10 things not to do when starting a book project

Maybe you can relate to this. A few months ago, I decide to write a book about the art and craft of photography. I’m completely excited and I can’t wait to tell you about it but somehow I manage to sabotage the project before I start writing because it’s this dream I have since I’m five and it’s scary and easier to do everything but put my thoughts on the page. So I keep quiet until now since I have little more than a few pages of notes to show.

They built a wall in the middle of a field.

We should make a pact. What do you say? Hold me to this little book project and I’ll do the same for whatever secret dream you’ve got in the works. As a point of caution, you won’t want to follow my lead thus far, unless like me, that’s the sort of kick in the ass you need.

Then they set sail.

10 things not to do when starting a book project:

1. Check out seasons 1 & 2 of Veronica Mars from the library and watch 2-3 episodes in the evening at the same time writer’s block appears.

2. Make chocolate zucchini brownies with the obscenely large zucchini your neighbor drops off because it has to be done. Now.


3. Open your new iPod touch that FedEx drops off in the morning then turn your “precious” (as the Mister dubs it) on. As the rest of the world stops around you, you click straight to the app store and download 9 photo and 2 movie apps, and surrender to the ring, I mean camera.

4. Teach 2 cooking classes in the same week in which you create and test 7 recipes, including homemade stuffed ravioli.

5. Discover when your 4 year-old tells you “Oh Mama. There’s no such thing as magic.” that you’ve failed miserably as a parent and that you must turn your inadequacies around to prove your young pragmatist that magic does indeed exist, just look around you.


6. Find the 19 rolls of film shot on your Tennessee road trip in the mailbox one day then attempt to scan them all with your sluggish photo scanner.

7. Dream up a menu for a dinner party you plan to host next month which leads you down the Pinterest rabbit hole.

Once (field)

8. Start the filing project and office clean-up project you abandoned several months ago since this will require days and days of digging your way out of the boxes of stuff you’ve dragged around since you graduated from college.

9. Turn on Joy Division as you file away and decide to write a letter to your 19 year-old self, yet another rabbit hole.

The boy with the red star.

10. Stop writing every day. This is the most lethal of all and should be moved up to number 1 immediately.


  1. says

    You’re writing a book! Hooray! I think it’s smart you posted about it here, even before it’s done, because now you know you have to do it. We’ll all be waiting!

    • ArtandLemons says

      Shannalee, Um, yes. Did I let that little book project slip out? I suppose there are no take backs on this one and I’m counting on you holding me to it! Thanks, always, for your encouragement!

    • ArtandLemons says

      Thanks Nicole! I know what you mean. My office is looking pretty spiffy I must say. A clean writing slate or that’s what I tell myself…

  2. says

    Sounds familiar. I just finished my book a couple of months ago and my daughter (age 5) still tells me daily how glad she is now that it is done!
    Although I am beginning to feel like it really never is done- as I go through the promoting part. I can’t wait for the release date so I can be “released” too.
    You will do great. Copy editors are wonderful and will make writing feel effortless.

    • ArtandLemons says

      Dawn, I think my son will feel the same although as you say, the work doesn’t end it simply changes. I’m also looking forward to your release date and to getting a copy of your book. Congrats on finishing it! Thanks for that. Fingers crossed.

  3. says

    Any time I find myself procrastinating – er, watching old episodes of Veronica Mars – I think of what Dianne Jacob says: “It’s all grist for the mill.” The wheels are turning inside, giving your creativity a recharge. But I’ll hold you to it because I can’t wait to see the finished project!

    • ArtandLemons says

      Casey, Sage advice from Dianne and I hope all my ruminating will filter into my writing sessions. I’m writing it on a sticky note and posting it on my computer. Glad you’ve got my back.

  4. Seajay Spencer says

    Wow, you make me tired just reading about it. Write your book one word at a time, one inspiration at a time.

    • ArtandLemons says

      Seajay, It all goes back to Anne Lammott’s Bird by Bird doesn’t it? Write one square inch at a time. I often forget, but it works!

  5. says

    I am the queen of procrastination and could add lots of things to your list. But I think Casey is right- look at it all as “grist for the mill”. Good luck Nikki! xoxo

  6. says

    Hey Nikki, I’m late in hearing your news. You rock for making this commitment. The procrastination is part of the bargain. Go with the flow and take small steps. It’ll all come together. And, we’ll be here to hold you to your word.
    Good luck. Remember: the journey is the destination.

  7. says

    Sure sounds like you had a lot of distractions that week (a shiny new Apple gadget is a sure fire way to get behind schedule!)
    I was wondering what camera/film you were using for the shots in this post? The vignetting and grain look amazing!
    P.S. I can’t wait to learn more about your new book project!

    • ArtandLemons says

      Marie, I’m rather good at being distracted as you can see! I actually shot these photos with my iPod Touch. I used three or four photo apps to fine tune the images and I haven’t gotten a system down for remembering/noting my process yet…as for the book project, writing slowly but…

  8. says

    writing this five minutes before midnight. morning pages completed just before the day is done. procrastinating on the application for an artist residency program that has captured my imagination. finding myself perplexed over a project proposal which i have been ruminating on for ages. nose nowhere close to the grindstone but maybe just maybe feet to the fire. loving the stories and photos. thanks for sharing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *