I know so many people who would love to write a memoir or life story, but either don’t feel they can for personal reasons, it might be upsetting, they are not sure of what slice of life, who would read it or where to start.
In how to write a memoir, part one, I’m going to talk about where to start because I think that some of the other questions and thoughts will fall into place once we look at this.
Writing a memoir is quite an experience, I’ve written a few and not published them, but I can tell you after a period of reflection that they will be published. I wrote them for healing reasons, and this is something we’ll address another day.
When you are starting to write your memoir, you need a theme and to consider what the outcome for the reader is.
When I look at my memoirs, what I didn’t realise was that my theme was and is healing. Every book I have written is about healing some aspect of me.
Doh! How could I have not noticed?
Well, that’s not entirely true; I knew that I was writing them for healing reasons, I just didn’t realise how they were all connected. Even the book that I am writing now – Manifesting Magic – is a memoir with a healing theme.
All of my memoirs have a practical element, that is they are self-help books too. The first place to start is:
Ok, four simple but very in-depth questions.
When I started to write Manifesting Magic, I knew that this book would be self-help and memoir, simply because that is my style and these are the kind of books I love.
Go and look at your bookshelf, Kindle or Audible and check out the books that you enjoy. Understand what you love or don’t love.
When I look at my books, what I love is the stories. Not too long, but powerful enough to move me and strongly linked to the what to do bit.
I write to heal and to inspire others to heal or at least know that they can. Fundamentally, despite the title of coach, I am a healer. Writing is my vehicle for healing because words are so incredibly meaningful. Language can weave spells, and stories can transport you to magical places.
This one is always easy for me. I want my reader to know that if it is possible in the world, it is possible for them.
Looking at this with more depth. Again, let’s take Manifesting Magic. I want my readers to believe in magic – their magic – to learn how to manifest (get) the life that they want. But more importantly, to discover who they are on the way to getting what they want.
Often in the pursuit of something we miss the vital ingredients of becoming our best selves.
Oh dear, this age-old question, who are they? Who is my ideal reader who I’d like to become my ideal client?
Typically they are female, 40+, spiritual, heart-led, conscious, creative, intuitive, have been through trauma and want to use the gifts from this to change the world. They have a story that they feel must be told so that they can inspire others.
They want to find the magic in their story and to be able to share this, so it reaches the right hearts.
They typically have the job title – coach, therapist, counsellor, healer, entrepreneur, nutritionist.
Their location is anywhere where we are on a timeline where we can talk if they have 121 coaching. Otherwise anywhere in the world where they speak English.
The industry is usually healing, mental health, spiritual, metaphysical, personal development
Other interests would include things likes loving and respecting nature and animals, oracle cards, reading, creativity, personal development, journaling and writing and cake…
I’d find them in groups where entrepreneurs hang out, soul and spiritual groups, female-only groups.
So looking at this you would get a great idea of who I wanted to read Manifesting Magic or my journaling books. You’d also know who my soul clients are.
However… Given my background in executive coaching, personal branding and marketing, I also get clients who are male and fall into these categories. I’ve also coached young women on a mission.
What is important to me is that despite this, we click, that there is a resonance, we enjoy working together, and the story that they want to tell alongside the how-to bit resonates with my theme of healing. Conflict in leadership teams, for example, is healing.
It’s meaningful to know who your ideal customer is, and you can have more than one.
Grab your journal and explore. This is not a sit down in one session and get it over with. This is something that I would invite you to write and reflect on over a week. To then start to envision your ideal reader coming to you for your memoir and saying what they got from your amazing story.
Here’s a little affirmation for you too…
It’s easy to see why my ideal reader looks for me.
For private coaching I offer the following if you are unsure which you want and need, please connect with me.
You have started a lockdown journal, right?
I did and had no intention of turning it into anything. All I wanted was a space to record what was going on for me, to get it out and to heal.
What has happened instead is that the nakedness of my feelings shows me that a book or in my case a journal is needed.
A few events have had me in tears and in the doldrums. I could feel my jaw tightening as I did a regular body scan and chakra balance.
Anxious thoughts flowed. Not masses but I was aware of my old friend anger and while I am normally easily able to pick myself up, what I found was that I was feeling world pain.
I tripped on a twig, although I like to think it was an assassin, come to tell me to slow it down. It really was quite silly. It caught in my shoe laces and I went down.
Moments later I was crying, but soon my head was filled with people who were in terrible pain and suffering. Then I sobbed. I sobbed for humanity and how impotent I felt. How could I reach all of these people and save them? I had no idea – all I could do was cry while they swam in my mind.
But there is something I can do. I can use this experience to share my tools for getting back to a balanced stated.
And that is what my journal has shown me.
Journals are a great place to dump our stuff, but there are many more uses to a journal than to pour our deepest emotions, thoughts and feelings.
They give us so many more clues.
Right now you are being shown ways that you can support others. As you write what is going on, you will be able to see, just how you can help others.
One of my pieces of advice to anyone who is about to embark on writing a book is to get a journal for the journey. I also advise anyone who is about to embark on a journey of any kind to get a journal and write everything down.
Right now is a monumental journey. Not only for the world, but for you. Your journal will guide you as mine has.
I’ll be honest and tell you that I resisted creating another journal, but it is helping me to heal too.
In fact I am creating a set of small journaling books which are easy to use and consume. Because… Yes you have guessed it I am using my content in a different way to normal.
What you create will do the same for you.
Before we get to the emotion and cathartic stuff let’s look at the lockdown journal.
This is, I think, going to contain your biggest lessons so far and as such will show you the way to not only support yourself, but how you can help others.
I don’t know you or what you do, but look deeply the message is there.
Ask the question of spirit one night, sleep on it. The answer will be there in the morning.
You may like me shake your head and wonder why this subject. Trust.
What are you eating right now? What magical inventive recipes are you creating. I bet others would love these. Budgets might be tight and you may remember some of your grannies recipes. And what about family stories that go with these?
There is loads of scope for this one.
Right now I am seeing lots of people struggling with emotional eating and worrying about what they will look and feel like when this is over.
What advice do you have? How are you coping?
My lovely friend Mel Wakeman – famous for the Anti Diet Solution – has answers and can support you.
But what about you, how can you support others?
Now this is a bit tricky as you can’t travel right now. However, travel restrictions will be lifted. What about a guide to local travel and help to regenerate your local community?
I have a journal full of ideas and plans and these often become blog posts, courses, books and other products. It’s a great idea to keep a separate journal for moments of inspiration because who knows what rewards they will bring.
Just because we are locked down it doesn’t mean that we have to let our imaginations fall to the wayside.
When you look through your journal, there will be themes that jump out at you that you may want to explore. What is leaping out at you?
Before you go any further I have a few questions:-
These questions are designed to help you to uncover the purpose of you turning your journal content into a book.
If you don’t want to turn your journal into a book for others to read, you could type up your entries into a series of books which you keep for you and never sell. In which case you would go as far as step 15 in the list below.
In January 2018, my spine fractured and as I stared at the ceiling in those first few days, my journal became my saviour. Not only did my spine fracture there were other complications. I found myself going from wandering in the hills with my dogs to flat on my back with breathing difficulties.
Two weeks in and I decided I would write a book. My journal not only became my dump space, but it also held my research and thoughts around natural healing. After about a month I started to write the book. At this point, I didn’t know that I could heal myself, but if this makes sense I knew that my body knew how to heal and it would.
As I was writing the book, my journal was invaluable for me to get my facts straight and know the order of events. Without this record, I would have shared faulty memories.
During the process of writing and healing, I decided what the book would focus on and that would be mindset, finding your root cause and creating a natural healing plan.
I however, decided not to publish this book. Instead I created a series of journaling books because the power of journaling was what helped to save my life (along with all of the other things of course).
Plus, which is a biggie for me, I did not want an osteoporosis business.
After writing a another cathartic book called Journey To Self Love, also not published, I knew I had to do something. Instead, I created a passion project – a journaling and colouring book called Colour My Life, A Journey To Self Love.
Understanding your handwriting. You may find it hard to decipher your handwriting in which case you will have to best guess it. What you will find is that the story that you are rewriting will make more sense the second time around.
What to put in or leave out: If you are writing a memoir, treat this as a professional project and not an opportunity to name and shame. There is an art to writing a well-balanced book. I suggest that you write it all out and then edit the superfluous content out. Getting it out is greeaaaatttt!
You may still be in your story. Which is what you will be as we are still in lockdown. If you find that feelings arise around the content. You could work with a counselor, talk it through with a friend or partner, journal about what comes up or leave it for now.
What I would do, is plan and write the book, as I am going through it, as I did with the osteoporosis book. I knew I could reframe the outline later.
Let’s look at the process and hopefully it will inspire you to do the same.
This means reading through your journals and making a list of ideas that come to you. You are looking for recurring themes that resonate with you. Leave them to reflect and start to whittle your ideas down.
Action: Make a list of the ideas and themes that come to you. Do not censor them. When you are ready, pick up to 3 and get clear about why these and then pick the one.
When you look at the content, what questions are you asking yourself?
Action: Write these on post it notes.
As you look at your questions, themes and ideas, what is the story that brings this book idea together? My two themes were healing naturally and a journey to self-love.
Action: Write a short version of your story, just a couple of pages or may be a blog. This will give you an idea of how this could support your book.
There are many different kinds of books you could write. Will this be memoir, self-help or a combination? What about a book of journal entries with journaling prompts for the reader? Will you want to use this book for something else, such as building a business around this idea?
Think about the kinds of books you enjoy reading and consider how your book could be written in this style. There is little point writing a book you wouldn’t want to read.
Action: Start to think about what kind of book and why. Also, check out your favourite books for ideas. Right now what kind of book would be supportive as people come out of this period. Or if you can write quickly (record your words) what is needed right now?
Don’t spend long agonising over this. Get an idea of who this is for. Do the demographics, that’s always pretty easy. Then ask:-
Action: Draw a matchstick person and answer the questions.
You have the questions you are asking yourself, now we want the ones that others are asking.
This is fairly straightforward, grab some post-it notes and brainstorm 20-30 questions they may be asking you. Put them in some kind order and leave them while you grab a cuppa. Map the questions you think they are asking with the questions you were asking in your journal.
Action: Brainstorm questions and lay them out in an order that makes sense. Then go and ask others what they might be asking.
Do a quick map of your journey and consider how you would map this so that it could become a customer journey. You have the questions, and your story so start there. Your journey may well have been all over the place, a book is a more linear medium and you will need to map things out so that it makes sense.
Action: Create a customer journey map.
What else do you need to add in? This might be some evidence to back up your points.
Action: Access the gaps, and work out where they need to go in the customer journey.
The outline is where you make sense of everything so far. You are looking to create flow and a solid structure for your book. At this stage what is helpful is to write under each chapter heading – this book is about.
Action: Brainstorm an outline, put in subheadings and add in this chapter is about (that is you what stage).
A chapter framework gives as you can imagine your chapter a structure. I ask my clients to extend their what is this chapter about to include:-
You may not need a framework, but it is still good to ask the questions.
Action: Design your chapter framework.
Now you are at the writing stage. Write each chapter, leaving the introduction to the end. Keep each chapter separate until you are ready to upload. Do a test write to test your chapter framework and tweak as needed. Make a writing schedule and stick to it. If you are struggling consider blogging your book. You can also record this and get it transcribed.
Action: Write to the first draft.
Grab your editing plan and start the editing process. Make sure it flows, and there are no mistakes (or as few as possible). I use Grammarly and WORD’s built-in tools, as well as printing it out and proofing it. I will read it silently and aloud to check. I have a process for editing, find yours make it work.
Action: Find your editing process, create an editing plan, put the time aside and edit.
This means that it’s laid out in a pleasant and easy to read way. You have chapter headings and subheadings. Your text is consistent and spaced properly. What you will find is that when you upload it to Kindle Direct Publishing you will see if this has been achieved and can change it during the upload stage.
Action: Check your formatting. Print a page of your formatting out to check spacing, look and feel, flow and margins.
Create a cover design specification and get this off to your designer. I use this person on Fiverr who has created these covers for me.
The blurb is the bit on the back of the book and the description on Amazon. If you when you get a proof book you do not have to wait for your designer, use the over design tools on Kindle. It won’t be as gorgeous but it will be fast.
Action: Work with your cover designer to get a beautiful cover. Write your blurb and remember it’s not an essay and has to fit on the back of your book.
Go to your bookshelf create a new print book, follow the prompts on the screen; they are self-explanatory and upload your manuscript. You can assign an Amazon ISBN number for ease.
If you don’t have an account, create one and make sure you enter your tax and bank details first.
You will need to launch the previewer, and this is where you can see if your layout works. I find I have to keep going back and forth until everything is in the right place and believe me; it’s weird how WORD does things.
Action: Upload your book and have patience while you get it right for KDP.
You will see an option to order a proof book. Choose that and wait for the email that tells you how to order and pay. Sit back and wait for your book to arrive. When it comes back, edit it again and go through the process of getting another proof for your beta readers and then your proofreader.
Action: Order your proof book and go through the editing process again.
This is your final eyes. You have what you call your final manuscript and this is the last step. It should take about 2 weeks and make sure you give them a style sheet of names and terms that are unique to this book. Send them both a printed book and your WORD document.
Action: Book your proofreader/beta readers well in advance and make sure you feel comfortable with their work before going ahead. Stay in touch with them and answer all questions.
Go through the final stages of what’s needed on KDP and publish.
Right now I am noticing that print books are getting to me at a much slower rate. I always get a print book first and read that as a book to help with the editing process and then turn it into a Kindle book.
Action: Always make a Kindle book so that it can be downloaded easily and you can run promotions on it.
101 days of being me is 101 daily reflective prompts which will get you thinking, writing and reflecting.
What can you do next? Get Turn Your Journal Into a Book course from The Soul Writers Academy.
Back in 2005, Dr Cliff Arnall came up with a formula for calculating the most depressing day in the year. Blue Monday is supposed to be on the third Monday of January.
So… How do you feel today?
I woke up with a spring in my step and feeling rather good. So no blue Monday for me here.
Maybe we perceive it as a melancholy day because most peoples resolutions are down the pan and motivation might not be going in the right direction.
I hope you are not feeling down and you are looking at blue Monday as a way to get re-connected to your plans and thinking about what you want to create.
I find that writing helps to keep me on track, no matter what. When you write, you make an unconscious connection to your inner wisdom. So ok, sometimes things may feel like they are off key, but with a bit of writing and reflection, you can get back on track. Blue Monday is a perfect day to review how far you have home and if your plans need tweaking.
I know mine do.
When this year started I was full of excitement about what I wanted to create. Everything was set up and ready to roll.
Well, like many illness struck.
I was super naffed off, but heeded the words of my mum and wise coach to practice instead some radical self-care.
And you know what?
I’ve tweaked my plans and I am even more excited. One of my journaling books – Heal Your Heart is coming along very nicely.
Smart marketing aside, what’s not to love about blue. Dark, light, powder, bright, royal, mystical and calming. The colour of the sky or the deepest sea and a colour to lose yourself in. A colour which symbolises:-
Blue to wrap it’s arms around you to create inner peace and outer confidence. Use blue to connect to your throat chakra and learn to speak your truth, communicate and spread your inspirational message.
I’m bringing the energy of blue to my day. For me, blue corresponds is the place where I can voice my message and for a writer it is very important.
When I write I connect to my heart and when I express myself I connect with the throat chakra. Blue strengthens this and brings clarity.
When you think about honesty and integrity you think – true blue.
When something unexplained happens it comes – out of the blue – that feels very magical to me
Blue energy is soothing, calming, and healing. There is something to listening to the stillness within and expressing your inner wisdom.
Imagine yourself looking up on a beautiful day and gazing in to the blue sky. How do you feel? I always feel full of promise and content. It’s a shame that today it is pouring with rain.
Forget blue Monday and create a fabulous week of colour.
Take some time to think about what you want to create and then reading it aloud and get comfortable with it. Put on some music, get in the zone.
If a book is on your mind take a look at Twelve essential rules for getting your book written
Visualise it and frame it in blue. Eat blueberries with ice cream to celebrate.
Orange is one of my happy colours. Today smile at strangers, even if they scowl at you, in fact especially if they frown at you. Do something creative, like pen a short story. Soak some oranges in something yummy and eat them with ice cream and chocolate.
“Some think love can be measured by the amount of butterflies in their tummy. Others think love can be measured in bunches of flowers, or by using the words ‘for ever.’ But love can only truly be measured by actions. It can be a small thing, such as peeling an orange for a person you love because you know they don’t like doing it.” Marian Keyes
What do you have planned for orange Tuesday? Reflect how much happier you feel at the end of orange Tuesday, rather than Blue Monday.
In this Love to Journal, journal, smiling is one of the four key elements.
What a glorious colour. The fire of red and the calm of blue. Put some lavender in a diffuser and enjoy the relaxing, calming smell as you work.
What about kicking off your day by reading this brilliant poem by Jenny Joseph.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.
Don’t forget to go out in your purple hat today. Reflect at the end of the day, how many conversations or strange looks you got in your purple hat.
Get out in Mother Nature and spend some time reveling in the beauty of the day. Think about something you would like to grow and sew the seeds of your idea now. What have you been thinking about birthing? Today is the day to take action. Try this journal if you need some inspiration.
Today is the day to wear your lucky pink pants today. Superpants equals super protection. Feel tickled pink all day and that everything is going your way, even if things go slightly bonkers. Bring your inner child out to play and have some fun. What tickled you pink today?
Your choice for Saturday and Sunday? What do you fancy for the weekend? What activities go with your colours.
Over to you… How was your week? When you started writing on Blue Monday, what came up and then as the week progress and you gained clarity, how did you feel.
You see when you look at Blue Monday through a different lens with a pen and journal by your side, perspectives change.
