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.
*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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I plan to order your book from Amazon, Congratulations for doing what I having been trying to do only on a different subject. You make it sound so easy. Maybe I take the leap and start my book, even @ 71 maybe I need to start now. I think my
grandchildren would appreciate the end results just as we do yours. Once again congrats.
Hi Joy! Thanks so much for your comment and for picking up a copy of the book! I say, “GO FOR IT!” You’ll never know, if you don’t try, so start now :) Wishing you the best of luck!
Thank you….I can’t tell you how excited I am to read the book!
I’m really glad I found your blog. Based solely on this one post, I can’t wait to read more.
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!
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.
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!
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. ;)
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.
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!
Never trust your oven!!! I always look at the oven thermometer before I bake something. Darn these new high tech appliances!
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.
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 :)
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!
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! :)
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.
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?
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