10 Things I Learned About Writing a Book

Food Blogging For Dummies Giveaway

Eleven months ago I started on a journey that would begin with a single email from a publisher and end with the release of my first book, Food Blogging For Dummies. I had no clue at the time what writing a 320-page technical book would entail. But more than 125,000 words, 96 energy drinks, and countless rides on an emotional roller coaster later, and I am less than a month away from finally getting to share the end goal with you.

As I anxiously count down the next 29 days, I’ll be providing an inside glimpse of the book writing process. And to celebrate the book’s release, I’m also giving away a copy of Food Blogging For Dummies every week until April 17. Check out the top 10 things I learned about writing a book below and then leave a comment for your chance to win!

10. Something that’s funny at 3 a.m. isn’t necessarily funny at 3 p.m.

I’m a total sucker for food puns, so this book was a dream come true to write. But I quickly discovered that the content I wrote had to be funny to people other than myself, which meant the jokes I found knee-slappingly hilarious during my state of delirium at 3 a.m. often fell flat when I (or my beyond patient editor) read them in a normal state of consciousness.

9. You often have to cut your favorite parts to make the bigger whole better.

There were endless times when I had to cut sentences I deemed funniest/wittiest/most amusing because they just didn’t strengthen the overall concept. Yes, the book is entertaining, but above all else, it’s informative. It took some getting used to, but I am now one with the DELETE button.

8. Practice sitting comfortably.

I spent a large amount of time over the past year sitting. It sounds like a strange observation, but it’s one of those things you just don’t pay much attention to until you’re in a situation where you’re repeatedly doing it. There was only one thing I could do to make the non-stop sitting a pleasant experience: Purchase a leopard-print Snuggie.

7. Reading out loud is the best way to edit.

I discovered the best and most efficient way of writing and editing the book was to read every last typed word out loud to myself. There’s something about hearing the rhythm of the sentence structures and the pacing of the paragraphs that makes the end product so much clearer and more concise.

6. Accept the fact that there will be sacrifices.

I knew the day I signed my contract would be the day I signed away any semblance of a social life for the next year, and that was a sacrifice I was more than willing to make. But I also can’t deny that missing countless weddings, birthday dinners, weekend trips, concerts and Yankees games stung. I let myself feel disappointed once, and then I got over it.

5. Never underestimate the power of a one-person dance party.

I developed a nightly routine of awarding myself with one five-minute dance party for every two hours of writing/editing. Strange as it may sound, those dance parties were my salvation. They gave me a chance to (a). clear my head (b). get my heartbeat up and (c). keep my moves fresh for my glorious return to the dance floor.

4. Let perfection be the enemy of good.

Long after I climbed into bed each night, I’d lie awake making edits in my head, brainstorming better photo setups, redoing the book’s outline, re-thinking section layouts, and the list goes on and on. It became impossible to not strive for perfection, which leads me to…

3.  Your perfection isn’t everyone else’s perfection.

In one word, the editing phase of the publishing process was humbling. But the process taught me an incredibly valuable lesson: You cannot view edits as personal. The instant this notion clicked, I was able to understand the sole purpose of editing as making the book the absolute best it could be.

2. It’s critical to develop writing zones.

Writing in one location for too long drove me insane, so I found it helpful to designate different parts of my apartment as “writing zones.” The dining table was for hardcore writing. The couch was for researching and editing photos. The kitchen counter was for final edits. And the bed was for any writing/editing that took place past the hours of 2 a.m.

1. I have a PhD in Procrastination.

Enough said.

*UPDATE: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

To enter to win a copy of Food Blogging For Dummies, leave a comment below that answers the following question:

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the kitchen?

A single winner will be selected via Random.org and announced on Monday, March 26. This giveaway closes on Sunday, March 25 at 12 p.m. EST.

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57 Responses to “10 Things I Learned About Writing a Book”

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    Marnely Rodriguez — March 19, 2012 at 8:32 am

    I’ve learned that making mistakes teaches me more about how ingredients react then making a perfect product every time. And I do agree with you on reading out loud, it’s definitely the best way to edit and I love that it’s also good practice for public speaking.

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    Shae — March 19, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Kelly! I can’t wait to read this. So proud of all your hard work…you are such an inspiration!

