How to Write a Book

How to Write a Book |


Before I wrote a book I had no idea how to write a book. Over the years I’ve bought many books about the art of writing — developing character, storyline, writing proposals, creativity, prompts, inspiration, confessions, memoirs, all of it — but no where in that thick shelf of books did I find the answer to my real question:

How do I write MY book?

So for those who have asked, and for my sweet friend who is embarking on her own book-writing odyssey this summer, here is a breakdown of how I finally found my way into the first draft of my (non-fiction) book.


1. The proposal.

Even if you’re not planning to approach a publisher and intend to self-publish, think of a proposal as your book’s blueprint. As nice as it would be to just sit down and have a whole book flow out of you, you really do need a structure to give your thoughts and inspirations something to hang on. In the end I wrote two proposals, the second a refined version of the first that helped me really nail down what my book was about. I wrote an overview, a chapter breakdown and a sample chapter (along with the other bits and pieces my publisher wanted to see, including a PDF of design ideas). The sample chapter was written during the weeks leading up to the birth of my nephew, a time when I was living on the edge of my emotions as I supported my sister through her first pregnancy. If you’ve read my book (or indeed just hung out here for a while) you’ll know that Abby and I are extremely close, and as I was going to be her birthing partner along with Noah’s dad, I was on constant red alert waiting for the call. As it turned out this helped me focus my thoughts as I figured out what the sample chapter (chapter three, in the end) was all about.


2. Break it down.

I spent far too long on this stage, and when I start writing my next book (already planning for it, in fact) I’ll try to move through this stage faster. But it was essential, because even though I’d identified the chapters in my proposal, I still hadn’t fleshed them out. Sitting down to write a 50,000 word book (which is actually quite short when you consider novels are usually 80,000+ words) feels like such a mammoth task, you’re instantly paralysed by stage fright. I burned a lot of brain cells trying to figure out how long, and how many, chapters there should be. In the end I decided on nine chapters of 5,000 words each, with the last 5,000 split between the introduction and epilogue. Sitting down to write a 5,000 word extended essay felt so much more do-able than the alternative. This is how I began to write in earnest — one essay at a time.


3. Planning.

I started and discarded a number of notebooks at the beginning as it felt essential that I find the right notebook to house my notes. At one point I was using index cards on a pin board to help me plan out the contents of each chapter. Ultimately this was procrastination and wasn’t as helpful as I’d hoped it would be. Next I tried a huge A4 Moleskine notebook, its impressive size seemingly just right for the enormity of my task. Wrong again — I filled about eight pages before deciding it was too cumbersome. So it was back to a regular sized Moleskine I went, the same size I use for my journalling. And it was there I stayed, gathering all my notes, ideas, quotes and anything else even vaguely connected to the book all in one place. Strange as it might sound this made me feel safe. I might scribble thought-threads into other notebooks, but everything got collated back into the main Moleskine. It was my (not very original) way to make the intangible tangible. The notebook remained by my side for six whole months and now sits smugly on a book shelf. I’ll never throw it out.


This I Know |


4. Do the grafting.

My biggest mistake was thinking I had plenty of time — this, I now know, is a common rookie error. Deadline six months away? Well, I’ve got plenty of time then haven’t I? But after weeks of shuffling index cards and furrowing my brow as I stared at the wall, I realised that if I didn’t start writing soon I was going to blow the entire thing. This was when the writing turned into a job. I couldn’t wait for the muse to arrive on my shoulder — I had to sit my arse down in the chair and TYPE SOMETHING. Didn’t matter if it was any good or not, I needed words on the screen. Most days this really did feel like work — which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Embarking on an extended writing project takes a lot of stamina and focus. The scary spectre of a deadline (and occasional check-ins with my editor) kept the pressure on, which in turn kept me writing.

Some mornings I couldn’t quite believe that writing a book was my official job. Yet I’d still procrastinate for the next six hours (damn you, internet!). Mostly I did this because I was scared. What do I have to say? Who is going to want to read any of this? Fifty percent of writing the book was actually persuading myself that I was ALLOWED to write the book. That’s when writing becomes a mind game, where you must get out of your own way and focus on the stories you’re telling, suspending your doubts for long enough to get your 1,000 words done for the day.

