Important note: Want to write your book with me? Join the waitlist for my accelerated author program, Nonfiction Book School.
In 2012, while in graduate school at the University of Cincinnati, I received an email that changed my life.
I sat there, staring at the screen, wondering what I’d say.
This email contained an opportunity I wasn’t sure I was ready for. It caused me to both want to leap with joy and cower in the corner, hiding from my decision. I felt both extremely proud and wildly inadequate.
The email in question? An offer from a publisher to write my first book.
Even though I was scared, I said yes.
That day, sitting in my crappy apartment in a rough part of Cincinnati, Ohio, with a little success and a lot of self-doubt, I realized I had two choices. One, I could say no and go on with my life, hoping another opportunity would come up when I felt ready. Two, I could say yes, leap into the unknown, push back all the naysaying voices in my head, and write a book I was damn proud of. I chose the latter.
Embarking on the journey of writing a first book . . . well, it can be overwhelming. At the time, I was a book editor and deeply understood how to structure a book. I knew how to integrate storytelling and data effectively. I understood the power of case studies and templates in a prescriptive how-to book like the one I was writing. But I didn’t yet have a clear, step-by-step system to write my book.
And I also didn’t know how greatly the journey of writing my first book would transform me.
While writing my first book, I changed from the inside out.
As I worked on my book day in and day out, something shifted inside me. Part of it was clarity: I developed a deeper understanding of how to communicate my expertise. I developed a repeatable system out of my process. I clarified language and learned how to write in a way others could not only understand but act on.
Additionally, I developed new confidence through the writing journey. I got to know myself better. Spending weeks and months in one’s own thoughts leads to powerful insights and deeper self-understanding. By the time the book was done—seven drafts later, I might add—I had gone from unsure writer to anchored author. I understood the value of my expertise. When my book was published in 2013, I got to share that value with others.
While writing my second book, I shifted from expertise to influence.
I went on to ghostwrite and coach a number of authors. When I coauthored my second book in 2017 with Ron Price, I experienced a new phase of growth. With my first book, I had made the journey from practitioner to expert; with my second book, I made the journey from expert to influencer.
I don’t mean “influencer” in the social media followers sense. Instead, I simply mean that I learned not only how to demonstrate and teach my expertise (as I did in my first book) but to influence readers toward transformative insights and personal growth.
This was not only a shift in the writing of the book but in me personally. I held such pride for our book—and still do—and knew that I had fully engaged in the journey of authorhood. Alongside my coauthor, I had done the deep work. I had pushed for clarity, grappled with ideas, pushed to explore tensions or gaps. Writing that book brought even greater confidence, and the continued warm reception from readers across the world has further anchored me in the impact I am striving to make on this world.
While ghostwriting and coaching dozens of authors, I learned the power of deep introspection and commitment to vision.
The book-writing process is one of the deepest, most introspective journeys one can embark on. The main reason? You get to know you.
It’s so rare these days to spend even five minutes of silence a day—no screens, no podcasts, no conversation. Just silence. One’s own thoughts. Couple deep introspection with a long-term goal like writing a book, and you have a recipe for a powerful transformative process.
I’ve experienced this firsthand both with my own books and books I’ve ghostwritten for clients. I’ve seen coaching clients go through the hard parts of writing: clarifying their ideas, understanding their readers, embracing their niche (this is especially hard for some). I’ve witnessed tears—so many tears—and the push-pull of uncovering what you really want to say and the challenge of sticking with a commitment when the only person you’re accountable to is yourself. I’ve seen clients and students grow their confidence alongside their revenue even before their book comes out, because they are so deeply anchored in purpose and clarity.
These days, my clients and students are not often saying yes to a publisher like I did back in 2012. For one, the publishing world has changed quite a lot in ten years, and those sorts of opportunities don’t easily land in your inbox.
Instead, they are doing something even more inspiring: they are saying yes to themselves, to their readers, to their big dreams. And they’re going all-in, full throttle into the journey of authorhood.
Today, I’m living proof of the power of writing a book.
I celebrated my first book release a couple of months after my daughter was born. As a first-time mom, there wasn’t a lot of hoorah and definitely no book release party. I was much too tired.
I celebrated my second book by boarding a long flight to Idaho from Thailand. We did have a release party this time, and it was such a wonderful day.
Today, I can say, typing from my home in Portugal, that seeing my big vision of authorhood through to fulfillment helped me achieve my big vision for my life: living in Portugal, running a location independent business, and helping aspiring authors around the world write their books.
I often wonder, “What if I’d said no? What if I’d let my self-doubt, fear, and lack of confidence prevent me from saying yes to the thing that changed my life?”
I can honestly say I don’t think I’d be even halfway to where I am today. I am grateful every day that I said yes.
How about you? What’s a big thing you said yes to that transformed you? What’s something you want to say yes to but haven’t yet? Share with me in the comments. I read and reply to each one and love hearing from you.