The Experience of Writing a Book

How it all started…

I have been writing in my journal for years. I wrote about things I wanted or have learned in my life and how I’ve overcome challenges. I am not a trained writer, but I want to share something important.  

I will not teach you how to write a book, rather show you how a self-help or transformational book comes together from my experience because with the right help and inner motivation; anyone can get their book out there!

Some themes showed up: self—love, letting go, boundaries, self-worth, life purpose, career, etc.

I know the turning point of my life – was when I had my first kid. I wanted to be a role model for a more fulfilling path, which is not the grind of 9-5, and really for me, I was sometimes doing 6 am-11 pm when I was in an intense negotiation.

I don’t know when I finally decided to write my book, but it took a while. But I finally saw the path forward when I joined a program called Get Your Book Done. It was a step-by-step process with group coaching that helped me organize my book and get pen to paper.

My first step was getting a bunch of my ideas down on post-it notes (or 3×5 cards) and seeing what themes came from them.

I wrote in many places over many years. I found I got distracted at times with kids in my home, so pre-pandemic, I took to many coffee shops. And after learning about Human Design, I realized why it’s so helpful. I have an open head center that constantly absorbs inspiration and what better way than getting out with new people’s energy to boost my flow?

The open Head Center lets inspiration flow in and is also a pressure center. The pressure gives you the momentum to figure things out. If you’re stuck, you won’t figure things out by overthinking. When you are under pressure, you stimulate stress. Your cortisol goes up, and your creativity goes down. If you aren’t in the mood to do anything, the best thing to do is play, do something fun, look at something beautiful, or take a bath. Do something that gets you out of your head. Then the epiphanies will naturally show up because the pressure of the mind is gone.

I learned about writing through your Human Design. If you know you have a book in you but aren’t sure about the direction you want to take or what you are on earth to share, you can find it in your chart. One of the keys for me was what I am here to communicate about – and it’s the gate next to the Mercury planet on your chart in red and black. The Mercury energy is about what you need to talk about, how you communicate, your style, your message, and what you need to transmit your message.

Mercury tells you what you need to have in place to feel comfortable before writing, where you have the energy or feel comfortable tapping into your creative flow.

My Mercury gates are gates 10 and 50. I’m here to talk about empowered self-love (10) and personal responsibility (50). I am here to learn how to transcend guilt and unhealthy obligation and do what I need to care for and nurture myself to serve others better. This theme became evident with my health issues last year. And because it’s in my Mercury, I am meant to share my experiences to increase the well-being of others. And I must lean into intuition about what others need to bring them into greater alignment with love.

Do you know what you are here to talk about?

Writing your book for someone is important, so I imagined my ideal reader. It’s something all self-help authors do. You write a book for one person like you are talking directly to them. By the way, you make up a name, but it could be someone you know you are describing.

Here’s whom I wrote to: 

  • Meet Calista, a 43-year-old mom. 
  • She has a small group of friends that she loves and trusts. 
  • She has a supportive husband but is not close to her parents. 
  • She loves the outdoors and loves to hike mountains (alone)
  • She spent years focusing on kids…
  • So busy doing things for others…
  • And found there needed to be more time when things are meaningful.
  • She feels she is at a dead end with how to move forward. She doesn’t know what she wants or what her purpose is and needs someone to offer solutions in a new way. 

When writing a self-help book, you also identify the pain or challenge your reader may face.

I help moms rediscover purpose. But there’s a time when you are too busy tending to the more animal instinct needs of small kids like the youngest is under age 5.

But there becomes a time when your kids aren’t toddlers anymore, and you’re starting to come up for breath, noticing how you feel disconnected from your individual purpose.

You can be aware of it now because you have come up for breath – but you are stuck, not knowing how to do things differently. You wonder, “What am I on the planet to contribute”? You are afraid that life is passing you by, and you are too overwhelmed, cluttered, or afraid to make a change. Fearful that if you love yourself as much as you love others, you will look arrogant and feel guilty about even thinking about your calling.

Then you can share how your book offers help …  solutions for your reader.

To keep myself writing, I took to online writing retreats. A writing retreat is where several people come together, be in a group energy, and write. It sounds a little weird, but it works. And you can go to a formal one or set up your own and get online with some other writers. You can do it with as little as one other person.

