Getting the writing done.
By David Joel Miller, writer, blogger, and mental health professional.
It’s a miracle that my first book of mine ever got finished.
Looking back on my writing journey, I’m a little surprised that any of my writing ever saw the light of day. Even more surprising is the idea that some people have read the things I’ve written.
In the early days, I wrote blog posts. For a couple of years, I even struggled to write a new blog post each day. There were a lot of lessons about creating content I needed to learn, and writing something each day destined for publication kept me on track. A lot of the lessons I learned were painful. I’ll share those lessons, the good and the bad, with you as we move through this series of blog posts.
Turning out a daily blog post of 1000 words, more or less, Taught me a lot about my writing process, but pivoting to writing full-length books pointed out the difference between mastering a process and getting good at writing content.
Blogging consumed a lot of time.
My first blog was devoted to mental health, substance abuse, and having a happy life. I still try to post on a regular basis over at counselorssoapbox.com but working on books and a lot of the other changes in my life over the last five years has been quite challenging.
The writing process I developed for producing a daily blog post got the words written, but there were many more lessons I needed to learn to transform my writing into a full-length book. One of the reasons I started writing blog posts was that it spurred me to research and learn new things. Many of the things I researched for my blog have gotten incorporated into my work as a therapist, a teacher, and a clinical supervisor.
The first two books I published were experiments.
My first book was a nonfiction book about adjustment disorders. Going through school, practicum, and internship, I heard very little about adjustment disorders. Adjustment disorders are those everyday problems that we don’t necessarily think of as a mental illness but which cause a whole lot of pain and suffering. These are things like a breakup, divorce, or job loss. When I started seeing clients, adjustment disorders were something I saw a lot of; hence I did the research.
That first book was produced by taking many of those blog posts, stringing them together, and then editing that content into something that made sense. I ended up writing a lot of new content to fill in the gaps, but looking back, that book didn’t have a plan, and it could have been a lot better.
When I started writing, I expected to write more nonfiction books about mental health, but I discovered that after working with clients all day and the grueling process of writing a blog, I was running out of the energy and interest needed to write a second nonfiction book.
What do you do once you have that manuscript?
That first year I refined my process so that I could start and finish a book. I think there are as many different ways to go about that as there are writers. I’ve tried both writing from an outline and starting with an idea and pantsing my way through. They’re pros and cons to both. I may have made a wrong decision, But I decided to take the self-publishing route. Starting at age 70, I wasn’t thinking I had a lot of years to spend querying publishers. I had also concluded that self-publishing and e-books were the wave of the future, and I wanted to see how far I could go.
If any of you are familiar with positive psychology and the idea of character strengths and virtues, let me share with you my top three of the 24 commonly accepted character strengths and virtues. You can find a free test at viacharacter.org.
My top character strength is “love of learning.” Number two is “creativity.” And in 3rd place is “curiosity.” For the record, coming in last at number 24 is “prudence.” so it certainly made a lot of sense, at least to me, that learning the process of writing and publishing a book was at the top of my agenda.
Over the next two-plus years, I repeated this process seven times.
Then came COVID. In the early months of the pandemic, I finished book #7, and then my writing career took a detour. Next on our agenda, I’ll tell you about the steps it took to turn those finished manuscripts into books available for purchase. After that, I want to talk a little bit about why having written and published seven books; my writing career has taken a different direction.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller.
Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now! And more are on the way.
For these and my upcoming books, please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
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For more information about David Joel Miller’s work in mental health, please visit the counselorssoapbox.com website.
For my videos on mental health, substance abuse, and having a happy life, please see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel