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WYIBP is for people who have a solid idea for a nonfiction book they want to try and traditionally publish, and walks writers through the process of creating a compelling, sellable book proposal.
For the past two years I’ve run this as a live e-course, but decided to make it available for people to move through at their own pace and at a much more affordable cost than previous iterations. To do this, I’ve turned the live lessons into 12 video lessons, each around 30-minutes in length, put together exercise packets to help writers apply the lessons to their own book project, and packaged sample proposal elements and bonus audio interviews with publishing experts.
I’m hosting the course over at my favorite online learning site, Ruzuku, and the cost is $197.
I’m not one much for resolutions, but I do love the idea of being reflective about what’s passed and intentional about what is to come.
At the start of 2013, I wrote a blog post in which I declared my “word” for the year: Evolution.
In last year’s post, I wrote that: “Evolution is what I’m experiencing in every aspect of my life: my role as a mother and wife and daughter and sister, my journey as an entrepreneur and small business owner, my awareness of my body’s strengths and weaknesses as I age, my personal path as I become a more in-tune, self-aware, and spiritual being.”
When I wrote that, I didn’t know I’d be moving abroad only 8 months later, and that the word would encompass so much more than I could have imagined. Funny how that happens…
But now, it’s time for a new word. A new theme, really. After spending some time journaling about the challenges and gifts of the past year, I thought about 2014 and what I hope to create. How I hope to feel. What I want more of in my world.
The answer came to me in a millisecond: Acceptance.
To me, acceptance is a blend of letting go of control and embracing what is. As I’ve been learning over the past few months, it’s not an easy thing for this Type A semi-retired control freak to master.
In fact, this theme might be sticking around for more than a year. Maybe five. Maybe ten. Maybe forever.
My intention, for now, is to notice where I want to work on letting go of control and embracing what is — accepting — with regards to:
- my writing life
- my coaching practice
- my role as my son’s mother
- my role as my son’s homeschool teacher
- my relationships with friends and family
- my relationship with my 44-year-old self
So, that’s the plan. But hey, I’m not going to be attached to the outcome on this one. It’s going to be a work-in-progress.
I’m curious…what is your theme / word for the year? And why?
Many writers dream of penning and publishing a book someday, but few people very publicly declare their goal and then allow the rest of us to watch their journey as they go after their dream. But that’s exactly what life coach Andrea Owen did back in January 2012 when she started blogging about her decision to make her book happen, and then, like a captivating reality show, continued to openly share every step of her process.
Nearly 2 years later, Andrea’s dream has come to fruition, as her book 52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life: BS-Free Wisdom to Ignite Your Inner Badass and Live the Life You Deserve has just been published by Adams Media. Woot!!
I had the chance to work with Andrea on her book proposal back when she was just getting ready to pitch this baby, and for me it’s been so damn fun to watch her land an agent, secure a publishing deal, and race against the clock towards publication. And as a friend and colleague and fan of Andrea’s, I couldn’t be more thrilled that the world gets to soak in her relatable, powerful, and no-holds barred words of hard-won wisdom.
Because I know many of you dream of following in Andrea’s footsteps with your own writing, I asked Andrea to tell us a little more about the hows and whys behind her book. Enjoy!
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You’ve said that writing and publishing a book was a lifelong dream for you. What was it that made you decide “now is the time” to do it?
I really got tired of waiting. I was still really afraid — afraid no agent would take me on, afraid I couldn’t finish the book, afraid it would be terrible and on and on. But it got to a point where I wanted it more than the fear. It was only a slight tipping point, but all I needed. I also didn’t want to have to tell my kids that it was my dream and I never went after it. Even if I failed at it, I wanted to be able to show them that I went after it and lived to tell about it.
What came first — the desire to write a book or the idea for the book itself?
The desire to write the book for sure. I had been blogging for a few years, so I knew I had a lot to say but had no idea how to organize it.
I got some coaching on it! What came from it was that I wanted it to be easy. Easy for me to write and easy for my readers to consume. Plus, I’m good at being straight-to-the-point without a lot of “fluff,” so the short chapters on life lessons made the most sense.