I’ve talked before about people who pants it when writing a book and those that outline and what the benefits are. So you will know that I love to create a book outline before I write a book. There are too many benefits for me not to do it.
My mum, on the other hand, is a pantser. In fairness, she writes fiction and loves to see the story evolve. I tried that when writing fiction and it didn’t work for me.
I think that the reason I like a book outline is that I can see the ‘story’ or plot of the book come alive.
I am very visual and I like a picture of what is going to unfold. I want to see the journey and I want it to make sense.
Over to you…
Think of a learning style in this context as someone who is either visual, auditory, kinesthetic or in combination with each other. Some people are also big picture and some detail.
I know when I work with clients and I present them with my book outline structure some squeal in delight and others say nooooooo.
The squealers get on with it. They love to dive in and work out, for example, the why, what, how and what if. They love uncovering questions and knowing the key messages.
They also love that once they have done this that they can allow their writing to flow.
Because it’s easy. They have done the hard work, now all that needs to happen is to trust that their muse is with them.
The ‘others’ need gentle coaxing. No document, no obvious structure. Although they love doing the bits, it just has to be in little chunks.
Either way, we get a book outline.
When you try to outline without considering how you like to do things you can sometimes come a cropper. Which basically means none of it will make sense to you. So, find out what works best for you.
When I outline, despite being visual and would like nothing better than lots of post its and coloured pens, I flex my style and follow a process that sees me starting with the scribble and then formalising it. So whole braining it – which we are doing all of the time, it just feels right and left at the time.
This one sounds easy, but often people write a book which is not the right book. Ask the 5 whys. Get clear on this and the outline will flow from it, because it will make sense and marry with your message.
Here we want to discover the essence of the book. What does your reader get from reading this book? I find writing a blurb (the bit on the back) helps me to get clarity.
Think of this like you might have a plot in a fiction book. Create a timeline so that you can clearly see the journey you want them to take. Remember to meet your reader at the start of their journey and think of the outcome you want for them.
Remember that although you want an outcome – they will get whatever they need from this book.
Keep the process short, sweet and simple. You can write other books.
You must always write for one ideal reader so that you make an emotional connection. It makes for a better book.
This is not what do you think they are asking. It’s what are they really asking.
When I look in the osteoporosis forums I see the same questions. You will too when you look in the right places.
Write a big list of questions and put them on your timeline in an order that makes sense.
You have a timeline and questions. Next, brainstorm chapter titles and write a short synopsis in the style of – this chapter is about. This is not about detail, it’s more that you want to explore your first thoughts.
I always keep 3 questions I am answering per chapter in my outline synopsis when I am planning and writing. They keep me on track.
Just as you have the list of potential chapters, you will need a list of which snippets of your story go where. It doesn’t need to be much. Map it to the chapter titles and/or questions.
This is what I call a knowledge audit. But rather go through all of your content, jot down what you think you already have and do a gap analysis.
Once you have mapped these steps out, write up a more detailed synopsis. The most important part is to leave it until you are ready to properly create a book outline.
Ok, I haven’t shared all of book outline secrets, but there’s enough there to get you going. This is designed to get you thinking without going into masses of depth – that comes later…
When you want more:
The reason this works as a brilliant first book outline is that once you get it out, your unconscious mind will start to make connections. This makes your complete book outline process much more powerful.
What you might also want to try is a test write. Pick a chapter and see how it goes. What do you learn about your writing process?
Writing a book is a big undertaking and something that I think people often shy away from because it feels too big. When you look at what is involved, it can seem like it is a big undertaking, however, when you look at each part as a chunk, it does and will start to feel manageable. This blog has been designed for you to assess each part of your book journey so that you can become really clear.
I liken writing a book to a bar of chocolate, although that does depend on how you devour your chocolate. Imagine if you will a large bar of unwrapped chocolate.
As you look at it, you will see it is generally made up of lots of little squares. Each square is an element of writing your book. The key is to take your book a chunk at a time. Just as I have put all of the questions into chunks.
Grab your journal and take a deep dive into your motivation for writing a book. These journaling prompts are not designed for you to tackle in one go. No, you need to chunk these too. Start with each part and explore, remembering to reflect.
My goal is that at the end of this process, you will see that writing a book is achievable and that you can see a way to make this a part of your day to day business.
If you look at these and start to feel faint book in for a book discovery session and we will nail the right book for you and look at how you will get it written.
You will, of course, have noticed that books don’t write themselves, you do need that all-important ingredient called motivation. Motivation starts, I believe with getting your head around the why of your book and getting to the heart of your book.
Success means different things to different people. You may write a book and never publish it, yet it is a success because it has helped you to heal. Success could be that your book has helped to raise your visibility and attract new clients. You may have more speaking engagements. It could be that you want to become a bestseller and sell thousands each week. You have to decide what success means to you and embrace it.
What does success mean to you and how do you define success?
Writing a book starts a long way before you start to plan it. People often tell me that they have had a book inside of them for years. Some tell me that they have written many words but have never felt compelled to publish. When it comes to books, my observation is that sometimes books are written to help us to heal, and these may well have served a purpose, and sometimes books are waiting for the right time to emerge.
When you know why this book, how it aligns with your brand and business and what you want to create in the world, things start to fall into place. Your business is about creating and delivering value, and a book is a vehicle to help you to do that. Get clear on where you want to go and what you want to create first.
A personal brand is all about what you want to be known for and seen as. A brand, in the corporate sense, is the image etched in the mind of the public through the culmination of all communications and experiences with the organization. A personal brand isn’t much different. Every interaction you have with others, what you wear, what you say, what you don’t say, how you react facially or through body language all create an image of you. Everything you do either builds or detracts from your personal brand.
Personal branding is the process by which we understand who we are, what our message for the world is, and how we then ‘market’ ourselves to others. The key to your success is to find your message and calling (aka purpose) and get compensated for it.
Understanding your Personal Brand is the key to planning the direction of your life, business or career and enable you to create a unique position for you in the world. It will help you to focus on how you create value and experiences for your clients while staying true to your values.
You already have a personal brand whether you want one or not – simply by being you, you have a brand. What you do with it is up to you. If it needs bringing into alignment, then you make a choice to do that. Life is always about choices and while it may be tempting to say I don’t care what others think, or they can take me or leave me, the reality is, your personal brand is how others perceive you. Writing a book supports that perception.
You will have many ideas for books; I know that I do. The key is choosing the right idea. This comes back to the earlier question of asking what do you want to create, but also looking at what book is the right book for right now? If you choose your best idea, it will be easier and more enjoyable to write.
Having a book plan is important as it will keep you on track and focused. Yet so many people don’t have one. I like to create a plan which has my book journey set out in stages. I like to reflect often and celebrate when I have completed each stage.
A book outline lends itself very nicely to becoming a product blueprint from where you can create a roadmap for the development of your products and services. From the book blueprint, you can define a 24-month development plan that includes e-books, journals, planners, courses, workshops, retreats and signature programs.
Market research is all about making sure that there is a gap for your book. One of the best places to undertake research is on Amazon and particularly the book reviews. Also, make sure that you check out your competitors and learn from them
When you are writing a book, it is vital that you have a picture of who you are writing it for in your mind. Many people struggle with ideal client avatars but get this right, and your ideal reader profile will emerge. Make sure when you are writing, you are focused on the needs of that one person, and you will create a better book. You need to think carefully about the category your book is in so that your reader can find it.
Not everyone wants to write a memoir or personal story, although everyone does have stories to tell. Consider if your story will add value to your reader and this and if so, which slice of life is relevant. If you are sharing anecdotes, what are they and how to they add to the learning that your reader will get?
Writing your story can be emotional, and for me, there is the aspect of writing it to heal, in which case do you want to publish and if you do, how does it add value to your reader’s life and learning?
Often people who are writing personal stories find that at the end of the process they don’t want to publish because the purpose of the book has been fulfilled. When this happens, I would encourage you to think about how else you could use the content/
Let’s get good old writer’s block out of the way. Writer’s block is always about what lies beneath your resistance, not the blank page. One of my favourite activities is to explore writer’s block and to come up with ideas for moving past it and getting a book completed. When you understand what stands in your way, you can make choices about how to change these things.
Having a book title even if it’s only the working title will bring your book alive. In the ‘my book exercise,’ one of the first jobs is to write the book title and get used to telling others that this is your book. I find that my titles change often and that’s ok because eventually, you will find the one that resonates with you.
When you have a title, it’s like an umbrella for the rest of the journey. When your umbrella is up the outline seems to flow. The outline is the journey that your ideal reader will take towards a good result or outcome. Use these questions to have a go at brainstorming your book idea. Grab a big sheet of paper, some coloured pens and have fun.
The phrase making time always amuses me. We all have 24 hours and so the idea that we can make more time seems odd. However, there are many ways in which we can waste time or not use our time productively. Right now, if writing a book is a priority considering how to become a more productive writer is a must.
What works for me is to write first thing in the morning before my doggie walk. On the walk, I have time to reflect. Later in the day, when the working day is over, the last walk done, I put my computer on my lap, leave the TV on in the background and edit. The key is to find a routine that works for you.
I’ve known clients say that they will miss their morning writing time when the book is over. They have cultivated this great habit and seen their books come alive, and now they are left with a hole to fill.
There are many ways to write a book. You can write it; you can blog it, you can use transcriptions from videos and podcasts, you can talk it, ask someone to co-write or hire a ghost-writer.
The pleasure for me is to write the book myself. I adore writing and love the feeling of the words flowing from me onto the page. But this is not true of everyone, and this comes back to your motivations for writing a book. If this is an exercise in raising your visibility and you have the budget, perhaps hiring a ghost-writer is the best option.
One of my favourite and sometimes frustrating tasks is deciding on what the book cover will look like. Sometimes I can wander down many rabbit holes researching on Amazon and looking endlessly at images and fonts. What I have learned is that you need a good cover design specification and cover designer. My cover designer gets me and usually comes up with ideas that need hardly any tweaks. You need to spend time getting to know your designer and trusting that if you are open and positive in your communications, you will get a great cover.
Self-publishing is a wonderful way to get your book onto the shelves quickly. It has become a hugely popular route for many writers. You have total control of the process, even if you do have to share your profits with your publishing platform (Amazon). However, for some, it is important to be traditionally published. This will take longer, and you have less control of your book. To ensure that you sell your book to a potential agent or publisher, you will need to write a book proposal. Be prepared for rejections and when you do find the right publisher check out how to make the relationship work for you both.
Marketing is something that many leave to the last minute. I always recommend that you should start marketing your book before you start writing. A launch plan will help you to focus your mind and the tasks. If you start it early, then it won’t be a mad rush when you hit publish. Then, of course, there is the all-important question what goes into your marketing plan. You need to look at the overall marketing plan and goals of the business and align your plans. They are not separate, yet many see them as so.
Planning and writing a book with a proven system also helps. Ready to make an impact? Book in a call and let’s explore how you can create an impact with your book (or blog).
I recently stated that I was not going to write a book that was not one of my journaling books for a long time to come. It seems I lied to myself. Because I found myself with an outline and 12,000 words written.
I’d spent the summer and autumn creating a number of journaling books, one is still in the cooker and a mandala and affirmations book ready to pop, when unbidden a book idea flew in.
Noooooo I cried, no, I do not want to write a big book. No, you can’t make me. Yet amidst my protestations, my fingers walked across the keyboard in delight.
I had one problem with this download of words – why on earth would I want to write this book? How did what I was being drawn to going to support the work that I was doing?
When I work with my clients I ask a simple but powerful question – what do you want to create in this world?
Then we work together to find the right book (or books) to support that vision.
I knew what I was creating – a writing community, where people write to heal and then write to heal the world, in whatever way you resonate with the word heal.
For weeks I found myself writing and journaling and I couldn’t see how this book that I was enjoying writing and bringing to life supported my vision.
So I let go. I let go of the reason and said the why will find me. And it did.
