Writing a Memoir and Creating a Book Cover during Covid-19

I still haven’t **quite** finished writing the complete first draft of my memoir, Growing Up Crazy. But I have written something in my memoir every day, without missing a single day, for a little over a year and a half. For me, with my dismal track record, this is quite an accomplishment. Especially considering that on some of those days, writing was just about the last thing I wanted to do.

Here are some examples of what I mean: I wrote several paragraphs in my memoir on the day I was scheduled to have surgery under general anesthesia, less than two weeks after my doctor had looked at the growths on my face and neck and said: “Yes, that’s cancer.” I, too, believed the growths were cancer, because back when I was a nurse, I took care of several patients with skin lesions that looked a lot like mine, lesions that were diagnosed as skin cancer. But yaay, according to the pathology report, the surgeon and I were both wrong. Even with the swollen lymph glands in my neck and groin area, I did not have cancer!

I also wrote on the two days during the past year when my husband had two different surgeries, and I wrote something each day during the week and a half when my husband and I had the flu. I wrote every day during the holidays, and I wrote when I flew from New Mexico to Connecticut to attend my granddaughter’s wedding, even though I HATE to fly.

Since the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic began, which seems like a lifetime ago, I have continued to write every day without fail, even on the days when two of my dearest loved ones had emergency surgeries, both due to probable cancer that also turned out NOT to be cancer, yaay! Then I wrote on the very scary, worry-filled days after my granddaughter and her husband tested positive for covid-19. (They are fine now, Praise the Lord! My granddaughter is busy catching up on her doctoral studies, and her husband is still working online for Harvard University, where they met as graduate students.)

Even on my most stressful days, in the nineteen months since I began writing this draft of my memoir, I haven’t missed a single day of meeting my daily writing goal. How am I doing it, you may ask? By putting into practice the principles contained in a brilliant book, Mini Habits by Stephen Guise. I have read dozens of self-help books about how to stop procrastinating and beat writer’s block. But Mini Habits is by far the best self-help book of them all, because — unlike the others — it works!

Thanks to my mini habit of writing every day, come what may, I have no doubt that soon — Lord willing — the first draft of my memoir will be finished and ready for editing. And then, YAHOO, it will finally become: A Real Book!

Most days, I write at least a couple of hundred words in my memoir. When I’m on a roll, I write a thousand or more words. But even on my most difficult days, when I don’t feel like writing anything at all, I still force myself to write a bare minimum of 25 words, because that is the minimum goal I set for myself after reading Mini Habits. Thanks to the author Stephen Guise, after 45 years of trying and failing to write this memoir, I am convinced that the key to getting the job done, is simply this: Never let a day go by without writing at least my minimum number of words.

Writing 25 words in a day is easy-peasy. I can write 25 words in less than two minutes, while I’m half asleep, fighting a headache, feeling totally stressed, and with one hand tied behind my back. Even if my grammar and syntax are really bad on those days, it doesn’t matter, especially while I’m writing my first draft. That’s what editing is for, after all — to smooth out all the rough spots.

Here is another very important thing I also learned the hard way: editing needs to wait until AFTER the messy first draft is completely finished. I used to try to edit while I was writing my first draft, but all it did was bog me down and hamper my creative flow. The most important thing, during the first draft, is to keep your momentum going. The key is progress, not perfection, and the key to progress is persistence. Not talent, not genius, and not even the greatest of writing skills. Daily Persistence is The Key to Achieving My Goal.

I recently had a really rough day on which I was only able to write 36 words. Here are those three dozen words, exactly as I wrote them:

I lose consciousness again. When I awaken some time later, I open my eyes and see that the nun is still there. And that’s when it happens. The scariest thing that has happened to me yet.

*****

I stopped writing at this point, not because I wanted to leave the reader hanging off a cliff, but because — even after 53 years — this particular event in my life is still very difficult to think about, let alone write about. But even so, I was able to pick up where I left off the very next day. I have written at least a thousand words since then, and moved well beyond this particular traumatic memory. Here’s a bonus: praying, and then writing about this painful event, gave me new insight and healing!

It helps, when I’m writing about my traumas, to remember that my story has a very happy ending. However, before I can write the happy parts, I have to write my way through some really hard things. Right now, with the pandemic craziness going on, writing about my trauma history feels even more challenging.

But, despite all the changes and uncertainties that are happening today, I am happy to report that the first draft of my memoir is nearing the end. And I’m Happy Dancing!

