Author Insights: How Writing a Book Is Like Raising a Child (+ an Autographed Book Giveaway!)

And we're back! It's time for the next installment of our "Author Insights" series. In this series, I'm introducing you to writers who've taken their writing all the way to the finish line of publication, and they share their "lessons learned" with you. There's nothing quite like learning from a writer who has made to the other side.

Plus, if you leave a comment at the end of the post before Tuesday, February 21 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time, you'll be entered to win an autographed copy of the author's book in a random drawing. (IMPORTANT: You must be located in the United States to win.)

Meet Terri Fedonczak, author of The Field Guide to Plugged-In Parenting... Even If You Were Raised by Wolves

Let me introduce you to Terri Fedonczak. Terri became a member of my Called to Write Coaching Circle in 2012 in order to finish the parenting book she'd been dreaming about for years... and finished her first draft working in 15 minute increments in her first session with us. She went on to work with an editor and complete rewrites and revisions of the book while in the Circle, and now continues her work in Florida supporting teen girls and their parents. 

I asked Terri to share her insights about writing her book with us. 

Terri Fedonczak on How Writing a Book Is Like Raising a Child

Terri Fedonczak

In January of 2014, the culmination of 15 years of thinking about writing a book, one year of putting words on a contiguous collection of pages, and 13 months of rewrites (accomplished in the Circle) came to fruition with the publication of my book-baby, Field Guide to Plugged-In Parenting…Even If You Were Raised By Wolves. And you thought elephants had a long gestation period!

Writing my book was just as painful and rewarding as having and raising my children, but the comparisons don’t stop there:

Four Ways That Writing a Book Is Like Raising a Child

  1. It takes so friggin’ long to see progress: During the long years of changing diapers, jotting ideas on sticky notes, and leaving the house with dried cereal in my hair, I wondered if all the effort would ever amount to anything. The answer is “Yes!” But it’s not transactional, like buying a latte, unless your local coffee shop makes you grow the beans and grind them by hand before making your drink. Birthing something out of thin air takes time, and a long view. It’s sometimes two steps forward and three steps back, and that’s okay. Remember, you are the creator, not the timekeeper.
  2. It takes faith: When it doesn’t seem like the structure of the story will ever come together (I wrote a self-help/memoir—how hard can the story BE to define?), it takes faith to keep showing up to the page, or the breakfast table. Kids and manuscripts are ALWAYS there, just waiting to challenge your self-esteem and planning ability. Take three deep breaths, and then take the next step. When it comes to writing that next chapter or potty training, don’t worry about the outcome, just take the next step. Believe me, it’s worth all the effort, and they really won’t go to college in diapers!
  3. It takes self-care: When you’re facing a marathon of effort, you can’t wait to find time to take care of yourself. No one will do it for you, so you might as well face facts: parenting and writing take a clear mind. You cannot clear your mind without a little quiet time (meditation is my favorite), something green to eat (no, M&M’s don’t count), and some consistent sweat time, preferably outside. The more you can find moments of quiet, the easier it is to hear the small voice inside your heart that tells you, “This moment, right here, is the good stuff.” That sense of gratitude is the best creative fuel ever!
  4. The worst moments make the best stories: The time my toddler painted her walls with a dirty diaper wasn’t fun, but it made a great story. Having breast cancer wasn’t a carnival, but it changed the way I looked at my priorities. Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to my life, but in the moment, it sucked, big time. Look at whatever trial you are currently experiencing and imagine telling it as a story, surrounded by your favorite people. It makes things easier to handle, and it challenges you to find the humor in the worst of times. I had a Bon Voyage Party for my breast called “Tah-Tah to the Tata”—best party ever!

Anything worth doing is going to take effort, creativity and faith. You COULD put off writing that book for a few years, because you don’t have time, the right computer or the most ideal software. But you will only be a few years down the road without anything to show for your perfection based avoidance. Or you could join the Circle, Apply Butt to Chair for 15 minutes a day, 4 to 5 times per week, and crank out a good story. That’s what I did, and I’m still grateful!