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    Shaina — March 19, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I learned a good lesson literally IN the kitchen recently, and that is to measure out all ingredients BEFORE you start cooking! Don’t just assume you have enough of everything you need. I didn’t have enough flour and had to stop my baking process mid-way through and refrigerate the dough until the next day when I could go buy more flour. I was so frustrated! But the end result was still good… (see my Hamantaschen blog post for the full story lol)

    PS- I had an amazing time this weekend and learned so much from you and all of the other speakers. It was so awesome to meet so many people with the same passion and at what better place than the happiest place on earth: disney world! :) I also cannot wait for your book to come out – I will be on top of these giveaway posts! haha :)

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    Zanz — March 19, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I am so so proud of you!! I can’t wait to read it! :)

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    amelia from z tasty life — March 19, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Kelly: first of all: congrats on nearing the finish line in this adventure! I especially like your tips #10 and #5 :)
    …which leads me also to my answer to your question (“What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the kitchen?”): …that the kitchen holds our most precious memories: from the aroma of buttered toast and coffee/tea in the morning that someone has loving prepared for you (or that you have lovingly prepared for someone), to the silly dancing with your partner as you sip wine and prepare to host friends, to the messy meals the kids splatter all over the counter, to the tears you pour over the onions and other events in your life, to the slow Sunday roast you patiently await for, to the smoothie-on-the-run you blend yourself before a run/bike(insert other sport here), to the family gathered in laughter around the evening dinner, to the Christmas baking you spend hours doing with your mother while spending special time together, to the solo slice of cake you eat while reading the last page of an enticing book, to the cocktail you share with girlfriends as you gossip and eat artichoke dip, to the flour-covered counter you share with your grandmother as she teaches you the secret family recipe and tells stories of her ancestors, to the midnight snack you share with the last stragglers of your dinner party with a glass of limoncello, to the romantic tête-à-tête you share with your lover… the kitchen is, and always be, the soul of the house, the place where memories are made and baked and seared and sealed forever!!!

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    Connie — March 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Cook with your kids and let them experiment a bit. It’s not that big of a deal to clean up the kitchen and when they make something edible, it is a really big deal. Both my sons are grown and both of them can cook. I love getting the calls from the grocery store at all hours. “Mom, I want to make Goulash tonight. What do I need to buy?” I know they’re not buying burgers at a fast food joint.

    Can’t wait to see the book

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    Tengo un horno y se como usarlo — March 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Well, reading the whole recipe before starting is a basic lesson any newcomer to cooking should learn, day 1.
    I’d love to have this new book, BTW.
    Congrats.

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    Racheal — March 19, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Checking on your birthday cake in the oven to many times. Makes it take longer to bake. Oh and to make sure you have all the ingredients before you start a recipe. It really sucks when you part way through and have to run to the store because you don’t have an ingredient.

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    Juliana — March 19, 2012 at 9:14 am

    I’ve learned that the kitchen is the single best place to get people to open up. Just gather together to prepare something–can be a feast for a holiday or open some prepared foods for an impromptu meet-up–and everyone spills it. This has been valuable now that I have a tween girl and need her to tell me what’s going on and a nine year old boy who can clam up. We get some brownie batter going and all of a sudden Im all caught up.

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    Omeghan — March 19, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I have learned that more times than not, a cooking recipe is just a starting point. Some flavours you prefer and some you don’t. Once you are comfortable with your pots and pans, take things slowly and cook up a perfect storm. And enjoy !

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    Leslie ellis — March 19, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I understand and identify with making perfection the enemy of good. When writing articles, I always have to set a rewrite limit or an imaginary deadline with no more changes after that!

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    Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen — March 19, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Awesome list! I hope some of your dance parties occured at 3am, and involved the leopard-print snuggie :)

    Biggest lesson from the kitchen is definitely to always taste your food before serving and season as you go.

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    Jessica Bright — March 19, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Writing a book reminds me very much of having another child. We do what we can to give them the very best of our knowledge but it is a very exhausting process- a true labor of love. In the end they go their own way and we hope we’ve given them enough of our knowledge (and sleepless nights) to be a huge success!

