What tips would you give a mom who wants to write a book?

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28  Answers

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Be fearless and stop procrastinating.
I start here because this is what kept me from writing a book for so many years.

Procrastination: your own worst enemy.
My daughter was seven when I started writing my first novel The Thirteenth and it was the summer vacations. So I would pack her and a friend into the car and go to a play barn. They would play and I would scribble notes. Then, when she went back to school, I wrote whilst she was out. You can always find time, now I have three books and school visits and my daughter is nearly twelve I find myself sitting in car parks in my spare twenty minutes, tapping away on my iPad or scribbling on the odd scrap of paper if necessary.

What is there to be afraid of?
The fear of criticism and lack of skills keeps so many books locked inside women's heads - books that so many other moms would benefit from reading.

Find out what's stopping you then address it.
My greatest fear was the red-pen. Someone coming along and red-penning all of my writing and that feeling you get in school as an under-achiever. But with time, and choosing positive and honest people to share my work with, I overcame it.

We all have time to write.
Consider Stephanie Meyers, writing at one-am whilst her children slept, or J. K. Rowling, single mom writing whilst her baby napped in coffee shops. You can find a way.

It looks like so much hard work.
Don't let the thought of 300 pages or 100,000 words overwhelm you. Break it down into smaller pieces and work on them. Think: sentences, then paragraphs, then pages, and finally, chapters.

Stop thinking I can’t do what they do.
Remember that authors don't just pour a book onto the pages word perfect first time. They have re-writes, editors, copy editors and proof readers! So lighten up, yes an editor is advisable once you’re ready. But a trusted relative or two will do when you first start.

How much is enough?
Don't give your trusted preview readers a 400 page autobiography and ask for feedback - give them a chapter or two. They can give you constructive advice from there. If they like it, they will ask for more.

How often do I need to write?
Write everyday if you can make time. To be a writer you need to practice. Let words flow naturally onto a page. Whether it’s a rant, a poem, a blog, a song, a diary, or a book, let it out. Be fearless, stop telling yourself ‘why not’ and start with a 'this is it' mentality.

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Here are some helpful tips to help write your first book:

1. Don't be overwhelmed. Put aside 30 min a day to write. You can increase your time once you get in the routine.
2. Ask yourself: what do you want the reader to take away from your book? Start with the ending in mind.
3. Hire a good editor (if you are self publishing). They will check spelling and offer great feedback for a lot less than you would think.

It's a process but you have something great to say so don't get discouraged. Keep at it and the rewards will be amazing.

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Go for it! Even if you have to write a paragraph a day or a week don't let the opportunity to tell your story pass you by.

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I'd suggest that she clear our time in her schedule - either early mornings or late nights - to get it done. Surround yourself with encouraging and supportive friends who will keep you on track.

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Initially, the thought of writing an entire book was overwhelming so I never could get started. My advice would be not to tackle the entire book right off the bat. You don’t learn to sing in Carnegie Hall overnight - you work your way up to it! Getting published was my overall goal. I started with local parenting magazines and newspaper commentary writing which helped build up my resume and confidence. Additionally, I attended writing conferences and joined a writers’ critique group. It wasn’t until after I developed my voice through writing every day, for either freelance work or maintaining my blog, when I had success with my first book editor and publisher.

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Nowadays, with so many books being published as ebooks alone, it makes a lot of sense to consider self-publishing as a viable option for getting your book out there. With a shrinking publishing industry and so much competition from the Internet, it is harder than ever to get your book published through traditional means. I have done it both ways... I self-publshed my first book and got a traditional publisher for my second one. I have to admit, as my own publisher, I was a pain in the neck and would have fired myself early on if not for the fact that there was no one else to replace me with. That said, it was nice to have complete creative control and get a higher royalty rate through self-publishing. On the flip side, I got lots of great input from a number of people at the traditional publishing company who definitely helped me improve the quality of my second book AND they got it into bookstores, which is something that is much more difficult, if not impossible to do with a self-published book.
The best thing to do to decide which route to take is to look at your reason for writing a book (is it for you, some friends and your Aunt Shirley or do you want the whole world to see it?), how important is it to you to have creative control, and what is your platform, or rather, who is going to buy the book. Unless you can show a large, built in audience and a way to market your book, it will be hard to get a traditional publisher to take you on, even if you write the world's greatest proposal and send along a gift basket of chocolate truffles with it.

