Creativity is More Like Math Than Magic

When speaking about sculpting, I think we can agree that our boy Michelangelo gets the final word, and his words come back to me often:

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it… I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

Working on a book can feel a lot like that.

After dozens of hours of conversation, dozens more sifting through transcripts and other materials, and dozens again drafting and rearranging and drafting some more…

My job as a ghostwriter is to find the angel, so to speak.

Sometimes the angel is the showy type — you know, trumpets, celestial hosts, showers of light. Wants you to see it from a mile away.

Other times, the angel’s a little shy, and prefers to stay hidden and whisper to you from behind its marble wall.

Even when I have a solid outline, a mountain of research and plenty of hooks to get me started, if the angel is hiding, it can take a LONG ASS TIME to get to the perfect angle to finally spot that sucker.

The book I’m working on currently has been of the second variety.

It’s funny, because my client is just about the most extroverted person I’ve ever met. She’s a great storyteller, hilarious, LOVES a big ol’ stroll down memory lane…

But lordy, has it taken some chiseling to get her story to shine.

No matter how many times I do this, it still surprises me how different each book is. Some books are born easily, others fight you to the very last page (and I’ve written about that particular brawl here).

But every time, there’s a rhythm to it. There are markers and milestones.

Creativity might seem like some mysterious force, but it’s closer to math than magic. It can be learned, and you can put a process to it.

That’s what I did with How To Write This Book. Not everyone will be able to have me chisel out their particular angel, and so this book is my guide to help you do it yourself.

It will show you every tool you need to have on hand, the steps to follow (and in which order) so that everything emerges just right, as well as how to make sure the book gets the triumphant reception it deserves.

So if you’re thinking about picking up a chisel of your own, start with a copy of How To Write This Book.