You want to write…right? Avoid FEAR – Forget Everything About Regrets

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Have you ever wanted to write but not sure where to start, what is involved or what it entails? Maybe you feel like you don’t have much to share, or who will care what you write. The biggest fear is what people might think of your writing and now you are out there to be judged. Well, I came up with the acronym FEAR – Forget Everything About Regrets. If you try to write, you have an opportunity to create something wonderful. If you don’t, well, then it is just a shadow of what you might have done and never realized. In the beginning of my first book I wrote a couple of things that were very much on my mind: “There is fear in me by writing this book because of what people might think…the bigger fear is what if I don’t write this book” and the other one was, “What is the last story you read?, what is the last story you told?…what is the last story you lived?” We are all living stories and need to share who we are as beings. It is your legacy piece.

About 10 years ago, I never saw, or dreamed, of myself as a writer. It just happened after I did my first TEDx talk about discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary. People said I should write a book about personal storytelling. OK, where do I start?! I had that blank face and canvas. It is something I taught myself and learned by doing. Was it easy? Absolutely not! Am I glad I did it? Absolutely YES! So how did I get started? Easy, I just looked at this blank canvas Bob Ross style…or pages and said, “OK, people want a book about storytelling, let me pull my thoughts together.” I then started and in Bob Ross fashion I put things here and there. I framed three parts: 1) what is storytelling and why tell stories; 2) I needed to share some of my stories; 3) how can I get you to start capturing your stories. As I went through the process, I felt a need to add more, such as my blog posts with reflections that people could write. I toiled with this because it really did not fit any of the sections. An epiphany happened (and much like Bob Ross would cut a swatch on this beautiful work)…wait, this is my book! I will just create a new section and call it section 4!

The way I started this book was to create three headings, then I just added sub headings and then more sub headings to sub headings and before you know it, I had a framework and a way to add content. Then it was writing and writing and writing. At this point, I did not care about format, structure or grammar, I just needed to get my thoughts down. Then it was about finding an editor and I highly recommend investing money this side. The editor will polish it up and really make you look like you know what you are talking about. Finally, I realize that I would have to self publish this book and found a site called LULU where they provide you the platform to do the book and here is the best part: if zero copies of my book sold, do you know what my cost was? Zero $’s because it is print on demand. They tell you the base price of the book, you set your price and the rest is your profit. I am glad I wrote my first book this way as it set me up for the second and more important book in my life, ‘Lost and Found: Seeking the Past and Finding Myself’, which I will share more about in another post.

There are three methods of getting your book out are self publishing, traditional publishing and hybrid. Each one is different. Self publishing, you write, build and market your book. Traditional publishing is where someone feels your book is worthy of sales and they will take you on and get you out there. Finally there is hybrid where the company will work with you to create your book and is a blend of traditional and self publishing. If I could describe it this way:
• Self publishing – you are going to build a car using IKEA instructions and parts left over. You will drive the car by yourself and not know the direction you are going.
• Traditional publishing – you want to build a car but the agent is going to suggest the type of car and you will build it but they will drive it and you will be in the back seat
• Hybrid – collectively, you will build the car with constant input and you will drive it with them in the passenger seat helping you find the way

Some tips and ideas to share and if it helps you, I am happy to give it away:
• Do not write a book because you want to get rich or that you think you have the next amazing best seller. This is a very difficult journey and you must do it because it comes from an authentic part and you want to share a part of you to the world
• Writing the book is only half the difficult journey. Once that book arrives and in your hands, it is such an amazing feeling because it was a lot of work; however, that is only the end of part one of the journey. Part 2 is getting it out there and it is a lot of work trying to get someone interested in your book. Marketing your book out there is a whole different post. Both parts are like pushing a boulder up a hill and you hope it does not crush you.
• Your book is your calling card. It is a way to spark a conversation or if you are interested in speaking, a side piece you can add to your portfolio
• Do not worry about what people might think. You are no one’s priority as sad as that sounds. People will be proud of you for the journey and now you are an author. You can use that at dinner parties and introduce yourself as a writer…because you are! Cherish this.
• You are an expert! By writing your thoughts and ideas down, you suddenly become an expert. You do not need a Ph’d but if you genuinely share your ideas, you are telling people what helped you and might help them. I don’t go around touting you need to listen to me because I know what I am talking about. No, rather I let my words speak and this is what has happened and how it helps me. Take it for what it is worth but people will see you as an expert.
• There are sharks in the water so do your research. Many companies will claim that they can make you the next best seller but many are snake oil salesmen. See what they offer and what you need. I will share that I got somewhat burned when after I wrote my book, the next step was marketing and I put money down to get a marketing package and while I have a beautifully written press release for my first book, zero copies sold
• I am sure people will tell you to research and realize who your audience is and then write. I will share a different perspective and this is my perspective only. When I wrote my first book, I tried to figure out who the audience was and then write for them. Unfortunately, I could not write. When I focused on what I wanted to say, the words flowed. Write for yourself and the audience will emerge.
• Writing is like a scary roller coaster ride, you wonder why you got on in the first place but once you are finished you are like, “I want to do it again!”

Bottom line. Please write your book. There are so many resources and people who will help and embrace your journey. It goes back to my signature saying, “Everyone’s life is an autobiography…make yours worth reading!” You are a living story that needs to be shared.

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