Things I Wish I Knew: About Writing a Cookbook with Allison Day

Whole Bowls 9781634508551Today’s “Things I Wish I Knew” post is from cookbook author and award winning blogger Allison Day.

Allison Day is the cookbook author of Whole Bowls (Skyhorse, April 2016) and Purely Pumpkin (Skyhorse, Fall 2016), the voice and lens behind Yummy Beet, as well as a food photographer and nutritionist. Allison won gold in the 2015 Taste Canada Food Writing Awards, the highest honour for culinary writing in the country, in their inaugural blog category. Her work has appeared in the New York TimesFood Network CanadaThe Irish TimesPreventionalive, The KitchnEpicurious, the James Beard Foundation, on CityLine and more. She cooks, writes and snaps photos for Hamilton Magazine’s Good Taste column, too.

Today, Allison tells us in her own words 5 Things She Wish She Knew…About Publishing A Cookbook:

  1. Accept outside input: Taking control of every aspect of cookbook writing, from recipe research and development to testing to writing to photographing, became too much. I began to experience a bit of cabin fever over the many months of working on Whole Bowls! Writing a book, regardless of genre, can often benefit from outside input. For my second cookbook Purely Pumpkin I’ve reached out to friends for their ideas on the recipe set, even getting some assistance on the food styling front. It’s made for a much more balanced, fun job (and has helped me retain both my sanity and a social life!).
  1. Keep it quick: Writing the book over a longer period of time caused big changes in my writing, recipe and photography style. I’ve found doing a project in a more condensed time period, when I’m given far less time to second guess myself, produces a more consistent outcome.
  1. If you have a problem, ask your literary agent for help immediately: Don’t suffer in silence! If I wasn’t happy with something regarding my publisher, there are several instances I should have reached out to my literary agent (Carly) for assistance earlier. Now if there’s an issue, I tell her right away. Working through a problem with the author, publisher/editor and agent is much more efficient.
  1. Set boundaries: Because I work from home, it’s hard to separate work life and regular life, as they generally overlap when “you” are your business. I used to set unnecessary standards for getting work done, working later into the evening than I should. Today, I’m much more efficient if I stop all work by 6 or 7 pm, make dinner and unwind with a friend, walk or good tv show. I’ve also discontinued working on Saturdays when I can help it, which helps refresh my ideas for the week ahead and keeps me happy.
  1. Embrace change: Writing is dynamic. Every piece of work you do is a little snapshot of who you were at that specific moment in time. Inevitably (and thankfully!), you’ll grow as a writer, changing your style with each new project. Looking back at Whole Bowls, I can see things I’d love to change (recipes, photos, words, etc.), but I’m so proud of the book in its entirety. I don’t sit and stew over minor details anymore – it’s the big picture that matters. When you get the book in your hands, regardless of what it contains, it’s an incredible accomplishment that neither you nor anyone else should diminish. Accepting that my work will change over my career is no longer nerve-wracking to me, but exciting. And the more comfortable I become in my food, photography and writing style, the more enthusiastic the response from my blog (Yummy Beet) and cookbook audience.

Check out her books! Whole Bowls is in store tomorrow and Purely Pumpkin is available this fall.

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Juggling Your Creative Life

34d4f71fc9ac164fd6af6bc5770ca7e4One of the hardest things about being a creative person/writer/artist etc. is balance. When you work from home sometimes family members don’t know your boundaries. When you love your job sometimes it’s hard to stop working when your desk is always in the other room. Tell me in the comments what the hardest part of the “creative juggling balance” is for you.

Tips for Juggling Your Creative Life

  • Give yourself a schedule. I always advise writers to treat writing like a job if they want it to be a career. If you want it to be a hobby (and in that case, an agent might not be right for you at this time) then you can treat it like a hobby. But the only way to get writing done is to do it.
  • But remember to define your work day by what feels right–beginnings and endings don’t always start at 9 and end at 5. In fact, it’s nearly impossibly to write that long every day.
  • So, what is your word count goal? 1000 words? If it’s done in 1 hour or 5 hours you can pat yourself on the back.
  • Have a defined space that your family and friends are aware of. Laptops are great for being able to pick up and go to the coffee shop, but they make it challenging for your family to understand the divide if you type from your lap in the living room. Try a desktop if you’re having trouble setting physical limits.
  • Remember: your book should always be your #1 priority if you’re writing fiction. Blogging and social media aren’t going to write your novel for you. (Non fiction writers, platform is equally important so you stick to that community building!)
  • Do yourself and favor and read BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her point of view on creativity and inspirational guidance is unparalleled and you won’t regret it. Even better: listen to her MAGIC LESSONS podcast too!
  • A book can be written in 10 years or in 1 month. It’s all about the time you give and that’s up to you. Remember that everyone is busy. Every. Single. Person. How do writers get books written? They simply make time and write. Sacrifices will be made and it’s up to you which those are–but in order to make a career of this priority has to be given to the craft.
  • Do you feel guilty when you work on your writing because you could be doing other things for your family/friends? Don’t. Your family and friends want you to be happy and they want to spend time with you when you’re at your best–which means: when you are living a fulfilled life creatively. If you are in your best place you’ll be more fun to hang out with anyway. (Resentment never looks good on anyone. It can build fast and take years to chip away.)

