How to Make the Most of an Editing Partnership
Wonder Woman Scene Analysis Webinar
Writing can feel like No Man's Land.
Do you have a way through?
"I was stuck, but I didn't know what question to ask. So I didn't reach out at all."
There's a reason that I'm doing this awkward, talk to myself in the screen thing. And it's not because I enjoy it or because I'm particularly good at it. I just have something to tell you, and I wanna tell you in a different medium than just the typing and writing that I do all of the time.
I would really love to do it 1:1. I would love to be, or even one to a group. I would love to be doing it in a webinar. And if you're like bracing for the pitch, that's gonna happen. Cuz that's what we do here on the internet. That's coming at the end and you can either skip right to it or stop short before you get to it...
I had someone tell me not long ago that she didn't know how to reach out or she didn't want to reach out to me because she didn't have a specific question. She didn't even know what she needed. It was still really difficult for her to reach out and ask a question within an ongoing editing author relationship.
She knew she was stuck, but didn't know where else to go from there. And I can't stop thinking about that.
I can't stop thinking about how much we put ourselves in those kinds of situations where we like think we know what the problem is. ... So if you wanna, hang with me and check out a little bit of Wonder Woman in the context of nonfiction writing and particularly how you can do more nonfiction writing.
First Things First
Who I am and why I think studying a movie scene is going to help you unlock your nonfiction flow.
The "No Man's Land" Scene
:00-:32 "That's not the Mission"
In true nonfiction form, I've got three things I want us to work through today. Three problems that I see underneath that "I don't know how to ask for help" problem and how we can shift our attention away from that and into something that's a little bit more effective. That can get you unlocked instead of keeping you in that loop .
So three things, and they're gonna happen spread out across the scene, but not evenly, which is a separate but important point to notice when you are paying attention to scenes and chapters that you love: They're not chunked out in like very evenly paced out progressions.
So for example, I do a five minute outline with people. It gets us to a five point progression, but it doesn't mean that each block is one fifth of your chapter or one fifth of your book. Sometimes it just takes a little bit to transmit a point. And sometimes it takes a long time to really sit with it and, and root into it and feel it. And that's what we're gonna notice here.
Our very first shift comes pretty quickly, within about 30 seconds.
If we shifted our "mission" attention from efficiency to efficacy, what would change?
:32-1:00 "This Is No Man's Land."
We can be rooted in efficacy and if we're only communicating from our assumptions and we're not communicating from a place of clarity, it doesn't matter.
It doesn't matter how much truth is baked into those assumptions. They are still just assumptions and we haven't communicated them to each other. To root them out and break them down to their constituent pieces and find what is important to both the process and the person.
If we're not clear on those things, then we're gonna separate. "Efficiency" is gonna pull you away, and I'm not gonna chase you. If I know what's effective, I'm not gonna chase you in ineffective routes. And so we wind up separated.
This doesn't happen very often. But I think in our minds, maybe it feels like it does, because again, our brains are really great at looking for those things that will keep us stuck and not out in vulnerable spaces, getting amazing things done.
And so if you've ever had any kind of run in with a creative endeavor, whether it's criticism, whether it's someone who truly didn't understand you, whether it's someone who was pulling you out into no man's land without communicating clearly what it was...
Whenever you have something like that to draw from that says, this is unsafe, this is not where I need to be, this is not how I can keep control of the situation, then you're gonna operate from those circumstances and those assumptions.
1:00-3:10 "What I'm going to do."
So if you don't have someone who feels like a shield who can take not only the, the intellectual fire of the work that has to be done, but the emotional fire of how we respond in challenging situations, who can be okay when you tell them that they're wrong and they'll just sit, like, sit with it and give you space or challenge you and work you through it.
If they're not okay taking the fire of you needing to take breaks and needing space to process, and then come back...
If they're not okay taking the fire of knee jerk reactions when they push you into a new space...
And if they're not okay with going out and waiting for you to catch up, if they're pulling you into fire, if they're pulling you into danger, that's not okay either.
So if you're editing relationship, doesn't feel like [this moment] then, yeah. It's always gonna be difficult to ask for help. It's always gonna be difficult to raise your hand, because you don't really know what you're about to trigger when you do that.
If you have an editor who can hold that shield and make that path of safety for you, then it should be a lot easier. Not easy, but it should feel a lot safer to be able to just show up as you are without answers without specific requests without any kind of—honestly, without any kind of competence at all.
You don't have to demonstrate substantial literary skills to be in a good relationship with an editor.
3:10-end [battle cries]
I've done efficient mission books. They're fine. There's nothing wrong with them. There is a place and time for them. But when you're doing a book that is more than just get the thing out there, have a business card, who's gonna really read it. I just need to be an author—If you're going any layers deeper than that, then we have to be able to work in partnership.
When we do get into those internal enemy trenches, root out the thing that you've been taking fire from this whole time, accomplish the bigger mission, leave no stone unturned, make sure that we have protected the humans along the way—when we're able to do that thing, the power that you carry with you in that book it's exponential.
It's so different, the way you show up into the world with that content in hand, because you're not taking so much fire anymore. The war is not over. Obviously there are still things happening. But you've crossed no man's land. You have that accomplishment under your belt. You know what you're capable of now, far beyond what you knew, you were capable of three and a half minutes ago.
And from that space, you are able to meet your readers and your audience with with clarity, without your assumptions of how you're being perceived taking up all of that space. And with efficacy—you know exactly why you're there and why you're handing them something and what you're handing them and what you intend for it to do and how you want to affect them with it.
And with some internal safety, because it's not really safe in the world. It's not. People are going to misread you. People are going to make their own assumptions of you. They're gonna put you into their efficiency boxes. They're going to fire on you.
But when you show up with your own safety that we've carved out together, you're able to then become a shield for someone else. You're able to clear a path for someone else who's willing to come up behind you and do the same thing.
Fight Like Diana, Think Like Morpheus
So we just took all of this time with Wonder Woman to see how you can show up really fully in a safe partnership environment with whoever your support person is in your content. And that's a number one first important vital step. If you can't show up safely in the spaces where you're iterating and learning and creating, then no amount of analysis, no amount of teaching is ever gonna help you unlock your content.
You have to have that kind of safety, and it really helps to have it in tandem with a partner who's gonna help you through your content.
If we're coming into our our work with some internal safety and knowing what we have to do to be vulnerable and who we need to be around to be vulnerable and what that gets us when we do, then we can step into the scene that I wanna analyze from The Matrix with you about how you show up with authority.
There's a massive difference between showing up with vulnerability and showing up with authority, and you need both of them to be able to communicate with anyone really, but especially in the context of a book.
I want us to step into Morpheus mode next and really figure out how we can create the simulation of a book in a way that communicates truth expands the reader's view of the world.
Whether you're working on something that's about money or something that's about trauma or something that's just your memoir or something that's about how to build a business you are still showing up with a truth that is bigger than your reader can absorb, and that creates a very similar relational need to what we just worked through with the Wonder Woman scenario.
You've gotta be able to create very similar safety spaces and clarity spaces for your reader in order for their perspective to open up in the way that you want it to open up.