Do I Release a Book on Creating a Private Practice?
I’ve written two books (Grief is a Mess and Making it Through Chemotherapy) and illustrated far more.
And yet, I’m still scared of publishing another.
In 2021, I started writing a book for creative therapists who want to start a private practice. It is now over 90 mini chapters (roughly 2-3 pages long).
When I graduated and decided to immediately go into private practice, I couldn’t find a SINGLE book about starting an art therapy private practice. I found an anthology of essays from different authors about art therapy in private practice. I found one about doing independent contractor work as an art therapist. But NOTHING on what the journey was like for an art therapist creating a private practice.
I craved the voice of someone sharing the process from beginning to end (if an “end” even exists in private practice). I wanted to hear the ups and downs. I wanted to hear the relatable humanity. I wanted to hear what they tried. What worked. What didn’t. I wanted to hear the feelings and thoughts they experienced. I wanted to hear the moments they were crushed and the moments they were so proud of themselves. I wanted to be inspired and challenged.
Since nothing of the sort existed, I decided to write it myself. I started when I was less than a year into private practice. I wanted the experience to be fresh.
As I wrote more and more, the enormity of the project also began to hit me - how could I possibly include everything? And what if there were essential parts to include that just bored me to write about?
Pretty soon, I had a list of fears that I wrote out:
Will the book be useful to other people?
Will my style of writing (part facts/part personal experiences) make sense?
Will I unintentionally make a legal or ethical faux-paus?
Will I piss fellow therapists off? Will I make a bad name for myself?
What will my past, current, or future clients think?
How do I enjoy the process of creation instead of just focusing on the product?
How do I ensure that I’m uplifting the field instead of hurling criticism?
Am I being naive of my privilege and biases?
In what ways will I be criticized that maybe I can foresee and prevent?
What will the people in my personal life think?
How do I accurately tell my story without harming others?
What if I don’t continue a private practice?
Do I really want my story out there? Do I want to forfeit the right to share when, what, and with whom?
Should I use a traditional publisher so I have less liability?
This list of concerns are just different forms of the same fears I’ve faced as I’ve created my ideal private practice:
What will other professionals in my field think of me?
Will I unintentionally harm someone?
Can I anticipate problems and put in safeguards now?
I’m no stranger to fear. So I decided to tend to the fear and keep writing. I knew that the potential good of what I was offering outweighed the potential harm (to myself, others, and the profession).
As I reached 50+ chapters, the fear continued to gnaw at me.
So I decided to try a different approach.
I began releasing the chapters one at a time on my blog. It was my way of testing the waters, and not letting my words stagnate as I tried to decide whether to publish a book or not.
I’ve now released over 50 essays on private practice and life as a therapist.
I’ve shared essays on everything from marketing to setting fees to navigating fear to harmful cultural norms in the field.
As I’ve been doing this, I’ve also been inspired to keep writing more. I currently have another 40 written chapters, quietly waiting for their turn to be published on my blog.
As I near the end of my writing on starting a private practice, I find myself back where I began.
Do I pull it together into a book?
A new list of concerns have come up:
Is it better to just have the essays available on my blog and people can find them as needed?
How do I decide which essays make it into the book?
Will the format of a bunch of essays make sense?
Will I need to write new essays to pull some of it together?
Will there be gaps?
How do I find a sufficient editor?
Is it time to hire a graphic designer instead of doing it myself?
Will the book as a whole be good enough?
How do I make it visually appealing?
Do I make the art myself or hire someone?
Can I include my collage art since I won’t be able to give credit to all of the photos in my collages?
Is this endeavor really worth my time?
Is my time better spent continuing to write?
Do I tailor the book to art therapists or have it apply to the broader level of therapists?
Do I really want to do all the necessary “book launch” things?
I’ve released a book before that didn’t sell well (Making it Through Chemotherapy). I know what that is like - do I want to go through that again?
Should I consider approaching a traditional publisher?
If I do this, how can I make it pleasurable and fun?
I share all of this for the same reason I share about life as a therapist and a private practice owner.
I want to be transparent about the realities of writing, creative endeavors, and crafting a book.
It can be easy to look to others and think, “Wow, look at what they’ve done,” without having ANY idea of the thoughts, planning, trial and error, complicated feelings, and more that went into the project.
I have no idea what I will end up doing. I’m still in the messy middle. I understand this is a decision that will largely needed to be guided by my own inner wisdom and intuition, but I am willing and excited to hear outside input.