Much of those 1,000 words began as notes scribbled in the Moleskine. I’d then type them into Scrivener (each chapter had its own file) and begin to add more words. Dancing between handwritten notes and typed sentences works best for me — I seem to be more honest when I write with a pen. The more words I wrote the more encouraged I became. I didn’t start at chapter one (that was the last chapter I wrote because it felt like the ‘easiest’) but instead began with the chapter I had the most notes for. There were weeks when I was adding to several chapters at once, fleshing out anecdotes and indulging in edits. Nothing was written in chronological order — I just followed where my inspirations pulled me. I wrote myself into a lot of corners, too, so when that happened I’d cut the section out and start again. TIP: keep all your cuts in a separate file. You never know when something that didn’t make sense a month ago can be recycled back in.


5. Avoid distractions.

Everything is a distraction when you’re trying to write. I downloaded an app to disconnect me from the internet for XX minutes at a time. I’d set the timer for 40 minutes and write as fast as I could, telling myself I could peek at Twitter and make a coffee when the time was up. And that, basically, was how I wrote the whole book — in 40 minute increments. Sometimes I’d catch an updraft and write for longer. Sometimes I’d be lying in bed and whole paragraphs would download into my head — I’d scribble them into the Moleskine and type them up the next morning. Sometimes I’d stare at the screen and want to cry (in those moments I tended to reach for a jar of Nutella and a spoon. The book-baby weight piled on, needless to say.)


6. Refill the well.

Pinterest and Instagram were how I kept my sanity. Switching to the visual was the perfect antidote to all the wordiness and helped me reset my brain when I was feeling overwhelmed (read: often). I didn’t go for as many walks as I could’ve done. I didn’t take as many breaks as I should’ve done. But somehow I got the work done.


7. Finish strong.

The last weeks of writing the book are something of a blur now, but the overwhelming feeling was one of SHEER BLOODY PANIC. I was obsessed with the word count and went back over the manuscript again and again as I found holes in the text that needed to be plugged: stories that didn’t go anywhere, anecdotes that made no sense. I burned through a few small trees printing out the chapters to read away from my desk; the really tangled sections I read aloud to help me see where the words didn’t flow.

There was also the not-so-small matter of selecting the Polaroids to accompany the words. While this was definitely the most intuitive part of creating the book, it still took time to figure out — some of the chapters in the first draft looked very different to how they do now.

In the end I pulled it all together as best I could with the time I had left. I drank a LOT of coffee in those last days.


What I would do differently?

Nothing, actually. It was written in the way it was meant to be written to be the book it has turned out to be. However, next time I will take better care of my health. The majority of the first draft was written during the winter months and I comfort-ate my way through the entire experience. Some of the key themes in the book — solitude, grief, creativity, renewal — required me to be in that exact space as I wrote. There was no way I could be out on the town with a date every night and then wake up the next morning to write about the importance of solitude. And so the writing of the book became the living of the book. And it makes me wonder if that’s how it will be as I begin to dig into book number two. Because This I Know has nine chapters and I’m ready to start writing the proposal for Chapter Ten.

Now read: Notes on editing a book

And then: leave a comment on this post if you’d like to win a signed copy of the book. If you already have a copy (thank you!) I can send the book to a friend of your choosing (or, you know, you can give them your copy and YOU get the signed book + some postcard-y goodness ;-)

To enter, simply tell me one accomplishment you’re proud of — big or small!

I’ll pick the winner’s name on Friday x The giveaway is now closed x

174 responses
  1. Karen

    Susannah, I love this! I think I’m having a hard time coming up with three blog posts a week! But that is my accomplishment – from nothing to three blog posts a week in two months. And from here? Well, who knows…!

  2. Johanna

    I’ve accomplished and excelled at the same job for almost 9 years. Nine years ago this job became my 8th W-2 that year. Now I have one.

  3. Catherine Denton

    Picking up a paintbrush and waving away the fear of trying.

    You were right, this was a juicy post and I loved every bite.

  4. Megan Warren

    The accomplishment that I am most proud of at the moment is stepping outside my comfort zone and taking my photography to the next level!

  5. Victoria

    Such timely advice! I am proud of the fact that last fall I left my job to write my own memoir and pursue freelance writing.

  6. Marina Sorrentino

    I’ve loved reading about how you wrote that wonderful book of yours! I’m diving in it now (diving feels so much more what I’m doing than reading in this case) and loving it so much. and admiring you and beaing grateful to you more and more at each page. you’ve created such a beautiful gift for the world with this book, Susannah! I so would love to win a signed copy to give to a very special person in my life!
    here’s my little accomplishment: when I look at the grid of photos I’ve been sharing via flickr and instagram in the last few months via the twitter grid of recent images, I’m happy.

