Before becoming a consultant and business owner, I began my career as a professional speaker around 1999. In the very beginning, I was a youth and education presenter. You know, the speaker who stands in the middle of your kid’s high school gym with both sides filled and the cool kids heckling from the upper bleachers? That was me. This led to talking to parents, which led to talking to administrators, which led to talking to associations, which ultimately led to corporate speaking, consulting, and training. (That’s why senior executives never scare me—I’ve faced the popular kids of the 11th grade and lived to tell the tale.
From the earliest days of a speaker’s career, the refrain begins, whispered by every loving and encouraging friend and advisor: Write a book. Write a book. Write a book. Have nothing to say? Let’s not focus on that. Just write a book.
I tried many times but never had the clarity, focus, or the “talent of the chair,”—that quiet discipline that allows one to be all alone with the writing and stay. I tried on and off. I chatted with agents. For one six-month period, I put a “coming soon” book announcement in my email signature, hoping the public pressure would get to me to write—but it did not. And I’m glad, because nothing should ever make you write a book until the content is good enough to warrant one, and that took me a long time.
There was a specific turning point when my motivation clicked. Several fans and friends slowly formed a posse to love-bully me into getting started—and it worked. Their encouragement helped me really see the book in my mind, and I also found a spectacular editor who made the work less lonely. From that point to publication was a journey of three years. The content was ready. I was ready. That was the key.
Write a book when you are ready.
It’s been one year since A Minute to Think launched. The rush of the first months of publication was a high, and then a blur, and then a slow return to regular life. And I have learned a lot along the way.
Here are the top five insights I’ve gained from finally becoming an author:
1. The biggest gift of the book is the book.
When you spend time writing something you genuinely love, every sentence becomes a little happy place you can return to regardless of the professional benefits of writing a book. Your own book feels so good to hold, to flip through, to gift, and to sign. It becomes very dear to you in ways that are personal, emotional, and gratifying.
2. Most of your well-laid launch plans do not end in miracles.
There’s a complex science behind organizing a book launch. It’s a pilaf of corporate selling, social media, traditional media, pursuing big-name personalities and opportunities, and giving away freebies. In the end, all that work made me a little more famous (for lack of a better word) and helped my business grow. However, I think if I had spent every dollar buying books and then handing them out, there may have been a clearer dollar-for-dollar return. Regarding the above “big names,” it sure feels good to meet so-and-so, and they might even tweet you, but most of the time it won’t get you where you think it will.
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3. Writing can be fun.
As a rabid extrovert, I shied away from consistent writing for decades. But I found that the actual process of being alone with a collection of thoughts and stories and then performing the alchemy that transforms them into a meaningful narrative can be very pleasurable. I set an intention at the start that the whole experience would be peaceful and light and that I would not succumb to the many horror stories I’d heard of how writing a book devours your life. Environment helps, too. I always wrote one day per week (and periodically took half-week retreats) completely removed from my usual environment. I chose the most nurturing and lovely locations I could find. Oh, and blue cheese with red wine was a must.
4. Everyone was right: Books help business.
The presence of the book did finally make many corporate folks on the periphery of our company trust in me and our brand to bring our training and consulting programs into their organizations. A book can credentialize you like nothing else. But see above—the book must actually contain something unique, actionable, and valuable because every client will read the first two or three chapters as a vital litmus test.
5. Follow a dream, and love will surround you.
The acknowledgments section of the book was not long enough to include all the generous folks who buoyed me and advised me and cheered me on in the writing of this book. I just hope that, in my own flow of life, I remember to be as available to those that ask for my support as so many were to me.
My thanks to all who have made the book, read the book, written an Amazon review (hint, hint), or shared it with their teams. You’ve added so much to my life and my story.
This article was also published on Juliet Funt's LinkedIn.