I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote my first book, How to Love Yourself in Less Than 50 Years. It would be fair to say that I had many internal blocks to getting it done. It took me over a year to write the 35,000 words. I had no problem with the content, as I had been a clinical hypnotherapist and energy healer for many years. But how to actually do it? Not a notion. I created neither outline nor structure.
I started writing it on a notepad to get around my vociferous internal critic. After all, if I was serious about writing a book, I would be doing it on the computer, right? Well, as a process, it worked for me. I got it all down and once I was in the habit of writing, it got easier. I input it to the computer and started the long process of rewriting, editing and more editing. I knew it was finished when I was so sick of it I could cheerfully have burnt it.
Four years ago, I had no idea how to self-publish a book. But I have learned. I paid my niece to create the paperback cover, as she has a degree in fine art and I had no clue how to start. I uploaded the paperback version to Createspace, which fed the book to Amazon. I paid a company to do the e book conversion. That was the right decision at the time, but it is not a viable option if you plan to continue to publish. If you need any changes made, for example, updating your “Also by Author” section, you have to pay the company for each amendment. So I learned how to do it myself. And then I wrote about what I had learned in a short e book called Self-Publishing for Beginners: Notes from an ordinary middle aged woman with reasonable computer skills. If I was not going to make much money, at least I could amuse myself!
By the way, it gets easier to write after your first book. Your brain has accepted that you are going to do it and just shrugs. So take heart. Reid Tracy, the CEO of Hay House, says that it takes ten years to become an overnight success. I can well believe it. The good news is that I have already put in four years, only six to go, way hay!
I did a lot of self-directed study in order to learn how to do the technical aspects of self-publishing. I also studied how to market my books. Some of the advice was useful. Some was not. One American marketing guru exhorts you to create a social media post four times a day. This made me throw my eyes up to heaven. I do have a blog The Write of My Life and there is pleasure in that. I can see the logic of building an email list. I have a website with my books on it and links to purchase. I use Instagram. But wittering on Facebook for the sake of wittering? I don’t think so.
In the meantime, I had also written a series of three e books, The Power of Inner Change for Outer Results, which contained recorded meditations and videos. As a clinical hypnotherapist for twenty years, I was well used to making voice recordings. All that has changed is the technology – from cassette tapes (remember them?!) to digital microphones. The e book series was head-meltingly complex because I did not do a proper outline of the series or individual books beforehand. Same mistake repeated as for first book. Creativity needs structure. Lesson finally learned, after the explosion of many brain cells. These days, I do outlines.
My first foray into fiction was The Tale of Harry Three Paws: Love, Angels and Cats with Cattitude. I am passionate about animals, and this book is very close to my heart. It has been well received and has been described as a crossover book that appeals to cat-loving adults and children aged ten plus. Writing it was a whole other set of challenges but I am very grateful to my writing buddy, Dolly, who kept me at it. Dolly and I met at a creative writing class fifteen years ago and formed a monthly writing group. It now consists of just the two of us, and focuses mostly on eating cake and chatting. Writing can be a lonely and frustrating business so it really helps to have support and to give support.
The most important thing I have learned is to persevere. Nowadays, I understand that finishing the final edit is just the beginning of the formatting challenge. There are essentially three versions to do: the paperback, the mobi file for Amazon/Kindle, and the epub version for Smashwords. The practice of writing has created a backbone of steel in me. I simply cannot afford to give up. Today I am finishing the e book conversion of my latest book, Energy Healing for Pets, Wildlife and Sanctuary Animals. I have been an animal healer for the last sixteen years. I am hopeful that somehow, somewhere, some animals will benefit from my work. If that happens, it will have been worth all the sweat and the missed episodes of NCIS.
My advice to people who want to write is: Start. There is only one you, with your unique view of the world. If you have a passionate desire to write, then that is because your soul needs you to write. Once you have started, do a daily practice of writing. Neuronal plasticity will support your emerging addiction to writing. My next book is already percolating in my mind, and getting ready to emerge. The same can happen to you. Keep writing. Just be yourself. Enjoy the journey and help others along the way.
(c) Marese Hickey
About How to Love Yourself in Less Than 50 Years:
Tired of hiding who you really are because you feel you’re not good enough?
Fed up of giving up, giving in and giving yourself away?
You may have lived a lifetime of not feeling good enough, judging yourself harshly, feeling fearful, shamed, powerless or discouraged. You may be tired of comparing yourself with others and staying in the shadows. Maybe you are now concerned that you will continue this pattern with your own children, because children learn by example. Lack of self-love and self-compassion creates a prison where we do not dare to be our true selves. It imprisons not only us, but those around us, because we cannot truly love others until we love ourselves in a healthy way.
If this rings a bell with you, it’s time to read this book.
Order your copy online here.