my book writing journey

My book – Learning to Learn: Why You Need to Leverage Your Curiosity – is finally published after two years in the making (one year of actual work and another year of hiatus). It was officially published on Amazon (in the e-Book and Paperback form), as well as on the Kobo store, in December 2020. This is a year later than the original publishing date of December 2019. I had decided to take a break when life and school got too hectic in September 2019 and prolonged that break all the way until September 2020, when I suddenly felt this motivation to get back into it and finish it off. I am so glad that I did, and I’m happy to be sharing it with you now. I’ve always seen this book that I’ve been working on as more of a passion project – a published book of words to mark the start of my 20s – rather than a book that is striving to compete with the likes of Obama’s A Promised Land or any other New York Times bestseller. And maybe it could be a good launchpad for book #2, whether that’s one year or ten years down the line. I’m just happy to write, share my writing, and above all, learn through the writing process.

There are two personal anecdotes that I want to share with regard to this crazy, unconventional book journey. The first is why I chose to take on this project in January of 2019, and the second is what drove me to return to this book writing project in September 2020, after having put it on pause for a year.

The first story: I’m not sure how many people know the full story but back in December of 2018, Professor Eric Koester from Georgetown University in the USA reached out to me on LinkedIn to tell me about this initiative that he runs not only within his university but nationally in the US. I normally don’t answer most of the cold messages I get on LinkedIn, but this one caught my eye instantly. The Creators Program, he told me, is essentially run so that anybody who chooses to do it can start writing and publish their own book within the span of a year. He also told me that if I signed on to do it, I’d be the first Canadian they’re bringing into the program. It all sounded very exciting, but I was hesitant. The original projection was 25,000 words and while I’ve always loved writing, even that seemed like a lot to me. I told him I’d give it some thought.

Later that month, during the Christmas season of December 2018, I went to go see The Nutcracker at the National Ballet of Canada. I write about this in the introduction of my book, but watching that performance from my seat sparked this longing to have that “in the spotlight” feeling. I looked up at the ballerinas that night and wondered what it was like to prepare so long for that one big moment and have hundreds, thousands of eyes looking at you. Many professionals in varying industries – politicians, actors, singers, basketball players – have that “in the spotlight” moment, but I realized I didn’t really have something like that in my own life. And so, in January 2019, I signed on to the Creators program. I thought it would be a good passion project to have in my life for 2019, and also would be a good excuse to have so that I could interview some really, really cool people (which I did end up doing). I also enlisted two other girls at my school, Hailey and Berenda, to do it with me as well. The 3 of us met weekly from January to April to write together, brainstorm together, and just enjoy the process together. After school ended for the year in April, we continued to work on our own books individually and by the end of August, we each had a first draft manuscript that was ready to move into the editing phase.

Unfortunately, for me, right when I had finished that first-draft manuscript, the busyness of 3rd year, recruiting, and my extra-curricular activities hit me with full force. I assumed that it would get better after September, then after October, but as the weeks went on, I recognized that everything was only getting busier and I hadn’t been putting any hours into actually editing. At one point, in October 2019, I realized that I likely wouldn’t make the publishing date of December 2019. So, instead of continuing to make up excuses, I reached out to the team that I was working with and told them that I wanted to, or rather had to, step away from this project for a bit. I wasn’t exactly sure when I’d pick it up again, but they all assured me that eventually, I would want to return.

So that brings me to the next personal anecdote I want to share: why I chose to pick it up again a few months ago, in September 2020. Personally, I thought that I wouldn’t ever end up going back to it. After my 3 months of exchange, I told myself that I’d use the first COVID-19 lockdown to work on the book. But then, my summer internship started and that never ended up happening. I told myself that as soon as the internship was done, I’d pick it back up and start the writing again at the end of August. That also never ended up happening; August turned into September and it wasn’t until mid-September that I actually said, “I need to do this.” I slowly and very carefully stepped back into the writing process, feeling out of place because I had been away for so long. I got paired with a new editor, Rebecca, and together, she and I worked out a plan for editing that would give me enough time to still make the publishing deadline. Jumping back into it was the hard part but once I started writing again, it wasn’t difficult at all. I had so much more to say compared to this time last year and I built in a lot of new ideas into the book – COVID, the BLM movement and unlearning, etc. From September to October, I added about 25,000 new words and made a ton of changes to the old chapters.

Looking back, I’m glad I took that year off. The book that I would have published in December 2019 wouldn’t have been the book that I wanted to put out there; I wouldn’t have had enough time to get it ready. Also, 2020 gave me a lot of new perspectives and experiences to write about. I built in my exchange stories, a couple of stories from my summer internship, and other ideas that I learned throughout the year. The added time and break, for me, turned out to be a good thing. I’m not sure if that insight – be patient with creative work – is “big” enough to count as a life lesson but this journey has taught me that not all things can be rushed.

So, that brings us to here. If any of you want a copy of the book – digital or paperback – feel free to let me know. And if any of you do get a chance to read it, whether you read a chapter here and there or read it from cover to cover, I’d love it if you could let me know your thoughts. I hope that in the book, there’s at least one idea/insight you can take away from it. If that is the case, then this would have definitely all been worth it.


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