You Are Exactly Where You Need to Be In Your Writing
Monica H. Kang On Learning to Take Things Slow and Give Herself Permission to Take Her Time Writing Her Book
Invisible Stories Season 2 Episode 4 with Monica H. Kang
Today’s guest on Invisible Stories is Monica H. Kang, founder and CEO of Innovator’s Box, a company dedicated to creative educational workshops and consulting with the goal of helping all professionals hone their creativity to solve problems in the face of change and complexity. Monica is a renowned speaker and educator, and the author of Rethink Creativity: How to Innovate, Inspire, and Thrive at Work.
In today’s podcast, Monica and I talk about allowing yourself to take your time on writing your book, and how she leveraged her unique perspective to create a book with mass appeal. She shares:
- How she used her unique perspective as a dual-language speaker to consider the perspectives of all her readers, and how to market her book to a global audience.
- How she overcame self-doubt and recognized good writing is hard and that sometimes you have to challenge yourself to go deeper and get to the heart of the writing.
- Even if she could change the past, she wouldn’t, because it has brought her the experiences and learning she needed to grow and write the best book she could.
Rethink Creativity by Monica H. Kang
Monica H. Kang, CEO of InnovatorsBox® thought she had it all: a purposeful career in nuclear nonproliferation, great friends and mentors, and a life in a city she loved. So why did she feel stuck? Rethink Creativity teaches you and your team how to start constructing a creative mindset by allocating time to change up your daily routine. It will help you rediscover the passion you felt your first day on the job! Not only will leaders and managers be able to benefit from proven strategies, thought-provoking questions, and effective training techniques, but as you move through the book, you’ll start enjoying your work more, be a better leader, and find new ways to be creative, curious, and innovative every day.
- [00:00:53] Monica: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you again for having me. My name is Monica King. I am on the mission to unlock creativity for all, especially in the workplace. And that led me to building my company innovators box, where it’s a creative leadership from where we provide a lot of workshops, a facilitation training, kind of to really help culture and leadership and team development, Where we feel all creative inclusive and bring our best voice, wherever that means across different generations and culture. Um, and also I realized that I need to help more people, which is the reason why I wrote the book and got to work with Jen and our wonderful team. Uh, and the. Book, rethink creativity is how you can innovate, inspire, and thrive at work. Really kind of giving you my stories and insights and questions, and really helping you reflect to understand how you can be more creative, no matter where you are and why that’s important. Because I think often we have a misunderstanding of what creativity is.
- [00:04:38] Monica: Let’s be honest, I think especially, uh, no matter what topic that we do, right. As an author and as a first time author, um, I think the scariness is always a big part of it. I think there is the self doubt. There’s the self-talk that goes into. Okay. Like who do you think you are? What do you need? Why do you think you need to write something? Why can’t it just be an article? Like who says you have a book worth of knowledge? Like what does being a published book mean? What does it mean? Writing a book. And so, especially as somebody who and I share this more in that book in itself and the work I do and how I got into creativity, innovation, I don’t have a traditional. Like storyline of how others have, which is often in the arts psychology research or science. Like I came from a very different perspective. And so the part of me, you know, I knew already as a consumer, there are tons of creativity, innovation books out there. Why in the world would I have to publish another one? What in the world, can I share something that nobody else could and It’s an honest question that I think all authors, especially first time authors might need a struggle, um, and wrestle with in a very positive way, because I think when we have clarity in that, why to that question, then it becomes, I think a gift.
- [00:05:52] Monica: I mean, in my sense, it helped, it gave me clarity to know that why I should, because every time I got to that question, it reminded me that yes, because actually [00:06:00] most books are from those backgrounds. I think there needs to be a different book. And because people are used to seeing black and white and just theories and graphs, I think I want to put a personal narrative to it and actually help keep up because a lot of creativity, innovation it’s either based on this research, Psychology a business case scenarios, which is all fantastic, but I found that that is. And the storytelling based on that, which is fantastic as well, but that doesn’t give enough examples on how I can personally connect the dots as somebody who might be still figuring out what does that narrative mean for me? And that was the gap that I felt, which is why I built the company. And I found that even in the reading market that I couldn’t find. So whether it’s the whole creative process, the question that I constantly went back to, it’s like, okay, The only way I feel like I can bring value is that it has to be uniquely something that I can only do. And what will be the most Monica King, like what can be that I would regret not doing that. I would enjoy every single [00:07:00] moment. And Enjoy also the result. And I found that the books I cherished as a reader, are the high quality books, then you see the intentionality, the entire writing, the journey of what it made you as a reader. And I felt like I want to provide that. And then I want to challenge myself. What does that mean? For me as a writer.
