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11 Unexpected Lessons I Learned While Writing ‘Time Magic’

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It’s been a few weeks since the release of Time Magic — my fifth book and the first book I’ve co-authored with my husband, Nick Broadhurst. 

Like all my creative projects, bringing this book to life came with a TONNE of lessons. Today, I’m sharing 11 of the biggest things that Nick and I learned while writing the book. Some of these are about time itself, some are about the creative process, and some are just random lessons that the Universe decided to throw at us along the way.

Hopefully, you’ll find ‘aha’ moments aplenty here, as I did while living and learning these truths in real-time.

Let’s dive in…

Lesson #1. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

This lesson is one of the foundations that underpins the entire book — it’s *that* important.

It’s based on a quote from the writer Annie Dillard in her gorgeous book ‘The Writing Life,’ where she says: “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.”

Here’s my take on this powerful concept:

We often think of our life as a rehearsal, with the real show starting sometime in the future, when we’ve finally graduated/got pregnant/got married/landed a promotion/dropped a dress size/bought the dream home/whatever. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “waiting” for those things to happen before we truly start living.

But you know what? 

Life is happening here. It’s happening now. It’s not waiting for you far off in the future; it’s here in the moments you’re going through *right now* — even the messy ones.

So being conscious of how you spend your moments is crucial because how you spend your days is how you spend your life.

There’s good news, though: by being intentional with how we spend those small units of time (our minutes, hours, and days), we can change how the WHOLE of our life plays out and ensure that we’re creating a life that’s aligned with our highest values and vision.

(And friend, you can bet your sweet tushie that that’s exactly what we teach you how to do in Time Magic.)

Lesson #2. Most of us could be more intentional with our time.

We did so much research for this book and so much of what we found was truly shocking.

For example, data shows that the average person is unknowingly flushing HUGE amounts of time down the toilet — sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways!

Luckily, there are tiny changes in behavior that can free up hours, weeks and even years of your life.

Whether it’s setting clear boundaries, learning to say “no” to distractions and time-wasters, or learning how to plan your priorities, there are infinite little changes you can make that will help you be more intentional with your time.

Lesson #3. Patience is crucial to creativity.

This book took longer to write than any of my other books. In fact, it almost didn’t get written!

The idea came to Nick and me four years ago, and we fell in love with it immediately and started writing…

Then 2020 happened, the world changed, and something in our hearts told us that the timing wasn’t right. (That’s when the idea for another book came to me, and I wrote ‘Comparisonitis’ instead.)

But really, the idea was too good to ignore. Our publisher kept suggesting we revisit it, our editor kept begging us not to shelve it forever, and people kept asking us that exact same question that had sparked the idea for the book in the first place: “How the heck do you guys get so much done?!”

Truthfully, Nick and I always knew that this book would somehow let us know when it was ready to come to life. And eventually, it did just that.

And, as is so often the way, the extra time we took bringing it to life — and the extra life experiences we went through during that period — made this book infinitely more useful. (I genuinely think the Universe wanted me to have a baby before writing this book so that I’d have a whole new appreciation for just how stretched time can sometimes be!)

The moral of the story is that patience is always key when it comes to creative projects. Always. Even if something isn’t coming along as quickly as you’d hoped, if you believe it’s meant for you, stay the course and keep going… you’ll get there in the end.

Lesson #4. In this age of distraction, focus is a superpower.

Focus is the #1 skill you can cultivate that will set you apart from everyone else, ensure that you get significantly more done in less time, and move you towards your dreams faster than anything else.

While everyone else is scrolling through endless distractions, you can outpace them simply by staying focused and continuing to move forward on the stuff that matters.

As well as learning the skill of focus (yes, it can be learned!), there are also science-backed health hacks, mindfulness practices, and brain-boosting techniques that can skyrocket your focus. And yes, we share a tonne of these in Time Magic!

Lesson #5. Communication Is Key!

Nick and I wrote Time Magic together. For both of us, this was a first.

Nick is an incredible writer and collaborator, and I have so much respect for his creative instincts and wordsmithing skills.

But even when you’re collaborating with your soulmate, there will still be some things you disagree on!

Though we were on the same page 90% of the time, of course there were times when we each had our preferences for how a sentence should be structured or how a point should be made.

Luckily, we have a secret weapon in our relationship toolkit: CCC — aka Crystal Clear Communication.

Sweet friend, don’t EVER underestimate the power of communication.

Whenever we had differing creative opinions, the key for us was talking it out, hearing the other person’s perspective, and knowing when to compromise. I truly believe that this book is one thousand percent stronger because we were committed to CCC, even in those moments when one of us felt a bit huffy!

Lesson #6. Self-Care is essential.

