On Writing and Publishing, For Rama On Writing
I’m scheduled to be a guest this morning on Rama on Writing, a weekly program with Rama Jon Cogan, Manager of the Publish Now Program at the Author University withwww.tombird.com and author of Sedona Mountain Biking: The Rise of the Gnarly Crew. You can order Rama’s new book at Mountain Bike Heaven.
When: Saturday, Feb. 15, at 12 Noon EST Atlanta time/ 10 a.m. MTN
My intention is to be of service to the other authors who are in the process of writing, editing, producing and publishing their books, and all those who are thinking of writing a book.
Here are a few of my thoughts, after completing What Is Healing? Awaken Your Intuitive Power for Health and Happiness, which went to No. 1 on Amazon in two categories and has 21 five-star reviews so far. These thoughts are not necessarily in order of importance. Hopefully they will be of some service:
- Give yourself permission to be a beginner. I have now taught yoga for 18 years. Very often, I like to put myself in the position of being a beginner of other subjects just so that I can appreciate the process that beginners have to go through. It takes far more energy to be a beginner than it does to be a master. Even though it supposedly takes 10,000 hours (about 10 years) of practice to be a master, a master makes everything look graceful and easy. In fact, the more of a master a person is, the easier they make everything appear to be. On the other hand, when we are a beginner, we flounder around expending a lot of energy trying to figure things out. That is the exact process we need to go through if we are eventually after years of practice going to end up as the master. There are so many steps to writing, editing, producing and ultimately marketing a book that the truth is that we end up in this beginner state of mind in many steps of the process. Learning how to be patient with ourself as we flounder around is an essential sanity-saving skill.
- Have some kind of regular practice to keep your chi open and flowing. I know many talented writers, editors and artists who don’t actually produce anything because they are energetically shut down. Chi is creative in and of itself. Chi also has its own intelligence, going where ever it needs to go, healing whatever needs to be healed. Personally, I practice yoga, qi gong and meditation on a weekly basis. As creative people, we want to be open to new ideas but also be grounded enough that we can actually manifest them. The more open your own energy is, the easier it will be for you to write and also the more energy you will have to push through the production and marketing process. It took a tremendous amount of energy for me to write my second book. I also needed lots of rest at regular intervals.
- Have a regular practice to clear your emotions. In natural healing, we recognize that emotions can shut down literally any physiological process. Writing a book is a very emotional process. It takes tremendous courage to write from your heart and to put down on paper what you actually believe. There are so many ways where the process can go sideways that we can become hurt or disappointed or frustrated and ultimately hung up or potentially totally blocked unless we have this regular method of clearing our emotions.
- Find the very best people you can of the highest integrity. Hire them to advise you and then shut up, listen to them and do what they tell you to do. This sounds very basic, I realize, but it is part of the secret to my success in literally every area of my life. Personally I ask for guidance about who to hire and for what purposes. When people turn out to be less than advertised, then mentally make note of all you have learned from the experience, for better or worse, and then ask yourself what your next steps are to move forward. As a result of producing my recent book, I have put together a team of people I can trust.
- Do each part of the process with your whole heart. For example, when I organized my book release party at my house, I spent three 8-hour days just sending out invitations. Then I went to a store and bought a new outfit to wear so I could feel confident. We spent about a week organizing amazing food. Then, when the day came, it ended up pouring down rain. It was so cold we had to light a fire in the fireplace, even though it was May. But because we were so prepared, it ended up being an amazing party. I made jewelry to give to people who bought my book that day in gratitude for showing up.
- Acknowledge your weaknesses and get help or training if necessary. In January 2011, my desktop computer and my cell phone broke within weeks of each other. I ended up having to buy a new laptop and new phone. I learned that my computer had broken because I had been turning it off incorrectly every day for four years, so I signed up for lessons at the Apple store. When I joined the Publish Now program through my writing coach Tom Bird, I hired the team to do an extra analysis of my website. The experts told me that even though I had been running my website since 1998, it failed every test there was. So not only did I write my book, I also rebuilt my website and blog with the help of Greg Keesey, my hero and web master. I signed up with www.lynda.com to take lessons about all sorts of subjects. It was so slow going. I also hired Heidi Richards, an internet marketing expert, to teach me how to improve my blog and show me what I was doing wrong.
