How writing a book is like cooking pulses

Have you ever cooked pulses? Did you, your family members or other people find them delicious to eat?

If your answer is yes, why are you still scared to write a book?

I made a discovery that I would like to share with you. An uncomplicated way to overcome the fear of writing and publishing a book.


If you are reading this from home, walk to the kitchen and scoop a handful of any pulses (dried Kidney beans, Lentils, Pigeon peas, Cowpeas, Green grams, ChickPeas, or Bambara beans, among many others). Don’t they look attractive? I will reference pulses here for the revelation on cooking and writing books came to me while I was in the kitchen preparing pulses.


The beginning is nothing but attractive

Who can fail to smile whenever they see something appealing? I had a constant smile on my face while I cleaned the pulses, added water and lit a fire to cook them. I started with a high-heat fire which I reduced as they started to boil. I switched off the fire once the pulses were cooked, ready.

Just like the mixed pulses I cooked, my head is constantly filled with grand ideas and topics I want to write about. Often times, I cannot wait to document the ideas, give my readers a chance to read and know how impressive they are.

Like the cooking, my book-writing journey involves getting a blank paper and starting to write down the ideas. Like the cooking fire, my writing speed starts high and reduces over time, until I start to look for excuses to stop or I write the last sentence of the last paragraph of the book. 

Cooked and no longer attractive

I lift the lid off the cooking pot, and what do you see? My pulses lost their original colour and glitter, they are no longer attractive to the eye.

Similarly, the first draft of a book always gets me wondering if I am reading someone else’s copy. The idea in my head is always better than the words I have on paper. 


Our objective is to eat, we cannot throw away the cooked pulses

I have some information on the nutritional value of pulses to my body. In the same way, I know that the main idea in my book will be of value - educate and entertain my readers.

The sad part is that many people out there do just that, they abandon the pulses and pull out a different food item and start cooking all over again. Their hope being that this time around, the food will remain attractive.

Do you know of someone who has more than ten unpublished manuscripts? Yes, each time they read their first draft, they pull a drawer and store the copy. They get a blank paper and start writing on the next attractive idea in their head.

I was determined to eat the pulses, so I needed to make them attractive and tasty. I started by making a list of my common ingredients to include onions, tomatoes, pepper, salt, and food species.

From idea to published book

The same applies to the process I go through in my book-publishing journey. I follow a twelve-draft procedure that helps transform my manuscript into a published book.

  1. Read to verify the presence of the question I set out to answer in writing the book, and at what plot-point I have answered the question.
  2. Am I telling the story I set out to write? Does the journey of my characters make sense, how have they advanced over the course of the book?
  3. I read to establish if I have a story structure in terms of plot-points at 25%, 50%, 75% and the resolution.
  4. Edit for scene structure by checking if each scene contains an objective, goal, conflict, outcome and resolution. 
  5. I edit for tone, grammar, point of view, paragraphs, sentences, phrases and spelling - Number 5 involves seven drafts, shortened here for a faster read. 
  6. Get the manuscript to my professional editor, designer and proofreader.

Finishing touches do matter

Once my pulses were cooked and ready to eat, I needed to set the table before inviting people to come and eat. So is with the book. Before I release it to the world to be found and read, I put in the following perfecting touches:

  • A book cover that is attractive and communicates a quick message on what the content is about.
  • A succinct blurb to get potential readers to open more pages and read the book.
  • Design and layout of the content to make it attractive to the eye and easier to read.
  • The marketing of a book is a whole story of its own, a topic I will return to later. For now, I trust that you will download and read my published books in Amazon and Kobo, and tell your friends to do likewise.

Whenever you get discouraged in the book writing process, read this out loud. “It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly. – C. J. Cherryh

 What is your experience in food preparation, and what stages can you add to my book writing and publishing process outlined above?