The Art of the Authoress: My Writing Process

Whenever someone finds out that I’ve written and self-published six personal development books, I typically hear an “OMG!” Followed by, “How did you do that?” Aside from a heaping plate of divine inspiration, I can tell you that it takes a lot of hustle and even more heart to see a book to completion.

I often get asked questions about my writing process, so I thought I’d highlight some of my biggest tips for getting inspired when it comes to writing. I believe every woman has a book inside of her and a story to tell. It just takes the perfect storm of inspiration, confidence, and magic to bring it out of her.

Now that I have landed a book deal with Portfolio Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House), I feel even more inclined to share my writing process and tips with aspiring authors to show them that writing really can become a full-time career, and you can absolutely be a successful author. Portfolio has re-relased an updated version of my bestselling book Girl Code, and I’m working on a new book called Like She Owns The Place due out next summer. Exciting stuff!

My books are all about living your best life. They’re about things like vulnerability, self-worth, and self-expression. I write to inspire, but most importantly, to empower women to believe that they can live a life beyond their wildest dreams – and that they can do it all while preserving their inner-peace and expanding their happiness.

So, here we go! My writing process, in detail:

THE BIG IDEA. I write non-fiction. My ideas for my writing generally come from my own life experiences. I live my life with a “teaching lens;” a way of viewing every day and every situation as an opportunity to learn, and then tell a story around it. As a certified master life coach, this has become a way of life for me. I love inspiring my readers and clients to live their lives in the same fashion. I don’t believe in successes or failures, or good or bad days. I believe that every single thing we experience during our time here on this planet is meant to shape us into the woman we’re meant to be. And if we pay close attention, and do the work, we can evolve into our best selves, and live out our biggest and boldest fantasies. This is where my content comes from. This is how I get inspired.

THE WRITING PROCESS. Typically when an idea for a book hits me, I immediately begin scanning my mind for recent experiences that feel relevant to the concept. I also open my mind up to be aware of future circumstances that may apply as well. For example, maybe I’m writing about fear. I’ll think about times in my own life where I had to dig deep to battle my own fears or anxieties, or think back to a time where I helped another woman overcome hers. I will also give myself “assignments” to garner experience. Maybe I’ll step outside of my comfort zone and try a dance class or a new workout class, and then carefully observe how I felt during it. Did this challenge my fear of looking silly? Did this stretch me to do something I wouldn’t normally do? I will document how I felt before and after the experience. Again, viewing every situation with a teaching lens. My end goal is to tell a story, and to inspire.

Once I have my content, I begin my outline. Think of an outline as the “bones” of your book. You’re basically choosing a theme for each chapter. If the idea of a chapter sounds incredibly daunting, think of each one as an expanded blog post. A rule of thumb: you’re going to want to get down around 3,000-5,000 words per chapter if you’re planning to write a standard non-fiction 40-60,000 word book. Of course, you can make your chapters shorter, or longer. But that is what I use to break it down for myself and it really helps.

I try to set a writing schedule and block out any other distractions. I usually put my phone in another room, and close out of all internet browsers. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by answering text messages or checking Facebook. Make sure your MS Word doc (that’s what I write in), or whatever writing app you’re using is the only thing open on your computer. Of course, sometimes I’ll keep a tab open if I need to research something or use a thesaurus, but I stay off social media while I’m writing.

MY WRITING DAY ESSENTIALS. I love writing at home in my apartment in New York City. There are a few things that are essential for me when getting set up to write. The first thing I do is queue up some moody music. I love artists like Stan Getz, so I’ll curate a Pandora station that fits that vibe. I have a few playlists like this one on Spotify that always get me in the zone. Incense is always burning and there are a million candles lit. My space needs to be clean, and clutter-free. I fire up my aromatherapy diffuser and diffuse eucalyptus oil, which invigorates and stimulates the brain. I text those closest to me to let them know that I won’t be answering my phone, so if they need me, now is the time before I dive into my words. When you treat your writing like a job, others will follow suit.

FINAL THOUGHTS. The most important tip I’ll leave you with is this: have fun! Writing is my absolute favorite thing to do. Giving yourself the space and time to be creative is a gift, so treat it as such. Take the pressure off, and do your personal best. Your work can only improve and get better as time goes on, but you’ve got to start somewhere. So start now!

For a more in-depth look at my self-publishing journey, that has now led me to a double book deal with Penguin Random House, check out episode 25 of my top-rated podcast, Style Your Mind, on iTunes. Listen here.

Find all my books here.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Vanessa Dennis
    Reply

    Very on time! I’m doing Camp NANOWRIMO (which means i write a novel in a month) and I was so curious as to how a writing process should look like. I mean i know its different for everyone. For example, I find that I write easier at night for some odd reason. I was so so excited when I saw on snapchat a new blog post on this. Thanks! And again congrats!

  • Lindsay Elizabeth
    Reply

    Thank you for giving us a peek into your writing process. As a writer, I’m always curious how others do it and what techniques of theirs I could try to make my own process better. The part that really struck me about yours is letting everyone know when you’ll be writing. I always end up so frustrated when I get texts and phone calls when I’m writing because even taking a second to say, “Hey, I’m writing,” has already broken me out of the zone. Definitely going to try alerting everyone ahead of time and see how that goes.

    Also, I’ve read all of your books and just got my brand new copy of “Girl Code” in the mail yesterday. I’m so happy for you!! Having been following you for a while now and related so much to your story, it feels like watching the success of a dear friend and I’ve been sharing in your excitement. I have it sitting on a shelf where I can see it while I work because your journey reminds me that my dreams are within reach. I’ve been going through a creative funk lately and my mind is all over the place, feeling so restless and torn in a million directions, but I’m embracing the journey and choosing to believe that it’s all an important part of it (even if this part sucks a bit). That I’m going through what I need to go through to become the woman I’m meant to be. Thank you for your constant encouragement and being such a beautiful example of living your truth. You’re honestly a treasure. ♥

    • caraalwill
      Reply

      Thank you so much Lindsay! That means the world to me!! xoxoxo

  • Mayra
    Reply

    Thank you for this! I am a writer too and it’s my life long dream to be a published author . Thank you for sharing your knowledge and Congrats on Girl Code!!!

    • caraalwill
      Reply

      You can do it, Mayra! <3

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