Any writer working on a book has to determine whether they want to self-publish or pursue a traditional publishing deal. What made you decide to go the latter route?
It came down to a few things. First, it had been my dream as a kid to do it the way “old school” authors did it. Second, distribution. Part of the dream was to see my book in bookstores. And third, if I was going to go through the painstaking task of writing close to 50,000 words, I wanted the best chances of my book being in as many hands as possible. Traditional publishing gave me that.
You very publically shared your book journey — from idea through the writing of the book — through video blogs. What was your goal in being so transparent throughout the whole process? To inspire others? Create accountability for yourself? All of the above?
Yes, all of those! In the work that I do, I know that outside accountability can really help you in achieving your big goals. I knew if I declared it publicly there was no turning back. And I knew there were many, many others like me who wanted to write a book. Part of what I feel called to do in this world is inspire others, so if I could do that by publicly sharing my journey I was happy!
What about the writing / publishing process was harder than you expected (if anything)?
Deadlines. Before this, I had only written for myself (with the occasional guest blog post for someone else), so when it came time for them to tell me when they wanted my final manuscript by, as well as the word count for every chapter, that was new! I guess it took a little bit of the creativity away that I was so used to freely having. It all ended up fine, but it was my first taste of having to answer to someone else about my writing.
At some point during the writing of a book, many writers get stuck or overwhelmed with the task before them and wonder why the hell they wanted to write a book in the first place. Did this happen to you and if so, how did you move through it?
Yes, definitely towards the end. I wrote much of the book at a local coffee shop and had friend that I would see often there as he came in for coffee. One day he came in and said, “I’m going to take a picture of you because every time I walk in here the first thing I see is you sitting there in front of your laptop with your face in your hands.” I just took it one word at a time like the rest of the book. I asked for help from my editor when I really felt like I had NOTHING more I could write in a particular chapter I was stuck on.
What has been the most fulfilling part of this journey for you?
So many parts! I don’t think I can pick just one. But really finishing it was amazing. Just that alone seemed like such a daunting task so when it was done and final, it was such a relief. I’m still sort of in that space of “this feels like an out-of-body experience” so if you ask me that question 3 months from now I might give you a different answer!
Any advice for would-be authors?
Just start. I didn’t know what I was doing, I had no idea how it would all work out, but like anything else, I took it one step at a time, one day at a time. You’ll figure it out as you go. Ask for help. Hire people to help you!
One last question…will you write another book?
(She laughs hysterically) It’s really like asking the mom who just had a baby an hour ago if she wants to get pregnant again and have another 80 hour labor and delivery.
But, yes, I will. I’m not rushing it though. Maybe in a few years!
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52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life: BS-Free Wisdom to Ignite Your Inner Badass and Live the Life You Deserve is described as a much-needed kick in the ass for women everywhere. “Owen’s life-changing wisdom helps you uncover your self-limiting beliefs as well as push you out of your comfort zone by zeroing in on the most difficult issues. Never one to sugarcoat the truth, she holds you accountable for your actions while offering expert advice for knocking down that cynical inner-voice and loving yourself wholeheartedly. With 52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life, you will shut off your internal auto-pilot; kick empty expectations to the curb; and live a bigger, gutsier life.”
Andrea Owen is an author, coach mentor, and certified life coach who helps women get what they truly want by manifesting self-love and helping them step into their authentic self. She has helped hundreds of people manage their inner-critic to break through and live their most kick-ass life. When she’s not juggling her full coaching practice, Andrea is busy playing roller derby under the name “Veronica Vain”, competing in triathlons, chasing her 6 year-old son and 4 year-old daughter or making out with her husband, Jason. Learn more about Andrea at http://yourkickasslife.com and join the fun and wisdom at http://facebook.com/yourkickasslife
Here’s a truth about me: I’ve never missed a writing or work deadline. Not once. And only one time in my ten-plus year career as a solopreneur have I asked for a work extension — it was only for three days and I could have made it without the cushion, but I knew they weren’t going to look at it over the weekend, so I made the request.
Knowing I’ve never missed a deadline helps me immensely, especially when I’m up against a tight one and I start to question whether or not I’m going to make it this time, which was what was happening towards the end of September as I raced towards my October 1 deadline of turning in my manuscript for Doable.
