I'll tell you how I go about writing the Dan books and the process I use. It may help you or give you an idea of what you'd like to do for your own stories.
I knew that Dan had so many stories that it would take forever to put them all into one book. I also didn't know if the book would be well received and of course there is always self doubt and I wasn't sure I could even write them well enough that people would want to read them. That's why I decided to do book one based on the first year of his life. It gave me the basics for a book to start out with (a beginning, middle and end). With that structure I was able to start thinking about how I wanted to organize the chapters.
I went back to the very beginning when we first published Dan's social media. I read over all of the posts for the first couple of months and spent a lot of time reliving some intense memories. Dan hadn't been gone long when I started writing so I had many emotions to work through first before I could get started. The beginning of the first book was the hardest to write because I was working from memories alone. I asked about his life before he came to us and did what research I could to put that part of the story together.
I decided I'd start with an outline. To do the outline I copied all of Dan's social media posts into a word document and included some pictures as well. I still felt like I needed more structure so I organized them into chapters of one month at a time. That's not how the chapters ended up once the story was written but it gave me the outline I needed to start. With the outline in that format I also decided to write the books from the first person perspective. That's how we always made the posts and it just felt like the right way to do it.
The moment I sat down and started typing away at the first draft it felt like Dan was on my shoulder whispering stories in my ear. I'd read through the posts that made up my outline and pick the best stories and start writing. It's amazing how many memories came back to me which allowed me to fill in so many details. Once I got started it was very difficult to stop.
When I got to the end of the story and started editing I began to have doubts if I'd written it well enough. While writing is a passion it had literally been decades since I'd done so. I knew I was rusty. I knew my grammar, which had never been my strong suit, was off. I knew I badly needed a professional editor but I also knew I couldn't afford the thousands it would take to get it done. My downfall as a writer when I was younger was giving up during the editing process. I knew I couldn't do that here and every day I waited it felt like Dan was nagging the living daylights out of me to just publish the darn thing.
So I did. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. The feedback from those who read it was more than enough to inspire me to want to write the rest of his story. I've written each book using the same format. I believe I've become a stronger writer with each book as well and now I even have a professional editor working with me so things will be even better going forward! That professional editor is also on board to work at Blankets Mountain Publishing.
1. Establish the timeline. For me using one year per book, January through December, works great for Dan's stories but each author and story are different.
2. Write an outline. For me using the daily posts works great. We had no idea at all that those posts would in time become the outline for the story of Dan's life. You also want to decide what point of view you're going to use to tell the story. Is the story coming from you as the caregiver or from the pets point of view?
3. Write the first draft. Don't worry about skipping things or putting in too much; just write.
4. Edit. Edit your first draft, edit your second draft and then try to find someone who can edit for you again. Using a professional editor is a great idea. There's as much that goes into editing as writing the first draft but don't let yourself get lost here. As the author you'll likely never feel like it's good enough. Don't worry about that. If you've done your best just know that it is.
5. The technical stuff. I wasn't prepared for all of the crazy technical stuff that comes with trying to publish a book. Formatting, font size, pictures and pixel size, cover art, back page content.... AGHH if you haven't dealt with it before it can drive you crazy and be overwhelming very quickly. Some of this took me days to figure out. I know I spent dozens of hours and many days off on this stuff alone.
6. Promote. Do what you can to get the word out there that your book is coming and get people interested. Depending on what you want to do with your book this is important stuff too. Sites like Amazon put a heavy emphasis on sales rankings and customer reviews in deciding what books to take the time to promote.
Sorry for being so long winded but I hope this helps get you started. I am always willing to jump in and help with each step of the process but remember it's your story and so it should come from you and your "author's voice". Nobody can write your story with the same passion as you.