Shake Off Your Fear of Not Being a Writer
The thing that I always hear first from entrepreneurs is they get really afraid about the writing. They say, "Well, okay I'm good at all those skills, "I do have all that understanding "of my market and my customer, but I'm terrified of writing. "I'm not a writer." And usually they go back to some horrible thing that happened. I don't know why I always pick fifth grade, but fifth grade where some teacher probably said, "You don't know how to write" or, you know, "You're bad at this" or whatever the thing that they got in their head that they don't know how to write and this is the thing that tends to keep people from stepping out and doing this work. And that's crazy because entrepreneurs also have the skills that they need to write and to be great writers. Some of those things that you need to be a good writer: Okay, you need motivation and persistence. Persistence is like the thing for every writer because it's hard. Writing a book is a big complex undertaking and it unfolds over tim...
e and it's easy to get knocked off course, and you've gotta know why you're doing it, have that deep motivation to know why you're doing it, and you've also got to persevere past the doubt. Past, you know, somebody else has a book out there on this. Past the thing like why should I be spending my time on this. You gotta persevere past all those things. You've got to have focus and entrepreneurs are so great at this. They've chosen a business, they've put a stake in the ground for that business. That's what writers need, too, is to focus down, to hone down what exactly is this thing that I am putting on the page and to refine it more and more. Entrepreneurs are great at that. They've got project management skills. I think project management skills are one of the most underrated things that a writer needs. A book project is a massively big complex project, as I said, and being able to see a project through and know the stages and know the level and see that whole thing over time, entrepreneurs are great at this. They've done it with their business and writers need to be able to do this, too. It's one of the things writers typically need to learn. They're not great at it, but entrepreneurs typically are good at it and you can lean on those project management skills to get you where you need to go. Writers also need a commitment to their authentic voice. So often writers are coming at their work from this place of like, I call it writing by committee or writing by the rule book. What you think your writing is supposed to be and that's just no good for anyone ever. What we want are authentic voices. No matter what you're writing that's what we want, is to get at that authentic voice of what do you really believe. And entrepreneurs have to do this in their business because they have to know what am I actually offering the world? What is my value proposition? What is my business about? Who is it really for? And that same authenticity. You can't survive in a business if you don't know what you stand for and that same authenticity is what we want to bring into the writing. And entrepreneurs are already good at this. They know how to do this, they just have to be reminded that that's what good writing is. Good writing is about being authentic and true to your voice and your values. And then finally, in order to write well and to see a book project all the way through you gotta be organized. You've gotta be organized in so many ways. There's the physical thing. I mean it's not really physical, it's digital. It's your files and your folders and your drafts and your iterations and where did I put that thing and where did I put that note and how you literally organize it, but it's also the organization of ideas that you need and how an idea is brought together. That's the thing that trips people up the most when they come to me in this situation where they're an entrepreneur and they wanna write a book. They're not quite sure how to get into the idea and structure it and wrap their hands around it and there is a process for doing that and it is a process that can be learned and I wanna give an example of how that works. I wanna tell you about Lauri Taylor. Lauri was a client of mine who came to me, she wanted to write a memoir and the interesting about Lauri was that she was a PTA mom in Orange County, California. And this is what she was. This was who she was. She was not an entrepreneur. She was not a writer. She was none of those things, but she had the elements that we talked about before. She had motivation to write this book and the reason that she had motivation to write this book, she knew her purpose and she knew her power. So Lauri spent four years trying to find her mother's killer. Her mother had been murdered. She's this Orange County PTA mom who spent four years trying to find her mother's murderer and she, her mother died in Mexico, so she was going back and forth from Mexico to the US dealing with the authorities, dealing with the FBI. It was this whole endeavor. So she had this motivation to share her story because what she found at the end of the road everybody thought her mother had been murdered, but it turned out her mother had committed suicide and that it was the end of a very sad story of mental illness. So Lauri wanted to get her message about mental illness not being shameful to talk about out into the world. She was so driven and motivated to do this. All those elements I talked about an entrepreneur, she had them, she just wasn't selling something. What she was doing was this search, but she was so organized. She came to me with binders of material and she was so motivated and she refused to give up until she got this story on the page. She had all of these elements that I talked about. The project management skills, the commitment to excellence, the commitment to authenticity. The one thing that she didn't have was a sense of how to organize this material, how to get into it. Where do we start? How do we even approach this? Which is why she came to me for help. So I worked with her for about two years and she wrote a book called The Accidental Truth. The subtitle's a little hard to read, it's "What my mother's murder investigation "taught me about life." You can see there the foreword by Candice DeLong. Candice DeLong is an FBI profiler. Actually the movie Silence of the Lambs was modeled on her and she says in the preface to this book, "Most laypeople," that's you and I who are not trained in this, "think that they can solve a crime, "but it never happens and in this case "it actually really did happen" and Candice worked with Lauri to crack this case and solve a problem. So this was the book that Lauri produced. And all the things that I was talking about that you need in order to do this. Lauri was not a writer. She would be the first person to say that she was not a writer, but she had all those other things that you need to leverage in order to bring this book into the world and the really key thing she had was that sense of persistence and motivation and absolute clarity on who she was writing for. So when her book came out into the world, she was able to do book signings at book stores. She was able to do podcasts and book clubs all over. She continues to do that. She brings this message of not being afraid to talk about mental illness all over the place. She's spoken on stages everywhere. She has been invited to speak on panels and on groups and she's becoming known as an expert in the field of mental health in talking about suicide. She's been invited to conferences and organizations and all kinds of places that, talking about suicide and mental health and that's what she wanted. That's why she wanted to write the book. She wanted to be out there talking to people and sharing that message and this is what she was able to do and she would be the first person to say, "It doesn't matter if you don't think you're a writer." It's really the least important part and I actually think that's true for people who come at their story from the writer's perspective as well. To succeed in the world of publishing today you've gotta have these other entrepreneurial skills. It's the hardest word to say. (laughs) And entrepreneurs have it. They can lean on it and they know how to do it.