How can I possibly forget, the month that started it all. I was always a hobby writer, always dreamed of writing a full-length novel, never in my wildest dreams would I have assumed that hitting the top of the pyramid would cause the motivation to see it through. Three years-ago my life was, what most would say, perfect. I had it all and yet threw it all a way to chase a dream.
6am on a random Thursday during the holidays of 2014, the cumbersome waking up of a man with absolutely too much work to do for his corporate overseers. I had just been offered a corporate career with one of the fastest growing publicly traded tech companies in the world. I was a core part of their SEC compliance team during their IPO, it was an extremely proud place for any corporate financier, finally in an elite status club. A decade of hard work, long hours, ruthless travel and destroyed relationships saw its reward; six-figure salary, great title, great team and a great view from my office. The dream of any ladder climber.
I remember vividly, one day as I was driving to my awesome new job and reflecting on life’s experiences, a vision from when I was an ordinary pre-teen. My family and I were flying to Colorado for our annual family trip, I believe it was the year 2000. I was playing on my Gameboy (Pokémon Blue, probably) and was awe struck when I saw a grown-up professional standing at his gate, talking on his phone, wearing a fine suit and carrying a leather briefcase. I had a premonition at that point in my life, I saw exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was the modern explorer, the relevant adventurer, a 21st century conqueror. The only thing stopping me was myself as I spent the next twelve years studying and pursuing my dream of being that image of success.
Fast forward to the car ride into work at my new corporate job. The dream had been achieved, I was there, I was doing exactly what that young me wanted. I had achieved the dream of dreams.
Then, all of a sudden, there was this feeling deep down in the body, a part of the body not in the medical books, my soul was speaking. “Was it worth it?” “What about this lost friend, this family member?” “Did you enjoy paying that rent check last month?” “Do you like this new car?” “Is your fiancé happier?” “Are you happy?”.
It was such a powerful moment in my life that I had to stop the car and ponder my current state of emotions. “I have emotions?” “There is more to life?” “What about the report due today?” “Why am I late for work?” “What will the shareholders think?” “What will my peers think?” “Is this my path?”
It is hard to sum up that moment in words but as you can imagine, the repressed internalized emotions were flowing out of my mind like a waterfall, this was not like me. Most say to never live with regrets, this is a philosophy that I hold dear to my heart. When a regret is looming, I try to kill it fast. This was one of those moments. I made a call that morning to a friend of mine who had been working the gig lifestyle for some time, the track was set, the train just needed to start moving. It wasn’t long, perhaps a month of preparation before I had fully resigned and moved forward with my freelance lifestyle. I was about to get married, trying to buy that engagement ring, my family was jaw dropped at the news, nothing was going to stop this next chapter of my life.
Over the next few months there was one simple goal. Get a client, get two clients, get three clients. There was an 18-month period of my life between early 2015 and mid 2016 that was just purely hustling all-day every-day. Everyone says starting a business is tough, living in your apartment, feeding yourself and trying to stay alive. Depression can come often at this juncture of your business, when you sleep, play, eat and work all within a square 100 feet. The highs are seldom, the lows are often and heavy. Once those first few clients start hitting and you actually start making some cashflow, the days start to elongate, the work starts to get more comfortable. You begin to find who you are as a business owner, what your product and service offering is, what clients need from you and what they do not. What the value of an hour of your time is to your client, what the value of one of your hours means to yourself.
This phase is when most start-up entrepreneur’s fizzle out of existence. They either never get any traction and blow through their cash reserve or they get too down on themselves and never see it through. In either case, I did see it through. My few clients had turned into many clients. My really bad clients failed and stopped, my great clients succeeded and moved forward. As they grew, I grew. As my network grew, so did my reputation. Eventually it got to a point in early 2017 when I was actually firing and turning clients away. The group of core clients that I had was solid, the traction was set, the future became assured. That one regretful day in my life when driving to my 6-figure job became just another pivotal moment that saw its potential regret not realized.
Now, there was one aspect of this story that wasn’t discussed, what does any of this have to do with my Book journey? What is a book journey in the first place?
Well in my words, a book journey is the journey an author goes through in writing and publishing a book. This is my book journey and the story precluding this is simply to inform you of what it takes to see through to the end of a book journey. It’s almost impossible to just ‘write a book’. Life goes on around the book, you need to eat and live during the process of writing the book. At the same time, you have to give your heart and soul to it, if you want it to be something worth reading. Anyone can write a cliché piece of garbage now in the business world, only someone who puts their heart and soul into a book journey, means to garner anything useful from it. By understanding the world around the book journey, is to better understand the nature of the journey itself.
Part 1: The Conceptualization
I believe that it was a month into 2015 when the actual conceptualization occurred. I was actually visiting with my only client at the time at their co-working space, putting a few hours in to show my value. I remember pulling up an excel spreadsheet and saying to myself, “wouldn’t this be such a great idea for a book?” I jotted the idea down at the header of the spreadsheet. Then I began constructing the layout, scope and details of the book into a chart.
After about two months of internal deliberation on whether or not this project was going to actually mean something to me, I began to emotionally invest into the project. Vet the project every day when I would wake up and create the project in my mind as I fell asleep at night. These days were fun, stress was held in other places as I worked to accumulate clients and a reputation. It was just an idea of an idea, no pressure in seeing through to its completion.