  7. Sara Blackthorne

    Today is the Summer Solstice. It’s still morning here, and there are so many things I am proud of today: letting go of a toxic friendship that I held onto so tightly; staying up to write instead of going back to sleep; and asking the big questions about integrating my passions into my big heart work. Today has been an amazing day so far. Thank you for this opportunity. xx

  8. L. McG.-E.

    Hi Susannah, great post. I am most proud of the fact I picked myself up after illness and workplace disappointment at the end of last year to get healthier and develop my photographic and personal journey.

  9. Tracie Hanson

    EXCELLENT! Thank you so much for sharing your process……timely and so helpful!

  10. Helen

    Great post, thanks for sharing the process!

    I am proud of the fact I’ve gone from intern to editor of a magazine in 18 months. It’s a career I didn’t think was possible and I’m loving every minute.

  11. Julie

    I’m proud that I started running when I thought my whole life that I just couldn’t do it. I started with 60 second spurts of jogging in January and just finished my first 10k a few weeks ago. I don’t care that I was in the bottom 4 of finishers. I just care that I finished standing up!

  12. C.D. Beatrice Clay

    I proud of my courage to write honest words and share my story. Life is hard, but I know I am not the only one with challenges, so I share the trails and the triumphs in hopes of encouraging someone. I also share my DREAMS of having an even more beautiful life; everything starts with a dream :)

  13. Marlies van Kampen

    Thank you for this post, Susannah! It gave a good look into how to write a book. I learned a lot from the steps you describe! I want to pick up writing again (I used to write a lot of poetry and stories), so this post was very inspiring. Thanks!

    I am proud of quitting my job last year to start my own business in web design and development, and learning that all on my own! I love being creative again and find it an big accomplishment to earn money independently, without a “boss”. It’s just me now, and no one else. Scary, but also very special if you can pull it off!

    Keep up the good work, and good luck with the next book!

  14. Sherralee

    I love reading about your writing process and good on ya for sticking with it and producing this wonderful work. I was quite proud of going back to university to finish my Master’s degree after 10 years of having let it go. I was determined to do it and I did! I’m also half way through a photography certificate.

  15. Debi

    It’s so good to know you’re human – lol! Actually, it’s the thing I have always loved the best about you. Your life is in your words.

    When my mother died – the result of a hospital mistake – I was not mentally prepared. Or physically or emotionally. I’d blogged & written privately about her month long hospital nightmare, but after she was gone, I was without words. I thought “no more”. I thought I was done, I prepared to just close down my blog – the place that keeps me writing. But I didn’t. I just wrote when I could and kept going, though quite slowly at first. And I watched my writing change. It is the thing I am the proudest of, that putting one foot in front of the other when I really didn’t want to.

    And a secret – I thought of you much during those days. Thought of your sorrow and grief and thought of what a fabulous woman you are, despite/because/in addition to all the heartbreak. It helped. I never said thank you, so I will do so now. Thank you. And congratulations on the book(s) and here’s to many more!

  16. Emelie

    I’m proud of that I finally made a very hard and private decision. As they say “some people can stay in your heart, but not in your life.”

    Thanks for sharing about your book writing!

  17. Cecilia

    Love this post- so much valuable insight. A recent accomplishment I’m proud of is that I’m growing vegetables! I did a little gardening last spring but this year I put a little more planning and effort into it and I’m actually growing enough to cut down on our grocery bill and share with friends.

  18. Jessica Robinson

    I’m proud of how I’ve evolved from a sad pessimist to the happy optimist. I’m proud that I can stay much more in the moment and cultivated a new found awareness. I’m proud of the person I’m becoming. It hasn’t been the easiest thing and I find myself sometimes sliding back to my old ways, except now I have the power to change.

  19. susannah

    thank you, honey xx

  20. Missy K

    I would love to win a copy of your book!

    I am proud that in my thirties, despite being visually impaired and totally untrained, I picked up a camera. I’ve never been the same since.

  21. Chi @ 106

    I’m not writing a book (nor do I intend to) but I do know a thing or two about stage fight and creative block. I cannot tell you how much your post has resonated with me! So much so that I’ve decided to stop being a serial lurker and tell you so.

    I’d love to win your book but I’d certainly buy it if I don’t. :)

  22. Julie B

    One accomplishment I’m proud of: treating my tech experiences like a juried art show for the last couple of years. If the e-mail and feed reader subscriptions or places visited online regularly leave me feeling dragged down, out they go. I used to assess these things a couple of times a year, but as time has passed I’ve become better at pruning on the fly.

