Brooke and Stephen continue their discussion but this time they are talking about getting your book done.
Brooke is a wellness coach, so it would be easy to neglect her writing while working her day job. We discuss what authors can do to ensure they get their writing done.
Brooke has supplied everyone a copy of her 6 tips to getting done below:
And you can find her at:
Brooke: Are you working on your author career but struggling to get that first book published? Does the goal of being an author seem too lofty, or thoughts of having multiple books and making a full-time living are as fantastical as living in Cinderella’s Castle? Welcome to Discovered Wordsmiths, a podcast.
Where aspiring authors can be heard. Join Steven Schneider as he finds and talks to authors you may not know, but authors that have gotten their foot on the author career path, hear what they’ve done to get there and where they want to go. Now settle back. It’s time for a bit of inspiration and advice.
Come listen to today’s discovered wordsmith.
Stephen: All right. Well, Brooke, welcome back to the second half of the podcast episodes where we’re gonna talk about getting it done more for the authors in the community. But before we do that, I, I had a couple questions. So you have an interesting day job or your, your own work for a wellness coach.
And you do the writing on the side. So tell us a little bit about how, what your. What you do besides writing a little more detail and how your writing fits into your life.
Brooke: So my wellness coaching really is based off something called the wellness inventory, which is a whole person wellness model. I think a lot of times when people think of wellness, they may think of only exercise or only nutrition and wellness.
The wellness inventory really is focused on a whole person, so it’s, it’s even around breathing and self-love and transcending, and all these different things that really are part of who you are. And so that takes up a decent part of my day, some days during the week. And then writing also goes in there as well.
And I find them to be pretty complimentary because I’m dealing with people on that wellness side. And then, Which is very real, very in the present moment, very nonfiction if you will. And then my writing is just, I get to go tell these stories and you know, create a different world or go back to a different time and I find them to be.
Really complimentary in that way, and I enjoy the, the kind of the flow of energy that goes on there.
Stephen: So would you recommend writing as a fulfilling aspect of life for an overall wellness?
Brooke: Yes. If, if it calls to people, especially journaling and I, I
Stephen: like you pointing that out. Yeah.
Brooke: Yeah. And it’s writing is not necessarily for everybody.
It’s, it is also one of those things where when people think about writing, sometimes in the aspect of coaching, it’s like, Oh, you want me to sit down and write this essay? It’s like, no. If you wanna do 17 bullet points, that’s fine. If you wanna write down a few ideas, that’s fine. This may not be the modality that’s gonna work the best for you.
But understand in the writing, there really aren’t any rules. It’s what rules you make up around it to make it meaningful
Stephen: to you. And, and I agree, I’ve heard some authors at times like, oh, I just can’t sit down and write anymore. And, oh, I, you know, I’m struggling with this. And it’s like, well, if you’re complaining that much about it, maybe you should pick up guitar or something.
It shouldn’t be that stressful
Brooke: right there. Some joy in the journey and as we all know, the journey is not always going to be fun and games. There’s definitely going to be work involved. But if there’s not really a lot of joy there, maybe as you said, it’s not the right, it’s not the right outlet. It’s not the right thing.
Stephen: let me ask you this with your writing what tools do you use? You
Brooke: know, I’m so very basic. I write everything in my Microsoft Word, and then the editing tool that I use is Grammarly. I know there are other ones out there that’s really as far as I’ve gotten. I use Excel. Honestly, to make spreadsheets, to keep track of where I am with some of my chapters and to work out where I’m going with my chapters.
When I wrote Adventures of An Urban Homesteader, I completely pants it. It was more of a flow chart type of thing versus like a strict oh 0.1 on the outline, 0.2 on the outline. And I have a different process in place right now for a fiction book I’m writing and I’m loving the process, but it’s very different and I’m tweaking it as I go.
So my tools really are pretty basic and
Stephen: I think that’s great for people to hear, cuz I think sometimes authors feel, oh, you know, if I just write on a yellow pad, that’s not real writing. You know, people have done that for hundreds of years. And I think, and I’ve talked to enough authors to know everybody.
