I must confess that I was a tad complacent when it came to writing my book. The writing part was easy – the words flowed and I found that I had a lot to say! Before I knew it, I’d amassed 40,000 words and I was confident that I was well on my way.
The ideal approach (as advised by my publisher), is to start with a clear structure in place. As an organised, logical and generally sensible person, you might imagine this is what I did… Instead I just wrote and wrote and wrote. I interviewed some fantastic business owners and partners and blithely told them the book would be out in the new year. I had all the ingredients for a really good book – not much more to do after that!
It took a while for the reality of what I’d taken on to hit me. It’s one thing getting my arms round a few thousand words for a university assignment or being able to structure a project plan or a report for a client. It’s quite another trying to wrestle so many words into an organised and logical structure that will make sense and engage a reader. I found it much more of a struggle than I’d anticipated and quickly got defeated. I knew I had all the pieces I needed – I just couldn’t figure out how to fit them together. I had a mountain to climb and no idea how I was going to get there.
People offered to help me, but I didn’t know what help I needed. I employed the services of a copywriter who read through everything and sent me back a few bullets which loosely translated into ‘it’s not the words that are the problem, you need to sort your structure out!’ I spent hours jigging and rejigging without really moving forward very far. I was frustrated with my book but most of all I was cross with myself! Surely, I could figure this out. Surely, I would find a way.
I was plagued by self-doubt. What if it’s no good, what if no one reads it, what if everyone hates it…. My business and my thinking were evolving and for many months I was convinced that I had moved beyond the book, that it wasn’t what I wanted to say anymore. I thought about scrapping the whole thing and starting again.
Before I knew it, a whole year had passed, and I doubted I’d ever get the thing finished. I booked myself onto a book retreat where I came up with a whole new structure and spent hours fitting my content into it. I forced myself to send it to some brave and very kind beta readers and held my breath for the feedback to come. Luckily, I am blessed with people in my life who don’t hold their punches. When the feedback came it was brutal. Everybody said that my content was good but for it to be of practical use to busy and often stressed business owners, the book needed to be easy to navigate and it wasn’t. I tend to go into school ma’am mode when I’m writing, and my inner mistress was well and truly alive in that first draft!
Despite my many failings I am a stubborn woman! After a couple of months of licking my wounds, I sat down to review all the feedback in detail and start the final restructure. I set myself a deadline to send the manuscript to the publisher by the end of the year and forced myself to press the button when the time came.
When the edited version came back to me, I focused on how it looked, the formatting and answering all the questions my editor asked me. It came as a bit of shock when I got the email saying ‘no more changes’ and it took me another couple of months before I managed to force myself to read through it all cover to cover. I was overwhelmed with relief. Everything felt congruent, as if I’d come full circle and was re-embracing what I really want to say. In the intervening time, I had relaunched my business and made huge strides in getting my message clear, but everything that I’d written suddenly seemed to make sense again, in a way that it hadn’t for much of the past two years. I still needed an almighty push by a very dear friend but finally I gave the go ahead to publish.
When the first box of books arrived, I was again plagued with doubt and fear. It all felt so permanent, so final, so irreversible! The box sat under my desk for a few days until I made myself open it. The feeling was unbelievable and totally unexpected. I hadn’t expected to feel so emotional, but the unboxing video of that moment says it all!
The response since I published has been overwhelming. It’s one thing when people you know say nice things about what you do but getting positive comments and reviews from complete strangers has been incredibly humbling. I thought I was writing to entrepreneurs and business owners but many people in the corporate world and operational roles have told me how helpful they’ve found it, which has been completely unexpected and thrilling.
Through this whole process I got so caught up in my struggles to get the book finished that I lost sight of what its purpose is. If I can help anyone fall back in love with their business, stop feeling overwhelmed and figure out how they really add value, then it’s all been worth it. If I can help business owners grow and scale without being consumed by their businesses, take a step back from the day to day and build great teams around them, then I’ve achieved my goal.
It’s been a hard-fought battle with myself every step of the way. But I’ve learned (again) that if I persevere, I can find a way. I’ve also been reminded of how important it is to have people around you who will encourage, be honest and beat you over the head if necessary!
Now that ‘The REAL Entrepreneur: How to simplify, grow and enjoy your business’ has been published I can’t wait for you to read it and tell me what you think! I’m already planning my next book and this one I’m going into eyes wide open!
Lisa Zevi – September 2019