So often I think we try to force why. It has been drummed into us, you must start with why. And to a certain degree, I think that you need to know why something is motivating you, otherwise what is the point?
But I also think that sometimes that we need to let go and let why find us.
That’s not to say you don’t need to know why, more that if an idea comes to you, invite it in and play with it. If you feel like writing, then write and journal. Here’s the important part, when you have done your creative download, sit back and reflect.
In the spaces will come clarity.
When you have clarity, you can define where you are heading with your writing. In finding out about ourselves, we start to gain clarity of purpose.
Your readers will have expectations. Your role as a writer is to make sure those expectations are met, while at the same time fulfilling the purpose of your writing. Getting clear on your “why” will help you to gain this clarity.
Today a business book adds an extra dimension to your credibility as an expert. It allows you to demonstrate your expertise, skills, knowledge, experiences, and wisdom.
A book can support your other products and services and be used as a highly effective marketing tool.
In fact, a book is a blueprint for other products and services.
The business benefits to you could include a raised profile, more speaking engagements, opportunities to collaborate with others and options for you to productise your book into online programs.
Imagine seeing your wisdom, voice, thoughts, ideas, concepts and words in print.
When you are writing a book, you will tap into parts of yourself that you may not have considered.
So when the call comes to write a book, connect with your inner wisdom and allow what needs to surface to come up.
It might be that you need to write this content to get it out of the way or it is valuable content for your book. Either way put your inner critic to one side and play.
There are no shoulds. There is simply write.
Start writing – anything. By writing you will connect to your inner wisdom. The layers of doubt will soak away. Your inner critic will move on as the layers of what needs to be revealed peel away. And you don’t need to write much, you just have to write.
Experiment with your writing. There is no need to write endlessly, perhaps write less but more often? Experiment with subjects that seem unrelated and then allow the dots to join.
Let go and allow. Let your inner wisdom share what it has to say to you. You never know where it will take you.
Ok, this is the harder stuff…
Ask yourself why five times. Each time you answer, ask why again. Link the why questions to your previous answer. Then ask so what?
Here goes. The key to this is once again to simply have a go, you can always come back and refine it later.
So what? Ask this final question.
People are constantly searching for ways to find answers to their questions. Imagine if they could know where to start their enquiry and where to go to find the answers and their resources in a simple intuitive way.
Ok, so you get the idea. Ask your why questions and finish with a so what. These do not need to be perfect, simply a start that you can refine.
The WRITE! program has been designed to help you to give you all of the support that makes writing a book – simple, stress-free and fun.
Soon I’ll start a new journal for a new month. I like to start each month with a new journal to help me focus on my goals, desires, intentions and vision.
It’s like having a fresh start and a new perspective.
I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy. I am pondering what if I died today what would I want others to know about me? What would I leave behind that has any relevance in the whole scheme of things? Is my legacy even something I want to leave behind when I am dead or does it live in the everyday moments when I have touched others lives in some way?
Will you or I be remembered at all? Does it even matter?
When everyday words come up I like to go and research them to see if there is any new light for me to muse on. I read this and rather liked it:-
Legacy late 14c.,
legacie, “body of persons sent on a mission,” from Medieval Latin legatia, from Latin legatus” ambassador, envoy, deputy,” noun use of past participle of legare“send with a commission, appoint as deputy, appoint by a lastwill”
How lovely, I thought to be here on a mission and to be sent to Earth with a commission. Rather than think morbidly about what you leave behind when you are completely gone.
Many people want to write books because they want to leave a legacy, I’d like to reframe that to be a living legacy.
To share their mission while they are still here and to impact others with their written words.
I have no children, no partner or lover. There are friends I don’t see often enough. There are books and blogs that I publish and journal entries that I write will probably have burned long before they are possibly read. Most likely on a full moon when it’s a good time for letter go. Perhaps my books and blogs will be simply consigned to the rubbish when I am gone, without anyone to keep them going.
Who will own my content and who will want to keep it going or preserve my website and musings when I am returned to dust? With no one to pay for my hosting or to complete my Amazon non-resident tax form, how long will my books remain available? (I will find out and let you know.)
But why would anyone want to keep my content alive? Why would I care? Surely there is someone else to pick up the baton – the commission?
My 59th birthday is around the corner and while I don’t feel that this is the end of the line, life can end abruptly.
I have no particular bucket list, places I want to visit, sights to behold, my journey is within. That’s partly why I write. I also write to leave a living legacy because I want to inspire others to write, heal and to inspire others to heal and grow.
How many times in just the last year have you been interacting with someone online who seemed so full of life to hear that they are now gone? Just like that. I feel like I want to touch the screen and for my hand to be able to feel their warm skin. We have so many friends because of the Internet. There are people all over the world that we meet because of this web of technology. Their stories stored (and possibly preserved) in some corner of a hard drive or on some not so divine cloud.
When friends pass, their Facebook pages stay around to remind us of the stuff we might have done together and I admit that although that makes me sad it also fills my heart. They are not gone, not really, they came on a commission, they had a mission, and now it’s fulfilled. Everyone leaves behind some of their essence in some way.
Part of my legacy is how well I have lived my life. How well I have served my commission on Earth. I feel it is how well I have served as a human – my kindness and compassion.
I wanted once to write a novel and for it to be made into a film. It was a delightful dream and I enjoyed the fun of visualising it and fantasising what dress I’d wear to the Oscars. The only way I’d have a chance of this being my legacy is if I get my finger out and write that book. Phew!
After writing about legacy today, I’ve changed my mind about writing a book for when you are gone. I’d like you to consider writing a book so that it is your living legacy and a part of your mission – now.
What if you could take your lessons, challenges and gifts and turn them into a book that would help others to ‘survive’ current stormy waters. How would that be?
Not everyone wants to write a book to help them heal or to heal the world. But I do believe that many people have inspiring messages that are very relevant for where humanity finds itself.
I’m interested in how you have grown from your experience and how that learning can support the rest of us, while you are here.
This year might have been as Elvis Costello once sang – a bad year for the roses. But our legacy is how we raised our vibration to meet our challenges and how we go on to impact those around us.
