As I’ve been going on with my 30-day reading challenge and have been keeping up with Steve Pavlina’s NaNoWriMo challenge, I’ve been thinking more about writing a book of my own. I hesitate to start it early or to make it too challenging. But, it’s been a goal of mine for years to write a book. Just over time, my ideas on what I should write have changed.

Currently, I’m thinking of writing about my life experiences with and after having psychosis. I don’t know how much of the past I’ll really include. I think my focus will be on how I’ve handled the challenges of dealing with psychosis when it first happened and all the changes it brought since then. When I compare my life from after psychosis to before, they almost feel like complete different worlds in terms of the way I’ve operated. I want to focus on what’s relevant to me now. So, I have a general idea of what I’ll write.

Writers usually set some sort of goal to write a certain amount of words or pages per day. I’m not sure when exactly I’ll set aside 30 days to write, but I thought I could write 1000 words per day. Though, then I wondered if this would be too ambitious given my current difficulties in keeping up with my reading challenge. I thought 1000 words was achievable because of how much I write in my blog posts. But, maybe writing for a book would be different. So, I thought maybe 500 words would suffice. It’s little enough that I can free write that much, but big enough that I would have 15000+ words by the end of the 30 days. That would be a significant chunk for a book. The only problem is if I want to guarantee that it’s longer, then I’d have to continue writing beyond the 30 days. But I guess after 30 days, it would be more ingrained in me to continue writing, right?

I thought about self-publishing versus traditional publishing. On one hand, traditional publishers, especially if they’re focused on mental health-related books, can help me reach a wider audience. Though, I might not make much money this way, especially as a new author (well, if you don’t count the short eBooks I’ve published on Amazon).

With self-publishing, there’s the well-known Amazon KDP. However, they take a large commission (30% for eBooks priced $2.99 – $9.99 and 65% for books priced outside of this range, not including the small fee for each time someone downloads an eBook based on its file size). So, I looked into other options.

One idea is to sell direct. I’ve been looking into PayHip. I haven’t tried it out yet as I do not have a digital product prepared. But from what I’ve read, you don’t have to pay any monthly or annual fee to use it, and they only take 5% of your sales. Plus, you can set your own price. I thought it’s worth a try. I’ve seen other YouTuber authors use similar services to sell their own eBooks, and they don’t always have a large subscriber base either. So, maybe it would work for me.

I was watching a YouTube video last night about how this one guy advertised his book and made about a $300 net loss. But then, he ended up converting those readers into $100,000 in other digital product sales and coaching calls and coaching program sales. So then, I thought I could set up something similar. I might add a coaching service to my website for example. I would try to start something simple, something that I could easily implement and build up from there.

I have a few different purposes with writing a book. One, it would help me to reflect and understand my experiences better. So in a way, it’d be kind of therapeutic. Two, I’d connect to and possibly help others who are either going through a similar experience themselves or are curious about these topics. Three, I’d create another passive income stream for myself, And four, there’s the possibility that this could open up other opportunities for me.

The part that I’m concerned about with writing this book is the potential criticism or ridicule I’ll receive. I think I can generally handle it. I have dealt with negativity when I started a body hair positive Instagram. For the most part, I get a lot of positive feedback. But sometimes, there are those who are plain ignorant or stupid (that’s how I label them). So, I guess if anything, I’ll just be more so annoyed/angry at the negativity then fearful or sad. When people spew their idiocracy, it usually has less to do with us and more to do with their twisted beliefs.

Ideally, I’d find a way to redirect that anger into something more productive. I’m reminded of Earthling Ed, a vegan activist who can get his views across without sounding crude or demeaning. Like if someone asks “but where do you get your protein”, which is sometimes considered to be a stupid question in the vegan community, he calmly suggests sources of protein in plant-based foods rather than rolling his eyes. I’d like to develop this kind of mindset myself.

So as you can see, I’m still in the process of planning how I’ll write the book and how I’ll publish it. This is a goal I’d like to reach before I turn 30. There’s no specific reason other than giving myself a deadline to accomplish my goal and make it a reality.

I think that the journey of writing the book will be enjoyable in itself. It’s like writing a blog post, but lengthier. I feel so relaxed and thoughtful when I write, especially when I type. And then, I enjoy going back and reading what I wrote in the past. It’s interesting to compare your past and present, and to track a moment in time.

I will probably hold off from writing my first draft until next year, 2021. I’m thinking about embarking on a different 30-day challenge (or well, trial) for the month of December. I want to build the momentum of completing 30-day trials so that when I get down to writing, I will actually commit to the 30 days. I don’t want to stop in between and give up. I want to ensure its success.

I know a few people personally who have published books of their own. And honestly, some of them are not even the type to write. Some of them have never even written anything online in the past. So if they could do it, then I certainly can with my writing experiences.

For weeks, I’d have the itch to write. I’d think, “I want to blog, but I don’t know what to write about.” Then, I’d try reading other blogs or my old posts to see what I could write. Usually, I’d end up with nothing.

Yesterday though, I wrote three blog posts and scheduled them to post on three consecutive days. I don’t know exactly how this surge in writing happened. But when it does happen, it’s rather nice.

I guess when you hold onto an intention, eventually you yield results. (I also started reading books daily recently, so perhaps that has got the wheels spinning in my head.) I would write, even when the idea seemed insignificant. I even wrote a blog post on coloring. Most people might disregard it, but I published it anyway. It might be helpful to someone someday. Who knows.

If you have a goal of posting on your blog daily, it’s nice to sometimes write several posts a day and save them up. Then, you can take breaks in between (if you want). You can go back and review what you wrote, to make sure it still seems good. Or, you can focus on other content creation such as YouTube videos or social media posts.

I suggest that if you write a bunch of blog posts in one day, schedule them out. I spread mine out to one post per day. Some people might schedule the posts farther apart, like two or three days, or even a week. There’s been some debate on how frequently you should post. I think daily is okay, but some people say weekly is better for increasing readership. You can always experiment. I don’t mind posting daily because I feel like most people stumble across my posts through searching Google anyway.

Usually the more you practice something, the more you improve. I can notice some improvement in quality between my old blog and my revamped blog. I remember at one point more than two years back, I was posting frequently, just whatever was on my mind. I still do that now. But when I look back at my archived posts, I don’t see much content or value. I was pumping out content, like some social media influencers would suggest. My ideas seemed somewhat unclear. If it seems unclear to me, I can only imagine how it comes across to you as the reader. I still focus on quantity, because quality is something that is improved over time, especially with writing. But, I try to make sure that I have some point in what I write.

I’ve always wanted to publish a book, one that would do very well or be impactful in some way. I always thought it was a big goal. I have self-published a few books already, just to experiment with passive income. I took down two titles, one which was created out of uncopyrighted material from other bloggers, and another which was based off an old blog post I wrote. The last one, which I’ve kept up, was a short book with 100 beginner/intermediate Korean phrases/sentences. It sells maybe one copy per month. I didn’t put too much effort into it, in terms of the writing or promotion. If anything, I’d like to revise it. But, I’m not particularly invested in the idea.

I’ve had many ideas for books over the years. When I was younger, I thought about publishing a fictional story. Post-college, I leaned more into non-fiction.

These days, I think about writing a book about my experiences over the past three years or so, specifically about life with and after psychosis. I’ve debated about it. On one hand, I want to help others who have experienced something similar and educate those who know little about it. On the other hand, I wonder how much I should actually share. There’s some details that may be important, but I feel embarrassed to share. Though, there’s probably many authors who have felt the same. They probably skimmed over the details or just dove straight into what they wanted to share.

Recently, Steve Pavlina started writing about his participation in NaNoWriMo, which is an organization that promotes this event where you write 50,000 words in the month of November for a novel. At the time, I already planned to read for the month. And also, I didn’t have an interest in writing a novel. However, I did think about how I wanted to write a non-fiction.

I don’t really talk about my experiences with psychosis online. I mean, I’ve mentioned hearing voices. I’ve talked about mental health and coping skills. But, I never actually explained to strangers or even friends on the internet about what was going through my mind when I was experiencing psychosis. I never talked about the ups and the downs and how it affected my mindset.