Has slightly different things they do. I know some people that use Word and have like word skills that are like way beyond me with doing sidebar navigation and being able to jump around. I’m like, whoa, that’s way too much. So I, I think, like we were talking a minute ago, sometimes we hear this advice and then we get all upset like, oh man, I’m not doing that.
I must not be doing it right. You know, everybody does it different. Do what feels right.
Brooke: So, Exactly, and in all honesty, the first ideas that I had for books and a good deal of adventures of an urban homesteader were written by hand in a notebook, scribbled down, quite honestly, when I had a corporate job, and then I would come home and put it into my computer.
So if I always say, if somebody tells you that there is one way to write a book, You should thank them and probably back away. Right, I agree. Cause there are so many different ways to do it and we do get, I think sometimes so caught up in what is the right way and the right way may mean what is right for you.
And then taking, taking what works for you and then leaving the rest and mish mashing it all together simply to get the draft done.
Stephen: I, I mean, I’ve heard stories, people that can write for 15 minutes on their lunch break and they write it on index cards and have to take it home and then put it into something else.
Yes. So you, anything works.
Brooke: Yes. There are people too who have trouble with their hands and literally have to record it into their
Stephen: phone. Yeah, I know people that go on walks and will record it and they’ll email it to themselves. Yes. And that’s how they get it to email it. I think there’s enough tools that everybody can find what works for them.
Agreed for your book. What are you doing to market it? So
Brooke: what I will be doing, to be very honest, I don’t plan to continue to write in the romance genre. So I didn’t do a lot of marketing on adventures. My upcoming plan for my micro memoir is to do Amazon ads and then to also to do just regular advertising on BookBub.
Not one of their featured deals, but just using their regular advertising platform.
Stephen: And why did you choose to go with those instead of other millions of choices?
Brooke: Millions of choices. I felt, first of all, because I know Amazon, Amazon really does have the share of the market, and I thought that would be a good skill to learn going forward.
And then also, because BookBub really is about readers, it’s focused on. Readers who like a good new release or like a good deal. So those are gonna be the two I’m gonna start with and then we’ll kind of see what happens from there. I
Stephen: have a plan to revisit authors and see how they’re doing later. So it’d be interesting to find out how things have gone with the memoir.
Next time we might be able to talk.
Brooke: Yes, I will certainly keep you in the loop on that once it gets out the door and starts getting a little bit of traction.
Stephen: Great. So our, our big topic for the day is getting it done in, in the made way or not what’s his name? The comedian. It says get or done.
Yes. Anyway. So why did you choose wanting to talk about getting it done and what, what advice do you have for reaching that goal?
Brooke: Well, one of the reasons why I chose this is because I think through my own experience and my own experience of working with some of my fellow writers that getting, really getting it done, which I’m referring to really, is that with that first draft, Because I think sometimes that can be a real challenge, and as we all know, you can’t edit a blank page.
So I think getting to done is really important because it helps us figure out our stumbling blocks. So I did have six short steps that I wanted to share with listeners. The first one. Okay, great. Yeah. The first one really step number one with the first draft is to manage expectations. Is that this is not something that you are going to, you know, hand to someone and say, oh, I’m finished with the book.
This is simply getting the story down, getting your thoughts down, getting a structure together. Just kind of as sometimes as they say, just kind of puking out the words and knowing that that needs to be done so that you can go back and polish that and make that something you’re really proud of later on.
And the second, yeah, the second part of that is what I call embracing the messiness and imperfection in writing. Writing is an imperfect process. I commend those people who can sit down and write super coherent pages, you know, hour after hour. I am certainly not at that level yet, so knowing it’s gonna be messy, accepting that, embracing that.
Knowing that it’s an imperfect process. Again, like you had mentioned, people are like, well, I’m writing on a notepad. Is this right? It’s like, yeah, it’s right. It’s fine. Write on your note cards, write on your notepad. Just get the words down. And
Stephen: one of the things. But with those first two items I’ve discovered personally is I get a much better end result if I’m not worried about precision and perfect being perfect right at the start, just getting it on the page, but also.
That there are any group of words that you form into a sentence, there are a dozen different ways you could write that same sentence. So one way is not necessarily the right way, or better part of it is your voice and your style. And I know sometimes there are things I’ll read that I’ve written that I re, you know, change it.