One of the reasons I love words and helping others to shape their words into books is that the process of writing helps us to heal our wounds and when our words reach others hearts, they too can begin to heal or heal some more.
This is my legacy. Not what I leave behind when I am dust and stars, but the trail I leave behind when I am alive.
My mission, my legacy, my life’s commission is to support you on this journey to turn your gifts and challenges, your life and lessons into neat packages of love (called books) that you leave for others to consume and find something of what they are looking for.
What do you do each day that leaves a trail? What is your mission? What is your life’s commission?
What should anyone do? Only you will know if writing a book is for you and what kind of book. You can write a book to heal that no one ever sees, one that you publish for family and friends, one that you use to share your story so that you can inspire others and one that does all of these things and around which you build a business – the business of helping others to heal, change and grow.
Legacy is not about being famous, it is about being ordinary, yet extraordinary. That legacy and your mission might be that you are a leadership coach, a therapist, CEO, engineer, bookkeeper, cleaner, consultant, mechanic, mum, dad, carer, dog groomer or a million and one roles we play. The label is not important, what you do, how you do it and the lives you touch is.
Everyone has a story, but not everyone thinks that their story is worthy of a book. I hear stories every day and some will be driven to create change, write a book and impact others.
Others will show me their work and never believe in themselves enough publish. Too often I have seen handwritten scripts that never go further than the journal they are scribbled in. That saddens me, but I understand.
For the ones who know their mission, are driven to put their words down, to speak to others hearts through a book then yes, write your book and make sure that those that need your words can read them, not when you are dead, but now while you are living your legacy.
When you want more:
When something is important to you, you will find time in your schedule, no matter what. Or you’d like to think so until creative constipation blocks you up.
I often start the day with a huge raft of ideas coming at my brain like a runaway bus. They zoom in, I whizz them around, and quickly write them, before they disappear.
Sometimes the speed of this means that, should my dogs demand a cuddle, my thoughts get lost. Like waking from a dream, just the slightest disruption and those last gripping moments slip ghost-like into the mist.
Creative kapow then nothing, blank, zip, zilch.
Other times I can be sat at my computer with a vague idea, or I have a plan to write something, but for some reason, nothing comes.
I was writing something relatively simple recently when a massive block to my creativity flew in and stopped me in my tracks. It took a few days for the flow to return.
I know it was tiredness. This summer was too hot and too long. It simply stripped me of energy and my brains response was ‘computer says no.’
In knowledgeable writers circles, this is called writer’s block. Personally I prefer creative constipation because it feels temporary. Pop in the right ingredients and the words will slip gently out.
But it can be so frustrating!
The problem is that people like me like to have an idea and write and write and write.
So what’s a gal to do?
Envision your perfect day. Instead of writing for your book or blog, writing in your journal. The perfect day exercise is a wonderful way to start the envisioning process. Connect to your muse and ask what would your best day look like? What would your best day look like if your writing flowed effortlessly each day? The perfect day exercise is one of the exercises in my Love To Journal – Monthly Life Journals.
Remove the shoulds, and ought and consider your can do’s. “Should-dos” are often those beliefs, habits, and ideas that are given to us by other people. “Can-dos” on the other hand are the beliefs, habits, and ideas that you know you can and want to do to become the best version of yourself in the best version of your life — as decided by you. What can you do to support your writing that could become a daily habit that you enjoy?
Pick one. Pick one change or habit to incorporate into your life right now which will help you to get your writing done. You only need to make one change.
Get clear on next steps. Get clear on how you can incorporate this one change or habit into your life. What are the next steps that will help you start to make this change? Then take action.
Here are a few more quick tips:-
Accept that it is just temporary and let it go. I usually head off for a cup of tea and do something mundane like washing the dishes. These just bring some normality back and take my mind off things.
If you get something and even if it feels like nothing connected to what you want to write, scribble the nonsense down in your journal and maybe just maybe you can make something of it later – when you are more relaxed. The act of journaling will set you free. Freewriting is one of my most favourite activities which lets me, through the act of letting go either write out the rubbish or find that one thing that is worth writing about.
Get some fresh air. I find that walking the dogs grounds me. Usually, by the time I get home I either put pen to paper and it becomes something or I just let it go. And I tell myself that it wasn’t important, another idea will come.
Chat some of your writing ideas through. This usually occurs on the walk above, if I ring my mum or a friend. As we walk, we chat and that puts things in perspective and the clutter clears. Talking is great for sorting ideas, including writing ideas out.
It really is about just stopping, let it go and find something to release your stuckness in whatever way works for you. I hope some of my suggestions work.
Over to you, what works for you?
Do you sometimes, perhaps when tired, wonder ‘why am I doing this?
I know that I have.
About 5 years ago I packed up my life and drove away from a cruel nasty man. I can see in retrospect just how he had treated me – I was bullied every day and it was insidious – I allowed it to happen – it had affected everything, including my thinking.
I had a passion for what I did. That has never left me, but I found it hard because I hadn’t found me. I was an emotional mess.
He was a gift. A big fat shitty gift.
He, in getting discovered (he was living a double and curious life) gave me the key to me.
When I left I took the two dogs and later found another abandoned in the rambla.
Their love supported my journey.
So did my writing.
I wrote a book called The Journey To Self-Love but couldn’t publish – in the end, I wrote it for me, but I did create a journaling book from the lessons and I loved creating that.
My home was a gift. It was a bit of a mess, just like me. But it gave me the right environment to find me. Having the right environment to live in and write in is vital.
But then as I thought I was getting back on top of things my spine fractured.
It freaking hurt.
What hurt more was not being able to move. I felt trapped.
I took drugs for a whole four days and then got a journal and started to write. Two weeks later I started a book on how to heal osteoporosis naturally.
But here’s the thing. When I support my clients to write their books they have usually done the thing that they are writing about.
But here I was with no clue (I say that but we always know) about how to do this.
In my pain I practically did a medical degree, I devoured books on physiology, nutrition, and osteoporosis.