I wondered if now is the right time to draft the book. I guess it’s never too early, technically. It’s better to document things early, so that you can always look back and see where you were. But when I think of a title like “Life After Psychosis” (the current title I’m thinking about), I feel like I should have accomplished more. I feel like I should be more stable, more independent, etc. But then again, this is real life, not fantasy. Sure, maybe life would look much different in a year or two, or even five years from now. But, this is my life now. This is my reality. This is my experience. I shouldn’t dismiss that.

I don’t want to dive straight into writing. I think I’d like to research it more. And also, I’d like to dedicate a 30-day challenge to it, writing at least 1000 words per day. Right now, I’m focused on my reading challenge (and my “coloring” challenge, if that counts). I also have other 30-day challenge ideas such as doing an Instagram Live each day, exercising daily (something short and simple), and trying various methods for improving my sleep (30 days to better sleep challenge). I’m not in a rush to write the book. Though, it’s definitely something I’d like to accomplish, hopefully before the time I hit 30. (Wow, 30-day challenge before 30! 😆)

I was thinking about going the self-published route. Though, working with a mental health book publisher wouldn’t be a bad idea. They’d definitely know how to market better. I’m not doubting my abilities, but for my first book, the publishing route might be nicer. I’m open to either of these options. I’d like it if it reached a wide audience though.

This would be the first time that I’d be writing something so long that is my own original content. I mean, I’ve written plenty of blog posts in the past. But, a book typically requires structure and organization. It requires more planning so that it will be cohesive and simple to read.

I remember writing fan fictions in the past. I never really organized them well. I just started with the story and went in sequential order, adding chapter by chapter. I never finished the stories, though. And, I couldn’t just jump ahead or go back. I had to continue where I left off, because I was publishing it online and my readers were expecting that. If I wrote it all beforehand, which I never thought of before, then I could have waited to publish it after I finished.

I think if I write this book, I’ll just write whatever ideas come to mind, similar to how I write a blog post. I’ll worry about the editing later. I have a few friends who might be able to help with that too. So, I don’t have to go it alone.

So, writing a book is on my bucket list. I didn’t really have a bucket list for the past two years because it was hard for me to accomplish goals. But recently, I’ve been becoming better at it.

I also think that because I’ve been getting back into blogging, I think of writing more. I think about having more of an impact through my writing. I think about reaching a wider audience of readers. I think about how I can help. I think about how other books have helped me in different ways, or have sparked something in me. And I think, “I want to do that too!”

I don’t know when I’ll start this goal, but now that I’m publicly announced it, you all know! Feel free to share your advice or your encouragement. I’m not going to work on publishing a book right away, but the idea is there. Everything in our reality was first an idea. Well, with the exception of the voice I hear maybe… which is another story. But anyway, I hope to bring this idea to fruition before my 30th birthday. 🙂

I don’t consider myself a good writer. I think I’m okay. Maybe I’m above average because I tend to make few spelling or grammar mistakes and I get my point across. Also, I’ve been blogging for many years. And, I’ve done pretty well in school whenever I had to turn in a paper. Regardless, it doesn’t matter much to me to be the best writer. I just want to be able to provide some kind of value in what I write.

I think if I put more effort into fleshing out and proofreading my posts, they’d be higher quality. But typically, I don’t spend much time editing. If I do edit, it’s usually as I’m writing. I mostly write, taking a few breaks in between depending on how long it is.

I had a professor back in college who somewhat influenced my academic writing. He taught us to just write whatever comes to mind. And after you do that, then you outline the main points. Then, you re-organize your paragraphs and put them in a logical order. Then, you add/remove parts. You might update your thesis based on new information. You might update your conclusion. You do this a few times, and put an appropriate title, and bam, paper. And basically, your first draft and your final draft look nothing like each other.

I took the part where he said just write anything that comes to mind to heart. You don’t know where your idea will go until you let it take form. So, I just write whatever is on the top of my head. And as I write, I organize.

The major difference is that for the most part, my first draft of my blog post looks like my final draft with some tweaks. That’s it. I know it doesn’t have to be perfectly organized.

