Putting a book together, even a small one such as The Goblin Circus and other Short Stories, was much more work than I anticipated.
I did what I thought was my due diligence, I read a lot of blog posts, I watched a lot of YouTube videos. So many top ten listings for things you need to know. None of it prepared me for the work of actually putting it together, and by that I largely mean the time it takes, and finding that time.
You can be told the steps, you can be shown them. You can read through and understand each of them and feel confident enough to tackle writing a book for self publication. I know I did. When you go into self publication, you are doing all the work that a publisher would normally do. You do your own writing (obviously), your own editing and restructuring (although finding and paying for a good freelance editor can be invaluable) and your own formatting and marketing.
I struggled with finding a balance between work, personal and writing time. The task, at times, felt insurmountable, and The Goblin Circus is a small book, something to cut my teeth on. I would try to find time before or after work, often being tired and unmotivated in these periods. I would fall into the trap of waiting for inspiration, when in truth, writing is work and it should be treated as such. I would find myself feeling guilty with any leisure time I had, always having a little voice in the back of my head telling me I should be working on the book.
You need to dedicate a set time to writing, to sit and work at it yes, but you also need time to switch it off. You are allowed to not write, and you deserve to not feel guilty about time spent away from writing. If you don’t have this issue, I applaud and envy you. I continued on, writing here and there, limiting leisure time and still feeling as though I was making no progress.
Then lockdown hit the UK and I was furloughed, suddenly I found myself with an abundance of time on my hands. I formed a writing plan, and structured my days. Writing early in the morning, then using the internet to continue learning, YouTube lectures or a Masterclass course, there is a wealth of well crafted information out there. My evenings were then free to spend how I wished, and this was my first experience of what it must be like to be a full time writer. I was wrong, it was what I have come to think of as the honeymoon phase of writing. Just pure creativity, putting ideas and first drafts down on the page, not worrying about edits or any of the work it takes to make a work presentable, a finished and complete project.
In what felt like a heartbeat I was back to work, and back to scrambling for time to write. This time however I forced myself to make the time I needed. A little time every morning, and burning some midnight oil most nights. Soon the lack of motivation after a day at work dissolved and I couldn’t wait to get home and put in some work, some real work. I began to think of my job less as what I do for a living or a career, and more as a means to an ends. My vocation is not my passion, it simply allows me to fund it. That small revelation led to a much healthier mindset.
Renewed and filled with a sense of purpose I dove into edits and learning how to format a book for self publication. Although there are many guides out there, for every type of book you can imagine, it was still a lot of trial and error, lots of minor tweaks. It sometimes felt like two steps forward, one step back. This is just for publication through Amazon, and it is by all accounts much more streamlined than self publishing elsewhere.
I’m incredibly happy to say my proofs for The Goblin Circus are on their way, but I am aware there is still so much work to be done. No doubt it will require some small fixes, and even then, when I think it’s good enough to hit publish the work isn’t over. I still have to wrestle with the bugbear of marketing the book, my next great adventure.
If this rambling blog has any point, it is this. Find what works, get a writing plan and stick to it. Treat it like work and do not wait for inspiration. In truth I could have had this book (and maybe others) complete and finished months ago if I had the discipline then that I have now. Carve out a time to write (including the technical side of things) and guard it jealously.