Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Where does a writer find inspiration? What’s the hardest part about writing a book? What do you hope your writing achieves? We asked Valerie Woerner to tell us the story behind The Finishing School.
Tells us a bit about your book—what inspired you to write it?
I was feeling frustrated with my own lack of discipline in so many areas. It wasn’t freeing at all as I like to tell myself. And the thing was, I knew what to do because I’m a serious book nerd and love to learn from them. I just wasn’t practicing anything I had learned. I started figuring out how to practically change my habits and thought it would be fun to design a journal where I could work through changing my habits. This idea morphed into a book but I quickly got overwhelmed with writing that much on one thing. My husband suggested making the chapters individual in nature, each having it’s own area of discipline. Once he said this, I knew I had lots to share and lots to learn myself through the writing process and the writing process came very naturally.
What is the main message of your book?
We have this vision of ourselves becoming refined, looking more like Jesus and living this life to the fullest. These enormous hopes we have for our life get squeezed out as we spend our days on the silliest of things, like binging on Netflix or ice cream. The Finishing School was written to equip women with practical tools and a clear message of how to take back our days and pursue Jesus and the life He desires for us.
What was the hardest part about writing nonfiction?
There is so much responsibility to have the facts straight. I’d never want to lead anyone astray, especially as I share so many truths I’ve learned from the Bible. Mistakes in fiction can be chalked up to creative license, but nonfiction feels a bit more rigid. However, I’m definitely more comfortable with nonfiction. If you asked me to write a fiction book, it’d probably be 30 pages long. I studied journalism and learned the art of brevity instead of description. 🙂
What is one thing you learned while writing The Finishing School?
Oh wow. I was immersed in the writing process for 7 weeks and then read the book at least 5 times during the editing process. I’ve learned that talking about, learning about or desiring change isn’t going to change me. I’ve squandered so many days.
Do you have any advice for those interested in writing nonfiction?
This might not work for everyone but the short process had me immersed in the book morning and night. I think if I had written a little here and there, I would have had to warm up my “muscles” before each writing session. I never left the book very long so I was able to pick up pretty quickly without having to find a new groove.