    Thanks for the opportunity to win your book, Susannah.

  23. shilpa

    What a lovely post. I am proud of taking steps in creating a life where I am happier and healthier and letting go of things (slowly) that have held me back from this.

  24. Cristen

    An accomplishment that I am proud of is leaving a job that was smothering me, causing me fear and causing me to doubt who I am on a daily basis. No job is worth feeling that way about yourself.

  25. Chi @ 106

    Ooops, I forgot to write my accomplishment – I’m working on my first ever childrenswear collection! Thanks for this wonderful opportunity and for sharing your process.

    P.S. Please feel free to disregard my previous comment as an entry into the giveaway.

  26. philippa

    Thank you for sharing your process. I am still going through it! It’s so true that you do start living the book. My book is a novel loosely based on some things I’ve experienced and it has been harrowing but necessary to relive them as I’ve written about them, albeit it through the eyes of different, fictional people. In many ways fictionalising it has made me go deeper than I would if I were writing a memoir, if that makes sense, because I’m less inhibited and more concerned that it is emotionally true rather than sticking to exactly what occurred.

    I’m proud that I’m still going with my book, but I think the thing in life I’m most proud of was crossing the finish line of the London Marathon last year. The word “pride” doesn’t cut it for the feeling after you’ve got that medal round your neck. You feel invincible! I try to channel that feeling on writing days, ha ha.

    Congratulations on your book, I have heard so many glowing reports and would love to win a copy :D

  27. Cricket

    Making it through my first year in a new job after leaving the post I’d had for the previous decade. As I noticed all the new feelings and sat with the uncomfortable moments, your writing (and photos!) often sustained me.

  28. Michelle Kroll

    The universe is starting to align. My feelings are getting more and more in check. I have finished ‘This I Know’ and was left completely inspired. I submitted some artwork to a magazine and they want to publish it. This is a huge accomplishment for me.

  29. Andria

    I’m proud that I have passed 3 of the CPA exams so far and only one remains.

  30. Robby

    The most recent accomplishment I’m proud of is waking up and getting out of bed. Also surviving my junior year of high school, and all that came with it. Also smiling through tears. That is the biggest one.

  31. patti scanlon

    The accomplishment I am most proud of is that I have worked on “Unravelling” beginning with your course I have found grace and calm and a wholeness in looking at my life. I have learned to be grateful for all that has been as it has got me to where I am today and I say Yes to all that will be. Thank you Susannah for grounding my feet and helping me to Unravell. :)

  32. Carol Nunan

    I too love reading about your writing process and I’d love to win a copy of your book :)))

  33. Vicki

    Thank you so much for writing this. You give all of us “wannabe” writers a taste, a glimpse into possibilities. You give me hope and courage, thank you from the bottom of my heart!


  34. Melissa

    I love your posts, and the writing advice! I have both of your books. I’m a newbie photographer and blogger, so Instant Love has been a great help with that. This I Know has not only helped me move forward with some new plans for my life, but has been a great reflective tool for me as I still search out my path since becoming a widow at age 30.

    One of my proudest moments was accepting the IPPY and ForeWord Magazine’s book of the year awards for a book I wrote in 2004 called If I Had a Horse. Writing the book was very cathartic and although there were certainly times I struggled to find the right words, most of it just seemed to flow as if it were being channeled! I guess it was something I just needed to get out there…

  35. Phoenix

    I am very proud that I have been self employed for 16 years. Through all the changes, ups and downs, love and sadness I have never regretted choosing to walk my own path.
    If I had listened to the counsel of those “who know” I would never have taken the leap.

  36. Christianne

    I’m proud that this past weekend, I lived out a commitment that has been growing in my heart to dedicate myself to one online space (which meant closing down two personal blogs I’ve been maintaining a long time and are both near and dear to my heart) in order to truly commit to the life I am called to live and the life’s work I am called to do.

    Also, in the course of that same weekend, I launched my very first email campaign, called the Cup of Sunday Quiet. I’m very proud of what I’ve developed it to be because it feels exactly like me.

  37. Nathalie

    I am proud I am now the mother of a beautiful strong-minded baby girl.

  38. Danielle

    Thank you for sharing your process. I am proud of myself for working on starting a business so that I can leave my current soul-sucking, miserable job. Thanks!

