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Thinking About Writing A Book? Here are 3 Tips to Get You Started....

Updated: Apr 1

“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic



I stared at the cursor blinking on the empty page on my computer.


I’ve walked the dog.

I've thrown two loads of laundry in.

I've had breakfast, did the dishes, and was now working on my second cup of coffee.

I’ve created time and a quiet space to write.

My laptop was fully charged, the pile of notepaper and pens stacked up neatly on my desk.

I had reached the limit of procrastination and distractions, and now guilt was settling in, like a too-heavy blanket that made me want to kick my feet out for space and air.


I am writing a new book.


So there it is, my friends. It’s in writing, so now it’s real. I’ve decided and I am over the top excited about it!


And, a little …. afraid.

  • What if I have writer’s block?

  • I poured my best into Decide Happy. What if I can’t do it again?

  • What if it’s Not Good Enough?

Tim, my husband, heard me sighing and growling in front of my computer. “What’s up?” he asked, popping his head into my office.” I thought you were working on your new book. You sound frustrated.”


I turned to face him. “What if I can’t do this?” I asked, forlorn.


Tim sipped his coffee, gathering a thought, and then said, “Really? You’re afraid of writing a book? You of all people have handled WAY bigger fears than writing a book. And you came through that a stronger, braver and an even better person than you already were- with your sanity and sense of humor intact. That’s what you should write about.”


Oh yea, there was… that.


So now, I’m still afraid. But I’m writing anyway.


Because this new book, like Decide Happy - is not just for me. It’s for all of us who have ever hesitated, settled, waited too long, felt stuck, pushed down a dream, ignored the pull of our heart, dragged our feet, didn’t step up, didn’t create, didn’t contribute our talents, never decided, didn’t stretch, didn’t shine our light - because we were afraid.


It’s for all of us who know we are meant for more and want to figure out how to get ourselves unstuck more quickly and take action to follow our dreams, pursue our passions, and make a difference in a world that so desperately needs our light.


Many of you have asked me how I wrote Decide Happy. I’m sharing this with the hope to inspire you, to remind you that the world needs your story, and also to remind myself, once again, to Do what I KNOW. Remember that I'm here to support you if and when you want to start your book. I write non-fiction. But, these tips can also help if you're compelled to write a novel.


Ready?


1. Put your Headset on.


You have the time. (If it’s that important to you, you’ll make the time.)

You have the ability.

You have the experience.


Trust yourself.


There is no such thing as writer’s block. I get that overall timing in life is important. But assuming you've decided to write - what’s getting in the way of you writing your book is fear. Fear of not being perfect, not good enough, not experienced enough, not interesting enough, not articulate enough. Not enough.


That annoying Inner Critic stops us from taking action, stifles our dreams and douses our joy. And that’s what keeps us stuck. I could fill many pages about Silencing the Critic, that debilitating voice that chants, “You’re not enough.” In fact, it’s a key topic for this next book. But let me cut to the chase:

You’re more than enough.


You are the expert of your story. No one else, in all the history of time, has your unique combinations of experiences, decisions, knowledge, perceptions, style, personality, quirks and wisdom. Only you. Remember that.


Take a deep breath.

Take another one.

Now…


2. Just Start.


Write something. Anything. You cannot write a book if you do not write a chapter. You cannot write a chapter if you do not write a paragraph. You cannot write a paragraph if you do not write a sentence.


It may be crap. In fact, the first go-around probably will be.

Hemingway famously said, “The first draft is always sh*t.”


(I found that statement very comforting!)


I would argue that the second and third drafts are too. But, just like any artist knows -


You can’t fix what’s not there.


You have to put paint on the canvas, words on paper or screen, in order to shape them into something meaningful and beautiful. Your book will evolve, it will emerge with thought, and care, and nurturing, and ruthless editing. But it won’t happen unless you begin.


So, yes, of course you know that you need to start. But once you decide to write a book, how do you actually begin?


Here’s what works for me:


3. Chunk it down.


You don’t have to have the whole book figured out to start writing. A commitment to writing just 1 page a day, or an hour or so a few times a week adds up to progress.

You’re busy. I get it. Be gentle with yourself.

You have an idea, right?

  • What’s 1 key point you want to make? Write it down. Pick anything. Don’t worry about putting things in order or the exact words. That will come later.

  • Now, what’s one story, example, bit of evidence or research that you want to share to make that point come alive for your readers? Write this down too.

  • Repeat these two steps until you have a rough outline.What’s a second key point you’d like to make? Write that down. What's a story, example, etc. you’d like to use to make this point? Jot that down. Keep going.

*NOTE: If you’re interested in seeing my initial, chunked down draft of Decide Happy- with all of its meanderings, copious typos, warts and possibilities, click the "Contact Susan" button and send me a note. I'll send you a PDF of an excerpt from my outline.


WARNING: It’s NOT pretty. But I want you to see that something really special can come out of this first, messy tangle of thoughts and ideas. Even from this rambling brain-dump, the promise of what could be, the heart of the book, is beginning to emerge.


  • Don’t overthink it at this phase! You may not even have the story or example yet. That’s okay. You are making space for it. Trust that the story will appear or emerge for you. If you keep your thoughts, eyes and ears open and receptive, I promise you that it will.

  • Capture the thoughts as they come to you. I get some of my best inspiration while rocking out on my spin bike, or walking my dog, or driving, or lying in bed before sleep. Capture these thoughts- ideally in one place. Make an audio note or write it in the notes section of your phone. The idea is to document these moments of creative brilliance in the moment so you don’t lose them. I tend to send myself a lot of text messages.

  • Now, go back and expand your outline with these ideas that you’ve captured in the moment. When I’m in front of my computer, I slot those ideas I texted myself or made an audio note of into the outline or in a file marked “Stories I love but don’t know how to use just yet.” Some of them make the cut. Some don’t.

  • Choose one of these topics in your outline and begin fleshing it out with your inspired stories and examples. Some writers use apps to transcribe their spoken words into text. I’m old school. I love the creative process of sitting in front of my computer and riff-ing. Whatever works for you.

  • Make it the best book that you can. Make it so wonderful that you are proud to put it out into the world. Make it so fabulous that, even if you have a readership of one, you are grateful and awed by the gift of using your voice with purpose and passion to help another human being. To create takes vision, purpose, perseverance, and time. To create takes vulnerability and courage.


Congratulations.

You are writing a book!


You lift me up and inspire me! I am passionate about helping strong-hearted people share their stories. In fact, I’m passionate about helping. Giving makes us happy, remember?


If you’d like to chat about writing your book, or anything else - I’m happy to help!


* Drop me a comment or note via the "Contact Susan" button or on Linked In.


* Also, I have lots of other tips I can share, but don’t want this post to turn into a book itself! Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll write more in the future.


I’m looking forward to talking with you!


With so much Love,


Susan


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206 views5 comments

5 Comments


Susan - Thanks for the post. Even though I am starting in a slightly different place I find this genuinely motivational. Good luck on your second book.

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Thanks for the practical and valuable tips, Susan! Can't wait to watch you progress on your 2nd book. Doug

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Susan Hall
Susan Hall
Nov 30, 2023
Replying to

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Doug.Let me know when you are ready to write your book. You are such a powerful story teller. I'm happy to help in any way!

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Unknown member
Nov 26, 2023

One of your best! Grammy said clean when you are upset. Her theory: take it out on dust as that can’t argue.

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Susan Hall
Susan Hall
Nov 27, 2023
Replying to

I love that! She must have been a pip. 😘

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