This is the place where I share more about my book writing journey, and the things I learned. You can use these tips for anything you write: your Ezine, blog, copy for your website, emails or your own book. I know I am already applying what I learned in other areas as well. And of course I will share updates on how my book is progressing!
Your timing? Or the Universe’s?
My book journey has been fun, for the most part. I admit there have been moments where I was ready to throw everything out of the window. But luckily those moments were sparse.
I had a self-imposed deadline for my book and that deadline is TODAY! And, the book ain’t ready….
Of course I already knew last week I would be unable to finish the manuscript ‘on time’—but I secretly hoped I wouldn’t overshoot my mark by more than a few days.
Yesterday I concluded that not only I would need more than this week to finish the book, I would have to take my vacation before I handed in the manuscript to my editor.
You see, for months I had this image of pressing ‘Send’ and then gorging myself on two blissful weeks of nothing!
During those weeks my editor would be busy with the copy edit so there was nothing I could do. Ah…. (imagine peaceful sounds).
But, that’s not what’s happening.
And I had to take a bit of a hurdle to get to this point but I can now clearly see that first of all, I need time off. And second, there is no point in trying to push myself in finishing the book.
(Sounds obvious now, doesn’t it? It’s often easy once you have clarity, getting there is the hard part…)
I want to make this the best book I can make it and that includes taking the time to complete it according to the timeline of the book—rather than my own. I can’t force ideas to ripen.
We often want to make things happen according to our own schedule. Because it’s practical or easy or gives us a sense of control or…. (fill in the blank).
That’s often not how life works. There are other agenda’s, other people involved, other matters that count.
So, as of this weekend I am taking two weeks off, and I’m setting the intention for lovely summer weather in The Netherlands as I’m staying home ;)
And then after I’m fully recharged and refreshed I can continue writing with renewed vigor.
How about you? Are you adhering to a certain deadline, timing or expectation?
Is there something you can let go off?
Often surrendering to what we know is best—deep down in our heart—can be difficult. But when you follow that nudge you’ll live according to the Universe’s timetable. And that’s the only one that truly works.
Or at least, that’s my experience.
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More on my book journey:
Tip #1: Find your best time to write
Tip #2: Be specific
I’m VERY excited! This week I (re)wrote the last chapter of my novel. It was awesome to do. I felt the adrenaline course through my veins.
Rather than trying to tighten a few sentences here and there I gave myself permission to start on a white page and write the big finale from scratch.
I LOVED it!
My fingers flew over my keyboard and I was in the scene myself.
Does this mean the book is complete?
I’m finalizing structure (which flashback goes where) and there are lots of checks that need to be done.
But. It’s coming close to completion!
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I received an email from my editor about the work-plan and it said ‘Now retype the whole book’.
I stared at those words—and concluded it must be a typo.
So I replied: I am assuming (read: praying) you don’t mean that literally.
Her response? Yes I do.
Seriously? Retyping seventy-five thousand words? For what? It seemed like a total waste of time.
So I questioned her and we agreed I would try it out for a few paragraphs.
Because since I wrote the first draft (over a year ago!) my writing has apparently changed so much there was too much difference between the first draft and all the new scenes. When I went back to the original copy I saw it, too.
So I had no other choice than to rewrite the entire first draft!
Which is a lot more work than just retyping!
I felt so much resistance initially, but I’m truly glad I moved past that because the rewritten version is so much cleaner.
I’m half-way rewriting now and I’ve gotten through the worst bits (I won’t bore you with technical details ;).
It still feels like so much needs to be done before my deadline, but I’ll make it work!
So reserve some space under your Christmas tree, it’s gonna make a great gift ;)
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My book will be published this year. There, I said it ;)
To make sure that’s not just a pipedream I decided to create dedicated ‘book-weeks’. Each month I dedicate one week to writing my novel. No appointments, no other obligations. Just me and my book.
And that’s so liberating! I love working with clients and creating new programs, but being able to focus solely on my book for certain stretches of time is also amazing.
Especially with what I had in mind for my first book week. My editor told me I needed a list of all the scenes in the book. Yikes.
I’ll be honest. That was not something I was looking forward to.
Writing new scenes makes me very happy.
Sitting down to decide where a scene begins and ends and summarize it. Not so much.
But, I did it! AND I put the scenes in order to start working on the big puzzle: the structure of my novel. Because after my first draft I wrote a lot of new scenes, and now they need a place in the book.
Here’s what my office now looks like: a wall of scenes!
I can easily move the post-its around to change the order and work on structure.
I have to admit I was afraid to share this picture with you. Because this is my entire book! The characters, the story, how it ends.
But it also makes the book more tangible. It’s a work in progress, but I so look forward to share my completed novel with you!
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I know you’re not supposed to make people cry. But in this case it made me real happy!!
I just received my editor’s feedback on my weekly update and she wrote:
“Oh this made me cry. So good.”
So glad I was able to portray the right emotion :-) *happy dancing*
I’m still writing ‘missing scenes’ and thoroughly enjoying it!
It turns out once I dive further into a character or a scene it opens up another layer and so many more details and actions come forward. I LOVE to learn more about my main characters and truly feel I’ve gotten to know them as people.
My creative juices are flowing and I am SO glad I followed my heart and decided to write a novel.
A client asked me recently whether he could put my book on his Santa list and I told him next year! (fingers crossed)
People keep asking me when my book is ready—and I love the enthusiasm—but I simply don’t know. It’s a creative process I can’t force. I’ve decided to let the book lead and devote as much time and energy as I can to writing. Then when it’s done, it’s done ;)
I can’t wait to share it with you!