And it sounds better to me, but then other people say, well, you could write it this way. And they have a completely different sequence of words in that sentence. So I, I, like we’ve said a couple times, I think people get too hung up on some of that and they need to get to the end and then can relax and review without their mind being all stressed.
Brooke: Right. Agreed. And, and part of that, like you said, is developing your voice. Your voice will write it a certain way and somebody else will really resonate with that, or, or somebody else may be, well, like, I could have written it this way, and it’s like, that’s fine. Both are acceptable. This is, this is the voice of this book and this is what I’m doing.
Brooke: What’s number three? Number three is to write regularly. I think one of the things I, I have, I have written down here, write regularly, not necessarily every day. One of the things I think people get a little stressed out about is, well, I need to be writing every day, or I need to be writing X number of minutes or X number of words.
And sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s going to just require you to find what regular means to you, but I do believe there is. Power and wisdom in sitting down in front of the page. Even if that means you read the previous three paragraphs you’ve written the last time you showed up at that page, to kind of get the juices
And the people I talk to, and most of the authors out there are not Stephen King or JK Rowling. They have day jobs, they have families, they have other obligations, and sometimes you. Just do not have the time to write words on a page. And if you get upset and stressed about that, it seems like what they end up doing is, oh, well I’m a failure.
I didn’t write yesterday, so no point in writing today. And next thing you know, it’s three weeks later with no writing. Right.
Brooke: Right. Exactly. And, and that can be. We have to really watch ourselves and that I’m gonna get to that in number five. That is a point I will be making.
Yeah. Number four, and this is. Know your writing style and if you need help. So by writing style, I mean do you need to write in the morning? Do you need to get up? If you can get up a few minutes early, maybe before kids are up or before you need to walk out the door. Is it best for you to write at night when kids have gone to bed?
Do you need to write in sprints? I have fellow writers that have those day jobs. They sit down and they have three 15 minute sprints a day on good days to get it done. Do you need to have music on in the background also, if you need help? Do you need an accountability partner? Do you need somebody to come to you at the end of three days or five days and say, Do you have pages for me to read?
Alright, how are you doing? People need different things in different environments, so understanding your style and what you need is going to be a work in process, and it’s something that kind of, I think, evolves. So just know that, again, that’s just part of the process and there’s no real right or wrong as long as you’re just moving
So what advice would you give to people who are just starting out and they don’t know their style, they don’t know what works for them yet, and they’re trying to figure that out? Any advice for those people?
Brooke: First of all, be really nice to yourself and don’t do a lot of self-blaming if it doesn’t work the first five times.
Because. It is going to evolve. Sit down, just write some words, get going. Experiment. I would say experiment. Experimenting is probably the best advice, and then also trying to write regularly thinking about your story, maybe thinking about your story, even only one to two scenes ahead. So when you show up at that page, the next time, at least you have something to start with.
You don’t necessarily need to build Rome all in one day. Just start.
Stephen: And I, I see a lot of times online, especially people asking questions, well, what should I do? Should I do this or should I do that? Should I write it this way? Should I get this thing? And people are like, oh, no, no, do it this way. Do it this way.
And I’m usually like, yeah, why don’t you try all of it and see what works for you. Maybe what really is best for you is some combination, more of thing A and a little bit of thing B. Somebody else might be more a thing. B. You really have to try it all to discover what works, or at least look at what already works for you and build upon that.
Say, well, you know, based on how I am with doing household chores or my job at work, or, you know, taking care of the kids, I normally like this type of thing. So, Look at what offers that as a writer, what you know, is it getting up early, like you said, and writing? Or are you better at taking a couple minute break at lunch and scribbling some things down?
You know, both are valid, but they work for different types of people.
Brooke: Yes, agreed. And that’s why experimenting is so important and also being nice to yourself and knowing that it may take you a little while. To figure out what’s going to work. And then also I would say, know that it’s something to try and that it may change honestly, with every book, depending on what type of book you’re writing,
Stephen: the the worst thing is to get stressed about thinking, I’m not writing enough, or I’m not writing correctly, I’m not writing the right way, or whatever.
And then your words reflect it. It’s very difficult to write when your mind is stressed and cycling on problems. It, it, when it’s open and relaxed, you get your best writing done regardless of how you’re doing
Brooke: it. Right. Agreed. Absolutely. So that’s going to bring me to point number five, and I think this one is pretty important and it does involve some fairly honest looking in the mirror and it’s, it’s called Get Honest about roadblocks to Finishing.
One of the things that I usually say is time is not the issue. It’s around values, priorities, you know, currently, I think mentally and emotionally, we just may not have bandwidth to do as much, if anything at all. But what I also find is that fear of judgment, fear of opinions from others. Fear of not being perfect.
Fear of, okay, if I get it done, I don’t know the next step. Or what will somebody say? Because as authors, ultimately we are putting something out into the world, even as a first draft for a first reader that we’ve probably worked really hard on, and we’re very invested in it, and we really want positive feedback and we want others to like it.
And that’s part of, part of the author, author growth process and just knowing. That one opinion really isn’t the end of the world usually, so just getting honest about those roadblock blocks to finishing that first draft can be pretty enlightening. Again, as, as you and I have both said, just try not to have that overthinking mind and just sit down at the page and just see what comes out and, and know that it’s not final, that it’s, we’re going to edit it and that’s fine.
There are days I write things and I’m like, that is extraordinarily bad. And it doesn’t matter. Cause I’m gonna edit that later. Let’s move on. You know?
Stephen: Right. And with that, people need to realize that you need the experience of writing before you can look back at your own writing to judge it more fairly and with an open mind.
I, myself, and I know others right. Something. And if you’re just starting out, it’s like, oh man, this is like the best thing I’ve ever written. I love it. It’s so good. And then we get some friends and family to look it over and they’re like, yeah, this is great. I love this. Thank you. Which doesn’t really help.
And then they put it out there and other people start reading it, going, yeah, this is a bunch of garbage. Then it hurts your self-esteem. You quit writing. It’s a bad cycle. I think for me, and this is the advice I would give others, is your writing isn’t a golden. Honorific just sings to the angels it’s words on a page.
And if you keep an open mind and understand that you can change them, then it’s not as fearful to get that feedback from other people. And I much prefer finding the people that will read my writing and say, yeah, this was kind of boring, or Yeah, this word doesn’t work for me. Or you know, Hey, you really messed up on a lot of commas here.
Whatever the feedback is. I’d rather get that from people I know and trust that are trying to help me, rather than just have people tell me, yeah, this is great, and everybody else thinks it sucks.
Brooke: Yeah, I think that’s, that’s super, super valid. And I also know too that when I was finished with my adventures and I had beta readers and I knew one of them.
She actually told me on the version that is not in print anymore because I fixed it, that she put the book down and didn’t finish it. And I’m like, okay, that’s, that’s horrifying to me like that I have to fix. So while it was hard to hear that, I’m like, this is going to make the book better. And that’s why we have to remember the first drafts.
Also, who you choose as first readers is to really encourage them. Not to be the sugarcoated happy family member is to say, look, if you got bored or you didn’t like something, or something didn’t make sense, you need to tell me. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings because I need honest feedback to make this better.
Stephen: Right. I, if you want to be a successful author with the millions of readers out there, you have to write a book that the millions of readers will enjoy. And if all you’re looking for is for friends and family to tell you how great the book is, that’s valid, that’s fine. You, you can write that and be that.
You know, you could be for every family reunion, maybe you have a new book and everybody in the family might totally look forward to receiving the new book, every family reunion or something that, Doesn’t always mean that you should or even want to become an author for the rest of the world. It’s still valid.
It’s just be honest with what you are writing for and what you’re looking for it. I know an author. That a, a friend that wrote and like argued with all the feedback he got from other people, the book wasn’t that good, wasn’t that successful, but he wasn’t open to learning or, or what other people thought on the feedback.
So that’s something that I try and do is look for the people that I’m going to get good, honest feedback from. Even if it’s tough feedback, that’s what I want.