For a book, it’d be different. I’d definitely spend more time organizing my thoughts and trying to make it more cohesive. That way, the reader can more easily digest the material. It makes sense in this context.

But (for me at least), a blog post is more like a conversation. You just start and see where it leads. And as you gain more ideas, you share them as you go.

Sometimes, I add headers. I might have some structure. Maybe I’m creating a list. Or, maybe I’m sharing a specific set of steps for a method I use. But otherwise, I’m just going through a series of thoughts.

Here is the breakdown of my blogging process:

Title / Idea

I usually write down what I plan to discuss. Even if it’s vague, I write this down as a pointer. So for this blog post, I wrote, “How I Write Blog Posts.” I got the idea of “How I Write” from a Steve Pavlina article. He talks about not only writing on his blog, but about how he wrote his first nonfiction book. I knew I would talk specifically about blogging, so I titled it this way.

Sometimes when I’m writing a blog post, it’s not exactly clear what I’m writing. So, I let the first written title/idea guide me. And then after I finish writing, I go back to the title and see if it still makes sense. If my ideas changed as I was writing, then I’ll change the title to something more fitting.

Sometimes even, I have no idea what I’m writing. So, I leave the title blank and free write a general idea. Then when the idea hits me, I write a temporary title, revising it later to what feels most appropriate.

Some people like to create a title that can be a keyword or phrase that is entered a lot in searches. I try to think in terms of that sometimes. But, I feel like lots of topics can be searched these days. There’s billions of people using the internet, right? So someone’s bound to search what I’m writing for, if not now, in the future. I’m not so concerned about this consequentially. I’m more concerned about using a title that accurately describes my blog post. I feel that if you have an accurate title, more people are likely to find it valuable.

The post itself

Like I said, I write whatever comes to mind. I revise as I write. If I word something strangely, I go back and try to find a better way to say it. It’s like I said earlier, I write like it’s a conversation. I want to find the best way to express myself in the moment. The only difference is that if there’s any filler words or awkward sentences, I’ll fix it. But otherwise, I try to let it flow naturally.

Skimming

I don’t always read my blog post word-for-word. There are people who do that, and maybe their posts end up better than mine because of the extra effort they put into it. But, I basically just skim over what I write. Because it’s still fresh in my mind, I can mostly tell what I wrote. I’m just basically trying to figure out if the order makes sense. Would the second paragraph come across better if I insert it as the fifth paragraph? Does the first item on the list make sense?

As I skim, I’ll try searching for typos or weird grammar. Sometimes, I miss some because I don’t spend a lot of time doing this. I might catch them after I publish the post. I think that’s okay, because most people can understand my writing regardless of these tiny mistakes. If I catch it, nice. If not, it’s no big deal. I guess that’s why I spend so little time on it.

Categories / Tags

I add the post to at least one category. If it doesn’t fit in any particular category, I’ll add a new one that I think I might write about in the future. Sometimes, my posts fit multiple categories, so I might tick off more than one. This is just to help organize my material better for future reference. Also, readers who are curious about specific topics can search those posts more easily.

I also try to add tags that I feel people will search for. So for this post, I already have the title, “How I Write Blog Posts.” I might reword that and add tags such as “how I blog” or “my writing process” or “my blogging process”.

I don’t use any specific keyword tool or planner or anything. I just come up with ideas of my own usually. I might search for certain phrases on Google and see what else comes up. Otherwise, I don’t spend more than 1-2 minutes on this.

Featured Image

After revamping my blog, I started adding featured images to my posts. There’s something nice about having a visual element to your blog. It might give a better idea of what the post is about in addition to the title.

I’ve been using royalty-free images for the most part from websites such as Pixabay and Pexels. There was one post when I used a photo I took. If I don’t have a photo of my own, I’ll use a free image. They have tons of images on those two websites alone, so I haven’t used any other websites for free images yet.

Pictures within the post

One time, in addition to a featured image, I sprinkled images throughout the post. I think I’m more tempted to do this when the post has a lot of text. It’s not necessary, but it might make the blog post more appealing.

I think eventually, I’ll probably add more pictures of my own to specific blog posts. I might add a progress chart for a 30-day challenge. Or, I might show the different steps for creating certain DIY projects.

