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.
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.
Food and recipe journal
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.
Diet journal (that’s diet not dieting)
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?
Ideas and creativity journal
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:-
- Of the themes that jump out at you, ask yourself why?
- If you are resisting – why? This could be a golden opportunity
- Which of these themes are marketable? What I mean by this is the resulting book is being looked for by your ideal client or reader
- Who will read your book? Aka your ideal reader
- Why will they read it?
- What outcome will they get?
- What kind of book could this be? A memoir, self-help or a combination?
- What else do you want to create from this journal content and theme? What I mean by this is, will this become a business idea that you can grow?
- If this won’t become your main business idea, could it become a side hustle?
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.
A journal I turned into journaling books
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.
Another journal I turned into a book…
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.
Other things to consider
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.
Step 1: Brainstorm ideas
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.
Step 2 – What questions are coming up?
When you look at the content, what questions are you asking yourself?
Action: Write these on post it notes.
Step 3: What is your story?
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.
Step 4: What kind of book will you write?
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?
Step 5: Who is your ideal reader?
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:-
- What are their goals?
- What are their values?
- What challenges do they have?
- What are the immediate pain points?
- Where do they normally hang out to get information (books, blogs, magazines, films, gurus, etc.)?
Action: Draw a matchstick person and answer the questions.
Step 5: What questions are they asking?
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.
Step 7: Map the customer journey
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.
Step 8: Assess the gaps
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.
Step 9: Create an outline
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).
Step 10: Create a chapter framework
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:-
- What questions does this chapter answer?
- Key messages
- what does my reader get from this?
- Why do they need to learn this?
- How will I transfer learning – think questions, case studies, stories and how to’s
- The benefits of reading this chapter
- Questions for exploration
You may not need a framework, but it is still good to ask the questions.
Action: Design your chapter framework.
Step 11: Write
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.
Step 12: Edit
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.
Step 13: Check the formatting
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.
Step 14: Get a cover designed and write your blurb
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.
Step 15: Upload to Kindle Direct Publishing
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.
Step 16: Order a proof book
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.
Step 17: Send your book to your proofreader/beta readers
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.
Step 18: Publish
Go through the final stages of what’s needed on KDP and publish.
Step 19: Produce a Kindle Book
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.