Writing a book is something I’ve considered for a while, but the thought of producing a 300-page novel has always been so overwhelming that I never started. But have you ever heard of a tiny book? This concept was brand new to me until my friend Brooke Adams Law came to me about it, and I cannot wait to share this discussion with you.
Brooke Adams Law is an author who also coaches on writing, and she’s talking to us about tiny books today. If you feel like you have a book in you, where you maybe want to capture a slice of your life or the story of your relationship, but the thought of writing a novel scares you, a tiny book might just be for you.
Join Brooke and I this week as she tells us all about tiny books and the process involved with creating one. Her deep insights and copious ideas around this topic have definitely got me thinking about writing one myself, and I hope you walk away from this conversation inspired to maybe create one of your own too.
Listen to the Full Episode:
If you like what you’ve been hearing on this podcast and want to create a future you can truly get excited about even after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to join my Mom Goes On coaching program. It’s small group coaching just for widowed moms like you where I’ll help you figure out what’s holding you back and give you the tools and support you need so you can move forward with confidence.
What You’ll Learn from this Episode:
- Where the idea of tiny books came from.
- Why the process of writing a book is not just about the end product.
- How the creative process is similar to that of grief.
- 3 things that a tiny book can accomplish.
- The different options for creating a tiny book.
- Brooke’s tips for getting started writing a tiny book.
- What makes you a writer.
Featured on the Show:
- Interested in small-group coaching? Click here for details and next steps.
- Join my free Facebook group, The Widowed Mom Podcast Community.
- Follow me on Instagram!
- Brooke Adams Law Website | Instagram
- Join Brooke’s free weekly writing circle
- Brooke’s free downloadable guide
- Catchlight by Brooke Adams Law
- The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr
- Lit by Mary Karr
- Alexandra Franzen
- Tiny Book Course
- Ep #7: The Stories We Tell
- Queer Eye
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 79, Tiny Books for Widows: An Interview with Author Brooke Adams Law
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, the only podcast that offers a proven process to help you work through your grief, to grow, evolve, and create a future you can truly look forward to. Here’s your host, Master Certified life coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St-Germain.
Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. So glad you made it. We’re almost to December. I have a really unique topic today to share with you. Before we do that, I want to read a listener review. I haven’t done that in a while. And this one comes from a listener called TaylorSwiftLove, and the title of the review was, “A welcome friend.”
And TaylorSwiftLove wrote, “So grateful to have stumbled on your podcast. Krista verbalizes and understands my thoughts and feelings. I’m almost three years out from losing my husband to a three-year battle with ALS and I’m doing well and functioning on my own in a way that makes me proud. What Krista brings to me is understanding for my emotions. I’m choosing to be strong, rather than weak, and to be a survivor, rather than a victim. Her podcast is motivating and strengthening. Thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable. I look forward to your podcasts.”
Thank you so much for that kind review. I know I keep saying it all the time, but I’m just going to keep saying it because it does mean a lot to me when you write reviews of the podcast. Not only does it help me reach the million widows that I want to reach with this podcast, but it just helps me feel connected to you, it helps me know that my work matters to you because so many of you I may never meet.
So I just appreciate it when people take time to do a review. And hey, a reminder, we’re still doing a competition. So if you want to continue being entered to win a $100 Visa gift card, then all you have to do is screen capture the podcast on whatever device you’re listening to it and then share it on social media.
You can share it on Instagram and tag me @lifecoachkrista, or on Facebook and tag me @coachingwithkrista. And then you can email us to let us know you did it, email@example.com. And that will get you entered. And the more podcast episodes you share, the more entries you get. And somebody is going to get some money that maybe they’ll spend on themselves. That’s what I’m really hoping, you’ll spend that money on yourself or wherever you want to spend it, but I hope that you’ll treat yourself well at least at some point this holiday season.
Okay, so what the heck is a tiny book? Have you ever heard of a tiny book? This is completely new to me until Brooke came to me and shared it. And I said okay, we have to tell people that this is an option. I’ve always thought that there’s a book in me, in my story about Hugo. But the idea has overwhelmed me.
And maybe you’ve had that idea too. Maybe you kind of like to capture pieces of your life or your relationship in a book, either for you or for your children, but the idea is overwhelmed. So enter the tiny book, which Brooke is going to tell us all about, give us several options to do, and explain how we can have fun and create something meaningful, and anybody can do it.
So with that, let’s jump into my interview with author and my friend, Brooke Adams Law. Here we go.
Krista: Welcome Brooke Adams Law. I am so excited to talk to you.
Brooke: Me too. I’m so pumped.
Krista: I was trying to think back how long I’ve known you. It’s been a couple of years now.
Brooke: It’s been at least two years, yeah. Two years ago we coached together in Scholars. You were my coach.
