Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Write an Ebook Week

It always happens: I get the idea to write something new but end up putting it off. "I've never written that; I'll only blow it." "Why would people even READ it??" "How am I going to write this?" "How am I going to write this amid all of these OTHER THINGS I have to write??"
And so on.

Then something comes along to give me the kick in the pants to just DO it! Stop wrestling with those doubts, get your butt in the chair and just WRITE it! This time, it was Read an Ebook Week. http://www.thebullybook.com/readebookweek.html

I learned about "Read an Ebook Week" purely by accident. I was checking out this author's site, coincidentally the SAME author who created "Read an Ebook Week," and saw all these "Read an Ebook Week" banners (one of which is now on the dmcwriter site). 'Huh?' I thought. 'What's that?'

I did some checking. First I learned about other "Read an Ebook Week" offers and specials, then I started seeing those banners EVERYWHERE. Mainly because the next "Read an Ebook Week" is in March. Finally, I learned about the brainchild behind this annual read-a-thon and I immediately contacted her, hoping to score an interview about "Read an Ebook Week" for the next issue of my E-zine, which will focus on Ebooks in honor of the event.

I also did something else: I FINALLY wrote an Ebook. Sweet! Nothing like "Read an Ebook Week" to get writers asking themselves if they have anything to bring to the party. Despite my earlier efforts and despite the fact that I already put together an ebook of the first 12 issues of my E-zine, I wanted to make sure I would have something to show. After all, I'd likely end up offering it in the "book giveaway" in my E-zine.

I racked my brain over what kind of Ebook to do. Should I throw together a bunch of unsold parenting and health articles into a "this-and-that" Ebook? Nah. I wanted something focused on ONE topic. Okay: What if I put a bunch of my DA poems into one Ebook? Hm, didn't like that idea, either.

Maybe I could try an Ebook on freelance writing. I may no longer make it a "job" anymore but I DO have some tips on successful freelancing. Maybe someone could find them useful.

I started to work, writing the outline. That wasn't so hard since this idea was based on an article I wrote a long time ago using that same theme. Problem was, and this frustrated me terribly, I couldn't find my notes. I literally ended up turning my apartment upside down trying to find the notebook with that article in it. That same article had every subject I planned to cover written out. And I couldn't FIND it! And time was running out!

I ended up abandoning that idea. Maybe I could write it later ... if I EVER find that notebook. It's probably in my closet somewhere.... (And, yes, I can hear writers EVERYWHERE reminding me to keep ALL of my writing stuff in one place.)

So what would I write now?

Then it hit me: This title for an article I've been knocking around would make a GREAT Ebook title. And since it involved being a writing parent, I knew EXACTLY what to do with it: Make it a SHORT collection of essays focused on "survival strategies" for writing parents. It's basically the sum of what I've learned during the over 4 years I've been "surviving" as a writing parent.

I liked that idea better.

I immediately set to work, writing up the outline for THIS Ebook and narrowing that long list of essays down to just five. I wanted this Ebook to be short. I wanted it to offer new material in addition to the oft-reprinted and commented favorite (one reader e-mailed me saying she had that essay on her wall). I wanted it to be something any frazzled, time-pressured writing parent could enjoy in one sitting. Or two.

As I selected the essays to include, I asked myself a ton of questions. What do I want this Ebook to offer readers? What do I hope they will feel after reading it? Should I include some personal experiences to back up my advice? Just how personal do I want this Ebook to get? What sort of fresh and original approach could I take with the essays? What kind of writing parent is it for: One with young children or older children? (Well, since I've only had experience with young children, I opted for the former.) Those are just a few of the questions I asked myself in selecting what essays to include.

My next task was finding the time to WRITE this Ebook. I only had four essays to write, ones that would be original and that would contribute to the whole "strategy" theme. How would I finish it in time?

I gave myself 3 days to do it. Yes, I am merciless like that. I don't know WHY I always try to go the harder route. But, in some way, it's like the writer who can't write unless there is a deadline.

I soon found it wasn't that difficult to meet the deadline, though. The funny thing is, once I started writing those essays, I couldn't stop! It's like a faucet was turned on and EVERYTHING I wanted to say about surviving as a writing parent came pouring out.

A lot of other writing-related tasks got put off during this writing spree, though. My next Shadowlands article remained unrevised, a book review I wanted to get done got neglected and a novel WIP became forgotten. I also neglected to work on novel revisions per an editor's request. (Shh!) Still, I was on a roll, furiously typing up the essays for this Ebook. I ran into a revision rut with the fourth one, though. I just couldn't stop editing it. In between chatting with two editors and fielding my daughter's requests, I sat staring at the screen, analyzing each word. I swear I got to a point where I started mumbling as I read. My daughter's question of if she could have some candy was answered with, "Curiously examined is better than puzzledly stared at." And, yes, I did get a puzzled look from her. Haha.

I learned, though, that I just couldn't PLAN how to write the Ebook. I just had to sit down and WRITE it. I just had to go for it and write up the first drafts of the essays, going from one to another without thinking about editing or putting off the next after one was complete. I made it my priority. The time I normally spent doing research on my books, taking care of article stuff, answering emails, chatting with people and reading articles online went to working on that Ebook. (I didn’t worry about the e-mails too much, though; my friends KNOW once they stop hearing from me or if I take forever to get back to them, it means I’m hip-deep in a project.) I still continued to jump out of my chair every so often to take care of my child's needs (parenting doesn't stop with writing!) but the housework fell a little behind. Laundry piled up, dishes became forgotten and the dinners started being meals thrown together at the last minute. (You always hear about writers who serve crappy meals when they are deep in their projects. I often recall this quote from an author's daughter, who said, "You always know Mom is buried in her next book when the dinners start to suck.")

The good news: I finished the Ebook. Yay! I ACTUALLY wrote a 22-page Ebook with four original essays in 3 days. I rewarded myself by buying a new skirt the next day. Hey, gotta reward yourself for certain efforts you manage to pull off!

Of course, after it was done, I started up on the self-doubts again. What if people hate it? What if it's too short? Am I really the right person to have my name on that Ebook? The doubts cleared away, though, after a good friend of mine edited the Ebook for me. (I NEVER trust my own editing before I take something through a finalizing stage like self-publishing an Ebook!) She wrote back to tell me how much she enjoyed the Ebook, how it inspired her and how it reminded her of how everything we do to write AND parent is worth all the effort in the end. And her editing suggestions were the icing on the cake: Once I fixed the manuscript, it would be READY.

It's made me think, though, about all the time I spent agonizing over the task of writing an Ebook. Just like with EVERY feature article I've got on my plate, I wring my hands over it while procrastinating then, when it's done, wonder why in the world I thought it'd be like climbing Mt. Everest. I guess this kind of thing is normal. And I guess you'd have to wonder about the writer who approaches every new or big task with the same confidence as a card-counter in Vegas. I guess this kind of worrying, self-doubt and hesitation can be a good thing ... as long as the job gets done at SOME point.


  • At 12:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Dawn - Congrats on finishing your e-book! I am working on a poetry book...very, very slowly lol...too slowly, but you've inspired me to get into gear! Thanks! -April

  • At 12:32 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    April, I'm so happy to hear this blog post gave you that extra push to finish up your poetry book. Wonderful! I'd love to read it sometime. You can download the Ebook I wrote for free from my site. Thank you so much for all of your encouragement and comments. You rock!


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