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Why Writing A Book is Not like Having a Baby

I have always used that time-honored metaphor of birth and babies to describe writing a book. 

That is, until I got pregnant. 

The thing is, I still think it's a pretty good metaphor. The roller coaster emotions and the hard work involved in writing a book go hand-in-hand with the ups and downs of pregnancy, too. I have probably cried more over my manuscript than I have over this unborn child in my uterus. 

However, there are some misconceptions in the book-baby metaphor that, as a person currently gestating a baby-baby as well as a book-baby, I must address.

1.) You're never going to accidentally have a book-baby. 

Dear writer, I am sorry, but you're not going to stumble into a finished manuscript in the same way you might skip a day of birth control and find yourself with an infant. The only way you can conceive a whole book is to sit down, day after day, and work. 

2.) Your book-baby probably won't adhere to deadlines. 

Not that baby-babies do either - but writing a book is even less certain than gestating a baby. Sure, there are premies that are born at 7 months, or 8; but generally, most infants take 9 months to cook. With books, there are no rules. Don't let anyone tell you differently. You might write a full first draft in five weeks; or, it might take you ten years. Just because your manuscript is approaching its tenth trimester doesn't mean you've failed as a writer. This book will be born when its ready. 

3.) Sometimes it's lonelier to mother a book-baby than a baby-baby.

I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by support in my pregnancy. My husband, my parents, my in-laws, my midwife - they have all showered me with love, advice, and much-needed rest when I'm too stubborn to ask for it myself. But, sometimes, writing a book is not like that. Writing a book means that people will ask why you must spend so much time with your baby, why you need rest and quiet, why you have a routine that you have to safeguard against all others. It's hard, but people won't necessarily understand why it's hard.

So do your best to surround yourself with supporters. Find family and friends and writing groups that encourage your alone time, and believe in your book-baby. Track down a "doctor" who will monitor your book-baby's growth. 


What are some other good metaphors, besides the "book-baby," that describe the writing process? Any ideas?

 
Kristin Briana Otts

Kristin is an aspiring YA author with an abiding love for her dog, ghost hunter tv shows, and rainy days.

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7 comments:

  1. I've always thought of writing like gardening. You plant a seed, nourish it, it grows huge and unwieldy, then it's time to prune it right back :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoyed your blog ... I recently wrote a book and (although a man) said the two were rather SIMILAR. Your points are good, but on deadlines, are first books and babies BOTH late?!
    http://www.perfecttext.org/writing-a-book-is-rather-like-having-a-baby-he-says/

    ReplyDelete
  3. As an almost-50-year-old who chose not to have children, I braced myself as I opened your blog post, expecting something that would somehow, I don't know, make me feel less, or excluded, by revealing how miraculously life-altering different the baby-baby was from the book-baby. Instead, I found down-to-earth, straightforward specifics. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love this:
    "Writing a book means that people will ask why you must spend so much time with your baby, why you need rest and quiet, why you have a routine that you have to safeguard against all others. It's hard, but people won't necessarily understand why it's hard."

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have never given birth to a baby-baby, because I'm, um, a guy. But I do have a four-year old son and I have written two novels and there's another big difference between the two. When your baby-baby is born, everyone wants to be there to celebrate with you. When your book-baby is done, you may experience the fact that no one much cares unless you already have an agent and a publisher behind you prepared to help you launch your manuscript into the world. Many other writers, including indies, must start another kind of work, which is marketing the book to try to find people who will care: i.e. find readers.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have never given birth to a baby-baby, because I'm, um, a guy. But I do have a four-year old son and I have written two novels and there's another big difference between the two. When your baby-baby is born, everyone wants to be there to celebrate with you. When your book-baby is done, you may experience the fact that no one much cares unless you already have an agent and a publisher behind you prepared to help you launch your manuscript into the world. Many other writers, including indies, must start another kind of work, which is marketing the book to try to find people who will care: i.e. find readers.

    ReplyDelete

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