Things I’ve Learned While Writing a Book

When I first became single nearly two years ago I didn’t really know what to do with all my new free time. Even though I’m an independent only child, I wasn’t used to doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I hadn’t really been in that position in over six years! It was overwhelming.

I wasn’t interested in going out and meeting someone new. I didn’t have the money to travel the world. I didn’t want to sit around and dwell on the relationship. To pass the time I started writing in my neglected journal.

Since Day One of working for the airlines I’d taken mental notes on the job and the people involved. Sometimes I’d write little journal entries about this or that but for the most part I’d just take notes on weird and fascinating things I encountered on the job. Once I had all my free time, I decided to organize my notes of observation.

Twelve years of notes gave me heaps of ammunition. It took weeks to scour my 2000+ pages of journal entries to find every single thing I’d ever written about my job. I grouped the notes into categories and those quickly became chapters. Once all the sentence fragments were properly grouped together in an outline, the book practically wrote itself.

In less than a month I had it all written out. All 250 pages. I was probably ready to move forward at that point but something inside of me told me that it wasn’t ready. For the next 16 months I edited and re-edited it to death.

Even now I know that it’s not exactly how I want it. That’s lesson #1 I learned in this process, it’s never going to be perfect so don’t wait around forever and wait for it to be. Thank God I had friends around me that forced me to let it go and get on with the next step.

Lesson #2 is that it doesn’t have to meet your ridiculous, unreachable standards in order to be enjoyed by others. Fear is probably the biggest hijacker when doing anything creative. Fear not only of failure, but also of success.

That brings me to Lesson #3, the creative process is by far more enjoyable than the result. I loved organizing all my points and arranging them just so. I loved expanding on all of them while I filled in the meat of the story. I was in heaven during those times. Now that it’s all done and I have nothing creative to do anymore, I hate it.

I’m sick of editing, proofreading, and fixing the formatting errors. There are mundane decisions to be made like which font to use and whether or not to have chapter titles or drop caps at the start of each chapter. Do I want white or cream paper? Then there was the cover and the description of the book and of me, the author. I ended up having someone do that for me because I felt ridiculous writing a glowing paragraph about myself. Actually designing the cover art was a lot of fun, it was just the details that ruined it.

Lesson #4 is what every one who has ever created anything has learned. It’s a cliché. It’s that you go through cycles of loving and hating what you’ve created. Lately I have more days of hating it and the only thing that really makes me happy about the book now is the thrill I’ll get of holding a printed copy in my hand and hearing my nearest and dearest say they enjoyed it.

I doubt I’ll ever read it again and I totally get why actors like Johnny Depp never watch their completed movies. I thought that was a prick thing to say but now I get it 100%.

Lesson #5 is that I suffer from postpartum depression. The second it was completed, I felt a hole inside of myself. I was totally empty. I missed that feeling of hope and purpose. I had something to do every day and I had dreams of how it may turn out.

That ended abruptly, even faster than that moment you have when you’re reading a really good book and then suddenly realize that it’s going to be over in a few pages. It’s depressing, even though you’ve loved it more than anything up to that point.

I think that’s why some people are so afraid to really chase their dreams. We need dreams and hope to keep us going. It’s really all we have besides our loved ones. If we put ourselves out there and fail, it’s very hard to get out of bed the next day or next month. There’s nothing left to believe in.

I think I’m not going to even pay attention to how my book is received. It doesn’t really matter and I have no control over it anyway. I loved writing it and I know my friends will enjoy it and that’s all I care about. I have already started my next outline and that’s what I care about now. On to the next project!

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6 responses to “Things I’ve Learned While Writing a Book

  1. I am so freaking excited for you!!!!! now for the important details like when it comes out and where I can buy my copy 🙂

  2. Very exciting!! I need to read your blog more. I can’t wait to read your book!!

  3. Haha I can totally relate to your experience and Lessons! Yes I’ve been through every one with my book…although I have to say I still love the story! But, your def. right: the first draft, where all the creativity goes, is the most wonderful part. Then comes the hard part!

    Good luck with your book. Sounds great!

    • Very true, like most things in this life, the journey is better than the destination. I have a heap of notes for two other projects. Thanks for the message Captain!

  4. definitely interested in downloading the e-book when it’s available! congrats on the book, dude.

  5. Heidi Sue Bloebaum

    Thanks for writing this entry, Brian. I left it feeling encouraged that my dreams, although BIG, are something that are STILL very possible if I just face my “fears” head on and keep my head held high! I’m talking about personal goals, yes, but professional ones as well. Job search will starting up again soon and this entry was just what I needed to keep me moving forward! I’m extremely proud of you and just as excited for you with the release of your first book. I look forward to finding out more about your future projects!! I got my copy of your book later than expected, but mom lent me her copy to read until mine got here yesterday. It was HER copy that got here on Friday, not mine like I told you. I guess I misunderstood her and thought if hers got there so did mine. No biggie. Not the end of the world. I have my copy now. 🙂 I started reading your book night before last and I’m now on chapter 8. Not typical of me to read that quickly. That shows you’re VERY good at keeping your readers’ interest and attention! I will DEFINITELY spread the word about your book to anyone and everyone I know. I consider it an honor to do so! When I’m finished reading it, I’ll write a review on Amazon. It was so cool reading your biography and knowing that we grew up in the same town and have known each other as long as we have and that we are such good friends! 🙂 Keep up the excellent work, Brian! I’m looking forward to finding out what adventures “The Straight Guy” will be taking us, the readers, on in the future!!!

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