Ten Steps to Opening a B&B or Writing a Book
I am currently at the editing stage of my second manuscript. If I am honest with you, I have been at this stage for the past two years—I seem to have a mental block on this phase of my writing which has been causing me untold frustration. The problem is that I like this story, I have poured a lot of feeling into it, and the idea of picking it apart makes me antsy. Now I am very well aware that it is a necessary stage to improve my work but I just could not remove my reluctance to start—until I came up with the following comparison.
I was sitting watching a programme about renovating properties and turning them into bed and breakfast accommodation, when I realised that this is synonymous with the processes of writing a book. Stay with me—I promise that it will make sense soon. As I see it, both involve a basic ten step method that will set them up for success.
1. The Idea
You have bought a beautiful old house in the countryside. It is in a popular area and other properties in the same region have been very commercially viable as bed and breakfast accommodation. The bones of the property are sound but the main bedroom needs work. You have so many ideas about how you want to proceed and make it the best establishment in the area, that you begin to run away with yourself. You fill notebooks with potential ideas which are often contradictory.
2. The Plot
This is the budgeting phase. You have got a bit carried away with the initial idea and now need to decide what is viable and what needs to be included. You cross through any insane ideas and make a plan around the ones that that will tie in with your concept.
You need to do the ground work to ensure that your project will be correct. Are the electrics safe? Which colour wallpaper would best suit your vision? Is your design a carbon copy of another B&B or is it fresh and unique to you?
4. First Draft
You have your budget in place, you have chosen your colour scheme and now you need to prepare the rooms. This stage involves long days staring at walls and wondering why you ever thought that this was a good idea, interspersed with drinking large amounts of coffee to keep you going. You have scraped down old wallpaper, sugar soaped the ceiling, and sanded down the skirting boards. Finally you have something that you can work with. It may not be pretty but it is a start.
Now your rooms begin to take shape. By applying the fresh paint and wallpaper your vision is within reach, the rooms that you have taken the time to prepare have given you a good start and now you are able to polish and mould them into something that you would not be ashamed to let people see. Once the carpet is down you decide to take a short break, move away for a while, and have some well-earned respite. This may involve a glass of wine to toast your progress so far.
You are not quite done yet. The place looks so much better than it did, but it still needs those finishing touches to move it from agreeable to memorable. You need to add enhancements that will charm your public and encourage them to recommend you to a friend—the perfect curtains, a painting or two, and maybe a squashy sofa that they can sink into at the end of the day. This can be done as many times as you like, just be careful not to overdo it—you don’t want to ruin all of your hard work by making it look cluttered.
7. Critique and Feedback
You are finally happy with what you have done and think that you can do no more to improve it. Now you need to give it a dry run on some people whose opinions you trust and who will be honest in their reviews. This is a scary place to be—you spend their entire stay nervous and hoping that they will love the place as much as you do. When they finally come to give their feedback you are feeling a little defensive of your lovely project, even before they start to speak, but know that hearing their critique is essential to you moving forward. They really like it, but—of course there is a ‘but,’ there’s always a ‘but’—the light came through the curtains and woke them up early, perhaps you should think about changing them.
You grit your teeth and thank them for their feedback and then take a while to sulk a bit. You really like those curtains and spent ages finding the correct ones for the room, it feels like a personal attack that they cannot overlook something as minor as a bit of sunlight in order to see your vision.
Having spent the night sleeping there yourself, you decide that your independent reviewer may have made a good point. They weren’t being captious for the sake of it—the early morning sunlight is a tiny bit annoying and the curtains do need to be changed. You realise that this doesn’t alter the integrity of your room or your dream; it just makes for a more relaxing stay.
The curtains have been changed, the duvet fluffed, and the rooms look gorgeous. Now you come to the really intimidating stage where you allow a total stranger access to your room. After all, you cannot hope to run a successful B&B if you won’t allow your work to be seen. Just remember that every client will have different tastes and just because it may not suit one does not mean that it will not captivate others.
Looking back at these stages I realise that having finished my first draft I am still only on phase four. My room is devoid of wallpaper with bare skirting and carpet-free floor boards; it is now ready for me to decorate it. If I really care about my manuscript as much as I think that I do, why would I be satisfied leaving it in that state when a bit more hard work will make it into something that I can be really proud of?
Now, where is my red pen?
© 2020 Zoe Davies
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Having always been an avid reader, Zoe now writes fiction and poetry to relax and escape into her own reality for a while.