- I think it’s important to recognize that social media is the new reality. I have friends who have lost significant amounts of business because they were out marketed by younger people with half their years of experience. To me, this is like the IRS. The IRS does not ask me if I enjoy accounting. It’s just part of the reality of running a business. I had a lot of fear about social media, but I decided to do social media the way I was brought up, i.e., if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I want to be an uplifter. I try to express that in everything I post, to offer helpful information, hope and light.
- Have other hobbies that help you understand your own creative process and creative rhythms. For me, I make jewelry, I knit, I take photographs with my iPhone and I write. I like to keep everything fun because then I am in a high vibrational state, which gets translated into the feeling of the finished product. When one activity stops being fun, then I will simply switch to another. I go from beading to knitting and from knitting to taking pictures and writing. After my book went to No. 1 on Amazon in October 2013, I probably didn’t blog for about two months, which Heidi Richards told me was a huge mistake, but when I went back to blogging I was back in a state of joy again. In other words, I don’t blog like I’m taking the trash out for the seventh time this week. I’ve also been told that if I want to increase my ranking on the internet that I should stick to my keywords for topics, but I like to give myself permission to write whatever is on my mind so that whatever comes out pours forth from my true passion. I write a lot about natural healing, which is my greatest passion, but I can also get very excited about orchids, birding, gardening, penguins and all sorts of other subjects.
- I created my blog with all sorts of beautiful pictures because I see the world as an amazing place. In other words, my blog is literally my vision. I have my butterflies, my orchids, a photo of a feather I saw lying in the street on one of my walks, actual photographs of angels around my house and garden, pictures of penguins in the Falkland Islands and the mountains of Antarctica. Every writer has a unique way that we see. Helping other people see the world the way we see it is part of our gift to others.
- I trademarked the phrase “What Is Healing?” because I want to write a series of books about natural healing. As a writer, find your true passion and set yourself up so that you can spend the rest of your life writing about what is most important to you. I also made an audiobook of What Is Healing? Awaken Your Intuitive Power for Health and Happiness because I know a lot of people are too busy to read. For about five years, I spent an average of three hours a day in my car in Atlanta traffic. The only thing that kept me half-way sane was listening to audiobooks. It’s important as writers that we have compassion for our readers and think about what they are going through in their every day lives. We want to present our books in a way that will make our readers lives better. I got a call recently from a lady who bought my audiobook. She said that before she bought my audiobook, that she had never been a runner. Somehow when she listens to my audiobook, she can run four miles. She says that when she doesn’t listen, she can’t run. Something in the audiobook uplifts her and gives her energy so that she can discover a hidden aspect of her own strength.
With all this said, I still consider myself to be a rank beginner. I am still in a process of confusion and discovery. I am hoping to write another book this year, but I find myself feeling all sorts of fear and self doubt again, although I recognize that this is part of my process. What if I have nothing to say? What if it’s not any good or nobody cares? But then again, on the other hand, what if I don’t write and somebody else misses out on something I could say that could potentially change their life? That would be the biggest tragedy.
When I wrote my first book, Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide, the one thought that kept me going through the three-year process was this: If I helped even one person, it would be totally worth it. Of course, I helped many more people than just one person. I still hear from people who tell me how much that book helped them.
I consider writing What Is Healing? to have been one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life. I literally wept when the words started coming out of me and I wept again – whole body sobbing – when I was completed. This was completely unanticipated by me. These were tears of joy, tears of relief and tears of thanksgiving for all the energy that was pouring forth.
Even though it is quite difficult and not an experience for the faint of heart, I highly recommend writing a book.