For short blog posts, I don’t usually add additional images to a feature image. I just feel like for some longer blog posts, it could add some more pizzazz. It’s not necessary. It just depends.

Publish or schedule

Typically, I post right away. Otherwise, if I published another blog post that same day, I’ll typically schedule the post for the following day. I used to just post soon after writing/editing, but nowadays, I try to space out my posts. I think it makes it easier for a fellow reader to have one post to look forward to each day rather than five posts in one day and none for weeks or months.



Overall, that’s how I generally write a blog post. It’s pretty straightforward and simple. It’s good that I don’t overcomplicate the process because it’s probably the main reason I blog as much as I do. I enjoy the simplicity of the process.

I could even make it more simple by removing the categories, tags, and images. But since I’ve already learned about those elements and I enjoy adding them, it is part of my process. New writers can skip these parts and just go straight to writing.

One area I still need to work on for blogging is finding a nice way to wrap up my posts. Sometimes, I feel like I’m lacking a conclusion. I just thought of this problem as I was finishing up the skimming process of this post.

Anyway (awkward transition, I know), that’s how I write my blog posts. It’s pretty intuitive. I feel like anyone can blog because you can create your own process for writing. It doesn’t have to be like mine. It just has to make sense for you. Whatever satisfies you works.

When I first started blogging, I didn’t really pay much attention to visuals. I just stuck to writing. I was used to seeing blogs with just text. Some of my favorite blogs don’t have any images on their actual page and may have many paragraphs of text. But when restarting my blog, I decided to add images. I wanted to create a visually enjoyable experience for the reader, with the theme of my page and the images.

Nowadays, there are many resources for free images. These are completely free to use, and you don’t even need to credit the creator. I think it would be nice to do so anyway, but it makes it easy in case you forget. There are some websites that offer free images and require attribution, but that’s easy and simple to do. I think it’s easier than me trying to create an image on my own for every post I make.

I think if I were to include some of my own images, I’d watermark it with my name, or at least the URL of my website. I also wonder why people are so generous to offer free images. I mean, attribution is one thing. But, what if people have no clue where the image came from? How does it benefit the creator? I think it’s nice, but personally, I’d want people to know it’s from me. That’s why I’d personally watermark my images.

When I select images for my blog post, I try to find something that relates to the topic I’m discussing. Like for my first blog post, I talked about restarting my blog, so I went with an image of a journal. So if someone is coming across my page and sees that image, they’d probably think that it’s related to writing or journaling of some form.

You can use images to invoke a certain feeling. For example, the theme/layout I use is calming to me. I used a header image of a pastel sky and serene blue ocean waves. It gives a sense of peace. It can reflect on the title I gave my website: Conscious Balancing. That’s what I envision when I think of the ideal mindset. It’s calm, peaceful, relaxing, and in a state of contentment.

Another reason why it may be a good idea to add images is because it helps bring it traffic. Well, assuming that you do a few things. One, you have to make sure that you name the image properly when you upload it to your website. If it’s a generic “screenshot.png” or “image.jpeg”, it’s not going to do anything for you. But if you name it something like “meditation-practices.png”, it can help with getting your post ranked in search engines. It might show up in Google Images and link to your blog. And also, you can add alt text.

I haven’t quite figured out how to rename images directly from the WordPress dashboard. I haven’t seen that option when I search in my Media folder and try to edit an image. It’s a little annoying because when I name files on my computer, I sometimes add a number (representing the number of pixels wide) or a size to the end of the file name so I know how big the image is. So when I upload an image, it automatically matches the name. I wish I could add it without the number being attached too. It’s not a big deal. It would just be nice if WordPress asked you what you would like to name your image before it uploads it.

In case you’re interested in adding images to your own blog, here are a few resources I recommend:

Pixabay
Pexels
Unsplash

There’s a bunch more. All you have to do is Google search “free images”. But, make sure that it’s actually free to use. And, make sure if no attribution is needed. Sometimes, you’ll end up on websites where they offer both free to use images and stock images (which means that you usually have to pay a fee to use their images). So, just double check.