Even if you don’t feel ready.
It took six weeks to write my novel, So This Is The End.
Six weeks of writing. Followed by six months of anxious procrastination.
I thought about releasing the book, but I didn’t. The document sat on my computer desktop — untouched, gathering digital dust. I didn’t pitch it to literary agents. I didn’t mention it to my publisher to see if they might be interested. I didn’t show it to friends and colleagues. I didn’t self-publish it. I didn’t even look at it.
Why so much hesitation? Why not just put it out there? All the usual reasons.
I’m too busy. I don’t have the energy. Besides, I have other commitments right now. I should focus on projects for my clients, projects that actually pay the bills. And anyway, it probably needs more work. It’s not good enough. It’s not ready yet.
Finally, with my birthday and a New Year approaching, I decided to rip off the Band-Aid and just do it. No more waiting. No more tweaking. No more maybe-later-ing.
I quietly released the novel on my website. No book deal. No fanfare. Just me, uploading a PDF with a homemade cover design that I drew with a black Sharpie pen.
This is what happened next…
A woman I’ve never met stumbled across my website and downloaded the book. She read it. She passed it along to her brother, who happens to be a TV producer. He read it. He passed it along to his colleague Nina, an actress, director, and screenwriter. She read it. One day, out of the blue, Nina emailed me to say:
“I wanted to compliment you on your story. I really enjoyed it. I wanted to ask if there has been any interest in adapting So This Is The End into a screenplay.”
At first, I thought Nina’s email was a joke. But it wasn’t.
Right now, she’s writing the pilot episode and she’s excited to pitch all the big networks. We’re already making our list of fantasy cast members (hey, John Cho.) There’s no guarantee that this project will actually get purchased — or get made — but it’s possible. Who knows what might happen next with this book?
The book I almost didn’t release because I didn’t think it was “ready.”
So, hi. Hello there. Whoever is reading this, I suspect you have something that you’ve always thought about creating — or something you’ve thought about sharing publicly. Maybe it’s a poem, blog, podcast, book, song, product, or a drawing of a dog wearing a cowboy hat with a funny caption underneath. Whatever it is, I hope you will be brave and put it out there. Even if — like me — you don’t feel completely ready. Please do it anyway.
Share it offline, online, onstage, on air. At the very least, share it with one person that you trust. Don’t bury your work in a drawer underneath the winter socks that you never wear. Let it be seen.
I know it’s scary to put your work out there. Oh my god, I know. It might feel terrifying. It might scritchy-scratch at your deepest insecurities. It might poke the tender, soft, underbelly parts of you. Please do it anyway.
Because of your video, someone might smile for the first time in ten days.
Because of your poem, someone might remember that they love the sound of the rain, and they might turn off their phone and walk to the window and listen.
Because of your book, someone might cry, or laugh, or see the world a little differently, or feel inspired to write their own book, or you might get a surprising email from an agent, publisher, producer, journalist, screenwriter, or maybe one very excited fan who just wants to say, “I love this. Thank you for making it.”
Absolutely anything could happen. But absolutely nothing will happen until you put something out there. Hit publish, post, send, print, or upload, roll up the curtain, iron your best shirt, bring out the fine china, sound the trumpets, whatever needs to be done. Release it with love and with no expectations.
Even if you don’t feel ready.
Toss your pebble into the water and watch the ripple go, go, go, expanding outward into unexpected possibilities, opportunities, and invitations.
There’s no telling where that ripple might lead.