Krista: Crazy how time flies. Two years ago. So okay, I’m excited because you have an idea for listeners that I’ve never heard of before you. Never occurred to me and I love it. I have often thought and we’ve talked about it before, I’ve often thought about writing a book, but it’s always been a little bit overwhelming to me to think about writing a book.
So when I think about a book, it’s just like, it seems like a serious commitment. So the idea of a tiny book though, which I have never heard of before you, seems less overwhelming, seems kind of exciting, seems like maybe something we ought to be thinking about. So tell me, tiny book, where did this come from? Let’s just talk all about it.
Krista: And actually before we get into that because I’m super excited about that, we really probably ought to have you introduce yourself. Other than just you being someone I know, what would you like listeners to know about you?
Brooke: Yes, so I’m a writer and my first novel Catchlight just came out in October. It’s been really, really exciting to have that happen. So I have a graduate degree in creative writing and for a long time, I’ve actually worked as a copywriter. So I worked with a lot of coaches, so some of your colleagues.
But I’ve since done a pivot and I’m now coaching other people who are writing books. So I have a few clients who are writing not tiny books, they are writing large books, they’re writing novels and memoirs and all that goodness. So I do retreats, now virtually, and I also coach people one-on-one who are writing books, tiny or otherwise. I actually do have a client who is writing a tiny book. So that’s me.
Krista: So I wouldn’t be your first tiny book client. Dang it.
Brooke: You would not.
Krista: Dang it. It’s been really fun to watch you serve and write and create in different ways since I’ve known you. It seems to be just kind of a part of who you are. That’s what you studied, you have an MFA. You’re just kind of one of those writers in your soul.
Brooke: Yeah. And I think that I always had and talk about working on your thoughts and beliefs is always had this belief, which I think is very much embedded in our culture of the starving artist paradigm. And even in my MFA, there was very much this culture of you can love writing and you can create on the side, but you will always need to have a job. You always need to have a serious job.
And so to be able now to be making a living teaching writing and writing my own work is just so fulfilling and also never really believed that was possible for a long time. So it’s been fun to kind of watch my own brain kind of iterate on possibility.
Krista: Yeah. What I also like and what I want to get into too and as we talk about the tiny book I think it’ll probably come out, but one of the things I think is unique about you is that you are never about just the end product, of what someone chooses to write. And kind of what I hope people will get out of this is that this idea of a tiny book isn’t necessarily just about the product of a tiny book.
But it’s about the process, the becoming, the journey of creating it, and that there’s value in of course the end result, but we don’t want to overlook the value of the process. Who we get to become and what we get to do in that.
Brooke: Thank you for bringing that up because the last time I talked to you about that, that was many months ago. But yes, I feel so strongly about the act of creation, like you’re saying, and the process. And it really is about who you become while you’re engaging in that. And I think that that’s something that our productivity culture kind of loses out on sometimes.
When we do promote the product over the process, we miss out on what the creative process can teach us. And so I think that there’s so much value in – and sometimes the creative process can be really uncomfortable. It’s like you get to the point where you’ve written all this stuff and you have this crisis of is this even good, should I just give up.
It’s just about those moments as it’s about those moments when you really write something that you feel good about. I think it’s all part of this creative journey. And for me, it’s about the process of wholeness. That’s sort of what it looks like for me is that journey, through the not knowing that is creativity.
Krista: Yeah, which is also I think the experience most of my listeners are having. You say it’s the process of creativity, the not knowing. It’s also this process of grief, of figuring out what do I want in the next chapter of my life. What do I want to look back on and think about the last chapter of my life and how am I going to use the experience to go forward and still create a life on purpose? Not just a book. A book is maybe the mechanism, the vehicle. So anyway, I could go on.
Brooke: There is a piece about that, about if we see ourselves all as living a story and the story now is you’ve been dealt a situation that you never would have chosen for yourself, and it does become this process of, like you were saying, how do you then decide if you’re your own character, the hero of your story, what is that hero going to choose to do with this circumstance that is less than ideal and that you would never have chosen?
And sort of like, what actions – writers do this with characters all the time. We’re like – some people have come to me and they’re like, who are reading my book, Catchlight, and they’re like, why did you do this thing to some of your characters? Why did this have to happen? And I was like, it just happened. It’s just part of their story. And it’s just sort of like, what happens, what do they choose to do next when that thing happens?
Krista: I’m having all these ideas as you’re talking and I’m super excited about it but I’m going to hold off on that and I want to talk about tiny books, and then I will kind of share what’s going on in my brain with you. Okay so for people who have never heard of a tiny book, which before you, a new term to me, what is a tiny book?
