When I began writing my first book, I had no clue what I was doing. I had an idea for a story and a longing to become an author.
I was pregnant with my blended family’s fourth child when I started writing and I naively assumed, being a professional writer and all, that the book and the baby would be finished at about the same.
My son was 13 when Shades of Teale was finally published.
The experience of becoming a published author has been full of surprises and now, as a book coach and editor, there is a lot I share with my clients to help them leverage this wonderful experience so they can benefit even more from it.
Here are what I think surprise people the most about writing a book:
1. Completing a Book Requires an Inordinate Amount of Devotion
Obviously it doesn’t have to take 13 years to write a book and I was able to complete my most recent book – Content Marketing Made Easy – in just under eight months. But it was still a labour of love.
The entrepreneurs who run those “Write Your Book in a Weekend” programs promote the idea that you can whip off that book and strike it off your “To Do” list in a clean 48 hours.
That might be possible. But I’ve been a professional writer working for some of the world’s most respected organizations for nearly 35 years. I have training and capabilities few in North America have amassed. I am used to meeting impossible writing deadlines. And I could no more write a book in a weekend than I could jump to the moon.
To “whip off” the book that took me eight months to write, I plunked my fanny resolutely into my chair at 4:30 a.m. six mornings a week and worked steadily for two hours.
I was absolutely determined to write a quality book that would serve my readers well. That book became an Amazon best seller in its category and it required huge commitment.
2. Writing a Book is a Transformational Experience
Writing a book and getting it published generates a transformational change in who you think you are. When you’ve published your book you are no longer “someone who would like to write a book some day” you are now “someone who wrote a book” and there is a world of self-affirmation in the accomplishment.
And by “book” I don’t mean one of those 15-page papers available on Amazon that some people are using in order to tell the world that they are “published authors.” To me that’s a short-cut to borrowed fame that has nothing to do with the integrity of writing a “real” book.
True transformation comes with a sense of quiet awe at what you’ve done. It comes with a change in perspective and a rightful sense of pride in who you are and who you are becoming. I’ve felt that inspirational sense of change in myself with each of the books I’ve written and I’ve seen it in the clients I’ve supported to the publication of their own books.
In fact, the journey to becoming a published author is kind of like a pilgrimage of sorts that takes us on a journey into our higher selves.
3. There is always more
I was over-the-moon excited when Shades of Teale came out in 2011. I basked in the wonder of becoming a published author and I thought of it as something of a “destination” rather than as a “way of being.”
But my publisher kept prodding me to tell him what interested me, and then he wangled my commitment to write a book about it.
Voilà: Passages to Epiphany was published in 2012, The Write Way appeared in 2014 and Content Marketing Made Easy came out in 2015.
The neat thing is that once you’ve proven to yourself that you can write one book, you can certainly, if you so desire, write more. There is, in fact, always the possibility of more.
You can never be fully prepared for the mysteries that unfold when you become a published author and I’m sure the journey is a little bit different for everyone. But it’s a wonderful achievement and walking through the door marked “Author” is worth every minute spent hunched over your keyboard staring mutely at a line of ornery text.
What’s more, holding that book in your hands is akin to the joy that comes from holding your baby the moment it is born. There is great delight in both experiences. And they both have the capacity to leave us all wondering, “I wonder what’s next?”