How I Crushed My Biggest Writing Project to Date


So I began this ghostwriting project for a client early January this year. It was a real growing experience for me. For one, it was the first time I would handle a book of that magnitude, both in terms of subject matter as well as calibre of client.

The client was a part of the previous political regime and the book focused on policy, youth development and the African narrative. It was a big picture book, with a lot of new terms and concepts, a lot of history, a lot of case studies.

I began talks with his team in early January. A week or so after I had taken the job and contracts had been signed, the man dropped a big bomb on me:

He told me he’s been trying to write this book since 2012. And somehow the project always falls apart.

Yeah, that did wonders for my self confidence. 

Anyways, I prayed asking God to make me a solution to this man’s problem. Rather than become another statistic, another failed attempt to write this book, let me be the one to take the project across the finish line.

It wasn’t easy. Sometimes I’d glance at the interview logs I had done, the notes I had taken (enough to fill 2 notepads), and then the blank pages in front of me waiting to be filled.

It often felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew.

After several false starts and four sleepless months, several back and forths with the editors, FINALLY, the book launched on October 2, 2017!

It was a really emotional experience for me seeing the book in my client’s hand.

I felt like a surrogate mom and a midwife at the same time.

I guess ghostwriting is a bit of both.

I’m still reeling from the euphoria! And I’m eager for even bigger challenges .

The last thing I’ll say is, my writing tutors were right – there’s no project that can’t be crushed. It may take time, but Goliaths will fall if you keep lobbing stones at them.

I guess I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, and to all of us who face frequent episodes of self doubt – Keep going.

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Trusting the Process

Trust.

I’ve never understood how something so powerful, so pivotal, could be so fragile.

I don’t understand it but I’m thankful.

As a writer, you have to trust your writing process.

There are days I feel like a fraud. I wake up thinking, “Aha, this is the day everyone finds out just how much of a hack you are. The gig is up. You’ll try to write today and nothing but thrash will come out of your pen.”

Every day, I wake up with this thought. The thought isn’t an “in-your-face, yelling and screaming” thought. It’s more like a persistent irritating sound that you’ve relegated to the back of your mind when you’re deep in work.

This thought stays with me all morning till I sit at a desk to write. When it’s time to start punching out words, there’s this sudden moment I feel like running away from the computer, just run away and not come back.

“There’s nothing left to write. You’re done. You’ve finally met a blank page you couldn’t conquer.”

The only thing keeping me at that desk is Trust. I trust my process. (I also usually have Sade Adu playing in the background which helps but we’ll get to that eventually).

Every writer should have a process, especially if like me, you experience strong episodes of self doubt and impostor syndrome.

I remember that scene from Leap Year (pretty forgettable movie but this scene stuck). The guy said, when your house is on fire, what you love most is what you grab before running out.

Battling impostor syndrome is a bit like that. Every morning, as my internal world crumbles or goes up in flames, I stroll out of the house, with trust intact. Trust in my process.

As long as I can get to the table with my process, it will eventually turn out okay. I’ll show up, deliver and walk away.

The gig isn’t over yet, my con is still intact. Live to write another day. Till the next day. Then you get to do it all again.

Trust the process.

Photo Credit: Strategic Monk