  39. Emily Beth Perry

    <3 this! thank you… A recent accomplishment I am proud of is teaching a large workshop on Tonic Herbs; it was a big career hurdle for me! xo best, emily

  40. shauna

    I love your honesty about the ups and downs of the process! It’s fascinating how it all unfolds. I smiled at the search for the Right Notebook – I faffed around with half a dozen before returning to a trusty A5 Moleskine. I’ll never forget the adrenaline and angst as the deadline approached, not to mention the backup paranoia – refusing to leave the house without a copy of the draft on a thumb drive tucked into my bra… just in case the house caught on fire, Google Docs crashed and/or my handbag got nicked!

    I just finished your book and it was just bloody wonderful. I’ve always loved your writing and photography on the screen so having a a 3D object with that elegant paper and beautiful binding was even more magical! Would love to be in the draw to win a copy for my sister. So to answer the question one thing I’m proud is growing some kickass cherry tomatoes :)

  41. Naomi

    I am proud that I have tapped into my creativity and patience reserves as a mama for 3
    + years now. Sometimes I don’t know if I’ll make it through! I left my work after a few months of trying to do that and be a mama and I’m proud that I am nourishing myself when I can as well as giving my heart to my family.

  42. cinback

    I have always known I would do two things in life…run in a marathon and write a book. Two months ago I ran my first half marathon in 2 hours at the age of 42. I am proud of that. I just decided it was time and did it. I haven’t written my book yet but it is always there in the back of my mind. This post makes writing seem like a manageable task. Perhaps the time is nearing…

  43. Nicole

    I love getting glimpses into other peoples artistic processes. Thanks for sharing!

  44. abby

    I love how honest your thoughts are. Writing always seems unattainable and you bring it in to focus. It’s very inspiring.

    My biggest accomplishment was putting myself through college by working three jobs. It wasn’t easy, but it has given me the confidence to accomplish so many other goals.

    Thanks for your truth and the giveaway!

  45. kelly collins

    Great post, Susannah. How generous to not just bath in the joy of your accomplishment but share tips and encourage others to do the same.

    I am most proud of heading off to Africa in 1987 to live in Ethiopia for 6 months during the famine crisis. It was just after having my heart broken and something had to get me back to life. It changed my world forever. As a nurse, I now travel ever year of 2 to far off corners for 2 week medical surgical clinics with Operation Smile and have done so for the last 12 years. Thanks, SUsannah. LOVED THE BOOK!! Would love to gift it to a friend in need.

  46. Anne

    Susannah, as always, your words resonate! My accomplishment? Raising two little ones and not losing myself in the process!

  47. carrie Clayden

    One accomplishement I am proud of is quitting drinking July 20, 2001. At the time it was the most terrifying thing I could imagine and one day at a time I have been able to change my lifestyle to one of health. I look forward to reading your book and thank you for sharing your process.

  48. Esmé

    I love this, Susannah.

    I finished my first novel this past year, found an agent, and am now waiting (and waiting, and waiting) to find a publisher who will pick it up. Every day I die a little more with anxiety. But I am so proud of my book, and I love it so very much. So I hold that close to my heart while I wait for it to find a home.

    I’ve been to the Teahouse Studios, in other news, for another workshop, and I’m very intrigued by the idea of going to yours…


  49. Christine

    Lovely! I do have a copy that I am slowly savouring (and I’m really enjoying the daily emails exploring the senses too), but I have a good friend in mind for copy #2.

    The accomplishment that’s most on my mind these days is having moved to Montreal from Vancouver (well, with a few stops along the way). Moving clear across the country can be pretty daunting, and yet now that I’m preparing to do it again I can see – to my great surprise – all the ways I’ve made this city my hometown over the years. I’m feeling both sad to go and excited to do it all over again!
    : )

  50. NathalieSo

    I am proud to not have bought a copy of your book yet so I can get the signed copy :) Just being cocky.
    I’m proud to have come back to France when the easiest way professionally was to stay in the UK. Maybe my work wandering will be off in a couple of weeks, so all my efforts will have paid back.
    Thank you for your writing, it’a lways nice to read you.

  51. Lisa

    Hooray for your beautiful book and the adventure it will bring (and already has)!
    The recent accomplishment I am most proud of is doing my own research through a health crisis and demanding (and eventually getting) the medical care I needed. It has made all the difference and now I have my life back. The moral of my story is that if you feel terrible and they tell you you’re fine, keep searching for answers. You will find them.
    To everyone’s health! And to your new adventure Susannah!
    xo Lisa

  52. Catalina

    This is a wonderful, fantastic post Susannah! you are so generous!

