Toronto Sparks my Strokes of Insight
Two years ago in September of 2017, we were on our yearly trip in Toronto, a tradition we’ve followed religiously for a decade. We were there to participate in the fabulous Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), visit with many family and friends, and enjoy the most enthralling city this side of the Atlantic.
We were also there to be inspired.
Over the years, I have had my most inspiring ideas in Toronto, all of which have been major pivot points in business and in life. It was in Toronto that we knew I had to create my Crack the Code to Get Promoted product and that I want to offer my own apprenticeship program. It was in Toronto that I suddenly saw a key shift in mindset – going from hourly charging to value-based investments, a topic I discuss in my book! – that helped me totally uplevel my coaching practice. It was in Toronto that I dared decide to quit Ashtanga yoga and all the dogma and rigidness which were severely holding me back and have the audacity to design my own yoga journey. Still, I could not have prepared for the stroke of insight that hit me on this trip when my husband and I were resting from a long walk in the downtown Sheraton lobby.
I have to write this book right now. It can’t wait anymore. I don’t care who reads it so long as it changes one person’s business or company or way of life the way it has revolutionized mine, it’s enough.
My husband, the logical, rational, analytical true engineer that he is, proceeded to ask all the boring questions like “are you willing to give up time that you’d spend on xyz?”, “YES!”, “Ok, are you willing to self-publish if we don’t get a traditional publisher?”, “YES!!”, “I see, well, are you okay if your book does not sell well like the juicing and smoothie books which have sold a ton?”, “Goodness gracious, YES honey!”, “Fine! Then let’s bloody well write the damn thing!” OK, he didn’t swear as he is way too polished but I kinda wish he had. The point is we were in agreement.
What mattered is that my husband and business partner knows me through and through, and he knew in that moment that this was not just another random idea that I had picked up from a mastermind or a book, and for me to take on any worthwhile project with enthusiasm and remarkable success, I crave his unconditional support along the way.
This desire to write this next book came from deep inside me, this was another stroke of insight that could not go unheard or unheeded.
Heed Your Intuition or Live to Regret It
You cannot ignore your strokes of insight. They will haunt you. They will come back as loud heavy voices of regret later in life. They will not leave you be. They won’t let you rest. They won’t be pleased with your excuses, and your distractions, and your denial. They won’t care whose approval you had to seek or whose standards you had to comply with or whose ideals you had to please. All they know is that you did not listen to that deep knowing voice inside yourself and you did not honor your intuition, your higher self, your only path to real lasting joy and meaningful purpose in life.
So. LISTEN to the STROKES of INSIGHT that pay you a visit. Listen to them carefully and closely. Invite them in and seek to understand the messages that are telling you how to live and what kind of work to produce to make your mark on the world, to live with a meaningful purpose, to be the unique individual that you were born to be, and that you have every right to become. Listen to the strokes of insight that are your inner compass to fulfilling work and deep levels of satisfaction as a result.
The Book Journey: From Writing the First Draft to Going to Press with Publishers
After we got home, I stayed true to the commitment we had made to the book and I spent the month of October 2017 writing the first truly shitty draft of my fourth book. The first draft is always the shitty draft, or did you not know that? That professional candor comes to you straight out of Stephen King’s beautiful and brilliant On Writing.
Since my expectations were super low for this first draft, I am not ashamed to say that I literally SPIT IT OUT. It came out messy and muddled, disconnected and disorganized in every way, and, kinda hopeless. It was roughly the right word count for a business book, and it contained my semi-developed ideas of serving over selling, but still was far from finished. I will add that it was not hard to write. I did not have to force myself to write this initial draft. It flowed right out of me, chaotic as it was because I allowed it to be whatever it was. I placed absolutely ZERO expectations and pressures on myself for that first draft and this, dear listener, was crucial to the success of the book later.
Knowing from the masters of writing that this first draft was supposed to be a most terrible rendition of what it will eventually become helped me relax and have grace for myself and not quit at this stage. You cannot edit a blank page so write that first draft already! Because know this, even the idea of quitting cannot enter your mind at this delicate stage of creation. You must press forward, with all the half-baked ideas, all the jumble in your head, and all the seeds of doubt in the pit of your stomach. You Must Press Forward if you want to get published.
And press forward we did. In November and December of that year, we explored ways to move to the next stage with our initial draft. A few questions we had to think through:
1. Should we get an agent? The unequivocal answer was no. We both agreed on this wholeheartedly. I’ve never cared for representation through an agent, and all the stories I have observed from others come with a lot of baggage around book agents. If I was to walk my own talk from the book, it was time to leverage my relationships.
2. Should we self-publish? Again, we came to a no here. At this point, we had worked with our publishers at Skyhorse Publishing for a few years and with a successful track record in our name in terms of sales. But this book was special and I wanted to have control over every stage of the process. We had self-published in the past with both success and failure. Self-publishing has its pros and cons and so we focused on what really mattered here. It came down to two things: (1) a professional and high level of editing to make the book really good and (2) mass distribution for maximum reach. Making money from the book was not a priority so much as getting the message out and having the book enable my speaking and training career (more on that later).
3. How do we secure the right publisher? This was the next question once we knew that we won’t be self-publishing. The world of publishing has changed so much and when you put your precious work in the hands of others, you have to do your research: Who are they and how do they operate? What is the reputation of the company? What are the core values of the staff: the editors, publishers, and salespeople? And we decided to explore before we turn to our default publishers. That exploration ended quickly with one massively disappointing encounter with a publisher that I happened to respect. So we made the conscious choice to make a bold proposal to our own publishers, a decision that has served us remarkably well in every stage.
What followed after the initial interest on the parts of both parties was weeks and weeks of negotiation and positioning the unique value of the book in the market until we arrived at a resounding YES. We signed a two-book contract, one for The Serving Mindset: Stop Selling and Grow Your Business and the other for The Big Book of Healing Drinks, and then we were delighted at our next stroke of luck: Getting assigned the best editor under the sun for The Serving Mindset. While the book took one month to spit out and a couple of months for me to clean it up to submit to my editor, it took another full year of heavy editing in collaboration with my editor and my husband to arrive at the final revision which went to press.
If you are writing a good book, you cannot rush or skimp over the editing phase. No matter what your skill as a writer, the value that a good editor brings is immeasurable. This is not a place to “save money” or “hurry the process along”. This is the phase of the book to take your time, to do a most thorough job, and to ensure that your creative genius is expressed in the most lucid way possible within the pages of that book.
After a year of diligent work, our book went to press on November 6, 2018 and it has surpassed my wildest expectations in a few months. More on those new opportunities on the next blog post. For now, maybe you have something of your own to write. Turn off all social media. Put on great writing music, my favorite is Spotify’s Instrumental Madness Playlist, and let your ideas flow without judgment or expectations at this delicately early stage of writing and composing. You might just astound yourself with your own creative genius.