About The Field Guide to Plugged-In Parenting... Even If You Were Raised by Wolves

The Washington Post endorsed The Field Guide to Plugged-In Parenting... Even If You Were Raised by Wolves in their Parenting Book Round Up, and Jill Farmer, author of There’s Not Enough Time...and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, says, "This book helps us acknowledge and heal from wounds in our childhood, then it beautifully guides us to parent in a much healthier way. Terri Fedonczak doesn’t shy away from the tough topics, but she manages to keep the tone light and enlightening at the same time. It’s a must-read for any parent!

The Field Guide to Plugged-In Parenting... Even If You Were Raised by Wolves is available on:

About Terri

Terri FedonczakTerri Fedonczak wants to live in a world where girls recognize their own power and choose to use it for good. On a trip to South Africa, Terri had a lightning bolt of realization that her mission is to bring the power of the lioness' pride to girls and their parents. Terri was a commercial real estate agent for 16 years until a bout with breast cancer transformed her life in 2010. She realized that trading money and status for time with her four girls and patient husband was not quite the deal she thought it once was. She left sales to become a certified life coach and embark upon a journey of spreading the message of girl power far and wide.

You can discover your own inner lioness and feel the power of the pride at www.girlpowerforgood.com.

Read other guest posts by Terri here and here.

Enter to Win a Copy of The Field Guide to Plugged-In Parenting... Even If You Were Raised by Wolves!

Terri has generously agreed to give away 3 autographed copies of her book to my readers. Leave a comment on the blog about one of your own writing lessons or something you learned from Terri's insights before Tuesday, February 21st at 5 p.m. Pacific Time and you'll be entered in the random drawing. You must be located in the United States to win.

 

The Power Of Showing Up To Write

View More: http://olimbphotography.pass.us/girl-power-for-goodNote from Jenna: This guest post is from Terri Fedonczak, a parenting coach, author, and Writer’s Circle coach.

I’ve loved working with Terri through the Circle over the last few years, first as a participant, then as a coach. She knocked our socks off by finishing the first draft of her parenting book in just three 28-day sessions of the Writer’s Circle in 15 minute increments of time – after having had the book “brewing” in her for over 15 years. Amazing!

Just Show Up

by Terri Fedonczak

When I joined the Writer’s Circle in 2012, I knew that I wanted to finally get my book out of my head and into my computer. I had been “writing” this parenting book for 15 years, as I knew that I needed to get one kid through adolescence before I could have any street cred with other parents. I put writing in quotations, because the book was mostly on tape. The little bit of writing that I did have was on sticky notes and spread across a dozen journals.

In my first session with the Circle, I thought I would just get organized. My goals were very small: only 15 minutes a day 6 to 7 days a week. Much to my surprise, I finished the rough draft in just three sessions. “Rough” is an understatement as a descriptor for that first draft. It was a 30-page booklet of disjointed ideas. I told myself that I wanted to keep it short, because parents were too busy to read a long book. That was a nice justification for keeping the real story to myself.

When I sent my booklet to my chosen editor, she immediately outed me. She said, “I will edit this book the way it is, but it wants to be so much more. There’s no heart and soul in it. YOU aren’t in your book. There’s nothing about your breast cancer, no struggle, no life coaching journey . . . there’s no mess here. Parenting is messy. You need to show other parents your mess.” She was right. And that started an 18 month journey of re-writes and edits.

Let Go of Expectations

One thing I’ve learned in the Writer’s Circle is that writing is both infinitely easier and more challenging than I ever expected. It’s more helpful if you flush your expectations of how long it will take or who will like it and just keep showing up to the page every day.

As a coach, I see brilliant writers spending lots of time and energy worrying about what other people will think of their writing, or fretting about how long it will take (or is taking). All this worry keeps us in ours heads. Good writing doesn’t come from the head – it comes from the heart. Meaningful writing grabs the reader with its simplicity and elegance and just won’t let go.