Some of my content I blogged to book. So, I wrote blogs (and emails to my community) to test out the engagement and connection of my content.

Earlier in the process, I was told to put all my ideas on 3X5 cards or sticky notes. A little bit later is when you take your cards and move them into a structure.  You can sort them into approximately 12 piles of similar concepts or themes. That’s when I finally saw my vision come into place. They become your chapters.

I read something about writing being something that is not only for people with extra time but how those with the tenacity to write their book — make the time. I had a consulting job the whole time I was writing my book. I was working that job and growing another business, and I am a mom of two.  I had to create a spot to write. So, I started getting up at 4 am to have some quiet time before my kids woke up.

If you’re not an early bird, find what’s right for you. Maybe it’s in the evening or during your lunch hour. Or perhaps you take a few hours on the weekend and get help if you need it to watch the kids. But it is about setting aside time, even if it’s just an hour a week, and staying dedicated and doing something for your book during that time.

I also went on mini-writing retreats, where I went to a VRBO or Airbnb near my home (within a couple of hour drive) and got away to really get into my material without the distraction of daily life…and to get a fresh perspective.

Eventually, the manuscript came together. I had structure and stories. But I had waaaaaaaay too many words, so I had to cut out what was not needed. I realized some concepts were the same that I wrote about in different ways, but both weren’t required. So, I had to learn to pick one to delete and let go. You can always reuse your deleted content elsewhere. Sometimes it’s even a whole new book. 

Once my book words were in a rough draft. I wanted a visual journey along with them. I wanted images included, so I worked with Teja Chakilam, who worked with me on my Human Design and Essential Oils Activation Deck. She has a unique ability to translate words, concepts, and feeling into a black-and-white illustration that holds an essence.

After you have your book in “sloppy copy” format, you have to look at your book from many angles. My sister helped me hack a bunch – so you may need to enlist help from friends or family in the process. Or if not, you can hire someone. There were many other editing angles I had to look at—the structure, flow, enough supporting stories, grammar, etc. This process was all BEFORE submitting to the publisher. So, I had to read my book many times through different lenses. I got sooooo sick of my book, LOL.

After that, I had my peer review. I had two people read the book that was my ideal reader. I got great feedback to improve my book for the end reader. I suggest doing this step, even if it feels like a pain. It gave me valuable feedback from that ‘one’ person I wrote the book for in the first place. It made my book better.

And then I was finally at a place where I could submit the book! I decided to work with sort of an indie publisher, Capucia Publishing. They have created a step-by-step process that feels grounded. It has the same owner as the Get Your Book Done program I participated in, so it was a process and people I trusted.

While my book was being edited for its first round, they had me start working on my cover. I was encouraged to change the name of my book. A name change was hard for me because I was steeped in its concept and had identified with it for so long. But they convinced me that a different way would relate to my audience better. And this book is for you/them and not for me. So, I did it, and now I am glad I did.

Checking out book covers was like online dating. You get offered several covers, and you metaphorically ‘swipe’ away the ones you don’t identify with and keep the ones you do. And even better, then you get to tweak from there. Which is something you don’t get to do when dating. LOL. I thought I was being a pain by the tweaks I made, it took a few rounds to get to something that felt good to me, but apparently, it’s just part of the process.

I also had to work on my back cover copy. It’s tough to condense your whole book, but the Get Your Book Done Program helped me get a good start. My back cover was already sitting in a file on my computer from the program I had participated in in the book’s early stages, and I could grab it for V1. I submitted it, and we made some tweaks, and it’s close to final.

When I got my first edits back, I cringed when I opened the file because I thought it would be like the movies where they completely changed your book, and you would have to rewrite some stuff or start from scratch. It was a lot of red (edits or questions), but it wasn’t that bad, and I got through it quicker than expected. It might have been because of all the editing help I incorporated before the initial submission from the peer review and other edits.

In the meantime, I met with a marketing guide on the publishing team to start thinking about how I will get my book out to the world. I made a folder for media and started filling it up – and creating videos like you see in this blog. My two favorite platforms to share are Pinterest and YouTube.

To be continued…

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