It also helps to do something relaxing every day. First on my list of daily stress relievers is prayer and Bible reading. Second is some kind of physical exercise: planking, riding my stationary bike, running in the yard with our two rescue dogs, or lifting weights. One of my daily mini habit goals is to do at least one plank or one minute of cardiovascular exercise, which often turns into a full workout. (Again, see Stephen Guise’s bestselling book, Mini Habits, for a full explanation on how this works.)

Another thing that helps me unwind is playing around with computer graphic design. I have enjoyed endless hours of creative fun, designing book covers for my memoir. Here are a few of my cover designs, starting with some of my older attempts. (All images in this post are subject to Copyright © 2020 by Linda Lee @LadyQuixote. All rights reserved.)

8-Crazy-Lee-Quixote-1-front-550s

6-b4+1-GUC-Linda-Lee-1-front-550s

4-b2-GUC-LindaLee-1-front-550s

#1_GUC_LindaLee_1_front_550s

This last design is my favorite… I think. Being a bit of an OCD perfectionist, it is still subject to change. (In fact, three days after I posted this blog, I made one small change to the following cover — I italicized The Oprah Winfrey Show, because proper grammar dictates that names of television shows are always to be written in italics. Duh, I don’t know how I overlooked that!):

#1a_Growing_Linda_Lee_1_front_750

Here is the back cover — (which I have updated six times since I first posted this blog):

#1a_Growing_Linda_Lee_2_back_750

And this is what the full cover will look like, when laid out flat:

#1a_Growing_Linda_Lee_0_1024

SO, now you know what I’ve been doing for the past year and a half, and even more so since the pandemic shutdown began. This is why I haven’t been blogging or commenting on other people’s blogs as much as I used to do. Writing a book is very labor intensive. Even on the days when I only write a minimum number of words, I am still thinking about what comes next in my story. Some days, just thinking about it takes up most of my energy.

I probably couldn’t even write my story at all, if it weren’t for the couple of years of compassionate Christian talk therapy that I was blessed to have, plus the Neurofeedback treatments I was given in 2017, to treat my PTSD. For this, I am grateful beyond words.

Thank you for stopping by, I really do appreciate it very much. Comments, suggestions, and constructive criticisms are always welcome. God bless you! Stay Safe and Stay Sane! Take it from someone who knows: going crazy isn’t a trip you ever want to take. ❤❤❤

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Copyright © 2020 by Linda Lee @LadyQuixote. All rights reserved.

July 23, 2020 update — since writing this post, I’ve come up with even more designs for my book cover. Here’s one of my new favorites:

#-GUC-Linda-Lee-1-front-750

#-GUC-Linda-Lee-2-back-750

#-GUC-Linda-Lee-0-full-750

I don’t even know which cover is my #1 favorite anymore!  😀

32 thoughts on “Writing a Memoir and Creating a Book Cover during Covid-19

  1. atimetoshare.me May 5, 2020 / 6:57 am

    I remember when we first met through blogging and spoke of your memoir. I can’t wait to read the finished product. I too believe that writing every day is cathartic and therapeutic. Even if the words make no sense, at least they’re making it to a page. When you do the second draft, you’ll have the vision to change – embellish – edit or whatever. I’m still working on my novel. I think I’m finished, but self-publishing is so expensive for an old broad like me. I’m not confident enough to submit it to a real publisher. The two of us need a good swift kick in the butt, however it seems you are well on your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee May 5, 2020 / 9:58 am

      I’m looking forward to reading your novel, Kathy. Hey, if you kick my rear and I kick yours, I wonder if that will work? 😀

      I’ve tried many times to find your memoir, Stages, on Amazon or anywhere online, but it appears to be out of print. I have a long standing search for it on eBay, in case somebody sells a used copy. But I would rather buy it new. Do you have a copy I can buy?