As people checked in on my progress, I’d nervously laugh and answer, “I don’t know if it’s going to happen, and if I do get it finished in time, it’s not going to be pretty.” I’d written books under extraordinary circumstances before, including wrapping up the first of The Real Deal books while nursing a newborn back in 2004, but September of this year was especially hairy. I had just moved to Amsterdam, was living in a temporary (read: soul-less, tiny, depressing) apartment, I was homeschooling my son for the first time ever, said son was not happy about the move, homeschooling, or any of it, I was mourning the loss of my dog (muse) Baxter, I didn’t have my support network on the ground, and I was just all around disoriented and struggling with the transition.
But I knew I wanted to hit that deadline. And not just hit it by turning something in…I wanted to deliver a solid manuscript that was in great shape and that I was proud of. So, I did.
Here are some of the strategies I used to keep me moving forward even though it seemed like the odds were definitely not ever in my favor. I hope they work for you too the next time you’re up against the wire and you’re worried about hitting your deadline:
Don’t panic: Talk about a complete waste of energy! Panic does nothing useful in situations like this. In fact, it makes it less likely that we’ll hit our target. Panic may be a normal and natural response to what’s happening, but it is simply not productive. So notice the panic, acknowledge it (oh yes, YOU again!), and ask it to move along….there’s nothing to see here.
Trust in your ability to get it done: When you’re moving ahead full-throttle in an attempt to complete something that feels impossible, blind trust and faith in who you are is a good thing. Believe in yourself. You’ve done this before. You’ve got this.
Find ways to make the work enjoyable: However you can eke pleasure into your work process — getting productive at your favorite coffee shop or breaking work sessions up with reality TV breaks or doing what needs to be done while simultaneously reclining on a chaise in your bathrobe and cozy slippers and enjoying a glass of wine — do it. Be indulgent. Eat chocolate if need be.
Two words – self care: Self-care is perhaps never more important than when you’re stressed and swamped. It can help with clarity and creativity, not to mention good old fashioned mental and emotional health. So though the urge to skip self-care (exercise, naps, down-time, massages, meditation, whatever) can be strong when time is a very limited resource, don’t do it. Twenty to thirty minutes per day of self-care is worth hours of productivity.
Know it will pass: Just like allergy season or the flu or dealing with the breakup of a relationship, remember that the way you feel right now is not the way you’re always going to feel. And things will not always be this way. What you’re going through is a moment in time, a period of your life. And then you’ll move onto something else.
Life imitates art, so the saying goes. I haven’t given that notion much thought until now, but it seems like all of my worlds — my creative world, my professional world, my personal world — are suddenly tied together in the most interesting ways. As George Costanza so eloquently said in Seinfeld, “My worlds are colliding!”
Here I am, in perhaps one of the most stressful times I’ve experienced in I don’t know how long, trying to get it all done – keep my house clean for realtors, manage my kid’s camp schedule, pack, figure out how to move animals overseas, meet the deadline for my upcoming book, and pack some more.
And, wouldn’t you know it, the book I’m writing for teens just happens to be about how to get things done. Doable: How to Accomplish Just About Anything lays out my 8-step approach for tackling absolutely any to do. And while I normally love the opportunity to test all of the theories I include in a book, frankly a few less obstacles would be nice. Just this week alone I’ve had a lost cat, a sick dog, an issue at my son’s camp that required a quick change of plans, and house buyers who got cold feet the day before we started escrow. And it’s only Wednesday.
I’m on the home stretch of my first draft, and just finished the second-to-last chapter on Monday. That chapter, entitled Dealing with Setbacks, talks about how failures and setbacks are part of working towards anything. The key isn’t to resist the setbacks or make them mean something about our ability achieve what we set out to do, but rather it’s about accepting, even welcoming, the setbacks and failures, allowing ourselves to experience the emotions they bring up in us, and exploring what’s really going on with curiosity and flexibility.
Really, it’s about rolling with the punches and moving forward. And it’s about embracing the gifts of failures and setbacks. Even if you can’t come up with a “reason” for why things are happening the way they are or you’re unable to see the flip side of the circumstances, by its very nature, failure is a positive thing.
