Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Jane Stoller about her career, what inspires her, and the work that went into her new book, Decluttering For Dummies.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Jane Stoller (aka Organized Jane), and I am a Swiss-Canadian life-biz organizer, speaker, author and university instructor whose passion is in decluttering spaces and organizing business processes. My love for organizing began on a small farm in Seeley’s Bay, Ontario, Canada, where I grew up. As a young girl, I would happily line up my pet cats by size, my stuffed animals by color, and my parent’s books by publication date. Soon, my friends, teachers and work colleagues began turning to me for guidance on all things organizing.
My main impact is my Business Booster course which helps mainly business owners sort through the clutter to gain clarity. I also provide corporate workshops, expertise, products and books to help as many people as I can.
So far, I have self-published one book, and worked with a publisher for the second. I am currently working on my next book now!
When did you first WANT to write a book?
At the age of six, I knew I wanted to write a book, and so I did! I still have a few of my children’s books that I wrote back then and was confused why no one would publish them when I was still under the age of ten.
Many years later, I started writing my first real book, Organizing for Your Lifestyle, in 2010 (which I self-published later on) to help friends get more organized. It is what ultimately led me to my business now, Organized Jane. I wrote my first book because I started traveling a lot for work and meeting friends all over the globe. To be honest, I am terrified of flying so on every flight I found myself thinking, “Oh no, I didn’t pass along my organizing secrets to all my friends yet! What if this plane doesn’t land!”
Hopefully, my planes will continue to land safely. I can’t be everywhere at once, helping out the friends I’ve made all over the world. That is why my books allow my friends to access my organizing and decluttering tips whenever they want, even when I’m not there to personally guide them through the process of putting things in rows and boxes, and/or dealing with sentimental items.
When did you take a step to start writing?
Anyone can write a book; they just have to be disciplined enough to set aside the time and have an organized plan or outline that, although can evolve and pivot, will really help anyone starting to write a book.
For my second book, Decluttering for Dummies, which was published by Wiley Publishing, I got support from their team and they really helped me flush out the table of contents before I started writing. It was a long, arduous task, but it made writing the remaining 300 pages after that much easier. I recommend this step to anyone.
How long did it take you to complete your book from the first idea to release?
I started writing my first book in 2010 and it was released in 2016. I would continually add to chapters as I was inspired and again the book was really only for friends first so there was less urgency. My second book was ten times the size but I completed it in six months as the publisher was super organized and we had a tight deadline.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Decluttering For Dummies?
My biggest challenge was my own mindset! That I was not a “good enough” author or that I was not skilled enough to write about the subject matter. I think we all need to get out of our way and write the book we want and be proud of it.
What was your research process for Decluttering For Dummies?
My next book I am currently writing requires a lot of research and facts to back-up the findings and I have been compiling them for over two years now. I keep a Google Drive folder and notes on my phone whenever I have ideas and then add them to the correct part in the table of contents.
However, I also had about 50 versions of the book proposal before I even started the book and this also helps when mapping out the target audience, other similar books, market research and the general outline.
How did you plan the structure of Decluttering For Dummies?
I plan to structure this book similar to my 2nd book, into parts, so the reader can skip to the part that they need, or they can choose to read cover to cover. I love being able to reference sections. The structure will also follow my six steps on how to get practically anything organized. This is what I teach in my Business Booster course, and it has become my signature process.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Decluttering For Dummies need?
I get so much support! I could not write a book without a complete team of editors! I usually have a few editors and often publishers do as well, some for technical checks, others for grammar and some for writing, it completely depends. Personally, I have an editor on my team that helps ensure my thoughts are concise and well put-together before it even gets to the publishing team. I also rely on lots of other support, from graphic designers for the cover, to PR for pre and post book marketing, to social media gurus to fact-checkers. It takes a team to write a book in my case.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
This is such a big topic for me that I titled one of my blog posts, How to overcome fear when writing a book.
My top tips I shared in that post:
IF YOU WRITE, YOU’RE A WRITER
Part of the self-doubt that came up when I decided I wanted to write a book was the thought, “I’m not a writer.” To give you a little more background, spelling has never been my strong suit. Let’s be honest, I’m always making spelling mistakes and can have a tough time getting my thoughts down on paper. Once I reframed this thought to “I am a writer,” I started feeling more confident in myself and what I wanted to share.
KNOW THAT YOU’RE THE EXPERT
Once I realized that very few people are as passionate about organizing as I am, I knew I had something worthwhile to share. It seemed like there was a niche I needed to fill, and I slowly started trusting that I had the expertise to write a book about it.
Know that you are writing your book because you are an expert. No matter what topic interests you, you have the skills, talent and resources you need to get it out into the world.
YOU’RE NOT WRITING A BOOK FOR YOU, BUT FOR OTHERS
I believe we are all here to help others, and that’s what my books do. I write about organizing because I know firsthand how organizing can help people live better with less stress. Once I took myself out of the equation, and instead thought of who I was writing for, my self-doubt seemed to matter less and I become more focussed on the task at hand.
I hope these tips helped you feel more confident in your writing. I know how tough it can be to get out of self-doubt and negative thinking, but if you’ve read this to the end, I know how committed you are to getting your thoughts out into the world and stepping into your power.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I have a long list of books that I want to write ranging from specific lifestyle and organizing books to business focused books on how to organize processes and write concise business plans. The list is endless and one day I will have 10+ books published!
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am so proud that I got over my fear of writing a book and starting a business in the first place! When I first started my business, I failed and then 10 years later started it again and I vowed to keep going no matter what! My first books I wrote when I was six years old did not get published but I also knew that I would be an author one day. Moral of the story is that you can accomplish anything. If you fail, keep going as the effort will definitely be worth it, especially if your passion can help people!
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
My website: https://www.organizedjane.com/
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