As readers, we don’t care about how long the writing took or how smart the author is, we want to care about what we’re reading. You can’t fake that or wordsmith your way around it. All you can do is show up to the page and show us your mess.

From Dream to Reality

Field Guide to Plugged In ParentingMy book went from a dream to a reality. It’s now on Amazon* and Barnes and Noble online, and it was endorsed by the Washington Post as a “must read” in their February Parenting Book Round Up.

But more importantly, I have parents tell me how much the book has changed their parenting for the better. That makes it all worthwhile. 

This Is What Success Looks Like

So, 15 years of vomiting ideas onto paper or tape, one month to a rough draft, and 18 months to re-write and publish. This is what success looks like; it’s not quick and it’s not easy. But with the support of other writers, a dogged determination to show up to the page every day, even just for 5 minutes, and the courage to show us your mess, you will arrive at your own version of success.

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terriTerri Fedonczak wants to live in a world where girls recognize their own power and choose to use it for good. On a trip to South Africa, Terri saw the power of the lioness and how they support their pride; it was a lightning bolt of realization that her mission is to bring the power of the pride to girls and their parents. Terri was a commercial real estate agent for 16 years until a bout with breast cancer transformed her life in 2010. She realized that trading money and status for time with her four girls and patient husband was not quite the deal she thought it once was. She left sales to become a certified life coach and embark upon a journey of spreading the message of girl power far and wide.

Terri is a featured speaker at the Costa Leadership Institute, helping adults balance their lives, and she takes the girl power message into high schools, talking to 9th grade girls about how to thrive in high school. Her first book, Field Guide to Plugged-in Parenting, Even If You Were Raised by Wolves, debuted in 2013. When she’s not speaking, coaching or blogging, you can find her paddle boarding on the sparkling waters of Boggy Bayou, knitting to the consternation of her children, who are buried in scarves and hats, or dancing in her kitchen to Motown.

You can discover your own inner lioness and feel the power of the pride at www.girlpowerforgood.com.

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Thanks for reading!

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Warmly,

Jenna

 

 

 

* Affiliate link

It’s Never Too Late to Finish Your Book Now

TerriMany people have unfinished writing projects that linger for years, but it's never too late to finish your book. And the time to get restarted might just be now.

I reached out to Terri Fedonczak, a long time Writer's Circle member, to talk to us about her experience finishing a long-time writing project after 15 years of dreaming and what that's been like for her. Terri has been such a great participant and gotten so much out of the Writer's Circle that I recently invited her to join us as a coach for one of our coaching groups on the site.

Read on to find out about Terri's extremely inspiring project for parents (I've seen a preview and it's terrific!) and how she conquered her writer's isolation and resistance with the help of the Circle and saw her book all the way through to done.

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Terri, welcome and thanks for being here. First, let's talk about your accomplishment -- finishing your parenting book! What was that like for you?

Thanks for having me, Jenna! When I finished my first draft, it was the culmination of a dream I have had for fifteen years. I remember telling my niece about how I wanted to write a parenting book and discussing topics with her; this was in 1996. When I actually finished my first draft, I thought there would be angels singing . . . not so much! What I didn’t realize was the time involved in the editing process -- there's always more!

How long had you been working on the book prior to joining the Circle?

I spent fifteen years working on the first draft, but I had been jotting down ideas in my journal for ten years before that. In the ensuing years, I wrote little snippets in journals and spoke ideas into my portable tape recorder.

You actually finished a rough draft of the book after you first joined the Circle in 2011, is that right?

Yes, my first session of the Writer’s Circle was spent culling all the bits and recordings into a little 60 page book.

Then what happened that led you to completing this new draft?

I interviewed three different editors, and picked Darla Bruno. She read through my first draft and suggested that the book wanted to be more. I hadn’t put my life into the book or any coaching tools. So, I took the challenge and spent the next year or so rewriting it. The completed book is 214 pages, and it’s everything I envisioned back in 1996!

What can you tell us about yourself and about the focus of the book?