Failure is feedback. Nothing more, nothing less. Failure is information that tells us something isn’t working or there’s a better way.
Failure and setbacks build grit. And the more setbacks we face, the more we grow the traits of perseverance and resilience.
Failure results in creativity. True innovation and creativity is almost always the result of failure.
Failure begets self-knowledge. According to author Gretchen Rubin, self-knowledge is the key to happiness. (And I believe her.)
What benefits have you experienced from failure and setbacks in your life? What is your secret to rolling with the punches?
Because I’m a busy gal and am usually juggling multiple projects in the midst of a very full life, people often ask me how I get it all done. There are many different ways I go about actually seeing my projects through, many of which are detailed in my ebook, 5 Secrets for Tackling (& Shipping) Creative Projects. (If you haven’t received this, you can get your free copy by signing up here.)
But as I’m in serious crunch mode at the moment, I thought I’d share with you what I’m trying to accomplish in a short period of time, as well as my plan for getting it done.
Here’s the situation: I am currently writing a book for teen girls called Doable: How to Accomplish Just About Anything to come out in Spring 2015. My publisher, Beyond Words/Simon Pulse, wants a first draft in their hot little hands by October 1.
This date normally wouldn’t have been an issue, but remember that little cross-continental move that has recently come up? Yes…organizing and executing an international relocation is happening right smack in the middle of what would normally have been my core writing time.
In early June, I set a deadline for myself of having a shitty first draft of the manuscript completed by July 31. That would leave me two months to edit and clean up the manuscript, as well as interview the girls I want to feature in the book. I’ve been steadily working towards that goal, but I woke up this morning with a start and the realization that July 31 is um, like, one week away.
Well, to that I say, game on. I’ve got two-and-a-half chapters left to go. I know I can hit this deadline, but it’s going to take some serious focus and planning.
Here’s my strategy:
1. Publicly declare my goal and post updates daily on Facebook as a way of crowdsourcing accountability (feel free to bug, remind, and encourage at will on any and all social media!)
2. Leave my lovely new laptop perched next to my comfy writing spot on the chaise, ready to let these fingers to do their thing
3. Wake up at 6:30am every day to handle emails and other online work so that the time my son is in camp can be used exclusively for writing
4. If I get tired and think I may need a nap (writing does this to me!), take my dog for a brisk walk around the block instead
5. Exercise every (yes, every) day
6. Write an average of 1500 words per day between now and deadline
7. Let other things, things that don’t have to be done in the next week, go
8. Treat myself with frozen yogurt every night after I’ve hit my word target
9. More green smoothies, less frozen Thin Mints
10. Don’t worry about things that are beyond my control (when the house will sell, where we’ll live in Amsterdam, etc.)
So that’s what I’ve got. That’s my plan. If I stick to it, I know I’ll hit my deadline.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some writing to do!
I almost bailed on the World Domination Summit. True story.
Not because I didn’t want to go, but because in my pre-house-selling-pre-moving-abroad frenzy, I didn’t think I could give up a weekend for a road trip to Portland just for the purposes of being inspired.
But one of my besties was flying in from the east coast for the event, and so pulling out wasn’t an option. So around 2pm on a Friday afternoon, we climbed into my Prius, jumped onto I-5, and headed south. For me, WDS was on.
When I first signed up in January to go to the summit which was created in 2011 by unconventional author and blogger Chris Gillibeau, I did so for 3 reasons: 1) I wanted to take away learning that would help me creatively grow my business, 2) a handful of friends I love and respect were going and I wanted to soak in some of their goodness, and 3) great speakers + a room full of world changers = good stuff.
But with the move madness going on at home, by the time I arrived at WDS, I frankly didn’t even know why I was there. My mind was elsewhere and I was feeling out of sorts. But I decided to just stay open to whatever the experience had offer me, and in doing so, I quickly realized that the biggest reason on my original list, the one about being inspired to creatively grow my business, wasn’t really on track. In fact, as I listened to talks by the likes of Nancy Duarte, Tess Vigeland, Jia Jiang, Gretchen Rubin, and Darren Rowse, I understood there was a very clear purpose for why I was there – WDS was about helping me set an intention for our upcoming move to Amsterdam and the major shift my family and I are in the midst of.