Writing a book is a marathon. 

Then again, there are also heaps of smaller deadlines you have to meet along the way, so in that way, it’s also a sprint.

However you want to think of it, a LOT of work goes into getting to that finish line! And oh my goodness, it can be exhausting.

In the past, with my other books, I’ve tended to go ‘all in’ during the writing process and work long hours to get my daily word counts done. But as a mama, I knew I couldn’t do that without burning out.

So over the past year, I had to relearn an important lesson: self-care is essential, and you must put your own oxygen mask on first. 

Not only does this ensure that you’re not eroding your mental and physical health, but it’s also essential for sustained creativity and productivity. (And I really mean that: whenever it felt like my writing was becoming drab or uninspired, I’d take half an hour to go outside in nature or play with Bambi. Nine times out of ten, I’d return to my laptop with my wellspring of creativity bubbling over again.)

Lesson #7. Dare to be vulnerable.

The most impactful writing comes from a place of vulnerability and authenticity. Once we’re willing to open up and share our stories, we can create a deeper connection with everyone around us. That’s what inspires people to make meaningful changes.

I share a story in Chapter One of the book that made me feel particularly vulnerable. It was a lesson I’d had to learn a while back. Sharing it publicly gave me a bit of a vulnerability hangover.

But I also knew that it was incredibly powerful to share and that the book would be stronger for it.

So… it’s still in there! And I’m so glad I shared. (And no, I’m not spoiling what the story is! You’ll have to check it out for yourself! 😆)

Lesson #8. It takes a village to hit your goals!

We have a beautiful nanny in our life, who is a total angel, and who Bambi loves. This book would not have been possible without her.

The same goes for the team of people involved in the writing and launching of the book — editors, publishers, publicists, photographers, designers, videographers… the list goes on!
We couldn’t have done it without them.

Then there was our family and soulies, who were all incredible — lending a supportive ear when we were exhausted, dropping off a delicious hot meal or vegan brownies to our door, and cheering us over the finish line. Time Magic certainly wouldn’t be here without them, either.

Lesson #9. Celebrate the small milestones, not just the big ones.

I haven’t counted them up properly, but with all the different drafts of this book, Nick and I wrote around 120,000 words in total. Maybe more.

… Erm, that’s a lot!!

Honestly, this was a *big* project, and we had to ensure we sustained our energy and motivation for the whole ride.

I’ve already mentioned the importance of practicing self-care in this respect. Another meaningful way that we sustained ourselves for the long haul was to celebrate the small milestones. 

Finishing off each chapter always felt like a HUGE win. We had a running table in a document where we’d keep track of where we were up to and how many chapters we still had to go. It was incredibly motivating to tick off each one, row by row, and know that slowly but surely, we were bringing our book baby to life!

I would also set a word count goal for each day and week. I didn’t always hit them (I’m not perfect, and Bambi always came first). But they were a great and motivating goal to work towards, and they kept me moving forwards, even if it was only an inch at a time.

Lesson #10. Embrace the ‘Messy Middle’.

Do you know what the most underrated part of any journey is?

The middle. 

We always talk about the process of getting from A to B, but we hardly ever focus on the in-between stage… which is funny when you think about it, because in order to achieve a goal, that’s actually where you need to spend the majority of your time: the middle.

Beginnings are exciting, endings are satisfying, and both of these stages are celebrated by our culture. Think of a marathon race: you have heaps of people cheering at the starting point and even more barracking at the finish line… but what about the middle? There are typically long stretches in between where the runners have no one watching them, no one encouraging them; it’s just them and the road…

… And that’s what it’s like for a LOT of the creative process, whether it’s book writing or anything else.

Here’s what I think: the person who embraces the messy middle, who can keep showing up and doing the work even when no one’s watching, is going to hit infinitely more goals than the person who’s only caught up in the excitement of the beginning or the finish line.

The middle is where the magic happens, baby.

Lesson #11. Time is the most precious resource we have.

Time is the only resource that we can never, ever renew. Once a moment has slipped through our fingers, it’s gone forever.

As a human on this planet who’s been given one wild and precious life, it’s critical that you take ownership and responsibility for your time. If you’re not happy with how you’re spending it right now, then there’s only one person who can fix that: YOU.

If you need help, there are tools and techniques waiting for you right here that can point the way. All you have to do is reach out and take them. 

So there you have it, beautiful — 11 of the biggest lessons we learned while writing our latest book.

Which of these resonates with you most? I’d love to hear; share with me in the comments. (As you know, I read every single one, and I can’t wait to read yours.)

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Hi Gorgeous, I'm Melissa.

Multiple bestselling author, #1 podcast host and TEDx speaker.

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