I just started working with a client to create a plan—an outline that will help her finally write her book. This client—we’ll call her Joanna—enjoys writing. (She’s actually really good at it, though I don’t think she believes me when I tell her that.) Joanna doesn’t need someone to write for her, but she’s fed up of feeling overwhelmed, doubting she can even do this thing.
So we’re creating an outline for her book. It’ll get her ideas out of her head so she can actually start writing, and give her an actionable plan to make sure she conveys her message in the most powerful way.
Joanna initially spoke to me about her book more than a year ago. She wasn’t ready to work together then, so she went off and did her thing. Last month, she reached out and told me it was time.
Wanna know why she decided to get her shit together and write this book now?
Someone asked about her bucket list.
As part of the training program for her new volunteer position, she was asked to write out the things she’d like to do before she dies.
Bucket list ideas
I don’t know why it’s called a bucket list, but a lot of people have these lists written in their journal, stored in a note on their phone, or as a hazy memory of a drunken declaration.
My bucket list is informal. It consists of vague travel plans, like one day visiting a country whose name ends in —stan (Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan, for example). I know I want to own a pet pig one day. And I think it’d be cool to climb mountains in the Himalayas.
Joanna has always wanted to write a book. She’s had several ideas over the years, and even scribbled out ideas for outlines and chapters and stories she’d include.
But it wasn’t until someone asked her to write down her bucket list items that she realized how much she wanted to write a book. It was the first thing that came to mind.
Then she realized she had no idea how to make this happen, freaked out for a minute, and emailed me.
I’m so glad she did.
The day my perspective shifted
My perspective on these bucket list things was forever changed on November 16, 2015. That was the day my cousin, Beth, died in a car crash.
Beth was my age—29 at the time. She was working hard as a teacher for autistic kids. She'd just bought a new home with her husband. They were starting a family; she was a few weeks pregnant when it happened.
Her car slipped on ice and hit another vehicle. The roads were so slick that even the ambulance had a hard time reaching the site. It didn’t matter. Not for Beth, at least. The coroner said it happened so fast she wouldn't have known anything.
It feels weird to talk about Beth in my business. I don’t want to “profit” from her loss. But the fact is, I can’t talk about doing things that are important without mentioning Beth.
My work is immensely important to me. It gives me immeasurable freedom and fulfillment. I don’t know that I’d be doing this work if it wasn’t for Beth’s passing, though.
When the accident happened, my husband was in a job he hated. He stayed because the security and pension were great. But fuck, he was barely thirty and was killing himself every day for a retirement One Day.
One Day plans are important. They provide hope and security and something to work towards. But Beth’s passing taught us we can't count on One Day.
One Day might not come.
We stopped waiting for One Day
Four months after Beth’s accident, my husband left and started his own company. It was one of the best decisions he’s ever made.
Five months after that, I started my business. I always thought it’d be cool to be a ghostwriter One Day, and use my skills to help people get their ideas into the world. But I’d been all talk until then.
This is feeling a bit morbid and gross right now, but I want to encourage you.
My husband and I changed our lives when we decided to stop putting things off for One Day.
My new client, Joanna, realized “write a book” was on her bucket list because it was important not just for One Day, but for today.
Don’t save it for One Day
Whatever’s on your list, don’t save it for One Day. If it matters, act on it.
Do something to make it happen.
Get help if you need it. That’s what Joanna did. She felt lost, she reached out, and now we’re working together to make her dream happen.
It doesn’t matter how you start on your bucket list dreams. If “write a book” is on your bucket list, do it alone, with a writing coach, or with a ghostwriter—I don’t care.
Just please don’t put it off for One Day.