I’ve been asked by several people recently about writing and publishing books, so I decided to share the journey I have been on and write a two part series on how to write and publish a book to celebrate the release of the audio version of my book ‘The Journey to the Centre of your Soul’ on Audible.
This may look and sound like an article on how to write a book, but at the heart it is an article about going on a journey, like life. Embarking on a journey, that you feel has a destination but that will take you to places you have never been. That destination with evolve, move and so the journey will continue.
This isn’t a definitive guide but is one based on my experience having now written two books on different subject matters, with very different origins but written using a similar process, whilst taking disciplined action.
Who knows where this comes from, the process of creation can feel so linear and logical when you look back but at the same time feels like a divine intervention when it occurs.
Elizabeth Gilbert the author of ‘Big Magic’ a beautiful book on creativity, tells a story about creative ideas and likens them to clouds that come to each of us and hover for a moment in time. If we resist or fail to act on that idea, then it floats off back into the human consciousness for someone else to pick up.
Trust me, when you get gifted an idea, act on it or you’ll regret it.
This concept from Elizabeth Gilberts book has stuck with me, it put both the fear of God into me about my creative ideas but also allowed me to let go of them completely if it wasn’t a full body yes.
The ‘stories’ for both my books came to me in very different ways. I call them stories even though both are non-fiction because they are made up of stories. Story telling is the essential part of writing a book or any piece of content if you wish to engage with your audience on a deeper emotional level with your writing.
The first book ‘Plant Powered’ arrived at a time when I was deep in my personal training and vegan journey. I had been giving the same key-note speech over a period of about two years, which was constantly evolving and being fine-tuned over time.
So, when I started seriously considering a topic to write a book on, I realised that I had already written it, it was just in the form of a power point presentation, I just had to turn those slides and my speech into written words.
My second book ‘The Journey to the Centre of your Soul’ arrived in a much shorter time scale, pretty much in the space of 90 minutes, it felt like I opened up to receive a divine message, which came down the cosmic pipe with a torrent of purpose.
Although I had been contemplating a few philosophical ideas and reflecting on concepts I’d been reading about, I hadn’t even thought about writing a second book, especially as the previous one had only come out the year before.
One beautiful summers evening in Ibiza I listened to a podcast a friend had sent me, and it triggered a flood of ideas to come through me. I sat down and captured the inspirational purge on an A4 piece of paper, writing the 3 sections of the book and all the sub-headings in the space of 90 minutes. I then promptly turned to my house mate and told him I was going to start writing my new book tomorrow.
You’ll know when that story arrives, you’ll feel the burning passion to express the words that are bursting to come out of you, it will come, maybe slowly over time or overnight in a flash but when that time comes don’t let it pass you by, write like the wind.
My purpose for the first book was quite easy to define for me, I was a vegan personal trainer at the time, observing the hypocrisy and misinformation around the plant-based diet relating to fitness, and the global impact food choices were making on the environment. I had ‘Be The Change’ tattooed on my forearm a couple of years before and I knew my why, I just had to get this information out there and share my perspective.
The second book came through me so quickly that I didn’t really have time to think about a why before I started it, it just felt right. I was going through the hardest breakup I’ve ever experienced at the time, which was the catalyst for the book and as I sat down one morning to get on with writing it, I didn’t really have a clear idea of my why, all l I knew was that the process of writing and sharing my thoughts and feelings felt very healing and cathartic for me. I didn’t know if it would be a book, a course or even if I’d just keep it for myself.
But the why became apparent quite early on, this was a chance for me to share my life philosophy based on my own experiences and it would be a much shorter and compact book than my first.
When my first book came out in January 2021, I felt proud but deflated, like I’d used up all my passion and interest on the topic of plant-based diets and fitness just to get it over the line, the book felt like the ending of a cycle for me, a summary of my findings before I moved onto my next chapter.
My second book felt much different, partly because of the nature of how it came through and the time in my life it came from. The views and opinions I shared felt fresh and new. It felt like it was defining the start of a new chapter in my life, and it would be a big part of where I was now heading.
