6 Things That Helped Me Write a Book

Carly SpinaBlog, Connect Better, Engage Better, Lead Better, Reflect Better, Teacherpreneur Better


It still feels strange to me to say that I wrote a book, but woah…my book is out there! As a “newbie” author, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the whole process. It was cool, scary, new, thrilling, and hard—all rolled into one! Sometimes, friends ask me about the process, how it all started, and any words of wisdom for anyone who desires to publish a book. While I’m in no place to advise anyone, I can definitely share what I’ve learned along the way!

I always seek out inspiration from others around me. I recognize that it comes in many forms from many different places and spaces. Just the other day, I shared a tech tool that I could use in language instruction that I learned from an Instagram fashion blogger! I love being able to use my social media feed in different ways.

Over the past few years, I started to become more and more aware of the power of social media platforms, blogging, and podcasting. Initially, I was really cautious about sharing anything that I was doing in my classroom. I feared being judged. I worried if I was doing things wrong, and I was nervous about being told about all the flaws I have as a teacher. So I let my fears and anxieties silence me. 

As an educator serving multilingual learners, families, and communities, I recognize the power—including the problems and opportunities—of narratives.

I found myself fighting the same mindsets, the same deficit-thinking, and the same problematic biases that would sprout up repeatedly about the populations that I served. So I knew I needed to start fighting narratives in a different way. I needed to tell our story of our magical learning space, our rich conversations, the incredible learning we were doing, and the unbelievable support we always had from our families.

Over time, I started to post a photo or two, or a sentence or two about the things we were doing. What I realized was that it was amazing how each post or story sometimes began a cool dialogue in the comments. Sometimes someone offered a consideration that I hadn’t thought of. Other times, someone shared a suggestion of how to improve what I did. Sometimes, folks just cheered my students and me on. I realized that sharing was going to make me a better teacher at the same time that it was combatting narratives. 

I said, “I want to write a book.” She said, “Then write a book!” Next, I stared at her for a minute and then I said, “Oh! Okay!” A decision was made. I had to get to work! Click To Tweet

After attending the Teach Better Conference 2019, my heart was pounding. I had heard so many amazing speakers and met so many incredible people. The overwhelming message was to go for whatever was on your heart as you served your kids. I remember sitting in my office debriefing with my friend and colleague, Jeanette. I said, “I want to write a book.” She said, “Then write a book!” Next, I stared at her for a minute and then I said, “Oh! Okay!” A decision was made. I had to get to work! 

Here are six things that really helped me along the way. 

Things that helped me write a book #1 – Reading a lot of different styles of professional books

Almost always, I have a stack of professional books on my desk and on my shelves. I read research books, inspirational books, theory books, etc. Also, I do the same with blogs and articles. I notice the styles of each type of book or article. It helped me decide where I wanted to put my focus.

I always share the example of when I was pregnant with my son: my mom handed me two books. One was called What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and the other was called The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy. One book made me feel overwhelmed and like I couldn’t possibly do anything well. The other book made me feel like I had a friend who was telling me like it is over a coffee. There was a message of encouragement each step of the way. For me, I wanted my reader to feel that it was like having a conversation with a teammate! 

Things that helped me write a book #2 – Start writing

My suggestion would be to start writing even before you have a publisher or a book contract. Draft out your table of contents, and start pouring into the chapters that have you most excited. Pull quotes, experiences, and stories and put those on sticky notes and mark them for where they might fit. You may have to move them around a few times! Get as much “out” as you can. You will edit, cut, and move a bunch later. It can be very therapeutic to see your words on paper. It will help you see that you are “doing it!” 

Things that helped me write a book #3 – Blogging

Blogging really helped me by allowing me to explore all the big and little things that I wanted to say. It helped me to shape my message and also helped me to develop as a writer. I occasionally would look at things like the number of shares and comments, because it gave me an idea of what resonated with folks. Sometimes, it’s hard to put yourself out there, but if you have an idea, tool, resource, or experience that could help another educator, then this may be a risk worth taking!

Things that helped me write a book #4 – Finding a publisher

As you read, find out which books match your style. Connect on social media with the publisher and start doing some research. Do they have a space on their website that has advice or steps for an aspiring author? See if you can set up a meeting to ask them questions. 

Things that helped me write a book #5 – Celebrating my nos

If you are an educator, you’ve likely taught several direct or indirect lessons to your students about never giving up. It’s time to take your own advice here! You will be told “no” on your journey. While it may be hard to hear, you have to celebrate each “no” along the way. I decided to make myself a “no” card each time I received a “no.” I made sure to show my own children when I got a rejection. Sometimes, I allowed myself some time to be down but ultimately I knew I wanted to keep trying. Your words, stories, experiences, and expertise are STILL VALUABLE no matter how many times you hear the word “no.” Their decision does not impact your worth.

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Things that helped me write a book #6 – Connecting with others and asking for help

I cannot tell you the number of times I threw up my hands and said, “I don’t know what I’m doing!” I’m thankful to folks who have helped to guide me along the way. I had an amazing group of friends who were also authors who gave me peer feedback on my book. Regularly, I asked for advice on things like editing and marketing. I leaned on my family and friends for support when I battled imposter syndrome. I even leaned on my new teammates when I was celebrating the book launch and I realized that I didn’t even know how to sign my book. There’s still so much I’m learning and I’m incredibly thankful to have people who graciously show me how it’s done!

It seems almost silly for me to write out advice on how to write a book because I am no expert.

I’m thankful to the EduMatch Publishing Team for giving me the chance to tell my story and share my message. And I’m thankful for folks who were so willing to share their words of wisdom with me. I am thankful for friends and family who kept me going through the process. I’m thankful for all the great folks I’ve met in-person and online who were willing to celebrate with me! 

I cannot wait to read your work. Keep going, friend! You’ve got this!

See the full blog series here!

About Carly Spina

Carly Spina has 15 years of experience in Multilingual Education, including her service as an EL teacher, a third-grade bilingual classroom teacher, and a district-wide Multilingual Instructional Coach. She is currently a multilingual education specialist at the Illinois Resource Center, providing professional learning opportunities and technical assistance support to educators and leaders across the state and beyond. Spina enjoys connecting with other educators and leaders across the country and beyond and is an active member of the multilingual education professional learning community. Her first book, Moving Beyond for Multilingual Learners, was published in November 2021 by EduMatch Publishing and is available on Amazon.