- [00:09:01] Monica: It made me realize, Oh, I should probably organize these thoughts because I could help more people if I see a pattern and a theme. And so that’s actually how I’m looking at the book. Again, the chapters that came about, um, such as like, there is no one perfect formula who you associate with and what you observed matters. [00:09:20] Like a thousand shades of failures, like of the seven chapters came about, because I was realizing upon reflection there’s seven to eight statements that everyone always says or has a miss notion about. But when, if you first asked me Jenn, like, Oh, this is the way that you do it. I don’t think I would have. Thought of that way, kind of again, organically came about, because I was trying to focus on the question of like, what is uniquely, what I can do that I can share. And I’m like, well, let me go back to my experience, which is, these are things I constantly hear. And I think I can provide a different perspective. That helps and is tangible help when actually applicable. And that’s how the intention started.
- [00:11:37] Monica: And so that mental process was a huge journey. And now every time I go back to those cafes in restaurant, I have now those memories of like, wow, like I’m glad I stuck to it because there were many moments that I could have just said, you know what. That’s that’s it done? I’m not doing this anymore. What am I doing?
- [00:12:20] Monica: Of course it’s hard, I think. Because I think knowing that now, I hope that when I come across it, you would feel less scary is what I hope to express. Because I think often you see the beautiful results of all these. I think, especially as a reader, I see these beautiful results and I, what I found really humbling with, I think, as I was writing, I read a lot of articles or like, you know, interview articles of like how. Like actual famous authors or like people I respect wrote their book and they would always say how hard it was. So when I felt hard, I’m like, you know what? This is called a normal process. It’s supposed to be hard. I am working hard because it’s, and I actually, the days when it came too easy, I then had to challenge my self, Like something’s too easy. Some things I’m not maybe going deep enough, like maybe you need to go a layer deeper. And I would make sure that I will sit on some of the content for few weeks, then few days. And when I come back to it, then I realize, Oh, That that happened. And now I need to go, I think I know how to go a layer deeper.
- [00:15:24] Monica: Um, I grew up in both in American and Korean culture where we do celebrate speed and we’re fast and productivity. And so I think in my head, of course, uh, the first few times when I got around it and I wasn’t able to get that result. It did, you know, it did worry me. I’m like, maybe I’m not supposed to able to write a book. [00:15:45] Maybe I, maybe I’m not good with words. Um, and I think, uh, what I realized was, um, it was really going back to the mindset. So I realized that dead;ome that [00:16:00] I initially gave myself was a Timeline that I put on me, nobody else. And I realized, okay, is the timeline more important than the quality? [00:16:09] And I realized, no, it’s always going to be quality. So, and I look at, um, again, going back to real case examples, like I’m blanking on some of the authors name, but like even worldwide, like famous novellas and like authors that I really respect for stories of how they spent like years and years. And I’m like, I can’t do that. But like, I guess you extend a few days is like, Okay, compared to your, so I’m on the good track. I’m telling myself again, reminders of how others have done. And I think the second thing, it really helped me with just holding on to the really, really good days. Like the moments I had a powerful flow that I just wrote something and I shared a piece and people were like, wow, Monica. That was like really incredible. Like, I can’t wait to hear your book. I realized it was important for me to equally hold on to those compliments, those messages, because it just reminded me the why of why I needed to do this. But also why the intentionality [00:17:00] and the quality is going to make the difference.
- [00:17:02] Monica: And so I guess those are three things that help me going back to the past experience, putting on, onto, um, my good moments and just reminding myself the why.
- [00:19:05] Monica: And it actually was a whole other process when I was working the book, uh, which, uh, I’m working with a Korean publisher where. I had to re-look at what I wrote back in English and then put more context. And they came back to me again with clarification and English phrases. It was a whole other journey and like, wait, no, that’s in English, but this is actually what it means in Korean. [00:19:26] And this is how you would actually describe differently. Um, and so I took that rather as an opportunity. I think that helped me. Um, and that’s why I’m even more proud because. I still read my own book when I need that reminder. And I’m grateful that the original language of how I say it is exactly there, but, um, That fleshed out, copy editing. Hugely of course.
