I started a new series entitled “How to Self-Publish Your Book.” Month 1’s lesson is all about book brainstorming and how to create a table of contents.
(If you need a #DreamDefender in your corner, you can hire me at any point in the series here).
My favorite clients are the ones who know they are called to share their story but don’t know where to begin. You don’t have to be an English major with a large website, blog following and social media platform to fulfill the call of God on your life. Some of you may not know this, but I went to college to become a high school math teacher. God obviously had other plans! I’m so glad He did because I can see how He still uses my organizational and systematic approach to writing a book to this day.
This year I am reading through the Bible chronologically, which means I started with the Genesis and Job. Job’s story began with brokenness. Real talk? So did mine.
Some of you may not know my story. I wrote in the foreword of Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me—my favorite book of the ten I’ve written. It’s my book baby because it’s my story.
“I had been writing in my journal every night since December of 1997 when my life fell apart. I wrote to overcome the biggest fear of all: myself. I addressed each journal entry to God, hoping He would hear and answer my prayers for healing. And I needed healing. My skin was covered in rashes, the medication had caused me to gain one hundred pounds as a teenager, I dealt with crippling bouts of anxiety, and I lost my first love. And God did heal me…in a big way. Scriptures flooded my journal. Prayers came spilling in and healing cascaded like a tidal wave over me as I wrote each night. God came alive as I wrote to Him, and it was there in my journal that I found what I was searching for—forgiveness.
My shyness as a writer was no longer an issue. I kept writing to find the comfort and consistency in my pen and journal. My journal was my escape from the busy world. Writing quickly grew into the quiet obsession at the end of the day. I allowed myself to write a daily self-portrait. I wrote to be honest with myself and with God—honest about the sorrow, the ecstasy, and even the mundane. Each self-portrait included a different name—Visionary. Dreamer. Fearful. Lovely. Afraid. Pure. The names helped me to take my mind off what was wrong to see the beauty and find forgiveness from God that I so desperately needed. There was no longer anyone standing in my way. Not even me.”
The only person standing between you and your sh*tty first draft is you.
There. I said it.
You can overcome—through the power of the Holy Spirit—to tell the story you were called by God to tell.
Even Job knew this.
“Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:-2327, KJV).
Begin writing your book in brokenness.
In the brokenness of your soul, allow yourself to tell the whole truth of your story: the good, the bad, and the suffering. Your suffering is not ugly. Only God can turn something that’s so broken into something truly beautiful (like a tree).
Whether you have been set free from or through your suffering, feel crushed under the weight of your burdens or shame because of what someone did to you—I am here to tell you that you. can. pick. up. that. pencil (or pen or keyboard).
You can easily begin the process to book brainstorm and create your table of contents even in the midst of suffering.
Month 1 – Props:
Month 1 – Prompt:
1. Write down ONE topic, theme, event, story or quote per Post-it Note, sticky or 3×5 card. It’s that simple. The point is not to overwhelm yourself with everything that goes into creating a table of contents.
Take your time.
2. Spend at least a few hours in a quiet office, library, or coffee shop. Turn your phone on silent to avoid distraction. If you find that music helps, put in those earbuds and give yourself plenty of time and space to write down every single topic, theme, event, story or quote you want in your book.
Do whatever it takes.
3. The hardest part of this month’s prompt is to resist the urge to organize right away. You will need more than a few hours. If you’re like me, your creativity cannot be scheduled. You may schedule some time at the coffee shop only to come home and having an epiphany a few nights later.
4. Once you feel you have written dry your well of ideas, then and only then do you begin to organize. Clear a place on your desk, wall, or table and begin to place each Post-it Note, sticky or 3×5 card face up. Ask a coach, trusted friend or mentor to talk you through how to make sense of them. As you organize your book brainstorm session—you will begin to see themes or patterns emerge. I suggest buying at least a three color pack of Post-it Notes so that one color can be used for the chapter titles, the second color for quotes, and a third color for all the topics, themes, events, and stories per chapter.
Watch for emerging patterns.
Month 1 – Video:
Month 1 – Example:
You can see my client, Linette Bumford’s, creative process for her upcoming book below:
You can see that Linette used the same hot pink color Post-it Note for her chapter titles, blue for quotes and yellow for chapter content. This was after at least one coaching session with me and lots of alone time brainstorming her book!
Month 1 – Service:
Each month I will highlight at least one service and/or product to help you self-publish your book (in a year or less). This month’s suggested service is:
I look forward to going through your Post-it Notes, stickies, or 3×5 cards to help you finish your book brainstorm and create a beautiful table of contents!!
How to Self-Publish Your Book Series:
- Month 1 – Book Brainstorm
- Month 2 – Write Your Book
- Month 3 – Keep Writing!
- Month 4 – Don’t Stop Writing! & Biz Consulting
- Month 5 – Getting There! Don’t Quit Now! & Author Website
- Month 6 – You’re Doing Great! Keep Writing! & Marketing
- Month 7 – You’re Almost There! & Book Cover
- Month 8 – Edit Your Book
- Month 9 – Design Your Book Cover
- Month 10 – Design Your Book Interior
- Month 11 – Upload to Amazon
- Month 12 – Launch Your Book
*Disclaimer: Renee Fisher & Co. uses affiliate links for things Renee has bought and/or used personally. If you click through her referral link, at no additional cost to you, she earns a commission if you make a purchase.