Deciding to take this huge leap of faith to leave our lives in Seattle and move overseas has and continues to be scary, hard, exciting, stressful. Our nearly 9-year-old son is, to put it bluntly, seriously pissed off about the whole thing, and more than once my husband and I have asked ourselves why we were doing this…why we felt the need to disrupt what is arguably a very good life in the Northwest. We’ve got a nice home, a great neighborhood, good jobs, views of snow-capped mountains year-round, fresh air.
But this is the change we asked for. And this is the change we know in our hearts is best for our family. Being at World Domination Summit and being surrounded by people who crave adventure, community, living an unconventional life, the pursuing of big dreams, and share a belief that what we are here to do matters reminded me just how critical taking this leap is.
Change is hard. But it’s such an amazing thing. It’s where the good stuff happens. As a writer and creative person, I know it’s where the inspiration for new work comes from.
For me, I ultimately took away more from the World Domination Summit than I ever could have imagined. I was reminded of some powerful truisms that hit the spot:
- True vulnerability is the key to powerful connection
- We’re never too busy to be inspired
- We are not alone
- Transparency and humility is where it’s at
- There are a lot of people doing some really cool shit out there
- There is value in setting out on a journey with no map or plan (watch the documentary Janapar)
- Alone time wandering in a new city can’t be beat
- Generosity and community are interconnected
- My work life and my personal life can’t be separated
I arrived home from the weekend inspired and focused and ready to embark on this new adventure and experience what our life in Europe has in store for my whole family. I still have days where I feel overwhelmed or sad but bigger than that is the sense of deep knowing and trust that our move itself and the adventures that will come as a result of it are actually part of what we’re here to create.
So there’s no other choice but to embrace the change, leap off that cliff, and simply be in each and every moment of our new life in The Netherlands.
Oh, and figure out a way to get to Portland next July for the next WDS…there’s that too…
When I signed a contract for my next book, Doable: How to Accomplish Just About Anything, several months ago with a manuscript delivery deadline of October 1, I thought, no problem. Sure, I had some other major work things going on at the time, but my plan was to dedicate the entire summer to cranking out the book. I’d have a rough draft by the end of August and then have the month of September to tighten, clean up, and finesse. Perfect.
What I didn’t anticipate was that in early June we would get word that our family was relocating to The Netherlands in August. And as excited as I was about the news, I also started experiencing a low-level panic as I realized my long, leisurely writing days of summer were about to go up in smoke.
Once my husband and I got down to some serious planning, the massive To Do list was born. There are contractors to hire, getting the house on the market, finding long-term storage, packing, move logistics, and more.
Meanwhile, my lovely little book? The one that’s all about how any goal or To Do can be doable? Well, let’s just say it’s providing me with a perfect opportunity to put my money where my mouth is.
Here’s my new and improved plan: Complete first draft of manuscript by July 31st so while I’m in the middle of the move I can be editing and tweaking instead of writing. I can lug that draft with me everywhere I go and edit as I can.
My strategy for the next 28 days? Write in short, productive bursts — 15-30 minutes each — multiple times throughout each day and chip away at the book, chapter by chapter. I find that this kind of writing, especially when under deadline, keeps the creative well open. If I reach a point during one of these bursts where I feel stuck or the words aren’t coming, I consider that burst over and close the laptop. Usually by the time I come back to it hours later, I’ll be ready to dive back in from a fresh place.
The process isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done. (At least that’s my plan!)
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If you want to know more about my personal creative and writing process, I just recorded an interview with the fabulous Gia Duke where I share what my days look like when I’m on deadline and juggling a very busy life. Listen to the interview here, and be sure to check out Gia’s Super Love Summer Mashup for more interviews and awesome content from a pretty kick-ass crew of people.
For the past few months, big changes have been brewing in my world. The kind of changes that my husband and I dreamed about and hoped for, that we knew deep down in our core were going to happen, but were simultaneously completely and utterly freaked out that we just might get what we asked for and then we’d have no choice but to take a big scary leap. (Or maybe that last part was just me…)
I’ve been sitting on this news for a few weeks now — I didn’t want to say anything until things were 100 percent definite and I’ve also needed time to tell my family and friends what’s happening.