    (I have a copy of your book and following Exploring the senses, but if I win I will get yours signed for me :) and give mine to a friend!)

    thank you always for being there

  53. Jenny

    Love this post Susannah. Super helpful.

    My proudest accomplishment: Finally standing up for myself.

  54. Jade Sheldon

    So proud of you! I would LOVE a signed copy of the book!

  55. Libby

    I’m proud of my English grade. Despite feeling like I’m losing my grip on everything else I know, writing essays and reading is so cathartic for me and seeing that reflected in high grades makes me insanely proud.
    Maybe one day I’ll be writing a book too.

  56. bethany

    Thanks for the insightful post. Your journey inspires me to continue on my own. A big accomplishment for me lately has been to ask for help when I need it :)

  57. Sarah J. Bray

    Chance to win a signed copy? Heck yeah, I’m in. (And I’m totally pretending you wrote this post for me. Aww…thanks. You’re the best.)

  58. Danielle

    Susannah! What kind things can I say that haven’t already been said. You’re loved. Thank you for sharing your process on writing your book. It has never really crossed my mind to write a book but many friends say that I could. Who knows right?! That’s how it happens. One day I could wake up and go ‘shit, i’m gonna write a book!’

    My greatest accomplishment would have to be finishing my bachelor of social work here in Canada. Alongside my very best friend Sylvia, who is a friend of yours as well.

    Thank you hun. Keep on making it happen!

  59. Joanne

    Love love love!

    One accomplishment I’m proud of was performing the contemporary piece, Hatching Aliens by Ian Clarke at a master class with the composer. There are no recordings of it anywhere, and there are lot of weird/awesome extended techniques, so I had to figure a lot of it out on my own, but after I finished playing, he said nothing at first, then clapped!! He said I did a magnificent job and was impressed to hear this piece since it was so new! I felt so proud of myself at that moment. I’ll never forget it. It was one of my best performances where I truly felt “in the zone”.

  60. Kyra

    I’m proud of walking my talk and of working for myself. I’ve never done well working at a 9-5 and giving birth to our daughter over two years ago was a catalyst in giving birth to my own freedom in my career. I can’t wait to immerse myself in this book!

  61. charlotte

    I truly loved this post and your approach to writing. What I am proud of today is my courage to start over again, leaving a emotional empty relationship, buying an apartment, changed my working place too. And realizing I am a visual artist, falling in love with iphoneography. Finally, I feel at home with myself and my new life…

  62. Linda

    I wrote a novel as a gift to my daughter. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book. When she was 7, she and I made up a story – a Western with a little girl as the protagonist. For too long I listened to the demons in my head that told me I couldn’t do it. But it was a promise I made and I knew that I had to keep it, for her and for me. Anyway, I finished it almost exactly a year ago and got it printed and gave it to her. Even though there will only ever be one copy, I felt like I’d made my dream come true.

  63. Cheryl

    Excellent! Another fine example of your eloquent and authentic self shining through!

    I would love a copy of your book.

    The accomplishment I am most proud of ? Holding my mother’s hand while she died and not making it all about me and how I was feeling.

  64. Jet Harrington

    Brilliant post about midwifing a book/story into the world. Thank you for sharing your process, as always with honesty and vulnerability and humour. (Yay, Nutella and a spoon!)

  65. Jet Harrington

    Right. One accomplishment I’m proud of: the relationship I have with my (not for much longer) teenage daughter. We grew this on purpose, together, and I am so grateful-gobsmacked that I get to be her mother.

  66. Katarina Kri

    I’ve ordered your book yesterday, but it would be a great gift for sister/friend :)

    Loved reading about the process…

  67. Emma Elliott

    I am proud that i helped produce 2 beautiful boys and that my eldest son who is 6 is strong and as positive as i can be whilst fight chronic kidney disease they are the best thing i have accomplished and i love them more than anything.

  68. An

    So inspiring, Susannah! Love how you are keeping it real. I’ll definitely be coming back to this post once I get to writing a book myself (and am not overdosed on coffee and blank-page-staring ;) ) xo

  69. Kinga

    Loved this and I’m so in awe of how real and honest you are about the experience!

    One accomplishment I’m proud of is starting a blog and working on launching a shop on Etsy (soon). It has been a slow yet worthwhile process!

    Thanks for sharing so candidly! I would LOVE a signed copy of “This I know”! Best Wishes!

