Those who know me well know that for the past seven years or so I have been working on writing a book comprised of personal essays detailing my life experiences so far.
Originally, when I first started working on this idea it was going to be a series of humorous stories from my life. Between working at a grocery store for ten years, the aquarium for four and as an educational speaker for nine, I had a wealth of ridiculous stories to tell all around one central theme, “You’re Doing It Wrong.”
This also happened to be the catch phrase I was known for using in day-to-day life when referring to others who weren’t doing it right.
As I began writing, I realized that, in some cases, in order to tell a story, I had to go back and tell another to properly set the scene for the narrative. This led me to diving back further into my life and telling stories that are more personal.
At the same time all of this was going on, I started reading more and more memoirs to get a feel for what I felt worked and what didn’t. I buried myself in the stories of Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler, Ellen Degeneres and so many more for ideas.
I quickly discovered that the memoirs I enjoyed the most were the ones that taught me a lesson of some sort. It wasn’t enough just to tell an amusing story for the sake of filling the pages, but to have some nugget of wisdom to pass along as well.
This epiphany lead to me trashing everything I had written and starting from scratch, this time with a new goal in mind for what I wanted to write and accomplish with telling my own, personal story.
One thing that has remained consistent through this whole process is the title of the book which remains, “You’re Doing It Wrong.”
This past week has been dedicated to working harder on writing this book than ever before in the hopes to finish it. While what wasn’t entirely the case, I did manage to get a lot done and if I continue working at this rate every day, there’s a good chance I’ll have this sucker done by my birthday and ready to go sometime this fall.
I have to admit that I have learned a lot in the last few days about what it means to write a book and frankly I’m annoyed that no one warned me what this was going to be like.
So, my friends, I’m here to tell you what no one else will when it comes to writing your book. I want to say “when it comes to writing your first book” but I have a terrible feeling that this is the life I will lead should I considering writing another.
At the same time I feel like a lot of this is the same thing that people don’t tell you about being a blogger because there seems to be a lot of overlap in the two.
Therefore, with that in mind, here are the things that no one will tell you about writing a book… or being a blogger.
Here we go:
- You will experience every emotion humanly possible and a lot of time, it will be the worst. This is particularly true when writing your own story. I have been writing on some real tough stuff from my childhood and it’s been a chore for sure. That’s where the wine comes in handy. To know what I mean, continue reading.
- You will drink. I know it’s a bit of a writer stereotype but it exists because it’s true. When dealing with so many, often painful, emotions you need an outlet. Perhaps drinking isn’t the most healthy option but when you’re writing at 3 o’clock in the morning, it’s your best bet. I did work out as well for those who want to judge me.
- Inspiration will hit at the absolute wrong times, roll with it. In general I am always sure to have pen and paper with me at all times. When a good line pops into my head I write it down as quickly as possible so I don’t forget it. When it doubt, I text it to myself. When I’m feeling really good and ready to purge some word vomit, I drop what I’m doing and I write it. Now or never ya’ll. That’s the way.
- You become nocturnal because sleep is for the weak. The past five days have been spent writing. My alarm goes off at 8:30 every morning and I’m up and writing, usually until 2 or 3 in the morning. I blame part of this on the fact that I work nights in a restaurant and I’m used to being up that late but a lot of it has stemmed from the fact that when I get rolling there is no stopping me. Now that doesn’t mean I’m writing non-stop and this is because of the next item on my list.
- You’re going to nap, a lot. I blame it on all the emotions. I’m fairly certain all of my naps this week stemmed from emotional exhaustion.
- You’re wardrobe consists of your pajamas and nothing else. This goes for blogging as well. I mean, I’m doing this in the comfort of my own home so I really don’t care what I look like and I might as well be comfortable. The cats are judging me, I can feel it.
- Human interaction doesn’t exist. This was so true it hurt and I had to put an end to it. When I found myself starting to go a bit stir crazy I would make a Starbucks run. This would get me out of my pajamas and out of the house even for just a little bit. Sadly, as a result, my human interaction was pretty much limited to baristas.
- Your life will be overrun by an embarrassing amount of half-full Starbucks cups. The current state of my living room, my primary writing area, is disgusting. Like, really bad.
- Nothing matters but the writing. Seriously, my home has descended into chaos. I’m going to need an extra day off just to clean my house and readapt to being a functional human being.
- You’re going to eat everything. This may have something to do with the emotions you are feeling but you are going to find yourself snacking on just about everything possible. I’m fairly certain I’ve gained about ten pounds this past week. Writing makes you fat… that’s a bonus fact for you.
- Painful childhood memories will come flooding back whether you like it or not. For this, please refer to point number 2 for dealing with this one.
- It’s going to take a lot longer than you thought. I had it in my head that if I took the entire week off from everything, I could get this done. Hell, I’m been working on it for seven years, surely I could wrap it all up in a week.
I’m an idiot.
So there you have all the things that no one tells you about writing a book. If you thought I was going to offer wisdom on how to make this better… I’ve got nothing for you.
Looking for inspiration? Here are some of the books that I have been reading and re-reading throughout this entire process! Click the cover to learn more or to buy yourself a copy!
15 comments on “What No One Tells You about Writing a Book”
Good luck with the book. Keep plugging.
Great tips! I keep toying with the idea of starting to write a book and then I remember how difficult it’s going to be and I think “Maybe I’ll start next year.” Good luck on your book! I love the title! I hope it stays the same.
It is easily the most frustrating but rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’m really excited with how it’s coming along and I can’t wait to share it!
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All the best with your writing. It’s as they always say, “Apply seat of pants to seat of chair.” Then you just open a new file, slice a vein and pour out your life blood. Day after day. 🙂
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And that’s what happening as we speak. Trying to knock some words out before I have to go to work 😦
My question about writing this type of book is… how do you navigate around writing about people you know? In particular, writing negative things about people you know? To date (I mean, only since January, so not exactly a long stretch of time) I have avoided writing about that sort of stuff on my blog because of the fear that the people involved would read it and get their feelings hurt… no matter how truthful I’ve been.
Also good job on knuckling down and just DOING it!
The biggest thing so far has just been changing names. My method of attack has been either picking a different name that starts with the same letter or picking the ugliest name possible (depending on how much I hate the person I’m writing about).
It’s the same rule I use for my blog however I mostly tell the fun stories here so I haven’t changed any names on my blog. I try to avoid writing about people or fights I’m having right away because it only adds fuel. Best thing is the give the situation a cool down period before I put it out there.
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Mmm. I suppose in my case it would be my mother and no amount of changing names is going to disguise the fact that she’s my mother….. But those are good tips!
Parents and family are hard. I changed my aunt’s name when writing about her because she is the type to sue. My dad was difficult because, as you said, there’s no changing that. That’s why there’s disclaimers. I make sure to point out that these are the events as I remember them and may be different from how others remember it happening. Then it’s just hoping for the best.
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You are a braver man than I! Thanks for the thoughts.
Quite a bunch of honest tips/warning, I guess 🙂 🍸
Haha, indeed. But it’s all worth it!