I’ve been sharing little bits and pieces of the process of writing my new book with you over the last few months. I’m so glad so many of you have been enjoying these little peeks into how it all goes down. Whether you think you might like to write a book of your own one day, or whether you’re just curious, I’m happy that these posts have been interesting for you to read. 🙂
So far we’ve talked about the fact that I was writing a book and how that all came about, all the stuff that happens in the process before you even start with the actual writing, and what happens when you have a little minor disagreement/confusion/lack of mind-making-up between you and your publisher.
I have yet to tell you about the actual writing of the book so today I thought I’d share a few fun facts that I learned about book-writing as I went along. These are all in my experience, of course but feel free to apply them to your own book-writing journey!
Facts about writing a book (when you’re me):
It’s not that hard
I always thought that being an author meant hour upon excruciating hour spent huddled over a piece of paper, agonizing over every little detail of every little word until it was absolutely perfect. And if you weren’t willing to do that, then being an author just wasn’t for you. The fact of the matter is that I just sat down and wrote literally whatever popped into my head that I wanted to share about whatever subject the chapter that I was writing was about that day. No agonizing, no stressing, none of that. I didn’t worry about if I sounded smart, or too serious, or too light-hearted at all, I just wrote the book in pretty much exactly the same way that I write my blog posts, only with more words, obviously. 🙂 When I re-read everything I’d written, I always thought it was pretty darn good and also exactly what I wanted to say. So the moral of the story is to just write down whatever comes out and don’t worry about it too much!
You don’t need an artsy coffee shop or a fancy desk near a window with a view
I don’t know why, but somehow this idea has crept into my mind over the years that to write a book and be an “actual author” means that you sit in a window at a coffee shop, or at a desk overlooking the sea and ponder your deepest thoughts over and over again until you have juuust the right words to express them. Well, OK, so my book is about cleaning tips so maybe that doesn’t always require the most deep pondering, but still. You know what I mean. I did most of my writing sitting at my dining room table, or on the little couch at the end of my bed and the words still came out just fine. 🙂
It’s not hours upon hours of writing every day
So, along with that vision of needing to get away and sit in a coffee shop, came the vision of needing to do it for hours upon hours. You know, like the process of writing a book is such a big deal that everything else in your life just gets pushed aside so you can have this life-changing experience of becoming an author for a few months. Actually I think I always envisioned authors going away to some faraway place and having a little “authoring vacations” all by themselves, and not emerging back into the real world until they’ve completed their masterpiece, unless it was to go sit for hours and hours in a coffee shop of course :). The reality is that not too much changed in my life while I was writing the book. I spent about 10 minutes a day on it, wrote down what I wanted to say about the part that I was working on, then got on with everything else. Of course, sometimes I wanted to really push through a certain chapter that I was working on because I had a lot of good ideas, so I’d come back to it for another 10 minutes in the evening some days, and sometimes I spent an extra few hours in the afternoon playing around and experimenting and making sure that I was giving you the best tips and tricks possible. Overall though, a few minutes a day got the job done!
It’s kind of fun
It can be kind of stressful to think that what you’re writing is going to be permanently printed out in a real-live book for ever and ever. You can’t go back and edit, and you can’t go back and just hit delete. The flip side of that is that you get to do what you do best, it doesn’t take any more effort than writing a blog post everyday, and it’s suddenly being elevated into something so special and fancy and you don’t have to do a single extra thing! Wahoo! What’s even better is that you can write whatever you see fit and there are experts to tell you if it’s not good. Or if they think something should be re-written, or if you should add in a little more, or a little less here and there. These people know what they’re talking about and their job is to make you look good and make your book a success! I loved knowing that, as a new author, if I was totally off the mark, they would tell me and set me in the right direction, rather than have me crash and burn. It ended up that my publisher loved my book and didn’t ask me to change anything about it, but I thought it made the whole process a lot more fun when all of the burden and worry about whether it would be successful enough was taken off my shoulders.
Book people and publishers are surprisingly reasonable to deal with
So along those same lines, the people that you work with at the publisher are actually incredibly easy to work with. It’s not at all like how you often hear it is with people getting into a fight with their publishers or editors, or anything dramatic like that. There may be some different opinions about certain things, but everything is negotiable and as the author, your thoughts and opinions have real weight in the process. I remember being struck by how many times the phrase “in good faith” was used in my contract. That’s really the overlying theme of the whole process. All conversations need to be had in good faith and with the best of intentions from everyone involved and that just makes the whole process pretty reasonable overall.
It’s kind of a big deal
OK, so quite a few bloggers write books about their various areas of interest, but in the real world, it’s kind of a big deal. I mean, how many people do you know in your real like who have written a book? In that context it’s pretty exciting and it’s also something that a lot of the real life people that you know actually understand, where a blog or any other online business is something that’s still a bit confusing to most people. As a blogger, it’s kind of a big deal to have an occupational title like “author” that makes sense to most people and makes you sound smart instead of a little bit crazy. 🙂
No one really thought you were a writer before this
If you have a blog, or you write for a hobby, or you send in letters to the editor of your local newspaper, then you’re a writer, and you have been all along. It’s funny though how people don’t always equate these things with writing until you actually put your words in this tidy little package called a book. When you’re in the process of writing a book, suddenly your “work” is seen as being so much more valid and worthy of the time you spend on it compared to before. It’s easy to get a little miffed at that whole outlook, but it’s better to just try to enjoy it. I have to admit that I never really realized that I was a “writer” before someone asked me to write a book either!
Overall, the process of writing a book is so similar to so many other seemingly daunting things in life: Once you actually start doing it, it’s really not so difficult at all and it isn’t the huge time-consuming undertaking that we often think it is. It’s just sharing a few thoughts and ideas, putting them into a neat little package that people can carry around with them, and then moving on to the next thing. I’m so glad that I’ve kind of demystified the whole book-writing process for myself now and I hope I have for you too! Writing a book is definitely not something to be intimidated by or worried about. Just put some words on your screen for a few minutes a day and soon you’ll read back over it and realize that you’ve really got something there! It’s really just that simple. 🙂
More to come on this whole book thing soon! Next time I check in with you about this I’ll be sharing the book’s title and cover art! Yay!
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.