Updated: Apr 28, 2021
I've had some time to spend reflecting on my experience writing the book now that it's out and I have a little bit of a breathing room in between events.
Telling Myself Do It Anyway
I started writing "Battling the Flames" on July 1, 2020 after having a conversation with my soon to be writing coach and publisher, Shaun Sinclair, best selling author of 20+ nonfiction books. We had a conversation about the process and I asked "How should I begin? Just start typing up what I have written down in journals/notebooks over the years?" He responded, "Yes." I mentioned that I really didn't want to get started writing or working with him until September because of the time commitment (it was summer time!) and cost required. However, after our conversation, something in me said "get started" and so I did, that night.
I set a goal to write a little every night. At first it was very easy because I was simply transferring what I had written down in books, into my computer. But then, the emotions started pouring out of me, uncontrollably. I experienced every emotion; joy, laughter (I had outbursts), sadness through tears, and I even felt hot with rage as I frivolously banged the keyboard. My poor computer, but it was fairly new so it took every bang pretty well.
After writing down past experiences, and not all good, I started from the beginning, when I was five years old. Wow, those were the good times and the memories of my grandparents became so vivid as they just called up in my mind and I typed fast to keep up with my thoughts.
Then it got thick into the summer and I had to push myself to keep writing daily. It wasn't easy but I said "Kenya, do it anyway;" even when it was after 11:00 at night. I'd open up my laptop, place it in my lap on my bed, hover my hands over the keyboard, think for a second of the memories and just start typing and let it flow until I got tired or thought I was at a good stopping point. Some nights it was pages that I wrote, others', it was just a few paragraphs. It didn't matter, just as long as I always got started every day with writing.
When you're trying to accomplish a goal, one of the most important things to do is to break it down into manageable "bite size" pieces and writing a little everyday was how I managed. Then, as it got harder to stay motivated, I had to resort to external factors to help. In August, one of the things I did was read the book "If You Want to Write" by Brenda Ueland. It was a simple read and gave me inspiration to keep writing daily. It covered writer's block and that when you write, the words come from being still long enough for them to form. Patience is important. It also shared that when you're least expecting it, the words will come to you so just let them come when and wherever, like when on a walk or trying to sleep (with no luck). I would experience this from time to time and I'd be sure to capture a thought in my phone as a note so I wouldn't lose/forget it. I had so many captured notes about what I wanted to add to the book but there was no room for all of them in the book so I just included what I felt to be most relevant from my life experiences.
September 12th rolled around and it was my first virtual writing class with Shaun. By this date, I had already written 168 pages by writing every single day. I took one week off of writing and that was the first week of Shaun's writing course. His one on one coaching was fantastic and I applied what I learned to keep me motivated even when it was tough to stay consistent. Do you ever have those times when you just don't want to do "it" but you know someone else is there for you to keep you motivated and ACCOUNTABLE? That was Shaun to me. I needed that accountability to keep going and he was there telling me what he needed me to do next. "Have you done an Introduction yet?" I said, "No." "Well, I need you to draft it in the next few days." he responded. This is when the "oh boy" critter brain that was trying to keep me safe and comfortable yet scaring me at the same time, was starting to show up because I was being told I had to get something done by a certain time. I was up for the challenge though and I got it done and everything else he coached me on. Staying motivated and accountable doesn't mean doing it alone. Finding external factors like people and educational material are to be considered for anywhere you are trying to get to in life. I wrote the first full draft in 4.5 months and then it was editing time but that is a blog for another time. OMG!!!
For me, I had a big WHY for writing my book which kept me writing. To share my story in that I had a choice of who I wanted to become regardless of the cards of life that I was dealt and we all have the same choice. I was not where I wanted to be in life until I decided to get a lot closer by taking massive action and writing the book was part of that journey since I dreamt of being an author for a long time, starting with writing my memoir. And trust me, besides the discipline it took to be consistent and not quit on myself, the hardest part was some of what I shared that involved people that I love.
To share those, not so favorable experiences and feelings I had, now, that was the part that I struggled with the most. Everything else I shared paled in comparison to how others I wrote about might feel about MY feelings during those times in my life. I had to push myself to write them and KEEP them in, anyway. You know why? Because it was MY TRUTH! It was what I experienced and I had the right to share it because it shaped who I am still becoming and told the full story. Additionally, I knew that by sharing my truth, I could help someone else who could relate to my story. So, I continued to write to a point where it became unapologetically writing and as a result, I began to heal from my past traumas and transform even more. This is what also kept me motivated to keep keeping on and I have no regrets.
I encourage you, that if you have experiences and feelings that you can't escape, write them down and then look back at them to recognize that no matter what you experienced and felt, you survived. You "did that." These reflections build confidence to stand in your greatness, shrinking for NO ONE, unapologetically as you walk through your flames in, this thing called life. And if it moves you to write your own book about your story, because everyone has at least one in them, then I applaud you, if/when you decide to make that bold move!