Writing your first book

That elusive first book and an abundance of ‘Cubic centimetres of opportunity’

I like to think that there is a great and deeply personal book lurking inside everyone. The problem most people find is getting the time, the space and the encouragement to get that elusive first book out there. After all it takes quite a bit of courage to pull all those thoughts and feelings out of yourself and into a published or self-published book which will be read critically by others.

Have you ever considered that your first and subsequent books can be an ultimate form of self-expression driven by a combination of coincidences and synchronicity? It was Carlos Castaneda who described coincidences as ‘cubic centimetres of opportunity‘. You can only grasp them, as they fly past you at high speed, if you open your eyes and you actively decide to hold on to that opportunity as a means of realising more of your unfulfilled potential.

Over the years I have met many people who have had a burning desire to write all different kinds of books but somehow their internal ideas and images have never made it into a printable book.

At Le Phare de Morillon we have designed a long weekend ‘Getting your first book started‘ workshop in beautiful surroundings and nature to help a few more people turn that first ‘Self-expression’ book into a reality. Getting started is the important first step along a path to getting that book published.

I was lucky with starting my first book. A published author of business books asked me to co-author a book with him. He had a publishing contract for the book and we had the support of the company that we worked for. I had no choice about writing the book, we had a contract and a deadline. Even so it was hard to get started and to create something  out of a jumble of thoughts and experiences.

The second book flowed from the first book which I had to write in eight days due to a publishing deadline. We scrambled into action and eight days later we had the book for the publisher. It was hard work but I learned that if you know your subject and you use a structured formula then a book can be created and written very quickly. But I knew inside that I didn’t want to just write business books.

I knew that what I really, really wanted to write was an Executive coffee table book that contained  a huge amount of useful leadership wisdom that could benefit tiring and stressed Executives to gain a unique perspective on their true direction in life and work. The book needed to have huge range of scope that could be absorbed by busy Executives in small doses or ‘bite sized pieces’. The image of the book was in my head and heart in 2001. It took until 2010 for me to turn that burning desire into a reality.

Self-inspired change guidebook

Self-inspired Executive change guidebook

I spent much of those ten years travelling in business, exploring interesting faraway places, reading books, taking photographs and attending a huge range of Self-change courses. I wrote down some notes in a small journal but this elusive book just didn’t appear.

I learned that the same wisdom that is talked about by modern thought leaders and famous gurus has largely been written about for many, many centuries. I questioned why anyone would want to read a book that had absolutely no new wisdom. What was the point of me regurgitating historical texts?

From this book it became easy to create other books.

Books written at Le Phare de Morillon


What did I learn from writing, editing and publishing eight books? I think that I learned a great deal:

  • You have to be inspired to really, really want to write the book in your heart – it is not so much about the money because very few authors make much money. Traditional publishing is about publishers making money
  • It helps to have a place that inspires you when you are writing particularly if you are surrounded with natural beauty
  • When an image of your book is ready in your heart it will flow easily
  • It helps to write a journal every day about what is important to you. This gets you into the flow of writing and past the mental blocks that keeps your pen ‘shy’ and wary of paper
  • I like to write in multiple places during a day. I find that it is easy to use up the energy and inspiration of a single location or desk. It helps to move around
  • Writing the draft of the book is only 50% of the task. The editing, design and publishing of the book is at least 50% of the effort that you will have to put into your first book
  • Deadlines help but there is no point having a deadline if it means creating something that is incomplete and unsatisfying
  • It helps to spend time with other people who have written or who are writing books. There is a strong sense of encouragement that comes from a shared experience of getting to that first book
  • Having friends and/or family who can encourage you and constructive comments about your work are important. Books flow much better when they are shared and the author is open to advice and positive critical advice.

Le Phare de Morillon – quiet spaces to expand and write