It’s publication week for Writing Well and Being Well for Your PhD and Beyond: How to Cultivate a Strong and Sustainable Writing Practice for Life. It’s available as a paperback and ebook on all the big book websites, and via the publisher. As with all my books, I’m delighted if you buy a copy but also delighted if you recommend it to your university library so you get to read it and so does everyone else.
I had the best time writing this book, and the advance readers have given such warm and delightful feedback. My series editor described the book as ‘your best friend’; ‘it’s personable, relatable, oozing with strategies.. It simply is a gift’. The peer reviewers said things like: it’s ‘calming and supportive’, ‘a useful review and re-thinking of the writing process’ that ‘gives permission’ for you to write, containing a ‘sprinkling of humour’ but also ‘addictively practical’. I hope you enjoy the book as much as they did!
The book is super pretty—I was really happy with the cover, and the design inside is absolutely delightful. It’s a pleasure to read. There’s enough space on the page for your eye to rest in the white spaces, or for you to scribble in the margins.
This book, like all my writing books, is very interactive. Every chapter includes lots of things to think about, but also techniques to try. I hope these help you be a better writer, and a writer who feels better about writing and while writing.
Some of the activities encourage you to shut your eyes and breathe, or to go for a walk. These things are hard to do while also reading a book! So we’ve recorded some of the practices and will be putting them out in audio and video over on the Whisper Collective channels. Subscribe to the Whisper Collective Podcast and they will just appear in your feed as we release them—or I’ll be linking to them here via the blog.
Eventually, you might like to save a practice or an affirmation as the first track on your writing play list. Sometimes, someone else cheering you on to do the writing thing is exactly what is needed to get over the hump and start working.
This book, more than any of my other books, also helps you to identify all the joyful, useful, pleasurable, supportive things you and your body and your funny little brain has already come up with to make writing bearable. Creating new knowledge, and explaining it to other people, stretches our brains to the edges of what we are able to do, and everyone has come up with tricks to get on with it somehow. But often, we feel guilty about them, or think they are kind of embarrassing, and if we were real writers, or good writers, we wouldn’t need them. But what would happen if we celebrated and shared these techniques instead?Thank you to everyone over the last decade or so who has told me about how they made writing work for them.
I first submitted the proposal in September 2021. At that stage, I had already done a lot of the very first drafts here on the blog. (In the book, I have linked back to those posts so you can see how my writing and thinking evolved from blog to book—writing in public is something I’m still passionate about). I submitted the final version of this book to my publisher back at the end of February. Writing Well and Being Well had an unusually quick path through to publication—only five months! Unlike blogging, where I think, write and share my ideas with you almost immediately (sometimes a post is queued up a few weeks ahead if I’m really organised), books take months. In terms of thinking, crafting, creating… this book has been very done for a very long time.
And that’s why today, before I sat down to write this post, I was deep in line edits for another book project. Having a writing pipeline is an important element for having a long-term and sustainable writing practice. When you are a new writer, there aren’t a lot of things in the pipeline, so when you get a rejection or a delay, it can be a major disruption to your productivity. Experienced writers have enough projects that have been started but not finished yet that there’s always something to be moving forward. The project I’m working on today… we’ve been meaning to get to in some form for nearly a decade. I looked at the files, and my co-author did his big structural edit back in… October 2022. It’s been sitting in the ‘later’ pile for 10 months now, because of Writing Well and Being Well, and a couple of book chapters, and a revise and resubmit that some other co-authors and I sat on for a year.
These delays are part of the writing process, and all that time away from each one just makes it better (the magic of the critical distance break). You can’t start 5 projects all at the same time, you need the mix of projects that are just getting started, the ones that are chugging along in the middle, and the ones that are basically finished. But when you are a newer writer, and don’t have other projects to juggle into the gaps, waiting times, spaces… the delays are only filled with not-yet-writing (or anxiety about not yet writing). Because there are empty spaces, those delays can feel like procrastination. But once the writing pipeline is up and running, there is always something else to work on, so it is instead the effective and pleasurable practice of avoidance productivity.
Anyway, Writing Well and Being Well is out! Thank you to everyone who has taken a photograph of the book arriving at your doorstep, I love seeing pictures of the places the book goes! May the book be a joy to you and your writing.
If you find the book helpful, please do recommend it to other people. Reviews and ratings on the big book websites are incredibly powerful for helping other people to find books, as is word of mouth, excited TikToks, and getting it into libraries. I love this book so much and want everyone to read it.