So…what exactly do you do as you’re standing on the precipice of seeing a dream fulfilled?
A little background: in exactly 14 days (…plus 8 hours and 40 minutes, but who’s counting?…) my lifelong goal of publishing a book will become a reality. (Well, there were a few months in the third grade when I wanted to be a fireman, but other than that the book thing has been pretty consistently on the radar.) After several years of developing and refining the content, then two years of intense writing and editing, it’s finally time to push the project out into the wild.
I can only imagine that this must be what it feels like to send your oldest child off to college; you can only hope that you’ve done enough to prepare them, but their fate is ultimately in their own hands. I hope my book studies well and doesn’t party too much.
Now there is the waiting. And the advice. “You should do XYZ, because that’s the most important thing” followed closely by “NO! You should do ABC because THAT’S the most important thing.” Who’s right? And the main role of a pending non-fiction author is – wait for it – to promote the book to anyone and everyone who will listen. My mandate these days is to reach out to clients, friends and anyone else who will listen to me talk about the book. (My 5:30am basketball group at the YMCA gets the pitch in between plays.)
So back to my original question: what do you do in the waiting phase? Here’s how I’ve answered it: keep working. I’m reminded of Steve Pressfield‘s anecdote in The War of Art about having completed his first major writing project. He rushed to his mentor’s home to share the news, and was greeted with, “That’s great, Steve! Start the next one tomorrow.” Artists make things. It’s what we do. That doesn’t mean that we don’t celebrate, or that we never take the time to appreciate our work. It simply means that to stay healthy and effective we must stay engaged in what we do, day after day. Activity yields inspiration, but waiting yields discontent.
If you’re just finishing up a big project or are in the “space between”, I’d encourage you to identify your next project now. That’s what I’m doing. Sure, I plan to celebrate plenty when the book launches, but I know that there are many more projects on the horizon and that this is just a step on the path. (A very cool one, but a step nonetheless.)
(Oh, and…will you please pre-order my book?