One of my intentions this year is to write a book, and just before Christmas I made a start. Following my own advice, I knew the way to get this book written was to start small but start somewhere. Armed with post it notes, big pieces of paper, pens and a laptop and a determined ‘can do’ mindset I began.
For two weeks I wrote every day and tried to enjoy the process as I had been wisely advised to do. But I found it hard. Anyone who knows me will know that I am passionate about the capacity for people to achieve far more with much less given the right conditions, a belief and approach inspired by my grassroot innovation experience. I have so much material; stories, anecdotes, evidence to show the truth in this, and yet time and again I struggled as my words stilted, fell staggering onto the page… it was tortuous. The content was there but coming out in clumps that failed to form into the clear and compelling text I was aiming for.
Christmas came and went, and the thought of returning to my tentative text I viewed with slightly less enthusiasm than my daughter did her homework. On my first day ‘back’ I decided to look for inspiration and picked up a book recommended to me by the marvellous Sue Richardson; The Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I will admit to being a tad sceptical about this book but all I can say is it worked its bloody magic. The wisdom, the warmth, and the clarity… the sense of possibility.
his is not to say that it is all now plain sailing, it ain’t and there is still a long way to go. But it released something in me. I found the words toppling out, almost too fast to keep up with my less than impressive typing skills. I realised these were the exact same words I use when telling someone about my work, the words I use in my talks, at my workshops when I am face to face, or zoom to zoom with someone. Without realising I had put aside my pretentions and just started ‘talking’ on the page. Letting my words come to the fore rather than being filtered through the protracted route of trying to find an ‘authoritative voice” one to command respect rather than to simply connect. The voice in fact I had employed writing my dissertation, not a voice that comes naturally to me. So, I simply started telling people what I had seen and experienced, why I believe this message is so important, particularly now in our complex world.
On reflection, my writing experience also happens to be a nifty example of my approach in dealing with uncertainty; Be clear about direction but open to the route. It is only when a process has begun that the best course of action emerges!
All going to plan, I hope you will be able to read my book later this year. For now, can I recommend to anyone struggling with a creation of any kind, suffering from those dead-ends moments, weeks, or years, the naysayer voices that plague your attempts – the gentle genius of The Big Magic. And its chapters are really short, something I will be replicating!