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    wintersundays — March 19, 2012 at 10:28 am

    First up, congrats on your new book! The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to resist the temptation to discard a recipe if it doesn’t come out the way I wanted (burnt, too bland, too salty, etc, etc.) the first time. Practice makes perfect ;-)

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    Bubba — March 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

    If only I was not so stupid…or food blogging was easier…I could join your tasty internet ranks. Can you help me out? Congrats on the book!

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    SANDY — March 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

    biggest lesson is- its ok to play with food- you can make some amazing dishes if you are willing to play with your food

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    Ann — March 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    First off, congratulations! It’s such a HUGE deal and I’m thrilled for you! Your list was terrific and I can certainly relate!

    As for my biggest kitchen lesson: Taste as you go. Taste, taste, TASTE! You can never taste enough!

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    Cassie — March 19, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    So many congratulations to you Kelly! I can’t wait to read it, you are an inspiration! :)

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    Lynn S — March 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve learned to season to taste! And to be flexible :) Congrats on the book!

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    Shae — March 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Biggest lesson I’ve learned in the kitchen is to follow directions…if something says bring to a boil…BRING TO A BOIL! Trying to speed up a process will get you no where except a big mess and a bad meal :) xoxo

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    Jahan — March 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    My biggest lesson – there are very few objects in the Kitchen that make good juggling tools.

    Congrats on getting the book completed! Looking forward to reading it in my leopard snuggie

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    amy marantino — March 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    always make sure that the blender lid is VERY secure

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    Suzi — March 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Hi Kelly. I have learned that it is best to as orgianized as possible. Everything flows a lot more smoothly. I have had some serious mishaps by not follow that rule.

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    anne — March 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I’ve learned that no matter how many times a proof-read something, there’s sure to be an error once it’s published–and that just bums me out! Good luck on the book, can’t wait to see it! anne

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    Marisol — March 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Can’t wait to have a copy of your book :) Congratulations Kelly.
    I”ve learned that you have to be constant, patient, you need to love what you do to enjoy it and you must read your camera manual.

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    Tracy — March 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Read the recipe. And mise en place can catch mistakes before they happen.

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    Kristen — March 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    The biggest thing I have learned in the kitchen is I CAN make up recipes and they actually (mostly) come out. For years, I thought that there was no way that I could start with flour and end with pancakes without the aid of some kind of guide. Once I overcame that hurdle, all sorts of things started happening!

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    Yelena — March 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Kelly, It was a pleasure to meet you at Orlando. Congrsds on our new book. I have learned the art of love and sharing using cooking and photography.

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    natalie (the sweets life) — March 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    ahh really excited to check your book out!

    i’ve learned that recipe failures sometimes turn into recipes better than you expected!

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    Katie — March 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the kitchen is to never be intimidated and to check your fears at the door. You will fail and that is normal, but you pick back up and keep moving forward!

    p.s. It was so nice meeting you at FBF this past weekend!

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    Terri @ Terri's Table — March 19, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I’ve learned that it’s not a crime to throw away something that just doesn’t turn out right or something I just don’t like. There’s always a next time and another success.

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    Lily Sheng — March 19, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the kitchen is that while help is nice, do not count on it! My mom often scolds me for not getting prepped beforehand and as a result, always scrambled during cooking to try to find something, or ordered people around to get me stuff or be my second hand. And I always rush the people who helped me with an impatient tone. One time, I needed sugar and were handed salt instead because it was in a hurry… I guess anyone can imagine what the outcome was!

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    Debby — March 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Don’t give up from one hot mess experience in the kitchen, there’s always next time. :)

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    Jade Sheldon — March 19, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I’ve learned that the time it takes to make a delicious meal is always worth it.

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    Erin @ A Girl & Her Mutt — March 19, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Wonderful meeting you this weekend! The biggest lesson I learned is one that we all learn as kids.

    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

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    Nicolette — March 19, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    I’ve learned that bottles of sparkling cider read “Serve well chilled” not “Serve well shaken”. Woops!

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    Kellie — March 20, 2012 at 12:23 am

    One of the biggest things that I’ve learned in the kitchen is that washing dishes while cooking is a skill that takes practice, but makes everything so much easier and fun when you’re done!

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    Jessica — March 20, 2012 at 2:08 am

    What’s that? I need a leopard print snuggie in order to complete my book? Done!