So here’s the big reveal…
At the end of August, my family and I will be relocating to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. (Insert squeal here!) For the past few years, we’ve been craving a traveling adventure and luckily we’ve been able to finagle it through my husband’s job.
Our plan is to go abroad for 2-3 years to see and experience as much as we can. While I’m admittedly terrified of diving headfirst into many unknowns with an almost 9-year-old in tow, we know in our gut that this is the right thing for our family, and the excitement outweighs the fear (on most days).
My greatest intention for this adventure is that it enables us as a family and as individuals the opportunity for lots of growth, connection, and fun. I know there will be days where I question what the hell we’ve gotten ourselves into (these days are already occurring as we begin packing up and selling a house, I frantically try to wrap up my manuscript which is due to my publisher by Oct 1, and manage the expectations of my son who isn’t really bought into the whole idea … yet).
I honestly don’t know how it’s all going to play out, but I think that’s kind of the point, right?
So for now, I’ll close by simply saying, “To be continued…”
Me too. More than a few.
I’m usually good with deadlines when everything’s humming along and going smoothly, but as the mantra coined by Martha Beck goes, Everything’s changing all the time.
While sometimes these changes can be good — having a close friend move back to town or getting a promotion at work or finding a new coffee place that makes the best latte in town — other, less positive changes can completely derail us and bring our work to a halt, our finely laid plan rendered useless.
And of course those deadlines are still there, nagging at us. And at some point we need to collect ourselves, regroup, and dive back in to our work. Of course, this is one of those easier-said-than-done kind of things. Like re-entering the real world after a vacation, diving back in to a project that we’ve stepped away from can feel daunting and overwhelming. And that feeling can be enough to keep us stuck, helpless bystanders as we watch the days tick by and our deadline marching towards us.
I’m in such a place right now, but I am climbing to the top of the high dive and getting ready to plunge into the pool. Here’s how I’m going to do it:
Change it Up: Life has been full of change, so why not use change as a tool for re-entry? My plan is to formally shift gears and immerse myself in my project by finding a new venue to work on it. By creating a new routine and associating a specific place with this project, I’m using Chip & Dan Heath’s strategy of shaping my path to help me formulate a new habit…one that leads to my successfully tackling my work.
Revisit & Review: If you’ve ever been in a long-distance relationship, you know it takes a little getting-to-know-you-again time to get back into the comfortable swing of things. The same applies to creative projects. I’m going to spend time rereading my development content for my project, articles, drafts, and more to get back into the headspace. It may look like procrastination, but it’s really a critical part of the work transition.
Be Patient & Judgment-Free: Feeling bad about just how off-schedule I am doesn’t really do anything except hinder my creative process. So I accept my situation for what it is, give myself time to get back into the swing of things, and turn off the self-judgment (the word “should” doesn’t really have a place in this conversation).
Take Small Steps: While I’m going to dive back in to the project, I’ll picture the slow-mo replay version of said dive. I’ll start small and set simple targets for what I want to accomplish each day. I know that once I’m fully immersed in the project I’ll eventually get back to a state of creative flow.
Get Accountability: This is a biggie. I’m turning to my people who are my cheerleaders, my supporters, and my accountability partners and I’m publicly declaring…I will be doing X this week. I’ll ask them to check in on me and make sure I’m on track, and possibly send a few words of encouragement. If I feel really brave, I’ll publicly declare my goal and ask my social media community to hold me to it.
Reward Myself: I’m such a sucker for rewards, so this is a no-brainer for me. I’ll set targets for what I hope to accomplish each day / week, and will happily cash in on my rewards, which will include a late-night frozen yogurt run, a mid-day nap, a trip to the beach with my son (even if it is 52 degrees and raining…). Small rewards for small tasks are proven to work, so I intend to use them!
So that’s what I’ve got. I feel pretty sure it’s going to work.
How about you? What strategies do you use to dive back in to a project after life has thrown you a curve ball?