Now that the marketing for @Home in Dubai is well underway, I can take a short breather and reflect on the past year, from writing to launch, of my very first book.  A year seems like a long time but in the publishing world, it’s but a blink of an eye. I was fortunate to have a publisher who believed in the project and wanted to get it out as quickly as I did. It was a wonderful Christmas present.

Of course, being a first-timer, the learning curve was steep but I put my mental hiking boots on, grabbed a pickaxe and happily dug in.

Here are a few of the biggest lessons I learned along writing road:

Lesson #1

Get a really solid outline done first, then a list of chapter topics, followed by a full-on brain dump to get all the ideas that have been floating around your head down on paper (or on your computer). Then, you’ll be able to sit back and have a look at whether or not you’re really ready.

Lesson #2

Look at your schedule to see if there’s any time in the run of a day or even once a week that you can ferociously protect as writing time. Otherwise, it’s not going to happen.

Lesson #3

Get a copy of the publisher’s style guide before you start to write.  There will be nuances that are different than what you’re used to and if you’re aware of them upfront, it will save time on the back end. I was used to writing to AP (Associated Press) and CP (Canadian Press) style, which are journalist style guides.  There are a huge number of differences between writing as a reporter and writing as an author.

Lesson #4

Still on the issue of style guidelines, I also learned that I kept leaning towards writing in American English (I lived in Florida for 14 years) and the style guide dictated British English (which I had grown up with in Canada but had moved away from over the ensuing years). My ‘Z’s and ‘S’s collided and, even though I’ve always favoured the ‘ou’ way, I kept forgetting that darn u’.

Lesson #5

What this experience has shown me is that I like the process of writing a book (and I am getting into the groove of my publisher’s style guide… she’s been very patient) and I have the discipline to stick to a demanding writing schedule to get it done.

Okay… no time to rest on my laurels!  There’s still a lot to do and learn.  I keep reminding myself that no matter how old you are or how much experience you gather, you never stop learning.  So, on to the next lesson.

Anne O’Connell is the author of @home in Dubai: Getting connected online and on the ground (Summertime, 2011).

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