What I Learned From My First Book

It took me 40 years and oh so many tries to get a book into print and it wasn’t anywhere close to the book I had imagined when I was younger. Being a writer has been something I have always wanted to do. I read books about it, I started at least 5 novels, I wrote short stories, I even wrote a few poems.  Somehow that book always seemed just out of reach.  I am sure I am not the first writer to feel this way, and I am sure I won’t be the last.

Write What You Know

After so many fits and starts I decided to take a new approach to my writing.  Instead of following the standard “Just keep writing and fix it later” advice.  I went with a different bit of tried and true advice: “Write what you know”.

I have been involved in horses my entire life.  I got my first pony, a little black and white Shetland named Sugar, when I was 2.  My parents thought it would be cute for their little girl to have a pony.  It was a very expensive decision for them and started a lifetime obsession for me.

I have ridden, trained, taught lessons, drove a few Standardbreds and generally immersed myself in the equine community.  Then, I got burnt out.  I trained, I taught, I worked 80 hour weeks and most days I was broke.  I swore I was getting out of horses, yet I still own 3 and I still love to ride.  So when I considered what I knew best, horses were the obvious answer.

What Problem Are You Solving

Since I decided to go with a non-fiction book for my first book, I had to figure out what exactly I was going to write about.  Riders face problems every day with their horses, and many of them can only be solved by being on scene.  My challenge was to find a problem I thought could be addressed at least somewhat by book.

In my experience with horses, I have seen a lot of good horse and rider matches, but I have seen more bad horse and rider matches than good.  I have also seen a lot of novice riders or parents of riders get taken advantage of by unscrupulous sellers and trainers.  I am also well aware of the intricacies of the horse purchase process and how overwhelming it can be to a novice.

With all those thoughts in mind, I decided a simple book covering the horse purchase process was the best way I could help people through a book.

Write an Outline For Your Book

This was hands down my biggest lesson.  I long subscribed to the theory that I could just start writing and fix any issues later, but every time I would get hung up on details.  I would write something that wasn’t possible, or that made me have to change so many details, the rest of the book wouldn’t make sense.

When I tackled this book, I tackled it the same way I would an academic paper, I wrote an outline first.  Best. Move. EVER.  Once I had a rough outline of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it, the writing became simple. Because I wrote an outline, I was able to do my research first, and avoid a lot of the pitfalls I had run into in my failed attempts.

This tactic worked so well, I used it on the novel I am currently working on and I am experiencing the same thing I did with this book.  I did my research, I saved my notes, and now that I am finally to the actual writing part, life is going much smoother.

I Can Do This

This book was not the all American novel I thought would be my big writing debut, but it is a book and it is in print.  Let me tell you there is nothing like the feeling of holding your very first book in your hand.  The confidence I have gotten from this one, awesome little book is incredible.   I am a published author! I am still pretty much in shock.

If you are an aspiring writer, don’t give up.  You can do this, read a lot, write a lot and if something isn’t working, change it up.

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