Allen Klein (author of The Awe Factor) explains the process of writing a book and what practices can help you stay on literary track.
Of all the aspiring non-fiction authors I speak to, the overwhelming struggle is not the publishing process or the marketing.
It’s the writing.
It’s going from saying, “I want to write a book,” to having a finished, polished manuscript in their hands.
One of the beauties of the self-publishing industry is the accessibility, but in order to take advantage of that, aspiring authors must, ya know, actually finish writing their books.
I recently had the pleasure to speak to dozens of non-fiction authors on the mindsets and strategies they used to take their books from blank page to final draft, and the advice they shared is sure to make the process of writing your first book easier.
It was hard to turn down the expertise and stories shared by these authors, so this feature will be split into a series of three articles, as not to overwhelm you with close to thirty video interviews in one swing. This is part three of three, and you can watch the first ten interviews here and the second set of ten interviews here!
Without further ado, let’s kick off our final installment in the series by learning from Nance Schick.
Nance Schick, Author of DIY Conflict Resolution
Nance Schick is an author, coach, lawyer, trainer, mediator, and speaker. In this interview, she discusses how you should:
- Heal yourself before writing about it to avoid triggering yourself. If you are writing about your trauma while healing from it, it can be challenging to go on.
- Recognize that you’re not alone in your struggles and that you can help someone with your story. Understanding this can be motivating when writing about your greatest struggles.
Tim Toterhi, 10X Author
Tim Toterhi is a CHRO, author, coach, and TEDx speaker. In this interview, he discusses how you should:
- Know where you are going to go before you start writing a book. Focus on the “what” (who the readers are and what the goal is you’re going to fulfill) and the “how” of what you’re doing.
- Be disciplined and focused in your approach to writing. You have to put in the time to do the work if you want to see the results. Don’t wait for inspiration. Just get up, go to work, commit to it, and you’ll progress as a writer.
- Work with a professional editor. You are going to get so comfortable with your output that you will not see your own mistakes. Get somebody else to look at your work.
David Grantham, Author of Consequences: An Intelligence Officer’s War
Dr. David Grantham is an author and a leading expert in national security matters and international affairs. In this interview, he discusses how you should:
- Ask yourself: what am I trying to achieve with this? Who do I want to read this book?
- Have somebody else look at your work and get feedback. Take a break from your manuscript and don’t look at it for a while. See it again with fresh eyes later and you’ll realize how much work is still needed.
- Read as much as you write. When you read other people’s work, you will begin to develop your vocabulary and be able to convey messages and articulate ideas better.
- Show creatively instead of strictly telling in a clinical way. Develop the character and personality of your writing, even as a non-fiction author.
Vedika Dayal, Author of Think Outside the Odds
Vedika Dayal is an author and a business and data science student at UC Berkeley. In this interview, she discusses how you should:
- Keep writing even when you are not feeling that “fire.” As soon as you accept that your writing won’t be as good during these lulls, you will feel liberated.
- Always have an outside perspective. If you cannot afford an editor, find a friend who would be willing to look through your work. Push them to criticize your work.
- Understand that criticisms are formative and will make you better at writing.
- Set a word count goal for yourself every time you write. Write something, even if it turns out to be not a good draft. You know that you have something to work with so you’re already starting from somewhere.
Jas Rawlinson, Author of the Reasons to Live series
Jas Rawlinson is a best-selling author, book coach, and resilience speaker. In this interview, she discusses how you should:
- Know that writing is not a race. You can create a more impactful book when you take your time exploring difficult subjects and diving into memories.
- Look after yourself during the writing process. Time-pressured sprints are just there to help you get as far forward as you can, but you don’t really have to have the writing done quickly, especially when you are writing a memoir or about difficult topics.
- Build a story archive. Make a list of the top 20 difficult or stand-out moments that have been a catalyst for your growth and change. Section those moments into subheadings and fill out the content form there.
- Be clear on who you are writing your book for. Determine your target reader in the beginning. Your book will be more impactful when your readers can connect to it.
- Put your writing sessions into your calendar to remind yourself that you have to write at this particular time.
Carrie Collins, Author of How To Do Most Of It
Carrie Collins is an author, senior executive and corporate officer, fundraiser, connector, educator, and lawyer. In this interview, she discusses how you should:
- Begin with your experiences and accomplishments if you are struggling with starting your book. When you’ve plotted out where your expertise lies and what lessons you have learned that made you an expert, you will see patterns emerge.
- Not worry so much about spelling and grammar or the coherence of the chapters just yet. Just keep pushing forward with your writing and trying to make a little bit of progress every day. You can go back and re-read the whole thing later.
- Have other people, who you trust, read through it, and ask for their opinions.
- Join the Nonfiction Authors Association. They have a plethora of resources, and you can get connected to book coaches there.
