Podcast 28: Lessons Learned from Writing a BookAug 27, 2020
There were so many lessons I learnt from writing my first book. It brought out all of my demons and challenged me in ways I just didn’t expect. The lessons also helped me gain a much deeper understanding of both my work and how I work. Here are some of my main takeaways to help and inspire you.
Lesson #1: I can write
I’m not a naturally gifted writer and always struggled with rules around grammar. This was reinforced by being compared to my twin who read and did well in English and again when I started work. I was surrounded by writers and proof-readers who were brilliant and often laughed at my spelling mistakes.
One of the reasons I started a blog was to help me learn and develop the skill of writing. As a marketer, I know how important it is to be able to write and communicate in my business. The book certainly challenged my beliefs around writing but I did it and I’m proud of myself for it.
Lesson #2: Make a commitment
I needed accountability to keep writing the book. By telling people I’d got a contract and was going to publish it, I had to keep going. This helped me to knuckle down and do the work at the times when I really didn’t feel like it – too many people were asking how it was going and my pride wouldn’t let me give in when the going got tough.
Lesson #3: Writing has to be a routine
I discovered trying to write around my usual work schedule made the whole process long and painful. Because I worked away a lot, there were weeks where I didn’t touch the book. When I got home and picked it up again, it would take me ages to get back into the flow of writing again.
Lesson #4: Plan for it taking three times longer than you think
I thought I’d be able to write a book pretty quickly. Articles I’d already written added up to 100,000 words, and the book was estimated at being 60,000 words. With all the content available, I (wrongly) thought it would be more about collating and editing than writing.
Even with a large library of blogs, it was frightening how much time it took.
In reality, pulling the information together and making it flow took an age. I reviewed and edited the first manuscript at least six times before it was ready for anyone else to read. Once I got the first amends back from my proofreading friends, I still had to go back over it and over it. It was like the never-ending job and this was before it was submitted to the publisher.
Lesson #5: Take a break from writing
After a while of hitting the keyboard and editing, the book started to merge into one. I couldn’t remember what I’d written and where and to be honest, I was getting bored with the sound of my own voice.
It was amazing how different the booked looked when I allowed myself to take a break. Having the space between sending it to the publisher and getting the first proofs back allowed me to look at it with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
I could see things that didn’t quite work and understand how I could explain them better.
Lesson #6: It will never be perfect
I’m a recovering perfectionist but it’s interesting how the book brought up my old perfection demons. I’m not good enough, I can’t do this, what if it’s rubbish, who would read this sh*t anyway and so the list goes on.
This perfection pattern has stopped me from releasing things in the past and I was determined not to allow it to continue. I set about working on myself and addressing where I was getting stuck. I looked at the patterns that were linked to perfection for me such as being super busy on other things and running out of time in the day.
A great book that helped me with this is ‘Finish – give yourself the gift of done’ by John Acuff. It opened up my eyes to some of the reasons why I had failed to finish certain projects and helped me put strategies in place to make sure it didn’t happen with the book.
The book will never be perfect. There will always be ways of improving it and adding to it but at some point, you have to stop and let it go.
Lesson #7: Be open to feedback
Receiving feedback can be harsh. Especially when it’s about something you’ve put your heart and soul into. You have to be open to feedback and learn from it and it takes courage. I always reminded myself, I’d asked for the feedback and it was my decision whether to act on it. This helped me be courageous when I was feeling vulnerable.
Lesson #8: Be flexible
No matter how well structured the book was at the start, it changed as I wrote it. Things I thought would be useful got deleted, others got added. The way the book flowed changed a number of times as I tried to make it as simple and useful as possible and being okay with that helped immensely.
Ultimately, I knew writing a book wasn’t going to be easy, but I have a newfound respect for authors. It’s still a very recent experience and I’m not sure whether there will be a follow-up but it’s been one that has taught me a lot about myself and helped me be more productive than ever before and made me both a better marketer and a better practitioner.
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Podcast 28 show notes:
- 01:18 Lesson #1: I can write
- 03:11 Lesson #2: Make a commitment
- 03:50 Lesson #3: Writing has to be a routine
- 04:32 Lesson #4: Plan for it taking three times longer than you think
- 06:11 Lesson #5: Take a break from writing
- 07:35 Lesson #6: It will never be perfect
- 09:28 Lesson #7: Be open to feedback
- 10:28 Lesson #8: Be super flexible
- 12:13 Invitation to online book launch
- 13:00 Your Holistic Business Recipe pre-order offer
Recommended reading: Finish by Jon Acuff