Brooke: Yeah, exactly. And I’m really fortunate right now in the people who are being the beta readers for my micro memoir, I don’t know them at all. And so I, I would be very curious to see what they have to say because they’re the first people who will have read it.
That I don’t know. And I think in some ways that is part of the courageous journey of the author. We are ultimately putting parts of ourselves out there that people are gonna have an opinion about, that they’re gonna judge. And that’s part of, you know, kind of who we are and what we’re doing. And I think as a person who just published their first book last year, I was like, what is going to happen?
And by and large things have been fairly positive. And I’m like, I just look at it as a whole. I look at it as the whole thing of, you know, some people, this isn’t gonna be their cup of tea. But other people really liked it and I’m like, this is great. I’m really pleased with this for my first book. So I think, yeah, that is that fear around the opinion and the judge judgment is gonna be there.
But I think it’s also part of that courageous journey that we have to take as authors. Yes. Depending on what we wanna do. Like you said, do we wanna write for the family reunion or do we wanna write for a larger audience?
Stephen: Right. And to clarify, it’s the first book you’ve published, but it’s not the first book you wrote.
And I think a lot of authors have that where they’ve written something and as they wrote, Their, their skills increased and they realized, yeah, this isn’t that good. But they needed to do that to get to the next level of being a successful author and understanding that the first thing you wrote may not be the best publishable thing.
Too many times I’ve seen authors like, write something. Yeah. I spent three months writing this and I put it up for sale and nobody’s buying it. Well, that’s part of the learning process, but maybe you need to move Right. The next thing that the first thing really wasn’t supposed to be your first thing.
Brooke: Right, exactly. It’s all, it’s all cumulative in the experience, and I think it all helps along the way, which in many ways brings me to the last point on getting it done, which is know when to call it good. Know when it’s finished as just a first draft. And I think sometimes, People can get a little hesitant of, well, am I really done?
Or they wanna tinker and, and kind of fuss with it. And it’s like, all right, is that because you’re not done or is it because you’re afraid of getting feedback? So knowing when it’s done is it becomes a skill, honestly. And sometimes we look around and it’s like, no, that wasn’t quite done. Or maybe it was overdone, but I’m just gonna do that.
And, and you learn that as you go along, but. Knowing when it’s done and you need to set it aside. I don’t know about you, but I try to write things and then set them aside for four to six weeks just to let them sit and just to get away. Because you’ve been in that world for so long that you honestly can’t look at your own work objectively.
And when I usually go back in four to six weeks, I’m like, oh, this was really good. Or, oh, I need to fix this, or whatever. But that’s the point. I mean, letting it sit and simmer, it has to do that. But you have to say it’s done in order to let it do that.
Stephen: And yeah, reach that point where you finish it. I’ve known some authors, again that I talked to at various critique groups and conferences and you know, I talked to ’em one year and then see ’em again the following year.
I’m like, so what are you working on now? Oh, still the same book. And it’s like, okay, well now you’ve been working on it for three years. There there’s a point where you’re really not making the book better. You’re just spinning your wheels. And I agree with you. I, I discovered myself if I put something down, And then I come back to it, my mind’s fresh.
I forgot a lot of what I wrote, and the emotional attachment isn’t there, so I can read it more objectively and make the changes that need to be done rather than thinking, oh, my words are all perfect and I don’t wanna change ’em. You know, I read it and I’m like, yeah, those are so not the perfect words.
Let me fix it. Right. And that was a. A level step in my growth. And I, I told a couple people that I really felt it when I hit that. And now when I write something, it’s closer to what my old stuff was the second time around. Now the first time I do it, it’s closer to that. So I, I grew and I felt it.
And, and you also come to the terms where you’re like, I’m going to end it. And it usually, it helps to know how it’s going to end. Sometimes that gets a little interesting too. But no, you get there and then you’re like, okay, it’s done. It’s done to a state where I’m gonna set it aside. And then when I come back, like you said, the emotional attachment is not quite as great, much more objective, and you’re one step closer to a finished product because now you can edit those pages because words are on them.
You have something that you can start polishing.