Previously, I’d studied (for two years) crystal therapy with an amazing woman and course colleagues, reiki, angelic reiki, omni healing, naturopathic nutrition and read mountains of books on all things related.
I’d turned around an overactive thyroid in 6 weeks.
I poured myself into natural healing. I went back through time looking for the emotion hooks to the falling apart of my foundations and like the bionic woman, I believed that I could ‘rebuild’ myself.
In that year, because it took me a long time as there were other complications that affected my mental and emotional state, I learned to trust and listen.
Thank goodness for the Earth Angels who supported me. You are always in my heart.
I listened to spirit. I listened to my heart and my soul.
Then came the day when I had to get back to work.
Question after question after question.
So I trusted.
I had the experience, bloody hell I also had qualifications coming out of my ears…I had books, courses, content and my inner wisdom.
Then they arrived blessing after blessing, people who have a message far greater than even they realised.
I trusted that spirit sent me to them and I trusted that they would trust me with their precious words.
I could go on, but I’ll stop here.
That book Healing Osteoporosis Naturally, unlike any other book I have written has taken me almost two years because I wanted to get it out of my head and then I wanted to stop the craziness of my research and healing to bring balance and normality back to my life.
I had to put it to one side and write other things. I needed to be me not this mad woman healing osteoporosis and a fractured spine.
I hereby commit. To publish this book in May 2020. It is not your conventional osteoporosis book – there are some amazing women out there who have done that – this is my version of natural healing and how I did what I did.
You see it doesn’t matter if you write a book in 30,60,90,180, 760, 1099, 2087 or whatever days.
Every book is a lifetime of learning. You just need to write it when the time is right for you.
And in the meantime journal.
Thank you to all of the precious souls who are on a mission to save planet humanity in whatever way they do.
Please share – why do you do what you do?
“We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden”
Recently I had a great conversation with someone who said they wanted to write a book. The problem as they saw it was despite wanting to write a book, they felt that they were being pulled in many other directions.
What about a shorter e-book, an online course, a membership or a retreat?
I asked why not all of them from the book as your blueprint?
This is a common problem. Many people want to write a book, but most never will. The reason is that a book is not essential to them right now.
There is a question I ask everyone who comes on a call with me and that is ‘what you want to create in the world?’
What do I mean by that?
I want to create a writing community where people come to write to discover themselves, to grow and become their best selves and to use that learning to write books which impact lives.
I have a dream, goals and a set of actions that I take to make sure that little by little that’s what I am doing. All of my products and services align with that:-
To create any community, you have to identify your ideal client, who they are, where they are and what they want. This is easier said than done, but if you create your ideal client profile, and have a clear picture of the outcome or result from your book will give them you are at least one step closer. And of course, this is something that can be constantly tweaked.
Next is having the confidence in your message, the thing you are here to do. We are often plagued by underlying beliefs and demons that stop us from getting what we want. We can be saying one thing but projecting quite another. We need to work on our inner game and change limiting beliefs into can do’s.
We also need content, and by that, I mean not only products and services but words and stuff that we put out there to raise our visibility. A book is one of the best ways I know for raising your visibility and attracting new clients. A book brings a slice of your wisdom into a neat package for your ideal reader to consume and to get RESULTS from.
Let’s first explore why you ‘should’ write a book and then explore what you can do if this is not feasible or desirable or maybe just not yet.
Let’s explore why you shouldn’t write a book
I adore product development, and the reason I start with a book is that it helps me to become clear about my ideas and process. But using those same principles, I can create all kinds of products and services. What I get from a book is a blueprint.
You still need to know:-
Let’s assume you know what you want to create and who for. Let’s look at what other products and services you could market and sell.
This is a process. Start with what you want to create and then pick one idea that you would like to focus on that will bring you joy for the next 24-36 months.
What questions are my ideal client asking? What can’t they do? What do they want to do? What outcome do they need?
You may be a health coach and you work with menopausal women who are finding it hard to maintain their weight and fight off the hot flushes.
Make a list of 30 questions your ideal client might be asking you.
Create an outline based on the questions and journey you are taking them on.
I’d take the 30 questions, pick 10 which would make great statements and therefore good section, module or chapter headings. Then put three questions under each heading. These are the questions that this chapter answers.
Write a synopsis of each step in the outline.
This gives you clarity. Start with this chapter is about. Follow with why would my client need to know this and then think about how you engage and motivate them. Also, think about what they would get from following your advice and what they wouldn’t get if they didn’t.
Design an e-book based on the synopsis
Now you can create a checklist or 10 rules for [insert your idea]. This then is what people download from your website in return for an email.
Create a mini-course based on the e-book
This can be a cut down version that delivers value and provides a taste of what is to come. It also needs to be designed so that it whets their appetite to dive deeper with a big course or program. A 5 or 7-day challenge is great for this.
Design a 30-day challenge around your course
Now that you have a mini-course, you could tie a 30-day challenge around this or your bigger course. The idea here is that you sell the course which anyone can take as a self-paced product and you can run a live challenge alongside it a few times a year.
Make your big online course
This is your full-on signature course which provides lots of content, a process and support via a Facebook Group. You can tie this in with your live challenges. There is some validity to not creating the course until people are signed up. Then when you know what questions are being asked you can create better content, which you drip feed as you go along.
Extend your course to create a 90-day program
Once you have the course this can easily be translated into a group coaching program, where your clients have live access to you for 12 weeks. You will have group support and my offer some 121 coaching.
Offer your program as a group event or as one to one coaching
Once the group program has been created this can be offered in many different ways.
Your membership group
Now that you have lots of content you can create a portal to keep it all in and a place for your members to know what is going on. This will give you a regular income.
Forgive me for a moment, you now have enough content written and recorded to write a book. You do… When you get your videos captioned you will also have the transcripts. Transcripts are a pain to edit but you do now have content in a process which you could turn into a book, a journal or planner.
You will have templates and other content to weave in that you can repurpose.
I think the key is to choose the one idea, map out the product roadmap and blueprint and then ask what makes sense for you to create first. Only you will know what that is.
So, what’s it to be, write a book or something else?