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So many moms are publishing their “momoirs” these days, so write something that sets you apart from the rest. Ask yourself, “What would I like to read that isn’t already for sale in the marketplace?”

For several years I wrote a parenting humor column called “Mishegas of Motherhood,” which combines the modern domestic satire of Erma Bombeck with ancient wisdom of the Jewish thinkers. I try to write in a way that’s both entertaining and enlightening, and many people who buy my book aren’t even Jewish, probably because raising children to leave the nest is universally appealing. My readers actually asked me to put together a collection of favorite essays, and that’s what I did. It was a great way to break into the book industry, and I hope to follow up with a second book, but not necessarily the same format.
My advice to author moms: write about what you know, what you want to know better, and what you’re passionate about.

And don’t expect to get rich, unless you write a bestseller that involves vampires or sex.

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Start writing! I do believe everyone has a story in them. All it takes is one deep breath and then begin.

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Enjoy the process-- such a cliche but it is true. Writing is writing. Books are business. Both can be fun and fulfilling, but you really have to know why you're doing one or the other, or both.

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I think the best thing to do when writing a book is to never say "no" to any idea that comes to your mind. Write it all down - no matter how wild it may seem. Then when you find an idea that strikes a chord with you, write and write and write about that subject until you can't write any more. You can put things in order later, just be sure to capture every thought that may fly away if scrutinized.

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If you want to write a book, start writing. Seriously, that's it. Also, start connecting with others who can help bring your book to market. Writing your book is the easiest part. Publishing the book is harder. Marketing the book is even harder. But in the end, if your book is something you believe in, or if you have a story only you can tell, then all of the hours you put in both pre- and post-publishing will be worth it. Don't write a book because you can. Write it because you must.

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Start writing ... on whatever topic floats your boat. I started writing just after my first baby was born. That was 27 years ago and I was waxing lyrical about the benefits of the healthy preparation my partner and I had done before Dave’s conception. I kept adding random thoughts and comments - they all went down on a big notepad.
Use modern technology - today there are multiple opportunities for aspiring writers to spread their wings or display their wares, so start blogging, posting, commenting, submitting articles, whatever. Use every channel you can to get your writing in front of readers. There’s no better way to refine your technique (and populate your potential book with content).
Save everything you write - lots of my early writings have been recycled - with a new slant on an old topic, you can get a lot of mileage out of previously created material.
Don’t wait to finish your book to send it to a publisher. All publishers want is a synopsis, and a couple of sample chapters to show your writing style. If you have an idea for a series, tell them - they’ll love it! If you’re a self-promoter or business entrepreneur and have a ready-made market for your books - tell them that too and to whom you’re planning to sell!
Do your homework! Find the most likely publishing houses for your genre - check online or join an author’s society to get this background info. Check the format required for manuscript submission - some publishers won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. On the other hand, some publishers now only accept a manuscript for an ebook.
Don’t be deterred by a rejection slip. My first manuscript, was considered well written but to have very small potential readership. Expanded into four books, that reached best-seller status, the whole series has become a publishing “evergreen” with translations into Dutch, Spanish and Italian. This year, two new books and ebooks, covering the same material but designed for a time poor generation of prospective parents, integrate with a casual game and will also become mini ebooks RRP $1.99 - an innovative publishing initiative from Random House. It’s all about timing, being in the right place at the right time and trusting!
If you’re not a natural born writer, if words don’t come easily, but you’ve got a story to tell or a message to spread, consider working with someone who can turn your ideas and passion into perfect prose. In the same way a co-author can create an extraordinarily creative collaboration, adding an element of wisdom that broadens your readership base. In my case, co-author Francesca Naish brought herbal medicine and years in clinical practice to my pharmacy and nutritional medicine background. We had very different experiences of birthing and nurturing our boys (two apiece) but were in complete accord about how that experience would look in an ideal world! Writing and editing together had its challenges but we’re still dear friends, even though my latest volumes were authored solo.

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I have been giving writers tips on book writing since 2007, specifically for moms in my book "Writer Mama, How To Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids" and in my e-book" Author Mama, How I Became A Published Author & How You Can Too." I have always encouraged moms to work their way up to a first book deal gradually over time, getting known as they go, as described in my book, “Get Known Before The Book Deal” and how to nurture and grow a writing career, as described in “The Writer’s Workout.”

