At the airport on the way back this week from an author’s conference, I was magnetically drawn to scan the best seller lists and consider who was there and why.

There were so many of those names you’ve see there over and over for decades, like Nora Ephron or Dan Brown. An entire, multi-shelf section devoted to Ann Patchett. The requisite books about how companies can motivate millennials next to Mark Manson’s bestselling The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.

My eye caught on a cover simulating (well, graphic-designed rather than photographed) a page torn at the top and bottom with a lowercase title etched out in a watercolor-style gradient migrating from aquamarine to forest green like descending through a cross section of the ocean.

Brené Brown’s latest book.

I have not read any of her much-acclaimed work yet. But I love that she is simultaneously an academic, a popular icon, and a corporate business coach.

Her approach to writing books is also so silly, fun, and the opposite of everything you ever thought writing had to be that you can’t help but want to try it yourself. She brings two colleagues to a beach house, tells them stories about the subject of her book which they take notes on, then rushes into another room with the notes and then uses that to type up a book that sounds like her best stories, focused on the parts that stick most with people she trusts and respects. Breaks to grab tacos or hit the beach punctuate the process.

If only we all had the beach house and willing writer friends, right?

While Brown is know for her own vulnerability and teaching others to embrace theirs, I found, knowing how long she has been teaching people to embrace all manner of difficult things, this passage on what running her own business feels like to be something you might want to consider (in terms of giving yourself latitude for when things are hard with your freelance business):

“Over the past five years, I’ve transitioned from research professor to research professor and founder and CEO.

The first humbling lesson?

Regardless of the complexity of the concepts, studying leadership is way easier than leading.

When I think about my personal experiences with leading over the past few years, the only endeavors that have required the same level of self-awareness and equally high-level “comms plans” are being married for twenty-four years and parenting. And that’s saying something.

I completely underestimated the pull on my emotional bandwidth, the sheer determination it takes to stay calm under pressure, and the weight of continuous problem solving and decision making. Oh, yeah–and the sleepless nights.”

In case you’re somehow trying to wiggle out of identifying with that quote, she goes on to say:

“I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”

If that doesn’t perfectly describe the difficult internal work of the act of storytelling and writing (people = subject/topic, and processes=writing/communicating), I don’t what does.

As this year heads into its final stretch, and our heads become consumed with family and holidays and travel and preparations for all manner of seasonal things, I want to invite you to do something.

How, like Brown in the passage above, can you embrace that making your travel writing dream a reality is harder than you planned, forgive yourself anything in the past that you feel guilt about about it, and move forward with a clean conscious and nothing but enthusiasm and determination?

 

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