Of course, I’m no longer vegan or a personal trainer so I don’t feel who I am now relates to the content of the first book the same way as the second, but the book and the process is still a big part of me, it helped shape my writing abilities, process and life philosophy.
Nothing is ever wasted; life is the accumulation of experiences. I wouldn’t have written such a good second book if it wasn’t for the first. Life is a series of steppingstones, each one as important as the next for your journey.
But I am proud of the first book, the depth of content and the story I told. I still believe in many of the concepts I wrote about, and it is a fantastic book for anyone embarking on the journey of using plant-based nutrition to support their physical goals with a passion for the environmental impact our food choices make.
What I’m trying to say is that all of us, our lives and our beliefs are constantly evolving, what you start writing about today you may not believe in next year or by the time you publish, so on one hand be careful what you choose to write about but most importantly, forget about the end goal and fall in love with the process.
You need a plan or structure to formulate your story around, bit like moulding papier-mâché around a frame made of coat hangers.
My coat hanger frame was very different for both my books, but it had the same benefit to the writing process. Once the coat hanger was in place, all I had to do was form my words like papier-mâché around it.
The first books frame was made from the slides I had been using for the presentation I’d been giving. I basically had a story board, that just needed to be fleshed out with words. I realised I had stumbled fortuitously on an effective way to write a book, take note.
The second books frame was not made of slides or pictures but came through on that balmy evening, having the 3 sections clearly defined and the sub-headings under each one meant that all I had to do was take one sub-heading at a time and expand on it, breathe life into it and inflate it with my philosophy and experience.
So, once you have the structure and frame along with your why you’re pretty much there. The rest is a simple process of taking consistent and disciplined action, it just needs time and words, thousands and thousands of them 🤣
Depending on what kind of book you want to write and your purpose for the book, this will provide you with an approximate final word count to aim for.
When researching before writing my first book I knew I’d be looking at about 50-70,000 words and when finished it came in at 65,000. It took me from June 2018 to October 2018 to complete. I would say that’s pretty fast to write a book of that size, which was thanks to a well-defined structure and story to work from. That structure and story had been growing for 2 years previously remember.
The overnight success that’s 10 years in the making.
My second book was very different because it was based on my life experience and philosophy, there was no scientific evidence and references to check, the book was based on what was in my head, my heart and my life, so it was much shorter in length and I also wanted to created a book that was easy for people to digest, to help them without that feeling of overwhelm you can get when confronted with a bigger book.
This one came in at a nice and compact 23,000 words and took me 9 weeks to write. Again, once I got going I made it happened very quickly.
The speed in which I’ve managed to write these two books, comes down to the most essential part of the process, disciplined action.
As I’d had a lot of experience in goal setting for Personal Training and my own personal experience in training for body building shows, I knew I needed an outcome goal (the final word count) and a daily behavioural habit that would breakdown the overwhelming word count into manageable bite sized chunks.
So, once I’d set the final word count in my mind at the start I kind of forced myself to forget about it, to avoid overwhelm. I set myself a daily non-negotiable task of sitting down every morning before doing anything else, opening my laptop and writing for 30 minutes caffeine fuelled.
It didn’t matter if all I wrote some days was 200 words, on others I would write 1,000. Some days I would spend most of it researching and others if I had the time and was in the flow I would write for a couple of hours.
But no matter what I would sit down in front of my laptop for 30 minutes every day. Most of the time when 30 minutes was up I would close my laptop and walk away, knowing that I’d shown up and was one step closer to the destination.
This is how I will write all my future books when they come to me, trust me it works. Just show up and chip away at your block of marble every day.
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”Michealangelo on sculpting ‘David’.
You’ll want to consider these questions before, during and after the writing process as it will help you to shape the underlying message of your book.
- Do you want to become an author and dream of being on the best seller list?
- Do you want to have full control over your message and the end product?
- Do you want to appeal to the masses?
- Do you need to get your book out asap?
- Is your book an introduction for readers into your world and business?
- How patient are you?
- Do you have a big social media following?
The answers to these questions will give you an idea of the direction to follow in order to publish it.
This is going to be the subject for my next article ‘How to publish a book.’, watch this space!
ps. If you’d like to download a copy of the audio version of my book on Audible then just click on the image below.