Stephen: Yes. And I know I’ve, I was like a lot of people, I didn’t want to cut things out. It’s like, oh, I love that scene. But when I got objective, I’m like, yeah, that doesn’t work. It doesn’t fit. It could be better. I held onto it and I ended up putting it somewhere else and it worked much better elsewhere.
So you can recycle this stuff. And I wrote for a mastermind group I’m in, I wrote a short story for that, and I liked the short story. But I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, so I took the premise of the short story, changed it a little bit to fit into my fantasy character’s world, and I wrote a short, the same type of short story with the characters from that world and recycled it that way.
So it’s, it’s a matter of. Letting go of thinking it’s golden words and you know what’s best for the story itself. And again, you have to get the experience to even feel that. Cuz a year ago I wouldn’t have even understood what that meant as much as I do now. Right,
Brooke: right. And I think, I think too, the more you write, the more you understand what you need to keep and what you really do.
Just have to cut. There was a decent amount of cutting I did on adventures when I wrote it. And there were certain things I’m like, I really don’t wanna get rid of this, but it really does not make sense. And in order, I always just kind of say, you know, tightening and polishing and making sure that the pacing is good is something to look at.
And the pacing really for new writers is about making sure that your story holds the reader’s attention and gives just that balance of right amount of detail with right amount of. And that’s something that I still work with, but I recognize it now a lot more. And again, that just comes with experience and also saying, you know what?
I probably just need to highlight those 500 words and hit delete because they need to go.
Stephen: Yep. I, I’ve done that so much more lately and my stories have felt so much better to me for being able to do that. And now it’s a lot easier. I’m not as afraid to cut words cuz I can just write more. Right.
There’s not a limited
Brooke: of words. Exactly. And I think we also learn as we go along what’s important to the story, what’s important to the reader. Maybe we don’t use it, like you said in this story. We tweak it and we use it somewhere else as an idea. And again, that’s right. Sort of writing and allowing yourself to say, there’s no one right way to do this.
And sometimes I’ll just throw things in a Word document and be like, I don’t wanna forget that, but I can’t use that here. And then just save it.
Stephen: The points you just went over, do you have that as a document on your website that people could get
Brooke: to? You know, I don’t, would it be helpful for me to send that as a document to you to include in your podcast or,
Stephen: yeah, that would be great.
I’m sure people would love that.
Brooke: Okay. I will absolutely do that.
Stephen: Okay. So To finish things up. Do you have any last minute advice for new authors other than all that you’ve already given us?
Brooke: I would say to just not get overwhelmed. Don’t worry about the whole, I need to do this website thing and I need to do all these other things.
Focus on writing. And this actually came from an editor who told me this when I started. She’s like, just write the most compelling book you can. Then we’ll take it from there. So don’t get overwhelmed with all the logistics and all the fun little tools and all of the places you’re supposed to be online.
Just try to write the most compelling book you can, whether that’s in a notebook, on note cards, in Word in Scrivener, wherever, and then go forward from there. That would be starting advice just right. And
Stephen: I agree. I think the, the most I’ve gotten done is when I don’t worry about it and I just let it flow and write.
Yep. And keep going. Great. Well, Brooke, I had a really great time talking with you today. And I love all these getting, getting to done help that you were giving us. That’s appreciated. Great.
Brooke: Thank you. I’m so glad. I, I hope it’s helpful for. Both beginning and experienced writers because, you know, we all grapple with different things and I think part of it is just getting that draft done in ways that work the best for us.
Stephen: Yes. And if anybody was interested in your wellness coaching where can they find out about more of that?
Brooke: Oh, that is actually at Roots of Abundance and it’s www roots of abundance.com.
Stephen: Great. And if people are interested, go check that out there and look for Brooks. Look for Brooks book. That’s and a fun one to say.
The Adventures of an Urban Homesteader.
Brooke: Yes, that one again is, you can find it most easily on Amazon. It is also on my website, but Amazon is probably the easiest place to find it. All right.
Stephen: Brooke, thank you. You have a really good day. I appreciate it. Wonderful.
Brooke: Thank you so much for having me on the podcast.
Thank you for listening to Discovered Wordsmiths. Come back next week and listen to another author discuss the road they’ve traveled, and maybe sometime in the near future it might be you.