Every day, people are making thousands off of those one-page websites that begin with something like, “Dear Friend, You’re here because you want more happiness/more money/to find love…” and a myriad other topics that basically promise to give you a quick fix. It’s like that cliche – All I need is a million bucks, a fast car, and a good lawyer. For better or worse (and in some ways, despite my cynicism, it is for the better), we’re a culture that’s obsessed with doing more, having the best, and living to the fullest.
The problem with all those one-page websites is that there is really no such thing as a quick fix. You can’t read an ebook and suddenly fill that hole that you imagine gaping inside you. It only takes a couple of naiive moments purchasing these hundred-dollar-fixes before people either turn their back on self-help completely, or look somewhere else.
It’s to authors – ones who really have a good insight to share, and have been able to prove it to a publisher – that people turn.
If you’re a spirituality, self-help, or personal growth expert, you have a lot of reasons to become an author today. Right now. Authors are recognized as being experts because they have published a book with their name on the cover. This alone can do more for your income than any amount of advertising – “Jane Doe is a personal coaching expert who has published the book Jane Doe on Personal Coaching” – you’ve got to admit, you’re more likely to give respect to a published expert than the one who you have to track down references on. This doesn’t even go into the media impact – media loves authors, considered to be experts, and will use them often. Once more, you’ve got free advertising and your opinion suddenly holds much more weight in the world.
Speaking engagements become much more likely to be paid, too, so while your book may not become a Times Bestseller, you really improve your chances of increasing your income. (Hey, maybe this could be one of those one-page websites, with the promise of a better future – only I’m not going to ask you to shell out hundreds for the observation.)
On the personal growth and spirituality front, you’re doing a lot for your own growth by writing. Having a published book – almost always – goes a long way to curing your idea that your opinions don’t matter or that you’re not intelligent enough to stand out. Basically, being an author gives you a stronger sense of self-esteem because you’re constantly exploring your own insights and feelings. You are able to see on paper that your words have a meaning that resonates.
After you publish a book, you have an instant platform for teaching workshops and seminars, reaching a much larger audience than you were ever able to before. Income or the satisfaction of knowing you’re able to help others – writing can help you achieve both.
Finding Your Spiritual Writing Well
If you’re like most people who are driven to write, the reasons to write that I just listed are nothing but icing on the cake. The real drive to write is, simply enough, to write. Starting a self-help or spirituality based book (or any other kind of writing, for that matter), has to be something you do because you want to do it.
Sitting at the computer day after day, staring at a blank page on the computer screen, and proudly telling (to ridiculous stares) your family that you wrote two whole pages that day can feel soul-crushing at times. Part of tapping the well of writing inside you is finding the satisfaction in knowing you’re writing in order to be true to yourself. Your dreams and vision aren’t a waste of time – they are something you can and will achieve. When even this doesn’t help motivate me, I turn to the comfort of knowing I’m not alone.
“Contrary to what many of you might imagine, a career in letters is not without its drawbacks – chief among them the unpleasant fact that one is frequently called upon to sit down and write.” – Fran Lebowitz
“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back in again.” – Oscar Wilde
“A writer iis a person for whome writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – Thomas Mann
“It’s nervous work. The state that you need to be in to write is the state that others are paying large sums to get rid of.” Shirley Hazzard
The point is that if you’re bothering to read this article at all, it’s because you have a story inside you that needs telling. I firmly believe that everyone is a writer already – if you can read, you can write, and write well … but you have to give yourself permission to do so first.
Start with what you know, what you believe to be the truth and banish all ideas of criticism your beliefs might spawn. Journaling is perhaps more important for the Self-Help and Spirituality writer than any other – it keeps you in constant contact with your inner self, the things that drive you, and the startling insights that you achieve any given day. These are the things that will form a base for your work.
Choose a Title and Starting Writing
Sometimes, whether it’s writing, exercise, or dieting, it’s much better to start out slow than to jump in head-first. Take some time to read self-help and spirituality articles and books available both online and real-time. If these aren’t titles that appeal to you when you read them, you’re never going to find the drive to write them. Instead, turn to a writing genre that rivets you to turn every page – it will also rivet you to keep typing through self-doubt.
After you feel that you have a good idea how most self-help articles are structured, what they contain, and where most of them are published, try your hand at writing a couple of articles. Focus on a topic that is close to your heart, one that you can reasonably see writing a book on. There are a couple of reasons for doing this. First, by writing smaller articles, you get to “test-drive” the topic you’re thinking about and adjust your writing style until you’re happy with the results. Second, each of the articles that you publish will give a publisher more reason to publish the book that you do write. Remember my “writers are an expert” statement? It applies to all levels of your career.
You’ll know when you’re ready to start writing the book you’re driven to write. It will come about when you are comfortable with the articles you’re writing, when you feel confident and are generating ideas that file right into those articles almost without effort. That doesn’t mean that writing will be easy – it rarely is – it means that your ideas will be flowing and you’ll be happy to continue writing on the topic day after day. When this time comes, you’re ready to formulate a general overview for your book.
Different authors have different methods for pre-writing. Some advocate carefully detailing, chapter-by-chapter, exactly what your book should contain. Other authors say that you should just jot down what chapters you want to cover. Still others say to just put your pen to paper and start going. Play around with these methods until you find what works for you – it might even be a combination of different methods.
If nothing else, make sure that you take a few moments every day as you write to congratulate yourself on doing it. You’re trying to help others, and you’ve got ideas that can do just that – let the ideas keep coming, and let your fingers keep recording them. You might not become the next Deepak Chopra, but there’s no reason that you can’t aspire to it.