The dirt on how I write and publish a book in 3 months - Jessica Abel

The dirt on how I write and publish a book in 3 months

I’m finally working on my book about creative focus: how to get your self-generated creative work done in the midst of your crazy, overfull, demanding life. (Or your completely boring life. It’s all hard.)

[It’s called Growing Gills. Check it out here.]

I plan to write and publish it by March.

[Ahem. May 12.]

That means I’m not blogging a lot.


So I decided to kind of live-journal the experience to my subscribers. I’m going to archive those mails here. One of these days, I’ll compile the interesting bits into cohesive blog posts, but in the meantime, you can get the RAW files.

1/13/17 Intro. The value of routine in not only getting work done, but doing better work.

1/16/17 [the dirt] time confetti and finding an audience.

1/18/17 [the dirt] when facing the blank page, collage.

1/20/17 [the dirt] Is it better to set a short deadline?

1/23/17 [the dirt] what I lie awake thinking about. 

1/25/17 [the dirt] self-forgiveness is a productivity tool.

1/27/17 [the dirt] leaving “busy” behind.

1/30/17 [the dirt] how to balance making the work with talking about the work.

2/1/17 [the dirt] what should I call this thing?

2/4/17 [the dirt] One down…🔥 🚀 💥 🙌 💥 💥 🦄

2/6/17 [the dirt] don’t decide based on the past, but on the future

2/11/17 [the dirt] rediscovering the core of the work

2/14/17 [the dirt] creativity in the midst of the complication and chaos of your everyday life

2/17/17 [the dirt] when no one else can tell you that your work is good in a way that you will actually believe.

2/21/17 [the dirt] I’ve got a new thing for you.

2/26/17 [the dirt] Are you asking “Do I want to be a writer?” or “Do I want to write?”

3/6/17 [the dirt] I think this might be a really good idea…

3/9/17 [the dirt] How I write a book.

3/10/17 [the dirt] Guys, I think I broke Google + last call. [AKA the edit process]

3/20/17 [the dirt] “The best editors ask questions, let you come up with answers, and make you better without leaving fingerprints.”

3/23/17 [the dirt] Time to get real [cover reveal and the design process]

4/7/17 [the dirt] Workshop: sell your art!

4/11/17 [the dirt] Manuscript delivered! Time to plan the launch.

4/14/17 [the dirt] Got 2 minutes? This could make all the difference to getting your creative work started

4/23/17 [the dirt] I don’t know what I’m doing (AKA *Attack of the Should Monster*) 🦂

4/27/17 [the dirt] Only you know how your actions line up (or don’t) with your goals.

I wrapped up “the Dirt” on May 6, 2017. (That makes 4 months for those of you who are not so good at math). The book, Growing Gills, is due out May 12. The last week or so of the process has been a bit crazy and out of control. Turns out I kind of knew how to write a book, but this whole “publish your own book” thing has a steep learning curve.

Doing these “live” emails about my process was really amazing. I had no idea how deeply I’d get to know the people in this community, how many people are out there appreciating what I’m doing, and how many are also there to support me as I try new things.

But it’s also been hard to do. I’ve had to split my focus (more than it was already split) and try to continually think about what I want to say ABOUT what I’m doing as well as in the work itself. So I’m glad to give it a rest for a while. 

By the way, as part of the work on the book, I put together a new resource, that you can pick up here – Answer 10 quick questions to uncover the real reasons you’re not moving forward. Decide how you will take control and change course definitively:

Bird by bird. You write and publish a book one word at a time.

  • Karen Gillmore

    January 24, 2017 at 1:51 am

    Hi Jessica, I’m enjoying your letters, as always. I’m not stuck (far from it) but there is still valuable information, and reinforcement for good habits. Also I just enjoy reading what you’re up to. I also went to a Women’s March here, and felt a renewed sense of purpose. Thanks for writing about that.

    (I came over to the website so that I could give a young colleague who is plagued by procrastination the link, and noticed that the links above seem to be dated last year)

  • April Dávila

    January 31, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Hi, Jessica,
    I got your email about all this and clicked over because I feel like I’m in the same place of always trying to balance everything I want to do (write, blog, promote myself, client work, family, exercise… all of it). Thanks for sharing. I’m going to dig into those posts you listed and read up! Cheers.


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