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I finally heard back from my editor about the story edit!
It was a bit scary, I admit. What if she didn’t like it or didn’t think it was worth pursuing now that she read the entire book?
Luckily she had good news!
Here’s what she wrote:
“This book is clever and unique—you have a really good story that isn’t like anyone else’s. You have good ideas and great promise as a writer, and you’re ready for the hard work.”
Her feedback was way beyond anything I dared hope for. And although there is plenty that still needs to be done, this is very encouraging. So happy! :-)
I can’t wait to share the book with you!
Interested? Simply fill in your name & email to hear when my novel is available:
I am so excited! I am jumping up and down with enthusiasm. I just finished the first draft for my book!
Now before I tell you a little bit more about it let me just share that it was not so obvious to write this. I started writing a book almost 10 years ago and it is still half-finished. Then this idea came along and I tried to ignore it for a while because it just didn’t make sense. There was no logical combination with my work and I have no experience with this topic, so why should I spend a lot of time pursuing this idea? Plus there was this other book to finish.
It reminds me of this quote from Einstein:
“If at first the idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it.”
And this idea was not only absurd, it was quite persistent. I had written the first chapter in the early summer of 2014 and I enjoyed it. It was fun. On a sunny Saturday afternoon I just started writing the beginning of a novel. It just poured out of me. I had to go over to my parents for dinner that evening and I was even using my memo recorder in the car to continue capturing the thoughts that kept coming in. I reread it the next day and thought it would be great if one day I had a lot of time on my hand and then perhaps I could take a long vacation to write this book, just for fun. So I stored it for ‘someday’.
Until almost 9 months later I realized that this novel was just another way for me to channel my creativity and my ideas. It didn’t have to ‘fit’ into a business model and it doesn’t even have to speak to my current clients (although I hope that it does ;-). It’s just important for me to get this out there, if for no other reason than to get this idea off my back. So in the past months I have made time almost every day to write. It was fun, it was not always easy, but mostly I enjoyed it.
I wanted to share this with you first of all because I am just so excited! But second of all, perhaps there is something you are not doing because it doesn’t seem to make sense. Let’s take a page from Einstein. If the idea is not absurd at first then there is no hope for it. And this may sound weird but all really innovative ideas sounded crazy when they were first voiced. Like: the world is not flat, which was an outrageous idea at the time. Dangerous even. Now our ideas don’t have to be that epic but I believe we can overlook valuable ideas because they don’t seem to fit in.
So is there something that rings a bell for you, something you want to do but have rationalized yourself out of? If there is I highly recommend you to reconsider. If you are resisting an idea you are stopping the flow. Sometimes following up on it is the only way to get it out of your system. And you never know what it might lead to ;-)
I know I am so glad I pursued this and I look forward to the next steps in finalizing my novel so I can publish it.
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I will regularly be sharing tips from what I have learned while writing and editing my novel below. Read on ;-)
As you may have heard I have completed the first draft of my novel and am now in the process of getting it ready for publication. So I decided to share a bit of my book writing journey here and the things I learned; my best tips. In case you’re curious or perhaps considering to write a book yourself! And you don’t even have to be writing a book. Most people write something, whether it is in your Ezine, blog, copy for your website or even emails. I am already applying what I learned in other areas as well.
I have hired an editor and am working closely with her. But before it came to that I had to write the book first and it has taken me a loooong time to find my rhythm. So that would be my first tip:
Find your best time to write
It has literally taken me several years to find my best time to write. I started by blocking ‘book writing days’ in my calendar. I figured I would need an entire day to dedicate to my book. So I had colourful post-its in my diary about once every two weeks signaling that this day would be a Book Day.
After a couple of months I still had not written much. Because appointments kept slipping in to my bookdays, and then it was no longer a pristine book day, so in my mind I apparently decided it would not work. So I did not even start writing on those days.
This went on for about two years. That’s how long it took me to realize that this would be a never ending process. I tried several other things and finally I figured out what worked for me.
For me the best time to write is right after lunch. And it’s important to dive right into my book as soon as I get back to my desk (and not first open my email quickly or make a phone call). That really helped me to get in the right zone to be able to let the book pour out.
So I recommend that you try different things. If one doesn’t work it doesn’t mean you don’t have it in you to write, you just haven’t found your best moment to write yet. I am so glad I found my way to get into the writing zone but it really took some persistence.
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After finding my rhythm to write (which was tip #1) I had to work on the feedback I got from my editor from the first 5000 words I had sent her. That brings me to my next tip:
Or to use the technical term:
Replace nonspecific pronouns by specific nouns
OK, so what does that mean? I will use one of my own examples (sneak preview ;-) to clarify. This was one of the first things my editor wanted me to work on, and the interesting thing is that I did not realize up until then that so often I use words like: it, this, that.
My editor would say “like what, Iris?”
Yeah, good point. So here goes:
Old: It only intensified things.
New: Their energy only intensified things.
Seemingly small difference but you can see how this makes the sentence much clearer.
If you want to get real picky you could point out that, in fact, their is still not specific. Fortunately the previous sentence (in the book) makes that crystal clear, and it’s not like you can never use nonspecific pronouns because that would make it ridiculous :-)
So my editor made me go through the entire book and replace 50-60% of the nonspecific pronouns by specific nouns. The interesting thing was it forced me to dive even deeper into the story, because in order to change it I had to know exactly what I was talking about in that sentence.
Since then I am noticing the use of nonspecific pronouns in my emails and articles as well, and remedying that where needed.
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