When I wrote my first book, Easy Peasy Potty Training, all I wanted to do was fulfill a lifelong dream of being an author. Once it was published, I thought I could sit back on my laurels, satisfied. After all, I’d achieved my big, hairy, audacious goal.
I had no idea that writing my first book would unleash the creative genie. There was no way it was going to be vanquished back into its bottle after that. I was carried away into the most magnificent creative adventure. One book led to another and then another. I blinked, five years went by and I have now written and published ten books! My latest book, Embrace Your Awesomeness, was released almost exactly five years to the day after Easy Peasy Potty Training.
At the start, I knew zilch about writing, publishing or marketing a book. Absolutely nothing. Zero. To say I have learned a lot in the past five years is like saying the universe is a pretty big place. Out of all this information, I have selected the biggest insights I picked up along my creative journey.
Here are three major lessons from writing 10 books in 5 years…
1) Creativity is a Rollercoaster
When I was writing my first book, on some days I thought my writing was the worst garbage imaginable. On other days I could not get a single word down. Occasionally, a perfect sentence would sprout up and then simply not fit into the book, no matter how hard I tried.
And when I was writing my tenth book, exactly the same phenomena happened.
The only difference between my first and tenth book was that I expected the creative process to be a rollercoaster. There are so many lows, but sometimes there are highs and they are euphoric. I now look forward to these too, like when I read something amazing that I have no memory of writing or when the perfect paragraph flows from my fingers. And I especially love those rare occasions when something I write moves me to tears.
Major lesson number one from writing 10 books in 5 years: creativity is a rollercoaster.
2) Writing is Rewriting
When I am asked what my biggest tip is for aspiring authors, my answer is always, ‘one space after a period or full stop, not two’. It is a good soundbite and it often makes whoever asked the question laugh, but it is no joke.
Ernest Hemingway apparently said “writing is rewriting”. First drafts are meant to be the equivalent of cake mixture. A book, any book, needs rewriting, self-editing and proof-reading. Depending on your budget, it is also advisable to add in extensive checks by online programs, beta readers, a professional editor, or all three. Only then can you present your writing to the world like you would a perfectly-baked gateau.
Major lesson number two from writing 10 books in 5 years: writing is rewriting (and one space, not two!).
3) The End is Only the Beginning
A writer is someone who writes, but an author is someone who finishes writing a book. No matter what, I advise all aspiring authors to get to the finish line, to complete their work, to assuredly type ‘The End’.
It may seem funny, but when I wrote my first book, I did not think about its possible impact. I simply wanted to check off the goal of becoming an author. I have now sold books all over the world, from Serbia to Columbia to the Philippines. And I have received thank you messages from such exotic places as Mauritius and the Democratic Republic of Congo. People have written book reviews saying that my books have helped reluctant toddlers to toilet train, that they have formed book clubs to rediscover their sparkle together and that they have finally found their life purpose.
And remember, even if you never show your work to another soul, please type ‘The End.’ Don’t let a fear-based procrastination or perfectionism allow you to abandon your work. You can then celebrate checking off a major goal, feel a huge sense of accomplishment and be proud of the fact that you have completed a difficult challenge. Who knows where this sensation of victory could lead?
Major lesson number three from writing 10 books in 5 years: the end really is only the beginning.
My hope is that these three major lessons from writing 10 books in 5 years inspires you to achieve your creative goals. Always remember, creativity is a rollercoaster, writing is rewriting and the end is only the beginning.
There is nothing particularly special about me. I simply tap on my keyboard, finish what I start and have the courage to publish. If I can do it, you can too. I know every single one of you who is reading this has at least one book inside of you.
Just know that unleashing that creative genie may end up taking you on an adventure of a lifetime.
Athina Andonatou says
Loved these tips. And it is beautiful to witness your journey. You definitely are an author
Thanks so much Athina. Thanks for your long-term support! I think you commented on my very first blog post 8 years ago!
Cat Michaels says
Had to laugh at your ‘one space, not two’! I am so guilty of that. Thanks sharing your writing journey and tips, Julie! As always, you boil everything done into helpful nuggets. So impressed with all you’ve accomplished in five jam-packed years and can’t wait to see what the next 5 years you’ll do!
Julie Gorges says
Agree with your three tips. Super impressed you’ve written an average of two books a year. Amazing! I also was unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster when I started out. When an agent agreed to represent my first YA novel – oh, what a high that was! I was dancing on tables. But when the book didn’t sell and my agent dumped me, my self confidence and emotions took a dive. Later, I received three journalism awards and had a book I co-wrote published by McGraw Hill. I was on top of the world! Then my second novel was rejected by agents and publishers sending me crashing to the ground. It’s a wild ride to be sure. Along the journey, I discovered what you said – even if you never publish your book, it’s important to get to “The End.” Writing should be a satisfying experience on its own. Sometimes I have to remember why I started to write in the first place – my love and passion for the art form. Getting into print is just a bonus. If you are able to type “The End,” you’ll have the satisfaction of doing what so many dreamers failed to do – you finished writing a book! How awesome is that?
James Milson says
What a wonderful post with such good advice, Julie! I never seem to be able to emphasize enough to others that good writing is hard work, with a lot of editing and rewriting along the way. I think that is why so many who begin to write never stick with it or finish. Thanks for this. Sharing to my Writing Board on Pinterest for others to find.
Auden Johnson says
I have so many nice sentences that I had to file away because they didn’t fit in my WIP. Great tips.
Rosie Russell says
Wow, Julie, this is awesome advice and so true!
It makes me sad when I hear people say they can’t write. I think we all have it in us, and if the passion to pursue it is there, I really think they should go for it.
I was just talking to my sister yesterday and we were having more fun reminiscing on all our friends that where and are great storytellers. As you know, storytelling has a profession all on it’s own. Some can more easily speak the words better than write them down. To me, they are all very talented.
Getting started is always the hardest part. With your wonderful suggestions, I hope to inspire my family and friends with your great advice from your blog.
Thank you, Julie!
Sandra Bennett says
Wow 10 books in 5 years, what an amazing result. Great tips too. The rollercoaster of emotions is a bit of a writer’s nightmare that we all succumb to. It always amazes me when people say that think writing a picture book would be easy, but they never give it a go. Until you write and rewrite you will never know how hard yet fulfilling this writing journey can be.