5 Things I learnt from writing a book

True You Book Cover
Get Real Live / Journeys / Susan / Wisdom

5 Things I learnt from writing a book

For years I was told to write a book, but what would I write about?

This seems like a very odd question, considering I have spent the better part of the last 20 years writing, blogging, creating and sharing content every day. So, for those of you who have a book stirring on the inside this is for you.

Before I begin, I remember someone once saying to me that all of us either have a book or a marathon in us. Some days I wished I had a marathon in me but alas my sneakers have remained intact and the written word captured my being. If I was asked for any advice about the writing journey it would be to really consider the marathon. Dig deep, go for a few runs, try it out because from what I have come to know is that having a book in you and sharing it with the world is no easy task and much like what I imagine the physical pains of a marathon would be, writing a book can cause havoc within your very core. Read on, dear one.

1. Giving Birth. 

I’ve given birth to 3 incredible children and if you read True You, you’ll come to understand that I have carried 6 children and had 5 pregnancies (you’ll just have to read it for the explanation of that). Writing a book is much like giving birth. First you think about having a baby/writing.

The thought process can go on for years and during this time you dance back and forth like the little red engine that declared ‘I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. I know I can, I know I can, I know I can. In an instant it can change to; I don’t think I can, I don’t think I can. I don’t think I can.’ This goes on until one day you silence the voice in your head and you bravely pick up a pen or begin to tap away on your keyboard and something pours out of you.

From that moment fear creeps in. How can I make sure my baby is healthy? How can I be a good parent? What should I eat to help my baby become strong? How do I bond with my baby? Will I love my baby? Is my baby going to survive pregnancy?  What if I fail? Fear eats away with every negative word. It is in this place that you push through, you keep going and you bear down like the last moments of an actual birth and you push what is in you out into the world.

2. Self-Doubt. 

Those who know me well know that self-doubt has never really been something I’ve struggled with. Arrogance? I don’t think so, but I’ve questioned that myself. Delusional? Possibly. I am a #7 on the Enneagram which means that I generally see life through rose coloured glasses and my cup is always half full. The best way to describe a number 7 is Tigger, you know, the character from Winnie the Pooh who is always jumping around and excited about life.

I’ve also heard 7’s described this way; Imagine you’re on a property and the barn begins to burn down. Animals are safe and most people deeply concerned in making sure that everything is safe. A number 7 on the other hand only sees possibility and decides to look for the marshmallows and sticks for roasting. Forever the optimist who avoids pain at any cost.

Let me tell you, this #7 experienced self-doubt through the writing process like NOTHING else. There were days when I wanted to pack it in. There were countless days when I would read and re-read my content and wonder who would ever read it.  Would it resonate with anyone?  I doubted myself, I doubted doubt itself and I doubted the process. Constantly questioning whether my writing team and trusted critics were being honest with me. I found myself on a merry-go-round that wouldn’t stop, and it was no longer fun because I couldn’t get off.

3. Writer’s block. 

Is real – WOW. Who knew that you could stare at a blank screen not only for days but weeks that turn into months? Writer’s block is so real and having never battled with words or ever lacked filling awkward silences or blank spaces, I couldn’t write or speak my way out of the lull I was in. I was lost.

How did I handle it? It wasn’t easy. I avoided meetings with my editor and any conversations about the book. I became very silent and introspective, it felt like I was rolling into myself. Like I was watching the world go by and I was emotionless. It was a very hard space to be in, there was no map or signs leading me out.

I turned to nature and increased my minutes of meditation, and I began to walk and hike. I took to trails that promised beautiful views at the end of physical challenge, weaving my way through some of the most stunning bush walks that my piece of the world had to offer. With every step, view and breath I found my words and the block became a window I could see through.

4. Let it Go.

Although it sounds like the song from Frozen, it’s not about that. I had to understand that there comes a time when you have to let it go out and into the world. This is very hard.

Thankfully I had an incredible editor, David, who held my hand through the entire process. He was editor, counsellor, friend and butt-kicker all mixed together. David, along with my husband and a few close friends helped me get it over the line.  I wanted to give up so many times. There were messages I would send my girlfriends with a paragraph and just the words ‘tell me if it’s crap’. I had hours of conversations about the benefit of giving up and moving on. In fact, this was so real I remember battling this in the last hours before I had to have it sent in for the last time.  My final deadline had been extended countless times by a very patient editor and forgiving publisher.

It was 12 a.m. and everything needed to be in by 2 a.m. (Australia time)… yep, we worked until the final moment and in these moments I almost packed it in again. Hard to believe but the battle was so very real.

5. Published, Now What. 

Working with my publisher I’ve come to understand that there are some authors who publish, get it out there and hope for the best and also rely on the publisher to do it all. Well, friends, the publishing world has changed and there is good content everywhere and this means if you believe in what you’ve written this is part two of the heavy lifting. Now you need to get it into the hands of readers – as many as possible. You have to put yourself out there and now that you’ve conquered all the self-doubt, etc., you think that would be easy. Ha!

Here’s something funny. In addition to being an author (I still find that funny to say) I run a digital agency which is my ‘day job’. Through our agency, we’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible authors who have millions of followers and we’ve helped them get on ‘best sellers lists’. Working with some of the biggest publishing houses has been a privilege. We’ve even been paid to learn all of this stuff. Amazing, right!

When it came to my book you would think I would have this tiger by the tail.

My team can tell you that I confessed to them and told them I was paralysed. I was once again lost in a world where I couldn’t move. I knew what needed to be done but couldn’t find my feet to put one in front of the other. Thanks to Christer, Caitlin, Charlotte and our incredible launch team it was I who was lifted through this. Like the dedication in the book says. ‘To every woman who has ever lifted another sister up when she’s fallen down, said, ‘Yes, you can,’ when they said, ‘no I can’t,’ and carried them until they could walk.’

Writing a book is an interesting experience. It’s been an even greater challenge than I expected. To those who have already asked – the simple answer is, book number two is already underway. Much like the marathon runner who keeps going, race after race, I continue to write and am forever grateful for those who have carried me from conception to birth to raising the baby and eventually moving into a space to watch the life it will have out there on its own.

True You is available now- at Amazon, Koorong, Book Depository, & Barnes & Noble.