However, today my advice has changed from what it once was when I wrote “Writer Mama.” Back then I encouraged writers to go right for a traditional book deal. These days, I encourage moms to increase ownership in their careers before going for a traditional book deal by micro-publishing several short e-books. This is a great way to learn the ropes of writing, editing, specializing, selling, platform development and self-promotion in order to develop and hone the skills traditionally published authors need to have.

If you follow this advice, and like I said, it takes time. Then when you get that traditionally published book deal, you already will have income streams in place and you are going to need them. Because it costs money to make money and traditional publishing does not preclude the necessity of investing in your career.

Claiming ownership of your hard work first is the kind of empowerment mom writers need before a traditional book deal, in order to experience their own worth in action. It’s extremely helpful to know what you have to offer before you get to the negotiation table. Micro-publishing is the perfect way to work your way there gradually, over time, getting known as you build a body of work, just as I have always taught.

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Start. Don't wait for a block of time when no one is bothering you, the laundry is done and the house is clean. Sit down, butt in the chair, and begin. Write for as long as you can about whatever is in your head and when someone screams from the bathroom that they need you to come wipe them, go do that, cook dinner, then write some more.

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My best suggestion is to just write every day and don't make excuses---if it's important to you, you'll find the time, steal the time, do what you need to do to practice your craft. And you need to practice your craft and expect it will probably take time---a runner doesn't just show up to a Marathon and expect to finish the race if she hasn't been doing the work for months and months. And writing is no different--most people aren't published overnight without many fits and starts and probably more fits! :)

And never, never give up---even when others try to discourage you---and they will. You have to have the self discipline and have to want it. I think the main difference between a published writer and one who isn't is the published writer never gave up. The author of the Help was rejected something like 61 times before her book was picked up---what if she gave up on the 20th? 34th? 60th try? Maybe no one would have blamed her, but her lovely book would be sitting in a desk drawer somewhere! And what a shame that would be. You have a voice--do your best to share it.

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Make sure you have a book that is ‘bursting’ to get out!
Writing a book is hard work and takes sustained effort and commitment. So before you embark on this exciting journey, take some time out to reflect on whether this is something you really want. Look into your heart and see if there is a story inside you ‘bursting’ to come out – you will absolutely know if you have one – there’ll be no doubt. You need to feel like you absolutely have to write it because life is filled with busyness and challenges, and if your story isn't important enough to you – it will never get written. If your book is literally bursting out of you and you simply have to write it then you will make it a priority!

Your unique story
Discover your unique style, voice and message – then share it with the world. Stay true to ‘you’ and ‘your story’ rather than emulating someone else’s style or ideas. Even if you think it has been said before, trust that your story is unique and special, and has never been shared before in your particular way. You can liken this idea to the many different cars we have on the road today. In 1888 the first motor car was built. Imagine if after this date everyone said ‘oh well cars have been done now so we’ll have to think of something else to invent’; we wouldn't have all of the wonderful variety of cars we have today. It’s the same with your story! Write your story and you will appeal to people who resonate with your unique brilliance.

Write every day
Write, write, write … even if it is only 15 minutes a day. Don’t let a day go by without writing something. If you write a little each day you will eventually finish the book. Procrastinators and excuse-makers don’t get books written but writers do! When I started my first book, I began every weekday (Monday–Friday) with 15 minutes of writing time. Little by little the 15 minutes turned into 20 minutes and in the end I was writing at least an hour every weekday and the book was finished in no time.
To help the flow between each day’s work, at the end of each writing session I would type a few sentences about what had in mind for the next day’s writing session. This made it easy to pick up where I left off. Research shows that people who work incrementally on projects get more done and are more likely to complete their project than those who wait to make a large block of time available – generally this large block of time can never be found!
Write freely. Let the thoughts, ideas and words flow. Don’t stifle the creative process by trying to edit every sentence while you’re writing. Editing can come later. Just let the inspiration come and get it down.

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I would give a new author the same advice I give my friends becoming a new mom. I always tell new moms not to be afraid of the unknown. Parent from your heart and as long as the kids know they are loved, the rest falls into place. I feel the same way about writing a book. Don't be afraid of being judged. Write from your heart and you will certainly make a difference in someone else's life.

