Five Lessons from Writing a Book with Puppies

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This is the second part of a series by our good friend Alene. If you missed Part 1 you can check it out here. Happy reading!

 

 

Hi, Alene the puppy mom again, checking in. I recently finished two more chapters in my book and I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment.

As I walk you through my author journey on The Social Nurse, I’m with my girls, Velcro the Red Devil, and Gypsy, a.k.a. Black Thunder.   I’ve learned a lot from the girls that apply to writing a book. They add a challenge to my work each day, but they teach me some great lessons.

1. Digging

In a recent chapter, it was hard writing about myself, painful to dig up past things that were unpleasant, or bad memories. But digging it up and then writing about it was really therapeutic. I can always get kisses, and talk to the girls and ask them what they think.

2. Treats

A routine is helpful for being more efficient when you have a lot of work to do, but you can’t get too obsessive. I’ve gotten into a routine with each topic- I do a brain dump, then draw out the important points in an outline, do research and collect references, interview or discuss it with key people, and then I write. After I’m done, I do a final edit. Then I get a treat! Always reward yourself! Then stop worrying about it.

3. Biting

I give the first draft of my manuscript to a friend who will be honest with me. The person I’ve chosen is a new friend, so I don’t know him too well. He’s an academic with personal experience in the topic. He suggests key revisions. I ask him for honesty and I promise not to bite him in exchange, even if he bites me with his comments! I am keeping track of these suggestions but not getting involved with those until I have written the full manuscript, then I’ll come back to them. I don’t want to get stuck overthinking it. Again, you can’t be obsessive, that’s the editor’s job.

4. Squirrels

I go with the flow and take breaks when I’m out of ideas. If an idea comes to me at 3 am, I write it down and hopefully go back to sleep unless someone jumps on my head! I get my most productive time in the morning when the girls take their nap. If I’m not getting any new ideas, I have to be patient with myself and not try to force it. I can be lying there quietly, and suddenly, a squirrel shows up. Then I can chase it!

5. Be the Watchdog

I have to stay alert and protective of my time. I have to minimize social distractions, but I don’t allow myself to work all day through. I have plenty of barkfests and digging to attend to. I pause for a break sometime halfway through the day and get the girls out for a walk or hike, because exercise is so important when you’re sitting all day. Then we come back and I usually have more productive time while they are napping.  It balances out my day, and the pups keep me grounded.

Finally, my personal mission statement keeps me focused. I will talk about that in my next post.

Thanks for joining me, and happy writing!

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Alene Nitzky, Ph.D., RN, OCN, is an oncology nurse, health coach and cancer exercise trainer. She works in the community with cancer survivors and has developed two programs, Cancer Harbors and FIERCE, to help with patients and caregivers with post-treatment restorative needs to optimize quality of life.

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