Writing a book in 3×3

Since I am working on my new book (for the last 2,5 years now), the book is work-in-progress. And so am I. Writing a book is a big project and hard work, also for someone who has already written books before. And I find that I’m not very good at it.

But the research for chapter 6 of the book “Choose your Mindset” made the concept of fixed vs. growth mindset come back alive to me. Judging myself not very good at writing book is a rather fixed position to take. A given. Unchangeable.

I am learning by forcing myself into growth mindset mode. This way I don’t only write a book. I learn a lot about finishing big projects and doing hard work. Something I think I’m not very good at yet. But I will become if I work on it, so says growth mindset.

Here’s 3 areas I’m learning in, and 3 particular insights that fit each of these 3 areas:

  1. Find your own way

I’m more a follower than a creator. Ask me where we’ll go on holiday and I listen to your suggestion. I’m learning every day though to define my own way.

  • When I started working on the book, I kept reading hundreds of articles about the DEI topic. Realizing at some point that my book should not be a summary of everything I found, but that it should tell my story (founded in all I learned). So, I set time aside now with a blank Notion-tab to start crafting my view on each topic I write about.
  • Second challenge is to write every insight down in my own words and languages. This is how I did all research for the book in the end. Read a scientific article (full of scientific jargon and difficult words). The re-write each article in my own simple words. I found out this is a great way to learn new things. Read them. Re-write them until you fully understand them.
  • When I write down controversial thoughts, I often think about how I will defend myself against the inevitable attacks from the DEI community on my work. But I realise that my words are ok to be controversial. This field needs it! Progress is not booked by repeating carefully crafted words about marginalized groups, systemic racism, structural inequity, offence by privileged, microagression instead of allyship, and the mandatory chapters about intersectionality, equity and prejudice based on bias.

  1. Trust yourself

We all have doubts. And imposter syndrome 1) is not a syndrome but a feeling, and 2) is not only for women. We all face imposter thoughts and feelings from time to time. Especially when writing a book.

  • Principles from meditation come in helpful when imposter thoughts come up. These thought and feelings are not a call for action, but a trigger for acceptance. When these thoughts come up, I only need to let them in, accept them for what they are, smile, and move on. This last one is most important: just move on
  • Write them down. I long resisted the idea of journaling daily, and still do when you would advise me to do it. But then, I must admit it does miracles. Once you write down your doubts (next to the things you are grateful for, or your thoughts for the day, or whatever) they are out of your head. And that’s where doubts should be
  • The “do-it-now”-principle works fantastic, not only in time management, but also in dealing with imposter thoughts. Ask: “What concrete and small action can I take – right now – that will make this thought that’s bugging me a bit less pressing?” If a small action emerges, do it right now. If nothing comes up, better: there’s nothing you can do.

  1. Rely on consistent discipline

For a long time I tried to work on the book once all other work was finished. Which is hardly ever, or never. I did become more disciplined, although I am far from where I want to be, and I’m learning every day.

  • Be aware of your own mission and agenda. Companies give you job descriptions, clients give you work. But you must define what you want to accomplish (your main purpose). And working on your main purpose first thing every day makes the rest of your day so much more productive and fulfilling. Don’t work in a job: work on your job
  • Be tough and merciless on yourself to carve out time for what really matters. This is where I still suck at, but I’m very much aware of it. Insta-feeds, coffee at the corner, my favorite series, a twitter thread or a whatsapp all bring in a little bit of dopamine in exchange for a lot of lost productivity. Deep work is key.
  • The early hours of the day are golden. Reading the book ‘The 5am Club’ right now, and it turns out to be one of the best leadership books I ever read. I’m not at implementing it (yet?), but daily rise at 6am has boosted my productivity like nothing else. The new book will be published because of that one sacred hour every morning.

Just some thoughts that help me get that book out and start a next big project. Will tell you later what that is. Let’s first finish the manuscript.

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