Don’t forget: Tell me in the comments what the hardest part of the “creative juggling balance” is for you.

 

How To Be The Boss Of Your Creative Life

googleimages2Has everyone heard of impostor syndrome?

It’s that feeling we’ve all experienced where, despite our accomplishments, we’re unable to feel like we’ve earned our spot. Like we’re a creative imposter and someone is going to find out we don’t belong.

I don’t know any creative person who has never internalized this feeling.

But the truth is: we’ve all earned our spots, because the only opinion that matters is yours. So shake off those insecurities and learn to be the boss of your creative life.

Remember…

  • You are your harshest critic. Don’t beat yourself up. Treat yourself like you’d treat any other critique partner.
  • If you don’t respect your writing time, no one else will. Make those quiet moments count.
  • You decide what your idea of success is. Don’t let anyone tell you who you should be.
  • If you want to write for you, that’s okay. Getting published doesn’t define a writer. 
  • Give your life breathing room to allow creative thoughts to come in. When you schedule your day down to the minute where will inspiration come from?
  • If you want to be a writer you must do two things: call yourself a writer and write.
  • Imposter syndrome means that people overcompensate to outwardly show like they belong. But what matters most is quietly chipping away at your goals in a way that is meaningful to you.
  • It could take months, or it could take years. Don’t stop when the going gets tough. This isn’t a craft you learn quickly. Read this Writer’s Digest article by my author Karen Katchur.
  • We spend our lives writing, talking and also non-verbally communicating. Listen and look at what’s happening around you: those are the honest parts of life that need to make it into your writing to make it come alive. Desk time isn’t the only writing time. 
  • Give yourself permission to make mistakes. As long as you learn from them they’re all part of your process. And give yourself permission to break routine. As long as you know the difference between a routine that’s no longer working and taking a day off.
  • A “no” only gets you closer to the “yes” that matters. And all it takes is one yes.

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Looking to take the next step with your writing? Join my Sept 3 webinar with Writer’s Digest.

9 Ways to Write Smarter, Not Harder

googleimagesMany budding–and established–writers have day jobs that prevent them from dedicating their days to their writing. How can you use your free time to turn your writing into something substantial? What’s the solution to that pressure? Adjust your time management skills to maximize the time you do have to create something you can be proud of.

Control what you can.

Let go of what you can’t.

Enjoy writing and the passion will show through.

1. Outline and plan.

Make a do-to list of unfinished projects or revisions. Check your list regularly and decide where to spend your time. Use a calendar to track your progress and work toward your goals. Sounds like an obvious step, but seeing it written down will help you see the gaps that need to be filled.

2. Prioritize.

80% of your accomplishments will come from 20% of your efforts. Learn to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t getting you closer to your goal. If you want to write a novel, focus on novel writing, not poetry and short stories. Know where you want your career to go and take the measurable steps to get there. There are only so many hours in a day. When you go to bed at night you want to know you’ve done everything you can to feel good about your writing.

3. Set deadlines.

Is there a writing contest coming up that you want to submit to? Focusing on working backwards from a deadline can help your motivation and feel like you are working towards something exciting. Not only will you know someone is waiting to read your work at the end, but you’ll also set yourself up for small ego-boosting achievements that let you know ‘yes, you can do this.’

4. Organize a block of time when you can’t be interrupted.

Close the door. Leave a note. Set up a time every day or every week that is for writing and writing only. If others respect your time, you will too.

5. Have a ‘room of one’s own.’

Set up a work desk that is for writing and writing only. That way your routine is inherent: when you sit down at this desk, it’s writing time. If you share a desk with a partner, try to keep things organized in folders (digitally and physically) so that you can get right into your work instead of clearing off someone else’s things.

6. Let yourself have social (media) time.

Breaks are part of productivity. It’s okay to go on Twitter, blog about what’s on your mind, and update your Facebook status. When you take regular breaks you’ll be more focused when you settle back in. Not only online, social activity can spur on your writing too: join a critique group, go to coffee with a fellow writing friend, join a writers’ guild, or attend a writers’ conference. You’ll find others have the same hobby and want to talk about it too.

Continue reading 9 Ways to Write Smarter, Not Harder