The key to it all, I never sought external verification. I didn’t care what Joe or Jill had to say about my idea. I enjoyed the romantic glory of the dream itself. Joe and Jill weren’t going to write this book, why would their opinion matter? By not going to others to bog my own ideas down, I formulated my own conclusions, I ensured that this idea was pure.
Part 2: The Baby Steps
The most crucial component to seeing any project to completion is in actually starting the endeavor. We must push ourselves beyond the idea for a project. We must see through to the initial display of time towards a journey. This is simply the area that must people fail, they never even start the project that they always wanted to see through.
There is a main reason that most people never truly see a project to this stage, it is simply because the final idea is far grander than the steps necessary to achieve the result. My goal was a fully written book, I wasn’t wasting my time thinking about that day when I could hold my own book and read it cover to cover. That would have been a waste of time and an intimidating use of time. Instead I would think to myself, what is the next step? What is the exact next step that I must take?
I started with just structuring the book beyond a simple concept, this was the layout. Ok, now that this is done, what is next? What does each chapter look like? Ok, this is what each chapter should and should not look like. This carried me on and on until a was knee deep in the project.
Part 3: The Investment
The most material component of any endeavor. When your three to four steps into a thirty step project, you’ve already invested fifty hours into the project and you have ten times that remaining. For me, this was the writing component. I wanted to have a 200-page book. If I wrote 1 page per day, it would take a year. I was writing a historical novel, I needed to have a massive amount of research done for each standalone chapter, that pushed the timeline to two years.
All of this was along the same time that I was starting to gain traction with a few solid clients, they were taking up 30 hours of each week at this point. That leaves 20 hours each week for sales and hustling. That leaves only 20 hours per week for my book. The remaining time was for my wife and myself.
This is when projects can go uncompleted for years and years for aspiring individuals. When procrastination takes effect. When your low days really beat you down, your high days seem like not enough to work on it. After that long day at the clients or the office, any random Tuesday, the couch and Netflix looks so much better than investing that hour into your 500-hour project. The key to it all? Enjoy it, enjoy every minute, enjoy the challenge, relish in the vast expanse of the project and the chipping away at that to-do list.
One year in, 20 chapters done. 24 months in, 40 chapters done. Finally, I had a book.
Part 4: The Headache
What do you do after you see the investment component through to the end? You realize that you are only half way done with the journey. There are 20 remaining steps that haven’t even been discovered yet. What do I need to do? This was my first full-length publishable novel. I need to learn fast.
I found three people whom I trusted above all others. I would schedule hour long coffee sessions with them to go over what is next for the project. This was crucial to see me through for the next 6 months. These were the steps that everyone dreads, the stuff that no writer ever wants to have to deal with. The stuff that is most crucial to turning a scratch work into a publishable and readable book.
For all start-ups, this phase exists. You build an investment into your core strength around the project. That carries you for months and years until you have accomplished something great. Then, pow, like a hammer to the face you realize that the work is starting now.
Part 5: The Anxiety
55 steps through the project, we are almost there. I want to launch the book right now! It is time, it has been 30 months of pain staking work to see it through to this point. I decide to sit down with a publicist associate of mine, I got knocked right off my feet in that meeting with how under prepared I was with the marketing plan. There was still so much work to do in order to see this through to completion. Concepts that I had never even thought of.
Eventually we were around 32 months into the project. It had almost become a sore point to discuss with people. Everyone at this point was starting to roll their eyes at me, “Arthur and his ‘book’ again…” At this point I still had a list of things to complete before seeing the book to its eventual conclusion. To say that this was my lowest point during the book process would be an easy argument to make.
I remember one meeting I had with a peer of mine, he said “Wait, you don’t have an audiobook?”
That day was my lowest point. Weeks away from launching and a core product offering that wasn’t even started yet. I remember the emotions at this stage, anxiety and anxiousness. The key to this stage is simple. Don’t ever let someone tell you that it’s too late, that you’re not going to be a success. You didn’t do it right. There isn’t enough time. That is all just excuses from people with their own laundry list of problems.
Part 6: The Final Mile
August 2017, this was one crazy month. I started the audiobook, finished the marketing plan, finished the audiobook and finished the marketing plan. It was a 30-day period of my life that honestly, I can barely remember. Working with a client base that was around over two dozen strong. Trying to finish this book for the life of me. The support groups were exhausted, it was really only my wife at this point spurring me forward. My wife and my internal self, pushing that final mile.
These are those moments that you can let anxious tendencies’ get the best of yourself. Just launch the book and see it done. Ask yourself, but what if I just have this much more done. I need to finish this, finish that. When everyone has signed you off as a failure for not having finished within their window of patience. You only have a few allies left, keep those allies close and win for everyone. Don’t settle for anything less than your best. Watch an inspirational move and then get your butt back in the fight.
Part 7: The Finish Line
After 35 months of fighting and bleeding to get through the book, in all of its forms. Eventually it is all complete. There was this week, November 17th to the 23rd of 2017 when it all just came together at the very end and a finished product was actually peeking its head over the horizon. Have you ever felt true joy in life? The conclusion of a 3-year journey that has finally seen to the finish. It is pure bliss.
It goes by too fast, that final week. The next thing you know, all of your hard work and persistence has paid off. Your plans are being executed on. The pieces that were set in motion six month ago are coming to fruition. You can actually begin to see the fruits of your labor. It is the best week in a 3-year journey. And then when all is said and done, you finally get that copy of your completed book in the mail, joy is limitless, you realize that the fun is just about to begin.