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Getting started

April 1, 2017

 

I started writing my first book on January 7th, 2017. Actually, I started writing it in middle school. I wanted to be a writer when I was young, up until probably high school, when other creative interests took over. I remember writing the first page of what would eventually become my book, thinking it was a really great idea, but somehow knowing I didn't have the ability in that moment to make it into something more.

 

So here I am, nearly 20 years later, revisiting a childhood dream and picking up the threads of a story that was powerful enough to stay with me for so long. But do I really have the patience, and the time, and the dedication, to get it on paper and out into the world?

 

I set myself the goal of finishing it in a month, spending a month editing and on launching it in March. As we enter April, this is clearly not what happened. However, setting these ambitious goals really pushed me to meet them whenever possible. And if it's taking longer than I planned, it's also because the more I wrote, the better I wanted it to be. Do I think this is going to be some huge, award-winning, million-copy selling book? Absolutely not. But that doesn't mean it should look like it was written in about five minutes. We've all read those books, and thought "I could do better." And hopefully I will. But to write something that looks like it took more than five minutes actually takes... much much more than five minutes. Then everything that comes after writing (cover design! website! editing! picking a pen name!) takes even longer.

 

When I began this journey in January, I started reading blogs and books on self-publishing. They gave timelines for launches and encouragements that you can bang out 10,000 words in a week or two. And maybe some people can, but what does that actually look like?

 

What I needed to hear wasn't "you can do it!" but "this is how you do it!" The nitty gritty, everyday frustrations of people like me: I have a young son, a full-time job, a husband and a cat who also need and deserve my time and attention (that was not necessarily in order of importance, but rather how much energy each one takes!). 

 

How many words is it actually possible to write in an evening, after putting my son down to sleep, cleaning up from dinner, and taking care of other household duties? How do I fit in time to workout, see friends, and pursue other interests and goals? How do I find the time to keep reading what inspires and motivates me?

 

The answers to those questions most weeks are: about 500, by not writing every day, and audiobooks in the car. 

 

When taking on something new, we tend to want everything else to stay the same. While this experience is wildly different than having a baby, in one way, it's very similar: life will not look like it did before. And that's okay!

 

Weekends before baby meant sleeping late and 2pm movies and 6pm drinks before dinner with friends. Weekends before book meant scrolling through my newsfeed and watching Netflix while he napped. Do I miss having my weekends totally free? Sure. But my son's turning out to be pretty fun to have around, when he's not screaming. Do I miss my nap time Netflix binging? Definitely. But so far this writing thing is pretty fun too.

 

I found tons of great (free and not quite free) resources that have been incredibly helpful on this first adventure into self-publishing. And I'll be sure to share them, as well as others as I discover them. But I'm not doing this with the goal of quitting my job, which is the audience most of these resources seem geared towards. What I really needed, and still need, was to know what it "looks like" to be a writer, when you're also a parent, a spouse, a friend, and someone who actually really likes their job and doesn't have any plans on leaving it.

 

If this is what you need too, then welcome. I hope this little glimpse into a mom/wife/intsert-real-job-title-here/writer's life can help!

 

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