Except that Curtin had a deadline.
More to the point, she had a contract to write a book she’d researched extensively – and one for which she’d dialed back on her job as an executive coach. Every day she didn’t write was a day she wasn’t earning money at all.
In a post called “Why women need to stop asking themselves, ‘Who do I think I am?’,” Forbes writer Denise Restauri details Curtin’s biggest issue: She didn’t believe in herself.
One publisher proclaimed that her topic – the good guys of Wall Street – would never sell. Another author told her that people would laugh at the concept. An organizer at TEDx kicked her out of the movement, enraged at the very idea of such a book.
(Restauri included Curtin’s story in her “Mentoring Moments” podcast series, in which she interviews women of varying ages about careers. “From high points, to when good ideas go bad, to moments of sudden insight when you just know you have to risk it all. We have advice for all of them.”)
Curtin had the good fortune to hear about journalist and author William Zinsser, who wrote an acclaimed guide called “On Writing Well.” What the heck: She contacted him and he actually took her call. Zinsser listened as she poured out her troubles.
“Then he spoke the magic words that not only ended my writer’s block but changed me forever,” Curtin says:
“You’re struggling because you’re afraid to let your voice be heard. Stop writing this book for anyone but you. You know what you want to say, so just write it.”
Writing advice that resonated
His suggestion went straight to the heart. Curtin says that deep down, she was afraid that she had no business writing this book.
“I was stuck in the loop of ‘Who was I?’ to write this kind of book. ‘Who was I?’ to have an opinion on such an important and complex topic,” the author says.
“I was scared people would react with, ‘Who does she think she is?!’”
How often have you second-guessed an idea or declined to share it with a writing buddy? Or hit “save in draft” instead of “publish,” and then left your words in writing limbo?
This isn’t solely a female issue, incidentally. Male scribblers can also have the same dark nights of the soul. Who do I think I am, believing I can be a writer? Is anybody going to care what I say? Is anybody even going to READ it?
But that’s not the reason we tell stories.
Sure, it’d be great to have a blog essay go viral or to have a book land on The New York Times best-seller page. Plenty of us dream that way, but we don’t hold our breaths. We also don’t allow an immediate lack of success to silence our voices.
Instead, we write. We write because it’s in us to do so. We write with heart and conviction. We edit ourselves ruthlessly, to make our words the best they can be. We have stories to tell, so we tell them.
So can you. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.
P.S. Curtin’s book – “Transforming Wall Street: A Conscious Path For A New Future” – did get written. It’s gotten some pretty rave reviews.