Book Proposals, Feelings, and Anticharities
With romance, travel, and creative work, much of my time lately has been spent in the world of feelings. (Ugh, I know.)
It’s a subjective place full of supposed intuition, consideration for others, and self-doubt toward this creative path with no visible finish line.
But with the end of said romance, travel, and most the creative work (marked by my final round of editing), I’ve been dwelling more in the objective world with the “business” side of things.
This world includes settling in one location, preparing book agent submissions, and avoiding eye contact with men…
The absence of romance creates perhaps the biggest gulf between where feelings once presided and where rationale now holds court.
The thing about feelings is that it’s hard to remember how they actually felt once they’re gone. I remember they existed and can vaguely explain what it was like, but without a real sense of self-empathy.
What, exactly, led to the schedule sacrifices I then made? Why, exactly, was I crying on those nights? Attempting to revisit how I felt and functioned under the influence of more-than-usual feelings is like trying to place myself in an alien body.
The frustrating result is that it’s difficult to pinpoint why romance-laced feelings are so damn distracting to professional productivity.
Now, without the romance distraction, I’ve gotten more work done, and I’m happy for it. Approaching the finish line with this book requires all the focus I can get, for the final steps are boring.
The first of those final steps is to find an agent, who’ll find me a publisher. I snuffed out 136 on QueryTracker and gauged compatibility with each one. Then, I drafted proposals to the top six, each taking around an hour.
Generally, the requirements for book proposals are a query/intro letter, author bio (“sell yourself!”), market analysis for your book, competing title analysis, sample chapters, and a chapter outline (usually a paragraph about each chapter).
The outline. After reading/editing my book five times, you’d think it would be easy, but I’ve been trying to accomplish it since May (that’s five months). Resistance has been overwhelming. How can I boil all that work down to a few sentences?
Anticharities to the Rescue
After numerous false starts, I took the advice of Tim Ferriss and set up an anticharity goal with StickK, putting $100 in escrow to be donated to the Republican Super PAC in my name if I didn’t complete the outline within three weeks.
An anticharity helps you complete goals by making something really bad happen if you don’t. You can also make your goals public so that friends can cheer or jeer and keep you accountable.
With two days remaining in my three-week timeframe, I sat down at noon to begin. By 4pm, I’d actually begun. Over half was completed by dinnertime. Fancy that.
The next day, I finished in about three hours. Months of anguish boiled down to a task of five hours.
There had been public groans, frequent sighs (no doubt annoying neighbors in the coworking space), and numerous intervals of standing up aimlessly then simply sitting back down.
But I did it, and it flowed easily enough when I’d actually begin typing. The real difficulty was just that I hadn’t wanted to do it.
It’s why something like an anticharity works so well. I like to enjoy and control my time, which is why I hate the business side of writing a book. But I like to control my money more. Losing $100 to Trump supporters would be much, much worse than having to finish my book outline.
If finishing my book outline is a paper cut, donating to Trump is death by a million splinters.
Finishing also required that I stop trying to figure out how to do it correctly, and instead just do it how I wanted. The result is in my own my voice and style, mostly absent of rules.
Sometimes it’s more important to just do things rather than do them “right.”
Here’s a rough draft example of my book chapter outline. As always, I’d love your feedback and critique.
“Perfection is the enemy of progress.”
Moral? Find an anticharity like StickK and pledge the amount that will make you fight for yourself (and against what you despise).
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