Confessions of a dirty blonde :: Sometimes I’m a hypocrite

Ghostwriting books is easy. I can channel authors’ voices, mimic their style and churn out a polished manuscript in weeks. It’s like my own fucked up Sudoku game, like S&M without restraints.

My goal every day used to be 5,000 polished and page-ready words. That meant first and second draft done-zo. Most days, I hit my mark. It was challenging, don’t get it twisted, but all I had to do was write the damn manuscript and send it off to a client who had to do the rest of the work.

When I was scared, as a little girl, my dad used to tell me to, “Strap on a set.” Being the woman I am, I hate that. I don’t need a sack to conjure bravery. My ovaries will work just fine. Still, something kept me from writing my own story for a long, long time. It took four years before I could channel my courage and get out of my own way, his voice haunting me every time I thought to try again.

Now? I’m finally ready to release my freshman piece next month.

Fear is the only thing that held me back. I had the words, I had the experience, but I didn’t have the balls ovaries. Writing for yourself takes more bravery than writing for others. It’s not about mimicking or concocting or channeling. It’s about baring yourself for the entire world to see.

And that’s fucking scary.

While the grammar rules and lit. devices helped, they weren’t the key factor in completion. So here I’ve been, dishing out advice on how to write and get things done, when I haven’t been honest with you about the one thing that actually got me through my manuscript. The only thing that pushed me further into my first draft than I’d ever thought to get?


Because when Beck looked at me and said, “It’s time to get up or shut up. Let’s finish this thing in ninety days.” Nothing held me back but myself. It was something I’d imagined for four years. That’s one thousand four hundred and sixty days of dreaming. And Beck said I could get it done in ninety?

I’d have a completed project. But I had to be ready: no more excuses or dragging feet. We would take the idea out of my head, vomit it onto a page (and then revise), and bundle it into a final project. A book I could hold in my own hands.

My book.

Weeks away from this reality, it’s so much better than writing for someone else (although I absolutely love ghostwriting).

You’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you haven’t done this for yourself yet. Some people label their dreams and, in turn, never create them.

“I’ll do it when I make X amount of money.”

“I’m writing my book after the kids go to college.”

“I’m too young to write anything worthwhile now.”

My excuse?

“What if I’m better at ghostwriting than I am at authorship?”

Now it’s gone. See you later, brain trash. And I owe my success, in part, to my coach. But mostly to me for getting out of my own damn way.

Want to finish your book? Do it.  Then email me and tell me how awesome it feels.


Got writing questions for Capo? Email Confessions of a Dirty Blonde goes out every Thursday.

What would you write if you knew you could not fail?

I’ve spent the better part of the last two years talking to writers all over the world just like you.

I’ve learned about you. What you want, crave – and what you hate.

Every one of you has a different definition of success. How it looks and feels. How your perfect day unfolds.

But one thing always stays the same: The only thing between you and your writing dream is fear.

So let’s get down and dirty with it, hmmm?

Fear is fucking normal. Yeah, I said it. We will never escape the emotion. Not ever.

And that’s okay.

Some people actually choose to do things that scare them: racecar drivers, public speakers, sky-divers. And some people only face their fears when forced. (Me.)

Either way, being fearless has nothing to do with it.

Fear is with me and you and everyone else every day. Trying something new, pushing yourself can be scary. No one is unafraid all the time.

But we can manage it with our perception.

It’s about desire.

How bad do you want a thing? How much are you willing to risk to accomplish it?

When you’re on your deathbed at 96 years old, do you want to look at your great-grandson and say:

“Yeah, I went sky-diving a couple times. It was badass.”

Or “Yes, I wrote those books. I had a story to tell that the world needed to hear.”

Or even “I wish you could have seen me on the high-wire. I set a record that day.”

Or, if you’re like me, you just want to be able to call your ex-boyfriend and say, “I went into that damn root cellar and killed a wolf spider the size of my fist. So there.”

Understand, no one can completely eliminate risk. Stunt men and adrenaline junkies know this, which is why they do their best to reduce it. They wear every available piece of safety equipment. They double and triple check the racecar. They take classes.

The same goes for public speakers. They know the material so well, the audience won’t be able to come up with a question they can’t answer. They practice endlessly. Speaking in front of people is not scary in the same way as, say, swimming with sharks.

But it’s still very real fear. And it’s not dissimilar to the fear of writing.

In both cases, what we’re actually afraid of is looking silly. (That’s pretty much every human’s most basic fear.) But by practicing, preparing, studying, we reduce that risk. Besides, if we screw up writing, we’re not going to die. So decide.

Do you want to write?

Mitigate the risks as much as you can. Then take action. No one has a choice about fear. We are going to be afraid. But we can decide what to do about it.

This is good news. It means you can stop waiting to be unafraid and start writing.

It means you can feel uncomfortable, know it’s normal and get your words on the page in spite of the fear.

Not sure where to start?

Answer this question: What would you write if you knew you could not fail?

Now off you go. Write now.


P.S. What kind of writer are you? Take the quiz and find out. (And wait ’til you see what you get in your inbox with the results. Holy gorgeous.)