Your journey through your 90 days with me will look very different to mine.

For instance, I took today ‘off’. Mainly because it’s the Saturday of a long weekend, but also I unexpectedly had to clear out a garage of belongings and that took up more time and ate into more of my planned spontaneous parts of the day (haha).

But then in the night, I awoke; words, concepts, ideas coursing through me. I had to get up in the wee small hours and write them down.

Toni Morrison talks about writing in the ‘corners of the day’. She said in a 1993 interview with the Paris Review: “Writing before dawn began as a necessity — I had small children when I first began to write and I needed to use the time before they said ‘Mama’ — and that was always around 5 in the morning.” Years later, that habit was baked in. “I always get up and make a cup of coffee while it is still dark — it must be dark — and then I drink the coffee and watch the light come,” she said. “And I realized that for me, this ritual comprises my preparation to enter a space that I can only call nonsecular.”

I don’t know whether rising at 4.30am (that was the time I got up to write these musings) is going to become a habit. My children are no longer classified as ‘small’ (almost 6 and almost 11). But I do get up around 6am. I do my Feldenkrais practice, which can be described as a moving meditation (awareness through movement lesson) and I do make notes for the day ahead. This is a practice that has taken me years to build up to and isn’t something I would assume that any client of mine could establish within the first week of working with me.

But, one of the things I ask my clients to do is to explore their own identity around writership. Because we all write. But we are not all authors (myself included – technically. Of course I have written and published books, but they are not for the general public as the intended reader/recipient was always one specific member of my family each time. I have published my memoirs on how I interpreted my father’s 70 years as a disciple (Jesuit priest deacon), teacher (of Religious Education and languages), father (of yours truly), and I made a 70 part video for my mother when she turned 70. I have written 10000 words for my son when he turned 10, with 1000 photos to go along with it, and for my husband I curated a virtual exhibition of his street photography and landscape photography with friends and family. After our daughter died, I created a 3-volume book of the journey we had together – 750 pages. That’s audience was me, really.)

Hang on, that ‘bracketing’ there, in the paragraph above. That’s an example of a closeted author mindset.

I did behave and take on habits in those periods of time that sent the message “I am a writer. I am also an author.”

In what way? I had a goal – to make a book or video or exhibition. There was always a (birth)date in mind. I did the necessary outreach to gather my material, as I couldn’t do most of it solo. I looked for book layout programmes, as I didn’t outsource that. And I’m a professional editor, so I developmentally edited and copyedited and also proofread my work (I do not recommend!)

What I’ve learnt is that I have a very organic process. It’s only in recent times that I’ve bothered to jot down the framework to help others do it. It’s largely organic too, tailored around the individual.

But this is what I have noticed about my process over all those projects.

Life cannot carry on as usual. You don’t remember to do all the things, like trim your kids’ nails before they are too long and have a dark edge of dirt under them. You will forget to get your car to the garage for its annual roadworthy assessment (and only get around to it a month later). You might go around for a week with a birthday or mother’s day gift in your bag you’ve been meaning to take to the post office. You might just become that absent-minded professor type, without really meaning to.

Because you see the world with the lens of your idea. What will influence the section you’re working on? What interaction inspires you to include that sort of story in that particular chapter? What meeting or personality do you experience at work that reminds of you of a time that would be really gripping and important to include in that list of examples you have been compiling?

You will change while you’re growing and birthing your book, just like any pregnant woman does. You will not get through the book writing process – particularly the first one – without some sort of transformation and without feeling some discomfort. It’s only afterwards that you know what to expect. It is very much like becoming a parent for the first time. Nothing prepares you for it. It can go any way, it may even be interrupted and stop being viable much earlier. For some, this can happen without their knowing it. For others, there is so much resentment, regret and longing to actually bring their book to life again, that they go in circles seeking to deliver it, but they don’t quite make it.

If you are very clear that you are on the journey to publishing your book to be read by a wide audience, you will start showing. And once you start showing, and people start asking after you and the book, you will need to report on how you are feeling and how it’s all developing.

Towards the end, it will get harder. Aside from preparing the space for where you will put the book (the layout, the cover and all the people and places you intend to distribute it), you still need to have it copyedited, laid out, and sign off on the last version. The hours and attention to detail, the fear of whether it will be a success, if you fight that fear, it will hurt. A lot. But if at a certain point, you let go, and breathe into each step of those last processes, the book will come. Exactly as it was supposed to be. Perfectly imperfect. An expression of your commitment and intention for the time leading up to meeting your book face to face and cradling it in your own hands.

Enough of the baby analogy, but you get my drift.

The transition of maid to mother, and writer to author, is profound, visceral and it will change you.

It’s will not be a walk in the park. It will ask a lot from you. And it will be so very rewarding.

Perhaps 9 months is a better plan for the bookwriting process. And that’s why I only promise to produce 20k words or a book proposal in 90 days. Because it is in fact impossible to write a book in 90 days. It won’t be a good book. But I want to show you the steps you can take to get closer to your dream. And unless you have nothing to do but write a book for 90 days straight, most people need more time to do their job and raise their kids and exercise and I don’t know, eat, as well as write their book.

So the blog post is called DNA.

What on earth could I mean by that (other than ‘Deoxyribonucleic acid” being the carrier of genetic information)? Do not attempt? Devilishly nihilistic activity? No.

Do Now (to be an) Author.

  • Set aside at least 90 days to start the journey. It may not be done in that time, but to allocate those 90 days is the first step.
  • See yourself as an author (well, you could see yourself as you are, and then imagine yourself as an author and then introduce the two to each other)
  • Get very clear on your why (not just for the book, but could be) – a coach can help you
  • Understand who you are writing for – your peers, your clients and a coach can also help you define this
  • Define the underlying message of your book and devise the hook for it as the central point to return to again and again as you write the long copy
  • Write and talk as much as you can about your book process through other media such as blogs, articles, brochures, social media. Get others excited for you and to support you. Ask for at least 5 people who will be beta readers (more is better!). Look up Leanne Hughes’ genius approach here and here. To explore yours, see here.
  • Work out a format/structure for your book
  • Collect resources and stories relating to your book
  • Outline a chapter summary
  • Run a workshop or two to check if certain things you’re unsure about are working or resonating
  • Start writing
  • Stop writing
  • Start editing
  • Stop editing
  • Have a break while you get your beta readers to read your manuscript
  • Create a landing page for your book
  • Get your ISBN and other items required for publication and make it available for pre-sale on platforms such as Amazon
  • Calmly review their comments.
  • Hire a professional editor to read your book
  • Hire a professional to design your book
  • Sign off of the last version of your book and close your laptop for an entire 24 hours
  • Make plans for an in-person event with friends, family and your target market
  • Do the same for your online followers
  • Celebrate!
  • If you’ve opted to do an early version release and then edit that, you can do the last few steps again for your mainstream release!

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