On Fridays, Write Publish Sell features guest posts from the members of the Write Publish Sell group. Please join us for tons of great advice and information!
Today, we’re pleased to have Mb Antevasin sharing her strategies for organizing writing ideas when you feel called to write.
If You Want to Get Serious About Writing, You’ve Got to Get Organized
When someone asks how I write about hard subjects I usually have to pause for a moment because I start to wonder how do we NOT write about them. I love the line in the song Breathe where Anna Nalick talks about how if you get the feelings down on paper they will no longer be inside of you and I know how when I keep them hidden away inside they make me sick. But then someone will ask why I don’t just journal or write it out and then burn it. And sometimes I do that, too.
But the reason I love writing books is because I love reading books. There are stories out there that literally saved my life. I learn from books, I draw my inspiration from books, I travel in books, and I connect with the common themes of humanity through books.
Books Help Us Heal
If there are still people hurting in this world, then we still need to talk about it. We need to help each other through this. I can’t wait for the day when there is an end to suffering, but until then, we need to work together to find healing. And books are a great way to connect when we feel like we are alone.
My first book had been brewing for some time and I had pieces of stories that were fully written in my head, but I just needed to get them down. Other parts I needed to think about a bit. But how the book started to take shape was with the structure and the outline. When my doula told me that I had to write a book, I listened. First of all, because she is amazing and wise. And if she says women need this, I assume that she must know because she’s been with women at their births for over 25 years.
We met over a cup of tea with a newborn sleeping in my arms and brainstormed the structure. It was kind of a no-brainer because I was writing about birth, so I structured my story of healing into 9 chapters and 3 trimesters, one for each of my births (cesarean, VBAC, and then homebirth). That gave me some chronological flow to the memoir, but I also had all those questions that I needed to answer. And I had pages of notes from all the books that I had read. I had been compiling the notes thinking that I would find some right answer and be able to share it with other moms. But we each have our own complexity that we bring to our lives and our births and our families.
I was called to share my own story and speak my truth, and then maybe that will inspire my readers to try some of the techniques that I used for healing, or at least give them hope and encouragement that they can stop hurting. I was in pain for over twenty years, and suffered from all kinds of chronic and auto-immune diseases, and now that I am not in pain every day I am in a place where I am able to give back. But I want to shine that light into the darkness and leave some breadcrumbs on the path for the women who are still in pain.
How to Get Organized
If you are called to write a book, here are my favorite techniques for organizing all of those ideas that are swimming around in your head.
- Outline. This is where you choose your themes, chapters, arc of your story (beginning, middle, end)
- Write all your ideas on their own index cards. These can be favorite quotes, memories, symbols, snippets of ideas, key words, etc.
- Arrange your cards into piles or sections based on the chapters or themes that you identified into your outline.
- Rearrange as needed to have a similar amount of information on each theme. Add cards if needed if new ideas pop up that fit the theme.
- You can then keep these cards or rewrite the ideas or type them up.
- Then when you have time to sit and write, you can grab one pile of cards (or sheet of paper) to look over the things that you will write about. Sit with it for a moment and feel into those stories. Go back into those memories and let yourself feel them. If they are hard subjects promise yourself that you have a safe space to access those memories. Promise your body that you will let them flow. And have a plan for self-care afterwards.
- If you are interrupted or have to take a break, mark off which cards are done or re-arrange your pile to the cards that you need to come back to… and start your next paragraph with a nice opening sentence and then leave it unfinished. This will encourage you to come back to it, but it will also help your mind to gear up again more quickly because the paragraph is already started and you remember where you were going next so you’ll spend less time reviewing.
I hope these ideas help. Remember that there is someone out there that has a question and you have the answer. They need to hear your story. Sharing our stories brings healing. Books have power.
Blessings on Your Journey, Michelle
In The Birth of Magdalena I shared the story of becoming a mother and being awakened to the need to heal and how I started my journey. In the second book Magdalena Moments (coming soon) I share the techniques that I used and the interesting things that happened on that path to letting go of all of those physical illnesses. This new book is arranged into 7 chapters to follow the seven levels of healing and the seven energy centers and the seven-year cycles that we travel as we spiral through our lives. Seven is also said to mean the thinker and the seeker of truth, which in other words, is the Antevasin.
If you need help with outlining your book and laying out your ideas, check out our short course: From Idea to Outline in One Hour
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