November 8, 2021
While writing the adult handbook, “The Little Book of Life Skills,” Erin Zammett Ruddy thought long and hard about what kind of helpful hacks she wanted her children to know. She gathered expert advice and insights from friends and family for her book, which offers tips, tricks, and hacks for everyday tasks.
Ruddy, a long-term cancer survivor and mother of three, is a contributing editor at PARENTS and former lifestyle editor for Glamour. She talked to The Click about details about the book and what she’s learned along the way.
The Click: How long did it take you to write “The Little Book of Life Skills”?
Ruddy: They [Grand Central] wanted to publish the book in September 2020, and so I had a little more than six months to write the entire book. Each of the [skills] required finding the right expert. [I did] a lot of research, reaching out to people. I spoke to Bobby Flay for 45 minutes about burgers, and it was amazing.
The Click: How did you come up with all of the skills for the book?
Ruddy: It was a lot of crowdsourcing which I love to do. I had some friends over, and we kind of talked about what [we] want to know more about. What do you want to know about a better way to do something? What trips you up the most in your day? Morning routines were a big part of it. We wound up putting a ton of mental health stuff in here.
The Click: You decided to cut travel tips from the book before the start of the pandemic?
Ruddy: It was too much. We talked about potential spin-offs like there could be a “Little Book of Life Skills: Travel” or a “Little Book of Life Skills: Entertaining.” So, we cut travel. I do have a whole section on guesting and hosting, which did not get a lot of love during the pandemic. How to have a cocktail party, how to pick out a hostess gift, how to send a thank-you note, stuff like that. It’s just broken down to the very basic steps that you need, and it’s full of little reminders, little mantras, little ways to think of things and come at them a little differently and make things easier for you. It’s ultimately about how to be happy. It’s not how to do these things so you have more time to work harder or so you can post about it on Instagram; it’s how to do these things well so you can have less stress and feel a sense of pride.
The Click: Now that you’re finished and your book is published, do you look back like, “Wow, I did that?”
Ruddy: Launching during the pandemic was really hard, really challenging. I’m a people person; I like to be out in the world. I had all of these grand plans to do all of these events across the country, and I had to basically launch my book on Instagram. It’s being published in 10 different countries. I already have the Italian version, the Spanish version, and the German version, so that’s cool. Yes, I wrote a book. I look back, and I’m like “Ugh, I didn’t bake bread, I didn’t clean out my closets, I wasted all this time during the pandemic,” and then I’m like, “I wrote a book!”