  70. Painted Maypole

    wow, this was fascinating.

    proud of? a few years back i really set my mind to it and lost 25 pounds in 5 months. I was really proud of that – i did it in a very healthy way, no crash diets… less calories… more activity. and it worked.

    (new to your blog… came over her from Brene Brown)

  71. rachel

    Thankyou so much for sharing your book-writing wisdom. I love this so much, especially the tip about starting with your proposal/rough overview first of all.
    As for achievements…I think my latest is still: starting a new, part-time job and surviving after being off for months with a (still-unresolved) health issue. It’s only three hours a day and leaves me wiped out, but still. I’m counting it a win! ;)
    Good luck with the book tour xxx

  72. Nikki aka Starcat

    I know I’ve already commented about this on a previous post of yours, but I’m SO proud and excited about my book being published this fall!!! I know exactly what you mean when you refer to your “book baby.” It’s such a work of love.

    I would dearly love to win a copy of your book, especially as money is a bit tight right now. I would certainly buy a copy could I afford it, and if I don’t win, I’ll buy it when I can. Congrats again!

  73. Stephanie

    This is a wonderful post; thank you for this inside look, so to speak.

    What am I most proud of? Recently, turning what could have been a really hard 10 mile race into a race of gratitude, thanking everyone who was helping, singing along with my partner as we ran together, stopping to pose when we saw the photographers. By not taking ourselves too seriously, we finished feeling *great* about what we did, rather than drained and defeated that we weren’t faster, because we had a great time, gosh darn it!

  74. Nicola

    I do have a copy of your book and I love it so much. I have already looked at it over and over as I move through my own journey with grief. I am most proud of how I have coped with life and being a single parent since I lost my husband to cancer two and a half years ago and the fact that I am learning to love life again and that is in part thanks you to you. Thank you xx

  75. lee

    Something I am so proud of in recent weeks is forcing myself to let go of my preconceived notions of how my fiance should or shouldn’t be helping around the house…especially since, in addition to working a fulltime job on the not-very-convenient third shift, he’s also a part-time college student taking three classes. So if he hasn’t done the dishes this week? It’s probably because he’s tired and stressed out…and why can’t I do them myself (like I did all the time before we started dating!)?? We’ve never made any agreement that says he’s the only person in our living space responsible for dishes.

    Being mindful of my unrealistic expectations and recognizing that he’s helping as he’s able has made a huge difference in the past few weeks in how I relate to him…and I’m proud of myself for accomplishing that mental breakthrough. =)

  76. Victoria Smith

    Love this post about writing your book. I was hoping you’d share some pointers that came out of your experience. Loved the book, too!!!
    What accomplishment makes me the most proud? After 3 years of self-enforced solitude, I took a huge LEAP and asked an old, dear friend to start dating. He said yes and this week marks our one year wedding anniversary! I’m SO proud of me burying the fear of rejection and possibility of losing his friendship, and honoring what my heart and intuition were telling me. He was the “one” and somehow, I knew it.

  77. Sherri B.

    I’m proud of all I’ve learned about photo editing this past year…Photoshop Elements brings me a lot of joy!

  78. Jenna

    Oh! I am SO excited to read your book.

    One accomplishment I am proud of is that I have started writing a book of my own (about 40,000 words in!) sharing my story through infertility and adoption. Thank you for sharing your process today! It’s such a gem to hear how it went for you. xo

  79. Jeanne

    honestly – my adult daughter is probably my best accomplishment – she is kind, talented, woman-strong and smart. I can only take part of the credit – the rest is hers but I am amazed every day.

  80. kathryn

    I recently wrote an e-book on drawing animal portraits. I have to say our processes sound very similar but with having no deadline like you, the written part was done last December and I still have not even started in on the drawings or photographs for it yet and it is now June…ugh! Altho I am forcing myself to finish it by September…hope I hold myself to it!!

    Thanks sooo much for the opportunity to win a copy of your book!!

  81. whitney

    my biggest accomplishment has been raising my daughter on my own. nothing could be more meaningful.

  82. Adrienne

    Congratulations on your new book. I hope I have a chance to read it.

    A big accomplishment – accepting the fact that I was not going to have any children of my own and raising my ex-husband’s nephew, whose parents died of domestic violence. When he came into my life, he was an 8 year old who couldn’t communicate, didn’t have manners, wouldn’t look you in the eye when speaking, couldn’t write or read, had bed wetting issues, and lacked discipline. He would also throw temper tantrums that lasted hours, until he would be sick to his stomach. He just moved out on his own a few years ago; he graduated high school, can read, write, has a job, and aspires to do more with his life. He is learning to be independent. You would think he was the one that learned from me, but it was I who learned many things from him.