    …also, I will be implementing the Dance Party for 1 starting tomorrow!

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    Jessen — March 20, 2012 at 7:56 am

    I don’t know if this is a lesson learned, but, I realized that not “everything” I make is going to be outstanding, spectacular, and a rave from other’s eating. I love hearing the “Mmmmm’s and Yumms”, but I’ve learned to settle for a “this is good” response when it’s presented.

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    Gretchen — March 20, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I’ve learned that getting my kids involved in cooking in the kitchen (as well as gardening and shopping for food) has been the number one factor behind their healthy eating habits. My kids love all varieties of cooked greens, in fact I can’t think of a single food they don’t like and they are always open to trying new foods when they are involved in the preparation process in the kitchen.

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    Becca from BettyBecca.com — March 20, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I’ve already ordered the book, but it would still be fun to win one to pass along.

    The most important thing I’ve learned in the kitchen is to NEVER FEAR. Being scared of cooking kept me out of the kitchen for a long time, and I’m so glad I’ve finally conquered all of my worries. Now if I want to make something, I just get in there and do it. If I screw it up, so what?

    Congrats, girl!

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    Meghan — March 20, 2012 at 11:54 am

    One of the most important things I’ve learned has been never try battling flour, you will lose.

    On a more serious note, cooking and baking has taught me that there will always be a new recipe to try. There will always be endless flavor combinations. Truly anyone can cook. Yet when you’ve learned to put your heart and passion into your food, that’s the one quality that truly makes food an art form.

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    M. Alicia — March 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    My grandmother always said, never cook while upset…only cook when you are happy, because the food will not turn out right! Boy, is that so true! :)

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    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. — March 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    omg great stuff! I love this post! SO true! I enjoyed seeing you this weekend in Orlando at food blog forum! I am thrilled for you and your new book. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

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    Jessa — March 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    I’ve learned (and am still learning) not to belittle myself or my food. Not everything will always be perfect, but there’s a reason and a story to why that dish is the way it is.

    Can’t wait for the book :)

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    Linda S. — March 21, 2012 at 12:05 am

    My mom taught me many years ago, clean up as you go. And a cousin’s wife taught me, before you make a major meal for company, make sure the dishwasher is empty at the beginning of the process.

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    Liz — March 21, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Never trust your oven!!! I always look at the oven thermometer before I bake something. Darn these new high tech appliances!

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    Monica — March 21, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Kelly, It was great to meet you this past weekend and now I’m all sort of excited about the book – I have it pre-ordered in amazon.com, but hoping to win a copy…

    One of the most important things I learned – “take it with a grain of salt – the will be hits, they will be misses in your creations (I’m looking at you baking!), but it’s the experience that counts”

    And by the way, you and I are totally in synch with #1 and #5 – they go together like P&J!

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    Nicky @ Pink Recipe Box — March 21, 2012 at 8:23 am

    As a copywriter, freelancer and blogger myself, I can totally appreciate what you mean by just sitting for ages. I find myself sitting down for 10+ hours each day – and I hate it! but until I can stick a laptop to a treadmill, I guess I’m stuck with it.

    The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from the kitchen is how important timing is. Often there are only a couple of minutes between beautifully cooked and burnt to a crisp.

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    Angie @ Big Bear's Wife — March 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I’ve learned that making pastries and desserts takes a lot of patience to make them amazing! Something I have very little of.

    I also have a PhD in Procrastination. ;)

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    Robin @ Simply Southern Baking — March 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I’ve learned to experiment with different flavor combinations. You never know what great recipe you might come up with as a result of a little of this and a little of that!

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    Melissa | Dash of East — March 21, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Loved reading your thoughts on writing a book. I’ll be referring back to this whenever I get around to writing one myself :)

    Congrats again! Can’t wait to see the book in person.

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    jen @ one curly fry — March 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I can’t wait to read the book!

    I’ve learned that I can’t eat everything that I make – especially when it’s cupcakes. Give the stuff to other people – they will love it and appreciate it!

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    Dana — March 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I’m really glad I found your blog. Based solely on this one post, I can’t wait to read more.

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    Ann — March 25, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Thank you….I can’t tell you how excited I am to read the book!

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