Choose Your Own Misery: a Book Created with Gliffy

By Liza Mock on Sep 30, 2015 in Latest & Greatest

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Do you love coming to work every single day? Do weekends depress you? Would you work even if you weren’t getting paid? If you answered yes, then good for you and please pass whatever you put in your coffee. If, on the other hand there are days when no force in the universe could pull you from your bed, days where sorting through your tupperware collection sounds like a lot more fun than heading to the office, days when you actually wish you had caught that killer flu, then step right up and check out the Choose Your Own Misery, the Office Adventure book.

The Choose Your Own Misery series, written by Jilly Gagnon and Mike MacDonald, is a throwback to the Choose Your Own Adventure books for kids, but this series is all grown up. In The Office Adventure, you’ll find yourself in the shoes of a miserable university grad more than 10 years after graduation. You’ll navigate day after lackluster day of the same old hellish job. Hilarity will ensue.

You may be asking yourself ‘what does this have to do with Gliffy?’ Good question! It just so happens that Choose Your Own Misery was created using Gliffy. That’s right, Jilly and Mike collaborated across thousands of miles using Google docs and Gliffy to create their book. Initially, Jilly and Mike tried laying out the book the old fashioned way with poster boards, sticky notes and string. But Mike was having a hard time getting the sticky notes to stick in Tanzania’s humid climate, while Jilly’s friends were noticing her living space shrinking and starting to ask what crime she was trying to solve. It didn’t take long for the two to realize they needed plan B. Jilly searched online, found Gliffy and they never looked back.

small choose your own misery
With the help of Gliffy and Google docs, Jilly and Mike were able to work together without ever being in the same room, (she lives in Boston, he spent some time in Tanzania and now resides in Canada). Their Gliffy diagram wasn’t super sophisticated, but it didn’t have to be. They used basic flowchart shapes-squares, and arrows and different colors to differentiate between whose ideas were whose. Creating a flowchart helped them organize their thoughts and see the progression of their story. It also helped with the pitch. When it came time to shop Choose Your Own Misery to publishers, Jilly and Mike included their Gliffy flowchart with their sample chapters and were always complemented on their organizational prowess. It didn’t take long for the book to find a home.

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Jilly and Mike have worked as a comedy duo for many years. In addition to working together, they each juggle multiple freelance projects. Jilly graduated from Harvard, then went on to a waitressing gig before landing enough freelance writing work to support herself. “I made my way to comedy writing by wayward paths. E. Jean (of ask E. Jean) was one of my mentors and she encouraged me to keep writing even if I wasn’t making any money.” These days Jilly’s work appears in McSweeney’s, The Huffington Post and Elle to name a few. She also writes YA fiction.

Mike, who said comedy writing was always his strength, started his career when he reached out to The Onion to get material for his dissertation on the political relevance of comedy news. “Once I had their ear, I asked what would I have to do to work for you?” His subsequent 4-year stint at The Onion taught him to not take rejection personally and to always push his comedic limits. In addition to working with Jilly, Mike oscillates between “journalism and other stuff”. He currently works for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

When asked what advice they’d give those interested in pursuing comedy writing, Jilly and Mike had this to say: “Having OCD doesn’t hurt. But most importantly, as with all writing, you have to have a really tough skin. You have to be willing to just keep doing it over and over again until it sticks. You can’t be precious with your ideas. After all, being really bad at something is the first step to being not so bad at it.”

We love hearing about all the different ways our customers use Gliffy. It’s exciting to know that our product can play a small part in helping people bring their ideas to life. If you have a Gliffy story, we would LOVE to hear it!

Shoot me an email: liza@gliffy.com

Get your hands on an early copy of the book!
Check out the Choose Your Own Misery website.