Writing Your First Book is hell, as any author will tell you.
It is also the most deeply satisfying Creative Act of a lifetime, making the hell (in my opinion) totally worth it.
There are pitfalls you can avoid that will greatly lessen the intensity of the pain—starting with the demon of Compromise. Like most demons, the voice of compromise is seductive and smart, appearing as a friendly and beneficent being. But the pain it causes is horrific.
There are other demons to watch out for: Isolation, Doubt, Perfectionism, but Compromise leads the pack. Even if you conquer the others, succumb to this one, and you’ve not only lost the battle—you’ve lost the war.
What war is that?
The war against Resistance, the war Steven Pressfield brilliantly writes about in his classic, Art of War. This small gem is a must-read for authors and in fact for anyone who works daily at creating something out of nothing.
The Voice of Compromise
The voice of compromise sounds something like this: “Don’t be too creative or too truthful. If you say THAT, people won’t understand and they will reject you. So you should soften that part, or better yet, take it out.”
Authors, often without knowing it, listen to this voice and in so doing cut themselves off from their true vision. They fear it will prevent their success and so they make an “adjustment.”
Some books and literary agents actually encourage you to do this in order to be marketable. Actually, the opposite is true. If you modify your vision (which is your truth), you will cut yourself off from your soul, which is where the muse lives and holds your vision.
Even if you don’t relate to the concept of soul, or the idea of the muse strikes you as a fancy, consider this. If you adjust your vision to someone else’s “reality” you will have no vision, and therefore ultimately no book worth reading. Not compromising means you refuse to disguise or dress up your truth to be palatable. Truth is what you stake your authorship on —and the burning torch that will draw others to you.
Being true to your vision and purpose doesn’t mean your work will be inaccessible. Accessibility has to do with structure and style –completely different matters from those of vision and purpose. Your vision and purpose are what you stand for, what your book (and author platform) is built on. So: no skimping on the entree, no shaving off the good part--no adjusting.
Compromise will exhaust you
Compromise is not only dangerous; it is exhausting. Even if you somehow manage to write your book, you will be drained and uninspired throughout the process, because you will not be writing your book. You will be writing the book you think you should write, the book others want you to write.
If the compromise is slight, you may not be able to detect it, but you will sense that something is off. You will also experience more than the usual resistance to writing it. You will lack energy and focus when you sit down to work.
The Deeper Tragedy
The deeper tragedy that comes from compromise? You will prevent your book from fulfilling its mission: the reason it was conceived in you and given to you in the first place will be lost.
You also run the serious risk of losing your confidence. When you close off the connection to the vision that lives in your subconscious, you lose motivation and dampen the fire that drives your creativity. Then you are left to your own puny resources. Your experience of the past, what you can read in books, what people tell you. These resources are all very limited. Better to abandon your book entirely than to compromise it.
Please share an experience when you realized you were compromising your writing and you made a decision to stop.