Would you like to know how to write a book that’s liberated from all the “5 step/6 step/7 step/1-2-3-How-to” paint-by-the-number formulas?
“But it’ll never sell if I don’t follow the rules!” cries your Critical Voice (Can you hear the fear?... Don’t you know that you’re destined for failure unless you follow the rules?)
The rules! Today someone sent me the following piece of wisdom. It came at exactly the right moment. I printed it out and placed it in a frame over my computer:
“The whole secret of existence is to have no fear nor to let fear have you. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no thing or no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.” --Buddha
News Bulletin: Rules are Paper Tigers
Let’s say you want to write a book about hiking. You love to hike—it’s a passion. And since “passion” is linked to this activity, you’ve just embraced my first and most important writing dictum: “Write with a passion and choose subject matter that you’re passionate about.”
Since we are all magnets—what we think about we attract--it’s a natural law that you will project to the reader exactly what you’re feeling. Your readers will flock to you because they want some of what you have.
On weekends and holidays or whenever you can, you “head for the hills” or wherever your heart desires. Since you live in the northwestern part of the U.S., you don’t have to go far to find lakes and forests and many hiking trails.
You’d love to share the joy of tramping through the woods on a crisp autumn day… or in the winter, making tracks in newly fallen snow… in the summer, collecting fossils and other treasures, hiding out in caves… or in the spring, going on a wildflower hike...
What fun it would be to share with others some of these awesome experiences. You think about all the tips you can give them about what kind of shoes to wear, or clothing for different climates and seasons... what to put in your backpack… first aid items you should never leave home without… what to do in case of emergencies, etc.
Consider how foolish it would be to try to fit your overflow of enthusiasm into someone’s writing template or "5-6-7" or-however-many-steps program.
Write! Just write!
In your book, include some of your favorite hiking stories… and if one of them is really scary (yes, it WAS a mountain lion, or quicksand or a rattlesnake!)… lead with that story.
Forget the formulas and all the how to write a book “shoulds” and “musts” that deliver same-sounding robotically constructed manuscripts.
Some of our greatest writers risked everything because they knew they could never live with themselves if they followed someone else’s rules or imitated the latest trend.
“My voice or no voice!” they proclaimed. And for this honesty and courage, we owe some of our greatest works of literature: Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and many others.
What would it feel like to venture off the beaten path? Exciting… right? If you’re a hiker, that’s one of the most exciting things of all.
How did writing templates originate, anyway?
Every enterprise usually tries to find a marketing hook in order to sell their products and services. Several years ago, the 1-2-3 approach to doing almost anything (2-3-4 steps to XXXX, the 5-minute XXX, etc.) became as popular as the “XXX for Dummies” series, and the "XXX 101" books. Marketing gurus were on a roll. They’d found a secret door to subconsciously deliver the message that changing a tire/growing giant cucumbers/remodeling the den, is simple. All you have to do is follow these steps, or submit to buying the 101 version of this skill set. “You’ll see how easy it is to graduate from Dummy to Expert” was the subconscious message. We're all hooked on easy how-to's... right? The bookcase that's delivered your door unassembled?!!
These books are fun and I love fun as much as everyone else. But you want your book to represent you, because you are unique.
Let me repeat that: you are unique. You don’t want to find a formula for writing your book because you want the material to be fresh. You want it to come straight from your heart and mind. If the end result seems out of balance, difficult to understand or if it seems to need more work, that’s what book doctors and writing coaches are for.
Call me! I’ll help you fix the problem by guiding you back to your drawing board (not mine) and suggesting how you can re-view your vision. Of course, I can do this work for you if you wish, but my goal is to support your desire to write this book yourself.
If you have another reason for writing your book—let’s say you’re a retailer for hiking gear and you want to sell this book in your store as another product—you may not have the time or inclination to write it yourself. Then, of course I’d be more than happy to step in and do the book doctoring for you!
You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down. --Ray Bradbury
Carol Adler, MFA’s first ghost-written book listing her name as co-editor, Why Am I Still Addicted? A Holistic Approach to Recovery, was endorsed by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and published by McGraw-Hill. Other publications include three novels, four books of poetry, and well over 200 poems in literary journals. She has ghostwritten over 40 non-fiction and fiction works for a number of professionals in the education, health care and human potential industries.
Carol is President of Dandelion Books, LLC of Tempe, Arizona; a full service publishing company. She is also President and CEO of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc., Write to Publish for Profit and President of the International Arts & Media Foundation, a non-profit subsidiary of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc.
Her business experience includes co-ownership of a Palm Beach, FL public relations company and executive management positions in two U.S. rejuvenation and mind/body wellness corporations, for which she founded publishing divisions.
Carol has served as editor of several poetry and literary magazines. Her career experience includes extensive teaching of college-level creative and business writing, and conducting of writing workshops in prisons, libraries, elementary, junior and high schools, and senior citizen centers.
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