How Does It Feel to Finish a Book?

Satisfied.. Sad.. Free.

For me, satisfied…sad…and free. In that order.

When the first box arrived last week, I hoisted it on a table, ran a box cutter down the center of it, and opened the flaps. I sat down, holding a copy of Freeing Your Radical Hero: Fighting the Impostor Mindset. I felt a sense of sweet completion and satisfaction because I know I gave it everything I had.

Then I felt a touch of sadness, because there is no more writing left for this book in which to immerse myself; and I will never know the same intimacy with this book again.

What I didn’t expect was the gift of more freedom. There is nothing left to hold back. Just space to grow.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. -Brene Brown

Feeling Stuck? Go Back to the Beginning!

It all began early last year. I was working on a different book about personal influence. I had been writing for months, but I felt stuck. I was writing around something.

Driving home one day I thought, “WHAT is keeping me from writing this story?” I heard a whisper, “The first story. You have to tell the first story.” With that, my grip on the wheel loosened a bit. “Of course,” I thought, “That’s it.”

The First Story, You Have to Tell the First Story (driving)

My TEDx Talk

At the same time, TEDx Charlotte began accepting applications. I auditioned and began to shape my talk about the impostor mindset that keeps people from enjoying the success they achieve.

I’ve watched droves of smart, successful, lovable people come through my studio and share that they’ve struggled with public speaking because it triggers impostor thinking.

For many of these super-achievers, the impostor experience goes beyond the times they’re asked to speak publically. They live with the feeling that they haven’t really earned their success.

What lay ahead was more than I expected. I knew I would have to be vulnerable on a whole new level if I wanted to share what I’ve learned about fighting the impostor mindset.

I gave my TEDx Talk on “The Surprising Solution to the Impostor Syndrome” in October of 2016. I was humbled to hear from people who found it meaningful. People like Crystal:

My 17-year-old daughter and I were at TEDx and heard your talk yesterday. It was very powerful, especially for my daughter. She’s an overachiever and could definitely relate to the ‘Fantastic Four’. Your talk has inspired her to deal with those issues. Thank you for having such an impact on her. Crystal

The Book

In the months that followed, I wrote Freeing Your Radical Hero: Fighting the Impostor Mindset. It is a little book of honesty, answers, and exercises to help you call out impostor thinking at whatever level it occurs for you.

My life has always made more sense in the rearview mirror. I see how all the dots connect, I understand how the rough spots have been a gift. I’m guessing it’s that way for you, too.

Today I can trace the trek I’ve made to get here. I know how my life has prepared me to help people find their voice through Authentic Speaking. I’ve found that through deliberate practice of being present and speaking from the heart, people can visit that space more often.

Freeing Your Radical Hero: Fighting the Impostor Mindset is a call to confront the inner critic who combs over your accomplishments and withholds a sense of genuine accomplishment. My hope is that readers find it simple, down to earth and explorer-friendly.

Freeing Your Radical Hero Book
I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say. Flannery O’Connor

5 Suggestions on Starting Your Own Book

People often ask me how to get started on their book. There is no one single way to tackle writing a book—except the way that makes sense to you.

1–At its core, every great book has one big idea that brings value. Find the space where your expertise, passion and experience intersect. What are you uniquely qualified to write about? What is the greatest value you can offer people who need to hear it?
2—Take that idea and pull the thread into a sentence, then stretch that out to a paragraph and then to a one-page (very rough) outline. Think of your book in terms of beginning, middle, and end. Don’t fret about getting this perfect. This is just the beginning and you will change the outline several times
3–Develop the creative habit of writing everyday, if only a page, in the same spot. I get up an hour or two early every morning and pad into my cozy office with a big mug of strong coffee. I don’t try to write a lot. I just try to write daily.
4– Follow your instincts and write. Be generous with yourself. If a draft isn’t working, put it in your “research stash” and start over. Don’t struggle to make something work because you’re afraid you’re falling behind. You may have just experienced a break through, and break throughs require do-overs.
5–There is a ton of magical advice for writers out there. In particular, I have been inspired by Twyla Tharp, Brenda Ueland, Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg.

Next week: Who is your Radical Hero?

Freeing Your Radical Hero, available at Amazon
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Avatar for Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur.com, CEO.com, and Fast Company.