How to Write A Book (Even Though You’d Rather Not)
- Too Much Work, I Don’t Have Time
- I’m Not Good Enough
- I’d Rather Talk Than Write
- Who Needs Another Book?
- Why Bother?
After my second book, I told myself, out loud and often: “I’m never writing another book!”
Not that anyone was asking. But I figured, two were good. I don’t like holding still. You have to hold still to write a book. I only wrote the first book because I had four talks on the topic already. I just needed to make ten chapters out of those four talks.
Confession: I wrote nine chapters and quit.
When requested to teach a series for a women’s Sunday morning series, I asked my Man-in-Plaid if he had any issues with that. His only response was: “Finish your book.” A man of few words, my M-in-P, so I try to listen to those words. I wrote the tenth chapter and called it good (and taught the series.)
I only wrote my second book because my mentor, Laurie, said: “Write a Bible Study that companions your first book meet with two younger women while you write it and let them be your target audience.”
(I try to listen to my mentor, Laurie.)
I chose two friends each expecting their third child. We met every other week at a restaurant. I wrote a chapter, they did the Bible study, we talked it through — through Chapter Five; and then, they had their babies. End of story, almost. Chapters One-through-Five stayed in my computer for three years – maybe four. Then Laurie said, “This summer, finish your Bible Study.”
I re-wrote the first five chapters, added six more, and finished. I thought.
Confession: I wrote eleven chapters total, and quit. My friend Christy said: “Sue, no one writes an eleven-week Bible Study.”
I wrote a twelfth chapter the next day. Done. Completo.
That’s when I said, “Never again. Too much work. I’m not meant to write another. Praise God those two books are finished. My kids now have a legacy for their kids. (Not that they’ve read them, not that they have kids.)
And the bottom-line lesson I learned from attending She Speaks 2016? I’m a speaker who writes, not the other way around. “So that’s that,” said my puny brain. “Besides (my puny brain never lacks for a besides) – besides, everyone and their mother wants to write books and who reads anymore, really?”
I wrote a third book.
Here’s why: I listened to Chandler Bolt’s podcast: “How to Write a Book in a Week”
Ha! A week. I decided I could hold still for a week. Bolt said, “Start with a Mind-Map.”
The next day I spent three hours in LAX on a layover to Dallas. I settled into a cafe, ordered French Roast and a croissant, pulled out a legal-sized pad and thought: “Now what should this book be about?” True story. I may have prayed about it.
The word, Mentoring, popped up.
I’m old. I mentor without thinking. Things spill out.
Plus, I had taught a course on it back in the Dark Ages, so I knew I knew something on the subject. I placed Mentoring in the middle of the page and starting writing. I finished after boarding my next flight, squished next a young man who didn’t understand armrest boundaries.
I created a survey…
…to gather some research and emailed fifty women on their experience with mentoring.
Questions like: How did you find your mentor/mentee? What is most challenging? How did God use mentoring in your life? In the next couple weeks, I heard back from ten and organized their answers into a document.
The Plaid-Man was due to leave the country in a week for a week, so I determined to begin writing my new book the Monday he left, and finish by that Friday. After all, Chandler Bolt, whom I fondly refer to as the Blond Energizer Bunny, said writing a book in a week was possible. Who am I to doubt the Energizer Bunny? I made that Monday, April 17–the day after Easter–my target start date.
April 17 arrived. I sat down, pulled out my Mind-Map, taped it to the window and began writing. I chose the What, Why, Who, When, How method on the map, and started with What? I wrote one chapter a day. A very short chapter. More like a blog post.
…I emailed each-chapter-that-was-more-like-a-blog-post, to two gals – one a mentee, Jenny, age 24 who was encouraging and darling; and one, an online friend I had never met, Gretchen Fleming who, for some dear reason said she was praying for me.
They emailed me back after every “chapter” and told me to keep going. I include this little fact because I think it was key: their prayers and their encouragement – both gifts from God.
- Begin each chapter with a question or a problem
- Add a story from my life or another’s
- Offer solutions to the problem, through story and principle
- Exegete an applicable Scripture passage—sometimes two
- Close with a challenge or list of reflection questions
After three days…
…I realized I was writing well and regularly, but it was looking like a pamphlet more than a book.
My dear niece wrote on FB: “But just think, Aunt Sue, you will have written a pamphlet in a week!” Well, that’s something, I suppose. Not sure I would tell the Blond Energizer Bunny.
I finished the six chapters–chapters that were more like blog posts–then left for Seattle to speak for two women’s retreats. Upon my return, I went through the course I’d taught in the Dark Ages on “Women Discipling Women” — they were handwritten files. I’m that old. The files were that old.
I designed a creative format for each chapter: define and illustrate the topic, add Points to Ponder, list answers from the survey questions, add a Scripture and write a prayer. This creative structure made it more fun and organized. Your creative format will evolve after you’ve written the bulk of your chapters. Fine-tuning adds simplicity and uniformity to your project.
I added Acknowledgments and a Dedication page, and included ten downloadable hand out’s. Then sent the draft to Laurie, my mentor. She suggested edits, and I took most of her suggestions. (I don’t always obey my mentor, but usually.) She wasn’t sure about my title. I tried on many different ones, but loved what I ended with. From God, I’m sure.
I hired my friend…
…Christiane, from Redletter Arts to set up my design with Createspace, Amazon’s self-publishing department.
You don’t need to hire a graphics person. She charges $50.00 an hour and because she loves me, she stopped charging me after ten hours. But I don’t like a self-published book to look self-published. Vanity, perhaps. For the cover, we went through many free images from various sites online. And I love the one she found. It wasn’t until later when the books arrived in the mail, that I realized I had begun my Mind-Map with a croissant in one hand, and a pen in the other. God is good, merciful, funny and gracious.
I ordered four whole copies and began reading.
I found ten errors and I corrected them before ordering more.
I called my friend in North Carolina, Susan Chamberlain Shipe and asked how she got her launch team going –I had been on her latest launch team of twenty-five. I got permission to ask for launch team members on four FB writing groups, and ended up with thirty on my team. The team was fun, supportive, inspired and inspiring, and the gift goes on. Here’s what Meghan wrote.
Because of their enthusiasm, I am able to recommend with confidence the little pamphlet that became a book in about three weeks. Buy it. It’s worth it. Honest.
Please ask me anything about my process while it’s still fresh. I’m old (I may have mentioned that.)
Thanks, again, Meghan. You’re talented, humble, and teachable and will go far for God’s glory and sake. I’m honored to be your friend and redheaded pseudo-mom.
I’m not sure I’ll write another book.
Sue Moore Donaldson speaks and writes to introduce God’s welcoming heart—inviting you to know the Ultimate Host and pass on His invitation. She and her husband Mark live on the Central Coast of California and have raised three semi-adult daughters (which means she’s always at the bank or on her knees.) Sue blogs at http://welcomeheart.com/sue-donaldson, and is a frequent speaker for women’s events. You may view speaking topics at: http://welcomeheart.com/speaking. You’re invited to join Welcome Heart, Welcome Home Hospitality (for Heaven’s sake!) FB group and follow her on Instagram: @SueMooreDonaldson and @EveryTableTellsAStory
Books written by Sue in spite of herself are:
Available on Amazon too (if you purchase below Meghan may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you and it will help support this blog – thank you!)
Since Sue was so kind to write this hefty book-writing gift for us to glean from, we will just continue next week with our featured writer.
♥But please do link up and spread the love like butter on rye!♥
And don’t forget to share this post if you love it. We want to say thanks and virtually squeeze our friend, Sue for her generous awesomeness!!!
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