- Set a recurring reminder on your to-do list that you are going to work on your book. It doesn’t matter when during the day you write or how much time you are going to spend on writing. Every time the reminder appears on your to-do list, you sit down and write.
Kevin McCarthy, Author of The On-Purpose Person (and more!)
Kevin McCarthy is an author and an innovator and authority about clarity of purpose and being on-purpose. In this interview, he discusses how you should:
- Write your book. After some time, go back and read it, and then edit the book so that people will want to read it.
- Change your “I” statements to reader-centric sentences and topics when you edit. Make the reader the hero of the story. There is nothing wrong with sounding authoritative, but if you have a lot of ego in your writing, it becomes unapproachable.
Eleni Anastos, Author of My Reinvented Life
Eleni Anastos is a certified money business breakthrough coach, speaker, and author. In this interview, she discusses how you should:
- Have someone honest and supportive of your writing give you feedback.
- Tell your story when you are far enough along in the healing journey; otherwise, you will just be hurting and bleeding talking about your trauma. Share your scars, not your wounds.
- Map out the skeleton of the content sections that you will write. Create all the chapter titles and missions for each one and reverse-engineer to fill them in.
- Know when to prioritize your writing. Set boundaries with other people and their needs and stop putting yourself back.
- Make sure that writing is in your calendar so that you know it is a priority, but don’t force yourself to do it. When you force yourself to write 500 words a day, your writing may not come out authentic nor heartfelt.
Allen Klein, 29X Author
Allen Klein is a humorous keynote speaker, best-selling author, and therapeutic humor expert. In this interview, he discusses how you should:
- Use the deadline from your publisher to keep yourself motivated.
- Listen to your instincts when what your editor suggests goes against what’s truly important to you.
- Treat writing as a job. Have a schedule to follow. Make a contract with yourself to write regularly.
Terri Kozlowski, Author of Raven Transcending Fear
Terri Kozlowski is a writer, educator, leader, artist, certified life coach, empowerment and creativity coach, and the host of the Soul Solutions Podcast. In this interview, she discusses how you should:
- Think about what your story can teach your readers and what you are comfortable with sharing to them. They don’t need every gory detail, but they do need to understand your story and where you are coming from.
- Be far enough along in the healing journey to be able to write about your experiences without angst or pain. If you still haven’t healed from the trauma, you won’t be able to write it.
- Find encouragement in the feedback that you get from your readers. When your readers share meaningful feedback, it means that they care and empathize with the characters in your book.
- Get everything you can out onto paper as quickly as possible, then set it aside for a while before coming back to edit.
Dr. Raman Attri, 20X Author
Dr. Raman Attri is a global authority on speed, an organizational learning leader, and the author of 20 multi-genre books. Raman and I couldn’t connect for a live interview, but he was kind enough to share his thoughts in a pre-recorded interview. He teaches that you should:
- Be sure of what branches and topics you want to follow in your writing. When you’re writing a book that’s based on research, the research can unfold into different branches and avenues, and that can turn into a never-ending loop. Making these decisions is critical in getting your book out into the world.
- Niche down. You could cover every area of your topic in one book, but chances are that book would never get done.
- Spend more time on development than you do writing your book. Think about what you want the reading experience to write, then create a visual outline, like a mind-map.
- Pay proper attention to ideas that pop into your head, perhaps while driving or in the shower. Keep an app on your phone or a stack of Post-It notes that allows you to make quick voice notes of these ideas so you can revisit them later.
I’m of the belief that writing a book is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things you’ll ever do, especially if you’re the type of author that pours their heart, soul, failures, and successes into their book. If you’re looking for more structure, guidance, and accountability while writing your non-fiction book, check out my Book Writing Blueprint.
For less than the cost of dinner and a movie, you’ll have access to my best writing tips, step-by-step outlines and workbooks, and the opportunity to get your writing personally reviewed by me each and every month. Can’t wait to see you inside!
How a Little Bit of Wonder Can Make a Big Difference in Your Life
Exploring the human ability to be in awe. What does it mean to be awestruck? Or more simply, what is awe? Backed by the latest scientific research, Klein sets out to define awe and its effects on health and happiness. For example, over the past dozen years, or so, scientists have found, among other things, that awe:
- Connects us to others
- Lowers our stress levels
- Enhances positive emotions
- Increases our compassion
- Increases our creativity
Plenty of reasons to be in awe. With a sprinkling of the spiritual and scientific, The Awe Factor takes readers on an exploration of a human phenomenon. From research to first-hand awe-inspiring stories, Klein reflects on feelings of awe, meaning and purpose. And with bonus awe-awakening tools, tips, and techniques, he helps readers become more aware of, and increase, the awe and wonder in their life.