Written by Mandy Nicholson
I could sum this up in one single word, determination!
Before I Could Write My Book
I had experienced a series of unfortunate events that would make your toes curl in 2009. I knew that there was a story with a lesson in what had happened to me. My creative brain would shape and form the story in the years following and then just as quickly dismiss my ideas.
After all who was I to think that I could be as good as a ‘real author’. Imposter syndrome is synonymous with creatives in all genres, and I was no different. But the thoughts and ideas wouldn’t go away until one day I had it. I could describe the book in a couple of sentences and everything that had happened to me suddenly made sense.
It was about four years after my series of unfortunate events and I was ready to start my story, or so I thought. I started to write with no real plan and every chapter felt hard. I had managed about fifteen chapters and my idea was roughly taking shape. Then one day I sat on the sofa next to my laptop and spilt a full mug of coffee over my laptop. My book was on it, and I had no back up. I was devastated and decided that this was a sign to give up.
The Need To Write My Book
I continued to rebuild my life and the more I moved forward and healed the more relevant my story seemed to be. It reached a point where I felt like I had a duty to tell the story to help others who were going through difficulties or who had lost as much as I had. That is when the lessons within the story started to take shape and become clear. Whoever I explained my two-sentence idea to told me that I absolutely MUST write it. Those who knew me and were watching me bounce back from rock bottom were saying I HAD to write it.
It wasn’t that I needed to give up on my story, I just needed to understand the ‘WHY’ behind it. The why turned out to be a structured series of lessons woven into the story itself, it was almost like a self-development book, but it was a story. I questioned if I could achieve both in one book?
It would be a full ten years after the trigger event in my series of unfortunate events that I said, the time really is now. I started writing that weekend and wrote 18,000 words in two days. The story just flowed onto the pages. Once I hit that number, I started to write a structure for the remainder of the book including events, timeline, characters, and outcome.
I wrote the book in three months. Then I taught myself how to self-publish on Amazon and launched my book on 5th October 2019. It was such a big learning curve for me. Becoming and identifying myself as an author, marketing myself and my book. Learning once again from every step of the experience, and it wasn’t smooth believe me. I made an error with the manuscript and repeated a chapter and missed one out! There were spelling and grammar mistakes. But I was able to self-correct to a certain extent and accept that getting something out into the world even at only 80% good, was better than not doing it at all.
The journey to becoming a published author is filled with self-doubt and fear. Questioning if what you have to say will be of interest to others. Questioning your own abilities. Fear of judgement and reprisal for your work. Then there is the ‘get a proper job’ crowd who are happy to tell you that you won’t make money from it.
Well, I say follow your heart, it knows best. The world revolves around stories. We love listening to them, hearing people tell them, reading them. We were all raised on stories from before we were even born, our mothers would sing to us, read to us, speak to us. They are all stories.
Stories Are Important
Stories are layered with emotion and lessons. They can inspire us, scare us, educate us, and allow us to learn and grow. They teach us our own responsibilities in the world and how to treat others. They allow us into the mind of killers and ‘baddies’ and into the terror of real fear. They fill us with hope and purpose and give us ideas for our own stories.
I was lucky, I pitched my self-published book to several major publishers and was picked up for a 3-book deal with one of them. This doesn’t happen for everyone, and that can be devastating. Rejection is also synonymous with being an author. But these days, self-publishing and being a good marketer can be all you need so don’t be put off. Just start writing.
My Advice For Writing A Book
You do need to find some discipline and block your writing time, otherwise you won’t move forward.
You need to train yourself cognitively to write, the more you do it the more resilience you will build up. Train your brain to be able to sit and write, manage your environment, no distractions, and hydrate yourself.
You do need some sort of plan for your book so that you don’t end up saying the same thing several times, missing people or things out or have glaring plot errors. Serve your audience, give them what they want, if you don’t know, find out!
You do need to accept that you will be rejected and that it is okay for this to happen. Take rejection as feedback for you to learn form and keep getting better.
Your words could change the life of someone you don’t even know and for me that is enough to keep me writing. It is worth investing in even a short creative writing course, there are lots out there and they do give you things to think about that will make a difference, the also build up your confidence. You DON’T need a degree in writing to become a successful writer.
Think about that and just do it.
More From Mandy Nicholson:
Here is the link to my author page as it currently is, soon to be ‘a grown-up author’ with a publisher!