I have come across many, many talent articulate and talented writers who have always talked about writing a book. Sadly, only a handful follow through with their plans and the rest have shelved the idea for ‘someday’. I am one of those people. The process of writing a book is not an easy one, with it’s troughs and ridges. There are days when your creativity flows like a river and others where it’s completely blocked. According to Joseph Epstein, “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.” And there’s another crazy fact- 97% of writers don’t finish their novels. Whether you feel overwhelmed with the work that goes into writing a book, don’t have the discipline or lack the self confidence on how it would be received- know that you will always have an excuse to put it off. For that very reason, you should start writing the book that you deeply desire to complete and publish- slowly and one step at a time.
Others did it and in a smooth, mindful way that is equal parts organized and equal parts patient. And as a treat for inspiration to get you started with your writing journey, we’re featuring one of America’s most talented, mindful and holistic writers, Emma Loewe.
I came across Emma Loewe’s The Spirit Alamanc, a brilliant book that’s very relevant to modern lifestyles while pertaining to be an all-time classic. Her book is incredibly well put together and I was curious about the process she went through to structure her content before publishing because that, in my opinion, is the most challenging part in following through with the process of. Here is Emma’s 2 yr journey towards publishing her book, with essential writer tips that I am sure you will value as much as I did.
How did you get into writing?
Both my parents are journalists, so it’s in my blood! I’ve had a knack for it from a young age—mostly because of how I was raised, I’d guess. When it was time to start thinking about a career, I knew I wanted to do something that involved writing.
Where did your journey with natural healing and spirituality begin?
I think I have mindbodygreen to thank for a lot of it. When you’re working in an office filled with people who are passionate about wellness and holistic healing, it’s hard not to embrace it in your own life. My mom is also a yogi, and I grew up in a more spiritual household.
For those not familiar, what is your book, The Spirit Almanac about?
The Spirit Almanac, which I co-wrote alongside my dear friend and former colleague Lindsay Kellner, is a book of self-care rituals informed by seasons. It presents about 40 rituals that correspond to different holidays and milestones in the year—so there’s a ritual for the Autumn Equinox, the first full moon of Spring, Easter, Hanukkah, etc. The point of packaging it this way wasn’t to be prescriptive, but to explore how the outer world can influence our inner work. The book also features the personal rituals of experts we admire in wellness and wellness-adjacent fields. We wanted it to feel like a reference that you could pick up and flip through whenever, and get something new out of every single time.
At any point writing the book, did you feel like you were writing about your life routine and practices?
We wrote the book from a more journalistic perspective, so we didn’t put a ton of ourselves into it per se, but the process of writing it definitely inspired me to practice more ritual in my everyday life. Some that I use the most include journaling, pulling tarot cards, vocal toning, and simple breath-work techniques.
You had the idea to write the book, the content and the co-writer. What was your next step?
The idea from the book came from a monthly series that I was writing on mindbodygreen about rituals pegged various holidays. A publisher reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in using that idea as inspiration for a book (an obvious yes!) and from there I found a literary agent, put together a formal proposal, and started the writing process.
How did you structure it?
The fact that the book is split into four seasons, with about 10 rituals in each season, made it pretty easy to structure. First, Lindsay and I made a list of all the rituals we wanted to include, then split them up by season, and then assigned them each a holiday. We each “owned” two seasons.
I’d work on one ritual at a time, after first doing background research on the history of that ritual, its modern day applications, etc. It was a lot of going to the library to check out books and resources on the various tools that we covered, teaching myself everything I could about them, and then writing about them from a more seasonal perspective from there.
The introduction was the last thing we wrote. Sometimes I find it helpful to work backwards like this, since I usually have a better sense of how I want to tee up something that’s already been written.
How did you illustrate or design it?
We worked with an incredibly talented illustrator named Charlotte Edey, who lives in the UK. We found her work on Instagram and fell in love right away! Together, we decide which rituals best lent themselves to illustrations and sent those in with the book’s manuscript. The publishing house made the rest of the design and typeface decisions, and I think they did a great job!
What was the co-writing process like- how did you divide and conquer?
We each handled two seasons and did a lot of checking in with each other and editing each other’s work to make sure the tone was consistent throughout the book. I found it incredibly helpful—especially since it was my first book—to have someone in my corner throughout the whole process. Whenever I’d stress about the workload (it’s worth noting that we also both had full-time jobs while writing!), Lindsay was there to calm me down and vice versa.
What was your goal in writing the book?
Inspire people to check in with themselves more, and give them the tools to do it.
How did you make your book stand out?
Making the book seasonal was really the defining element for us. It was also a way for me to incorporate my passion for the environment.
The book is definitely relevant and aligns with the self-care and the spirituality movement. Did you know this before writing the book or were you just in luck?
Yes, that was definitely planned! We’re in a period in history where there are so many demands for our attention. Distraction has become so normalized: social media, work emails, texts, Netflix, even books and articles… There is certainly a time and a place for all of these things, but we saw that more and more people (ourselves included) were having trouble setting up boundaries around them. While I think that the term “self-care” has recently been overplayed and over-commodified to the point of losing some of its meaning, the bones of it—tuning in to yourself in a world that’s begging you to look elsewhere—is more important than ever.
How did you submit and find the publisher?
Our literary agent helped us ultimately find the publisher we worked with, Tarcherperigee at Penguin Random House. A tip for aspiring writers: Write every day, and write about things that light you up.
How long did the process take?
From proposal to publication, about 1.5 – 2 years. It sounds like a lot, but the bulk of that time was the publishing house prepping the book for production. The writing process took about 6 months.
A tip for aspiring writers: Write every day, and write about things that light you up.Emma Loewe
Were there any particular struggles/challenges? How did you overcome them?
Yes! I think working on larger projects is always a challenge, since they can feel so big and scary. For me, it’s most important to stay organized, plan ahead, and focus on one step at a time. If you zoom out too much, it’s too easy to get overwhelmed and lose momentum.
My advice to other writers would be to not feel like you have to get it all done at once. Some days, the words will come easy. Others, getting something down on the page will feel like pulling teeth. Trust the process and remember that progress is progress.
Once the book was published and printed, how did you feel?
I love seeing other people interacting with the book and referring to it at various points of the year and the beginning of new seasons. That’s been my favorite part, by far.
Your mantra in life?
Everything happens for a reason.
Emma is a writer and editor living in New York City and the co-author of the best-selling book, The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care. She received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. She is currently the Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and her work has appeared on Bloomberg News, Marie Claire, Bustle, and Forbes.
Head over to this Link To purchase The Spirit Alamanc.