A few days ago, I hit the publish button on Amazon Kindle Publishing and my book Join The Playful Revolution (and paperback) was available for purchase online. It was meant to be in August’21, then December’21 but it happened on April’22. That’s life. In fact I hit the button on the 22nd, but it appears as published on the 21st, the international day of Creativity. Interesting, since it is a book that celebrates creativity and play at work.
A lot has happened since summer’20, when I was shaking off quarantine with the inner call to help people reinvent themselves, and having a little more fun on the way. Little did I know that the pandemic was not yet over. Still, I had tried to write a book for years, wanting to increase global creativity. Within that context, I set out to get things done, and started researching online: “How to write a book”. Well, I have a bias towards efficiency, so lets share that sometimes I added “in thirty days” to the search.
I found out about the Book Creator program Georgetown Professor Eric Koester was running. Originally offered to University students, they now accepted applicants from outside, high schoolers to retirees and anything in between. Great. They did it online. Sounds very good. And they had very affordable fees. I’m in. I applied and started my journey on October’20, and many hours of researching, interviewing, writing and editing later… the rest is history. Keep reading to find more details about the why and the how.
Years ago I wrote a book. A Phd thesis to be exact, roughly 100.000 words. I had experience in writing for a newspaper, and also managed to write an Msc thesis in two weeks (20.000 words). I had started a Phd fully confident in my writing skills, researching a topic of my own choice with great hopes and tones of enthusiasm.
Fast forward 5 years, I have long passed submission time and arrived at the University location for a three month stint to finish writing up. And what had been boiling all throughout the research phase, hit me on my face, hard. I met the hardest form of writer’s block I had ever encountered. I spent days, weeks and months procrastinating, hiding in my flat, not talking to anyone, and specially, not writing a thing. Let’s say it was hard and solitary.
Three months became almost 18 months, and the once smiley, gregarious, happy me was replaced by the anxious me, with a snowball of work growing by the minute in front of me. To cut a long story short… I only got out of the mess “with a little help from my friends“ (Beatles song): from the one who became my accountability partner until I built writing momentum, to the one that helped out with corrections, and those who reviewed graphics, or index, etc.
Eventually, I handed in the thesis, and eventually, I graduated with a PhD in Education. But I learned much more than research methods and my topic. I had unlocked a will power way beyond my own nature, and I had learned to ask for help.
The book calling
As I shared, I had a very hard time writing my thesis. I struggled all throughout the process, so knowing that you may wonder: why on earth will you put yourself again in the situation of writing a big piece?
I will summarize the circumstances of my previous experience:
The task was huge (aiming at 100.000 words of research content, no fluff)
I was not confident with my English skills
I was isolated (part, the nature of a phd, part, my own nature, although I asked for help at the end)
Well, the short answer is because I know this time will be different. And before I explain why I’m so sure about this, I will give you the long answer.
After years learning and reinventing myself in different fields, I have committed to increase the global creativity quotient. This requires that I research a little more, but also, that I have a clear message to share with this purpose. A book is helpful on both fronts.
I had started writing bits and pieces here and there, but I was going nowhere. Enter Covid-19, shaken my world in different ways, and a definite decision to take action is made. Summer 2020, enter the scene Eric Koester’s “Book Creators” program. I cannot recall how I landed on his youtube channel, but I binge-watched the whole Book writing series, and applied to be part of the program. And here I am.
Why did I join? Because it was the opposite to my previous experience:
The challenge is to write 20.000 words of raw material, that later will take form and grow up to 25-30.000 words, in an iterative process that takes 4-5 months. So the task is smaller, broken down, with weekly assignments, very paced. You just need to turn up every week and focus on the task at hand. They have a tried and tested process that takes people from zero to completion, and 95% is publication ready. Even if you are not ready at the end of the semester, your book will have progressed quite a bit, and you know “done is better than perfect”.
Every author is assigned a developmental editor from an early point (week 5 of the program), and the process involves more detailed editing later on, from editors to beta readers.
Every week there is a lecture with Eric, 2-3 guest lectures, and the opportunity to interact with other authors in the program during those sessions. On top of that, there are virtual library sessions, in case you want to schedule ‘writing time’ at the same time as others. Plus, you schedule a weekly call with your developmental editor. There is also a support person for general coordination of the program. Not to forget a couple of calls with Eric himself at the beginning, and during the process. You are definitely not alone in this.
As a bonus, I should add:
The process focuses a lot on learning, making connections and telling stories. Writing an interview in the form of a story is a skill of its own, but that is at the core of the program, and it opens up a new world for me, coming from academic and free flow writing.
The program includes the possibility of publishing and marketing the book, with lots of support also from the get go.
