The Secret to Writing your Life Story

The above photo popped up on my Facebook Memories today and I’m happy to say that I followed that dream and published my semi-memoir, Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s.

I wanted to write a book my entire life. I grew up writing stories on a typewriter and cutting out pictures of models in magazines to make them the characters. But it wasn’t until I got divorced in my twenties that I really declared I was going to write a book about my life. I knew there had to be a greater reason for my divorce, and maybe the universe wanted me to put my story into the world so I could unite with and help other women. I’m cool with that. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

But where do you actually start once you decide to write a book?

Here’s a secret: There’s only one thing you need to do to start writing a book and that’s to start writing!

Everything else is secondary. Don’t worry about securing an agent, publisher, money or developing a marketing plan (well actually, you should start building your own social media presence about one year ahead of publication, especially if your goal is to sign with a publisher). But I digress….

None of that matters unless you have your content.

I spent one year writing my book. I dedicated every weekend to working on it. Because each chapter of my book is a standalone “article” if you will, I didn’t have to worry about writing in sequence.

My biggest challenge? Compiling the stories of the 70 women I interviewed, narrowing down the common issues behind their divorce, reasons they got married and creative ways they celebrated their new lease on life. I went through everyone’s email interview and put highlights on the parts of their stories that I wanted to include in the book. Then I threw each of those quotes into a Word doc on that topic.

By the time I was ready to write, I had all of my notes for each chapter ready. It made the writing process much smoother and less stressful.

Was it hard to give up my weekends? Yes. Luckily though, I had just started dating my now-husband and at the time, he had a job that required him to work weekends. So I used that time to write my book. It also helps that I’m pretty much a homebody and I’d rather stay home and do something creative towards my goals than go out.

Bottom line:

Writing a book should be a rewarding experience. Don’t stress yourself out or put a timeline on when you should be done. Enjoy the process.

Lesson learned from this post: If your goal is to write a book, just start writing and stay dedicated. Everything else will fall into place.

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