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Write what you want to read. Don't worry about what is popular and what is hot right now. Just write the kind of book that you would pick up. And write whenever you have a little free time. Even five minutes a day. Those five minutes can add up over time.

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Just write. Sit in the chair as often as you can and tell your story. You will hear and read rules about how to write everywhere, and while you need to know the rules, the conflicting advice can be confusing. Treat all the writing rules (Write what you know! Write every day! etc.) more like guidelines in the heat of the creative process. For every writing “rule” that’s out there, you can point to examples of how it was successfully broken.

All the successful published writers I know are the ones who never gave up. It is the universal, common denominator. Be the writer who never gives up, and you will find success. And also, just write.

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Gather your ideas and talk to an agent. Mine -- Mollie Glick -- really helped me organize a big galumph of ideas into something a solid (non-ranting) proposal.

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My advice is Don't Wait. If you wait until you think you will have more time or more energy you may lose all enthusiasm for the idea - or worse, someone else could write it before you. I spent months finding an agent and then waited months for a publishing deal that never came to fruition. I ended up self publishing and have no regrets. The great thing about self publishing is that you can start writing and sharing your ideas and voice with the world now! Go for it - the world deserves to hear what you have to say!

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Do not drop scheduled assignments to write a book — you will regret it later. Keep plugging away at your regular work because it keeps money coming in while you’re working on the book. Instead, find time to write during what would normally be non-work hours if you have to. That includes early mornings, evenings or weekends. I found my peak writing time to be in the early morning before the kids woke up. I hit the computer with coffee in hand between 5 and 6:30 a.m. most days, even on weekends. Find a writing time that works for you and run with it.

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Persevere! Writing a book can feel very daunting, but once you sit down and actually start to do it, the process will come together. Just take it one paragraph, one page, one chapter at a time. If you get one good page written a day, then celebrate that.

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Writers write. You must sit down and do the work. That's the advice I would give anyone who wants to write a book. We're all awarded the same amount of time each day -- it's up to each of us to determine how we choose to use it. Writing with little ones can be a challenge, but for me, it's also an escape. If your soul calls you to it, you'll find the time. Some of my best words wake me in the wee hours, so I always have a notebook and pen on my nightstand. The writing process itself is in many ways like having a baby... the insecurity, the what-ifs, the angst, the fear, the pain. But when it's all said and done? There she is! Your beautiful baby book. Embrace the journey.

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Shift from thought to action. Stop thinking about it and start writing. Don't let time or circumstances dictate when to begin because - if you're a busy girl - the perfect moment will never magically appear. Find a window and go for it. Don't worry about perfection or having your thoughts organized yet either. You're just starting and (believe me) you will edit and rewrite your work all the time -- and then give it to others to edit as well. Reach out to writers in this space and other online professional groups for best practices to help you on your publishing journey and learn from their process. And finally, my personal practice that precedes all others, is to pray. I want the blessings and need the wisdom from my greatest source of inspiration, my Lord, every day.

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Don't think of the big picture if you do it can be too overwhelming. It's good to have an idea of what it's all about but take it one chapter, one page and one paragraph at at time. And no matter what happens always try to work on a few pages every day. Before you know it you'll have a book in your hands. And always remember if anyone can do it YOU can do it.

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First thing, write it. Just do it and don't worry about grammar or spelling. The point is to get it all out, from the beginning to the end. Use your second time through to fill in the gaps, and the third to correct mechanical things. Next, find a writing critique group or at least a few friends you know will give you REAL feedback. Then the process of drafting the fourth or fifth copy begins. NEVER SUBMIT a first draft to a publisher, NEVER.

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Writing a book is a huge undertaking. (Gotta be honest!) Being a mom, especially when you're kids are young is an even bigger one. If you've got a book inside you, treat the inspiration with respect and set aside no less than 1 hour, to yourself, to write. If you don't have at least one hour a day of quiet, uninterrupted time (that includes the self-discipline to stay off the internet!) then this may not be the time for you to tackle a book. When you're kids are more independent it will still be hard to write, but if you have the drive and the determination, then you can make it happen with fewer other demands pulling you in the opposite direction.

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