      Liked by 1 person

      • atimetoshare.me May 5, 2020 / 10:27 am

        Thanks I can definitely use a kick. My book is out of print. I only have a couple copies on hand which I’m saving for family. I’m sure a used one will come up.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue Cass May 5, 2020 / 10:39 am

    Not that it matters, but I am so proud of you! I know how difficult it is in going back into the “mud” of our lives. “The Narrow Road” was a very difficult book for me to write for that very reason I almost threw it out. Thinking about our past is one thing, putting it into words on paper is quite another and it is definitely a healing exercise whether it gets out to the public or lies on a shelf where we can go back and reread, ingest, and gain more insight. I’m excited for you, Linda, for not only your persistence in writing but for the healing and insight the Lord is bringing forth through it. I am thrilled it is near completion, except the dreaded editing, and can’t wait to read it. I really like your cover, front and back. I’m glad you left the picture of you and your dog. It gives a “human/real person” credibility to it. God bless you and keep on keeping on.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sleeping Tiger May 5, 2020 / 8:12 pm

    This is so exciting! I’m so proud of you. Your determination to finally do this is inspiring. I love all the covers. But I think my favorite is the same as yours.

    Happy and relieved to hear all the cancer scares were benign. Hugs friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sleeping Tiger May 5, 2020 / 8:22 pm

    I also meant to say thanks for the book recommendation. I think I might get the kindle version. I could use some help with procrastination. And I see he’s got some chapters about different parts of the brain, which is interesting to me. I really like the idea of committing to at least a certain number of words every day no matter what. 25 words would be like nothing. Lol. But it might just get me to pick up the proverbial pen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee May 5, 2020 / 9:20 pm

      The kindle version is what I bought, too. The author said that one of his early mini habit goals was to write at least 50 words every day. When I read that, I thought “50 words are too many, especially when I’m writing the really hard stuff. I think I can do 25 words, though.” And so I have!

      Stephen Guise has published a follow-up book to Mini Habits, entitled Elastic Habits. I purchased the Kindle version of that book also, some time last year when it was on sale. But I haven’t read it yet, because the Mini Habits way is working so well for me, I don’t want to mess up a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. bluebird of bitterness May 6, 2020 / 8:08 am

    I wanted to “like” this, but the like button won’t work for me. I’m having this problem on a lot of WP sites — I can comment but I can’t “like.” Sigh…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee May 6, 2020 / 9:23 am

      Oh my goodness… I guess WP is a little overwhelmed right now with everybody being home and online at the same time. Well, thank you for your comment. You always have a way of making me smile 😃 ❤❤❤

      Liked by 1 person

        • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee May 6, 2020 / 9:32 am

          Hey my friend, I think you will like this — I just checked my spam folder and found a message offering to sell me something. I can’t tell exactly what they are selling, due to the broken English. The final line in the message is pretty clear, though. It says:
          “Please shoot myself an email if fascinated.”
          😀😁😂

          Liked by 1 person

  6. mitchteemley May 6, 2020 / 3:51 pm

    Looking forward to reading your memoir, Linda. I already know you’ve got quite a story!

    Liked by 1 person

        • mitchteemley May 6, 2020 / 4:56 pm

          P.S. Rudy, the young man who asked you if your remembered “the year 87 97,” may not give you a coherent response. He’s autistic and tends to see everything in terms of numbers.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee May 6, 2020 / 8:14 pm

            Thank you for letting me know. My 22 year old grandson is autistic. Unfortunately, my grandson does not have the ability to work a computer, and he only speaks about one partial sentence every few years. But when I look into his eyes, I know he is very intelligent. The light in him is pure love!

            Seeing things in terms of numbers is very cool. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy Ruegg May 7, 2020 / 3:41 pm

    Kudos for the self-discipline, fortitude, and perseverance it took to write your story. No doubt it will minister to many people, Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee May 7, 2020 / 6:32 pm

      Thank you. My memoir isn’t quite finished yet, and I still have a lot of editing to do. But it’s getting there, close enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

      Like

  8. Paul Martin May 8, 2020 / 5:20 pm

    I would DEFINITELY like a copy when you get it in print someday! Love to hear the testimonies of how God gets people through things… The good AND the bad!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee May 8, 2020 / 9:41 pm

      Thank you, Paul. I will definitely let you know when, Lord willing, my book is published. With everything that’s going on in the world, only God knows what will be tomorrow — or five minutes from now!

      Like

  9. Beverley August 3, 2020 / 10:15 am

    I enjoyed reading this post, Linda. You have a powerful testimony. To God be the glory. I like your commitment to write at least 25 words per day. I need to follow your footsteps. I love the second cover. The scenery depicts a sense of surviving hardship. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Beverley August 5, 2020 / 9:38 am

        Thank you also for your kind words. I pray that the book will be a blessing to you.

        Liked by 1 person

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