- [00:21:16] Monica: I did think about a global consumer from the very beginning when I wrote. And I think that intentionality also is really important. Like, who are you thinking of when you’re writing your book? Like, who are you envisioning to really benefit? Why would they care about this? Why is it important that you tell this In this format to them. Um, and that gives clarity into whether it’s language translation, how the book is going to be presenting itself to other stakeholders that you want to serve. And then. Gives for me, at least the funnel cycle. This was a little loophole that gives me, hence again, the clarity of why then I want to work hard to go through the iterations, to edit, to work through my emotional challenge, to create this book because I thought again, like [00:22:00] at the end of the day, if there’s somebody else in the world reading this and reminding them that like, wow, okay. so I now know I’m not. I’m creative than I thought, and I am more creative than I thought I’m actually creative. I didn’t think I was creative and I know how to do this. And I know that because of that, I’m going to have these ripple effects like that, that visual, I think stuck with me as a North star to hold onto me throughout the process and pushing for that quality.
- [00:23:36] Monica: Because honestly, yes, it might be that I serve my day job at innovators box a certain type of clientele. But to be honest, are all of them are going to be book readers? are all, are going to be the, but people who would buy a book or, or maybe they prefer audio book, maybe they would prefer actually, uh, a workbook or maybe they would actually prefer more of a business, like a traditional, like black and white book. [00:23:59] Um, [00:24:00] and so it was a duality of like, what are my stakeholders Used to, what do they really need? What would they say they want? And then what can I uniquely provide? And I almost thought of this visual of look those three or four questions mapping out and see that middle piece, that commonality is I think what I can uniquely provide and [00:24:27] That helped me then remind myself. Okay. So then this is the reason why we make these certain decisions. This is why I’m going to put these visuals. This is why I’m going to ask, even though it might feel a little bit more costly to do it in color, because I was thinking about what my stakeholders were used to, what they really want. . .
- [00:25:52] Monica: Thank you. And I think this reflects back to really understanding your strength and yourself. I think for me, actually at [00:26:00] innovator’s box, that is our core strength. Like people come, I just did a whole weekend event. And one of the things I told my team is that our expertise is building experience. It’s not just putting together the content [00:26:11] It’s not just helping people learn something new. It’s The whole journey and the experience. And so I think that I’m glad it was reflected upon, even though, I guess I didn’t even realize, but as I was answering your questions, you were catching that. And I think I share that because everyone who’s listening and watching this, they are probably Elements in what makes you uniquely you? And I think the more you go back to that core strength, that core clarity that helps you, what your why is, but how you then would deliver that. Why? Because maybe for some of you, it is that visual, or maybe it is that data, and maybe it’s a particular type of language tone that you do then flesh that out more because the more you show that, then that’s uniquely going to be original, valuable work that. [00:26:56] The audience could really appreciate as you as while you’re thinking about your [00:27:00] stakeholders, who’s going to read.
- [00:27:50] Monica I am a perfectionist by nature. I want everything to be the best and I want my people to have the best and I want the readers to have the best. And I think often that means I’m driving myself nuts. [00:28:00] Um, so I think, you know, it just forgiving myself a little bit more and knowing that forgiving myself doesn’t mean that I’m hurting the quality, I’m just giving myself more time to process, to build, [00:28:13] Uh, and even though there are moments. When, whether I feel excited or whether I feel unsure, then it is an opportunity to build on that and kind of build through that process. That being said, I think because of that, I get to appreciate it even more. If I, so in a strange way, I guess I would probably live the same way because every single event that happened throughout that year and a half book process and. The process to gear to have, but the knowledge and the thinking happens a lot longer, which is why it only took a year and a half, maybe a year and a half looks long. It is actually, I think it could take a lot longer. And that’s why I think about the next book. I do want to write that I have been like already kind of stopped sharing with Jenn a [00:29:00] while back. [00:29:00] I realize I need to actually give her space. I need the first book to actually grow more. I need to do more research. I want to kind of build on this and I don’t want to rush through it. Because again, uh, a minor stories I want to provide quality and that full experience, and maybe there are certain pieces of the dots that need to connect more.
- [29:45] Monica: And you listening to this, like, I hope this gives you a reminder that wherever you are, that that’s exactly where you’re supposed to be in that exact emotional process and [00:30:00] writing process is going to help you write something even more enriching and deeper.
- [00:30:03] Monica: That will be so invaluable. Because words have power and think about the books that changed your life. I mean, I assume you were writing it because you want to change other people’s lives. That requires hard work. Diamonds don’t happen overnight.