page and table of contents, you can use graphics, symbols, quotes, lyrics, disclaimers, acknowledgements—or anything else you can come up with—to draw the reader into the experience. Your book or your project is your world. And in your world, you get to make the rules. This means you don’t have to answer to people, or explain yourself, if you don’t want to. So just as Elon Musk discusses first principles – in other words, “what is absolutely true as opposed to what’s a convention that others just follow” – apply first principle thinking to your whole project.
Everything in your project, whether a book or a film or a business, is yours to play with. Accept nothing that came before. In any artform, there are unspoken rules we assume we have to follow.
In writing, we think books should be a certain size and length, or have sequential chapters, or have a certain rhythm of words and images. But these are all just preconceived ideas, which may get in the way of your creative process more than they structure it. If you think outside the box, and present your book in a fresh way, you might win the reader over before they’ve even hit the first chapter.
And then, of course, the strength of your communication takes over from there. Notice that I didn’t say writing – these two are very different, and you don’t need to be a good or experienced writer to write a great book.
My goal in sharing this information is ultimately to give you permission. Permission to do that project you keep thinking about…
…and to eliminate all worries about not having experience or not being qualified or doing it wrong.
Let’s go forward into 2023 with this mindset.
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