The book writing
So how am I doing so far? Well, having a full time job and a family gets me busy, but I try to make it to the lecture and one speaker night a week, and keep the weekly assignments even if at the minimum. I have to confess that I started researching the topic and potential interviewees ahead of the beginning of the course, because I knew I would have a tight agenda.
I have interviewed two fellow authors and one of the speakers, and have received pointers and good leads from peers too. One of the things I enjoy most about our cohort is that there are participants who are still in high school, seasoned professionals and everything in between. It is a very fulfilling experience.
The program is fast paced, and can be overwhelming for some. The trick is not to worry about ‘the program’ nor ‘the book’, but focus on what you have on your plate for the week. Basically: Trust the process. They have tried and tested it for a few iterations so far, moving from the classroom of Georgetown University, to other universities, to an open program like the one I’m participating in.
Even though I don´t know the majority of the guests in the speaker series, I like to turn up because they are all interesting people who are doing things, which is inspirational. Also, I get to learn about things that are unrelated to my topic, but being my topic “creativity”, and “curiosity” one of its pillars, expanding my knowledge base is fantastic to develop my own creativity.
As for writing, the program acknowledges the different writing realities. Instead of requiring a daily writing commitment, which is the usual recommendation, it makes you think on the type of writer you really are (not the one you would like to be): habit writer (you turn up every day), episodic writer (when inspiration strikes you deliver, but is not systematic), and deadline writer (long last minute sprints to deliver). And the size of the assignment is such, with smaller milestones and deadlines, that it is possible for all types to meet the targets. And they have tested it.
I have been surprised by the generosity of quite a few people that didn’t know me at all, to share some time with me. Not only am I learning a lot, it is a very humbling experience and all I want is to make it worthwhile, and give back tons of value in the book. I warn everyone that is going to be a short book, a first attempt, and I hope not the last. I want to change the workplace, but I may go after education next :)
I’ve tried the story plots in order to write stories out of raw interview material, and it is so broken down that I found it tricky at the beginning but very satisfying, and I’m looking forward to writing something more.
Will keep you posted.#
25th of march update
At the end of January I submitted 30K words of raw content for overall revision by the publisher, New Degree Press and I was green lit for publication, making it to that 95% group. So far so good.
Now it was time to make that raw material into coherent chapters and structure, which created a moment of panic. I had my original outline, when I was conceptualizing the book, but I also had a different outline from a conversation with my coach Eric. And hit a wall. I didn’t know where to start and old fears knocked on my door. But it was brief. I chose a middle ground and merged the two approaches, somehow, and put them away for later.
I decided to go on individual chapters I knew would make sense and bring in the scattered pieces together, but move on. It was critical to have a completed draft, if imperfect -so imperfect it is embarrassing-. I typed away for days and weeks not looking back to any of the corrections my editor was providing me with… just forward, like a Forrest Gump of the writers.
On the 5th of March I submitted my First Draft with 51.000 words. That was a ride!!!
Choosing a Title
I ran a small poll on three possible titles for my book, which is not yet decided. these were the options:
Creativity and Play at Work
The clear winner was Playful Revolution, and while I still have make a final decision, I took notice and started to use it as a hashtag for my book project: #playfulrevolution
On April 2nd, I will launch my pre-sale campaign. We have been working on creating the video clip that will explain it, which has also been an ‘interesting’ process on its own.
I’m humbled about the amount of people that are getting involved in this project, from editors, marketing people, speakers, interviewees, fellow authors, admin staff, author coaches, publishers… It really takes a village. So many people have supported me in this journey, that started like a personal challenge but it has become so much more.
I wanted to put out tools for people to bring more creativity and play to their workplace, specifically in technological companies. So far, I have expanded my thinking, and realized that there is an excruciating need for more play and creativity in the world (mostly the adult world), and ‘work’ is where a great number of adults spend quite a bit of time. One reason is that play opens the door for creativity, which fuels innovation, and I don’t need to explain why we need this urgently. Play also reduces anxiety and stress, which are a major problem in western countries and some others.
With all this in mind, I want to start a movement, the #playfulrevolution. If we had more play at work, we could say “let’s go to play” when we go to work (like somebody suggested to me), and bring the same joyful attitude, openness to experimentation and collaboration… Wouldn’t our days be different? Wouldn´t the outcome of our work be different?
If you think the world needs more play and creativity, considering supporting the project in one of these ways:
buy the ebook here, (this link from Spain: amazon.es) or the paperback here (or in amazon.es) (if you don´t see the links or they don´t work, just search for the title on Amazon)
share this linkjointheplayfulrevolution.com with all your friends and colleagues (think of 5-10 people who may be interested or may know someone who may be interested)