why throwing away my book plans felt so good

I've been working on a book about dreams since 2014. Think The Alchemist meets real people's stories. 

Today, while working from a gorgeous co-working space during an uncharacteristically rainy day in Southern California, I hit the restart button on the whole thing. 

I will forever refer to today as trash day. And folks, it feels so good.

You know that feeling when you bag up all your old clothes? And then that moment when they're out of your hands and in the hands of Goodwill or a friend? 



The freedom to start over (or go shopping). 

Right now the 'trash can' on my laptop has 70 files related to my book that will soon disappear forever. Documents such as "Dream Book Master Plan" and "Master Outline."

I never knew how great it would feel to trash a "Master Plan." 

As I wrote about in my last post, my book took a different direction than I originally intended. The turn was painful and confusing and it mostly consisted of a lot of guilt, self-doubt, thai food, and moving across the country to try to shake things up.

Today was the day of officially starting the book in its new direction. And a couple things took me by major surprise:

1) It felt so good to throw away my old plans.
I didn't even open some of the files. I just trashed them. Deep down I knew I needed to start over, unencumbered by original plans. I honestly thought I would have to debate about this, or that I would feel bad, or that I'd feel compelled to save it somewhere for later. But NOPE. I just trashed it and felt AMAZING. 

I thought I'd feel sad, like I'd wasted all that time on all those plans and ideas that ended up stalling me.

But in the trashing I realized that I'd never have gotten here without all those originals. So I thanked them for their help and then sent them on their way.

I also have Toy Story and Beauty and the Beast to thank. I've always been fascinated by the fact that both films' original concepts and story boards were completely trashed before they became the movies we know today. These stories were in the back of my mind, giving me courage to throw away, knowing that throwing away doesn't have to be a sign of failure, that it can be a rite of passage into a new level of excellence. 

I can't help but wonder if trash buildup is necessary for breakthroughs.

2) Sometimes when you think you've done nothing you've actually created 1,208 pages.
I have berated myself hourly for the past two years feeling like I'd 'done nothing' because I didn't have a finished book yet. I felt like I was wasting away so much time, like I was perpetually behind, like all I really had done was 'talk' about writing a book but hadn't actually done anything. The lack of a book to hold was messing with my head, making me feel like the book was still just an idea, like the idea that I'd actually worked on it was just something I'd made up to impress my friends. 

But after deleting and consolidating all the files that had built up for this book over the past few years I was struck by a revelation:

It turns out I actually had been working on this book all this time, even when I felt like I was doing nothing with it. 

Somehow, in all that nothing, I created 1,208 pages of content. 

I'd been researching and writing this whole time; I just wasn't giving myself any credit for it since the book wasn't living on a shelf yet. 

I felt great comfort knowing that sometimes you're doing creative work even when you don't realize it.   

So now I'm left with 11 delicious documents ready to take me into the next phase of this book, and a very warm feeling towards my laptop's very full trash can, which I'm going to empty right....


Yes. I'm sure. 

And I'm not lying, as I'm writing this last sentence, this one RIGHT HERE, right now, at 2:36pm PST, the sun is making its first appearance of the day.