    Thank you again for the chance to enter your giveaway.

  83. Siobhan

    Hi, I’m proud that I finished a recent e-course that I took, on time! I have a history of not sticking with these things

  84. Liberty Montano

    My biggest accomplishment has been putting my marriage back together after I thought all hope was lost.

  85. Emily

    Huge kudos to you! As a former screenwriter, I know how challenging the task of writing (and particularly finishing and producing) anything is, even more so when it is so connected to your soul. Beautiful!

    My most recent accomplishment is leaping into a new entrepreneurial venture, the one that has been calling me for years and which I can no longer shove into the recesses of my mind for fear that it might fail. It’s still a seedling but the seed has finally been planted and I’m so damn excited!

    Look forward to meeting you at WDS!

  86. EMC

    Oh Susannah, great comp, thanks for running it. Hmm, accomplishments are thin on the ground, but I’m going to say being accepted into an M.Phil in Creative writing — never (EVER) thought it would happen!
    Thanks again

  87. Barbara

    Im so happy for all you have accomplished!

    My accomplishment was to one morning of do many arrived to my Job and 3 hours latee quit the Job i was doing after 10 years! I did not had anything in my Mind ir another Job to go! This 3 years i’ve learnt so many things, discovered so many others, about me about a different style of living, im happy with its good days and with the bad days!
    Im happy i was brave!

  88. elizabeth mann

    i find this post so encouraging. one of my biggest accomplishments are just saying, “i’m going to write a book!” and actually working on it. i have so many dreams that i bounce around and have a hard time focussing. i’m in the middle of my proposal. somedays i don’t know what the heck i’m doing, but more importantly… i’m doing it.

  89. Jenny

    Beautiful post Susannah… thank you so much for sharing your process… I would absolutely love to win a signed copy of your gorgeous book…
    For me… it was learning to draw… girls in particular… something I have wanted to do for so long now… and this year I did it… from being only able to produce stick figures… I can now joyously add my own girls to my art journal pages… it makes me smile…

    Jenny x

  90. Cyndi Briggs

    Susannah – this is ridiculously helpful – it sounds like our processes are very similar – I am so grateful to you for posting!

  91. Cyndi Briggs

    PS – I would LOVE a post on finding a publisher… thoughts, suggestions?

  92. Michele

    I loved this post!

    My biggest accomplishment is most definitely being a mum. It’s hard and wonderful all at once, but I think I have a good relationship with my teenage girls and I am incredibly proud of that.

  93. Juli

    I actually accomplished something I am quite happy about today.

    One of my goals for this year: run 10 miles. And I did it! Today! And it felt awesome.

  94. Allie

    Ooh I just love your book & would be ecstatic to send a copy to a friend. An accomplishment I’m so excited about this summer is committing – & following through – to take Eisley (pup) for legitimate LONG walks daily or walking her several times a day. Small but it makes us both so happy.

  95. Renee

    This week, I am proud of my son sticking with Swim Camp. He’s not the best, but he’s sticking it out — if even only for me.

    I’m proud of my daughter making it through her first sleep over (at home) with no tears. I worried that the two big personalities might clash sometime during the night.

    I’m proud of my husband for tackling our honey-do list a little at a time each night after work.

  96. Ale

    One accomplishment… letting go of all fears and starting a little business, though it ended some time ago it helped me see I CAN do what I love and that people actually appreciates it.

  97. TJ Wood

    This is so, so good and bits of wisdom I will likely come back to again. Accomplishment…hmmm…that would be starting to believe in myself. It’s a process!!

  98. Connie

    Overcoming the resentment I have towards my parents for a difficult childhood of neglect and emotional abuse.

  99. Julie Cadusch

    Wonderful article Susannah! I am in the process of writing my own book and these ideas are worth there weight in gold…
    I have finely accomplished at the age of 45, to accept the gifts that I was born with instead of running away from them or hiding! Energy healing, psychic, clairvoyance, medium and use them to help and guide anyone who is in need.
    It is quite freeing to follow the right path…

  100. phoebe

    Wow, what a wonderful post! You shared alot of info that I plan on utilizing, thank you :)
    And the thing that I’m most proud of…probably bucking the system and quitting a very comfortable job of 20 years that I absolutely hated to start all over again in the unknown. Best move I ever made!

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