I'm the mother of four daughters: three biological and one bonus girl that came to live with us in 2010. I'm a breast cancer survivor; I mention it, because it changed the course of my life. I left my fifteen-year commercial real estate practice to become a Certified Martha Beck Life Coach, writer, and speaker. Breast cancer changed my priorities completely; the threat of losing my life awakened me to the importance of living my right life.

The title of the book is Field Guide to Plugged-in Parenting, Even if You Were Raised by Wolves. It answers the question of how to be a good parent if you have no role models -- you know you don't want to replay your childhood, but you are lost as to an alternative. It's a compilation of all the parenting and coaching tools I have used successfully with my kids, with some humor thrown in to lighten the load. I walk you through a process to create your own parenting plan, so that your kids will be starting with an infinitely better foundation, thereby ending the wolf-baby cycle forever. Wolf babies is a term I coined to describe those of us who were raised by wolves and suffer from lack-based thinking as a result.

How did you find out about the Circle and what inspired you to join us?

Jill Winski was in my life coach training class, and she put out an ad for the Circle on our Facebook page. I saw it and knew that I needed help with making my book a reality. It felt like divine guidance . . . and it was.

What have you learned about your writing process from participating in the Writer’s Circle?

I’ve learned that there is no magic pill, place, or instrument that delivers a quality product. All it takes is complete honesty, utter vulnerability, and a daily practice of showing up to the page . . . no big whoop!

What were the biggest challenges you faced before joining the Circle? Have they changed? What's different now about your writing habit?

I think the biggest challenge I faced was the feeling that I was all alone in my desire to write a book. I knew I had an important message, I just didn’t understand how to deliver it. With the Circle for support and accountability, my biggest challenge now is the acceptance that I am a writer. It’s not a fluke or a pipe-dream; I wrote a book, ipso facto, I’m a writer! The biggest difference in my writing habit is that I’m no longer plagued with resistance, so I write every day. Some days it’s just 20 minutes of morning pages in my journal, and some days it’s three hours working on a blog post or outline for the new book . . . but I write every day.

What advice do you have for other writers?

First of all, join the Writer’s Circle! It’s the best way to incorporate writing into your daily life. Secondly, write every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes in your journal. While your logical mind is busy watching your hand move across the paper, the most delightful tidbits will rise up from your creative mind. When one pops up that excites you, expand it . . . like you're telling your favorite friend a story. You don’t need anything other than a pen, paper, and a bit of quiet time to awaken your creative side . . . and then you’re off to the races!

What’s next for you and your writing?

I’m developing a program that I will be delivering to incoming 9th grade girls called, “Field Guide to the Wilds of High School.” I developed the program while on safari in Africa (jeesh, that sounds so hoity-toity), and it’s based on the power of the pride. I watched the way the lionesses took care of the pride, and how their raw feminine power ran their world. It reminded me of what’s missing in Girl World. So I’m taking the program into schools this summer, and then I will turn the results into a book for teens and a corresponding book for parents on how to survive high school.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I believe that everyone has a creative person living within them, and that creative energy can turn drudgery into joy. Find some way to nurture your creative side, and your life will blossom in endless and unexpected ways…or at least that’s what happened to me.

About Terri

Terri2Terri Fedonczak has 22 years of parenting experience and is a certified life coach, specializing in parent and teen coaching. After 16 years as a commercial real estate agent, a bout with breast cancer transformed Terri’s life in 2010, making her realize that time with her four girls and patient husband was a much better deal than money and status. It was time to put her mission into action. She left sales and embarked on a journey of spreading the message of girl power for good. When Terri is not writing books, speaking, coaching, or blogging, you can find her paddle boarding on the sparkling waters of Boggy Bayou, knitting to the consternation of her children, who are buried in scarves and hats, or dancing in her kitchen to Motown.

You can follow Terri online at http://alifeinbalance.com and on Facebook here. Look for Terri's Field Guide to be published in January 2014!

Thanks for reading!

As always, we love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Warmly,

 Jenna