Brooke: Yes. So I did not come up with this concept. This concept is from Alexandra Franzen, who is a wonderful writer. She actually is also a copywriter but she’s written several books and so she is this whole thing. So her definition of a tiny book, which I think is super helpful is it’s a very small book project.
Think 30 to 80 pages. So it’s kind of this little sliver. And I had a client come to me recently who was taking Alex’s tiny book course. So she runs something called the Tiny Book Course. And my client came to me and she was like I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I thought that it had to be a 300-page novel, that it was going to take me several years.
And she was like, I just could not ever get past the obstacle of starting or continuing something of that size. So my client decided to in fact write a series of tiny books on one larger topic. But kind of doing these little slivers. And for her, it was sort of like, this bite sized chunk of something that she could finish in a few weeks.
And it was still powerful enough to make – say what she wanted to say and also to make a difference for the people that she had in mind to read it. So I think there’s three things that a tiny book can accomplish, especially in terms of your listeners specifically.
And the other thing that I want to make clear is a tiny book can be something that you produce for other people to read, or it can also be something that you write for yourself, to have as a memento. So we can talk more about different purposes for a tiny book, but I think using this project, so this 30 to 80-page snippet book, it can really serve three things, especially for your folks.
So there’s this idea that the process of writing and remembering can really help you process the grief you’re going through and move some of it out of your body and your mind. Now it has this safe place to live that you can then go back to and revisit.
So you’re not like, I have to always remember all these things about the person that died, but you can actually memorialize them in a story and have it kind of outside of your brain.
Krista: Can I just stop you right there and tell you how valuable I think that is. Speaking from personal experience, one of my biggest fears when Hugo died was that I would forget. And so it was really – I felt called to get things out of my mind as quickly as possible and on to paper because I was so afraid that I would forget.
And there is – it was part processing, but it was also just a way to get myself to that peace of okay, it’s all written down, I can go back any time I want and read it. But of course, right now, the way that it exists is in a very messy, just for me kind of way. And so I like the idea that it could be a little bit prettier, little bit more polished, a little bit more for others besides me, but I think you’re really onto something there.
Brooke: Yeah, I love that. And like you’re saying, it’s kind of this way to memorialize some of your favorite moments and those things that you don’t want to forget. And I think there’s also this piece, if people so chose, that you can use either the writing of the tiny book or the reading of it to connect with other loved ones who loved your husband too.
So this could be his parents, your parents, siblings, kids. And kind of just people – even wider concentric circles, if you so chose. And I think that there’s a piece where there could be some collaboration or could just be a gift memento for some of these people as well.
Krista: Okay, alright, so those are some of the things you can do with it. What are the different options for how you actually create a tiny book?
Brooke: Yes, so I love this, and I think there’s a few different ways you can go about it. And they kind of range in production and time and it really is just what appeals to you and it might also be that different venues for a tiny book appeal to you at different stages of the grief process.
So one idea is your tiny book could be a journal that’s designed to write down stories about your husband. And this could be you just have a special book that you buy and you just write down things whenever they come to you, or maybe you have a practice one a week or once a day, you sit down and just write a letter or just write a memory down.
So it could just be a handwritten journal as your tiny book. And I would designate it, this is about my husband. And if you have a journal for other purposes, that could be separate. I think another option is creating a tiny book that’s more produced. And I put together a free downloadable that has some ideas for – so there are tons of companies.
It’s actually called a vanity press, which is kind of a weird name, but that will just publish – they’ll bind together a book and you can tell them what you want on the cover and they’ll print it, and it could be lots of copies, a few copies, but it could be something that’s a little bit more produced that you kind of type up and take time over and revise and then get printed to save.
And then there’s also this idea of doing a series of tiny books, a series of these more produced volumes that could be different types of snippets, different types of memories.
Krista: Okay, all the ideas are coming into my brain. So yeah, so you could do – for me, I did a lot of Dear Hugo kind of letters, and it was a way to process what had happened and process what was happening as I kind of made peace with all of it. And so I could see it kind of being done that way.
I could see it being something that maybe you did something for each child, or also I’m thinking about the idea of – because in my program, one of the things that I teach women to do is to tell their story on purpose. Because most of us don’t do that. We look back at the past and we think that the story we’re telling about our past is just factual.
And we don’t understand that most of the way that we tell our story is interpretation. It is a choice. It’s not actually what happened in the past. It’s how we have decided to view what happened in the past. And so if we aren’t careful, then we tell our past story in a way that really sucks.
It just holds us back or limits us. And it’s just the worst of what happened and we can kind of put ourselves in this victim place, not that there’s anything wrong with being a victim, but for me, I’ve told this story about basically how my life was going to be over. That was the story I was telling myself in my own head, even though it wasn’t anything I had actually written down.
But my thought was my best years are behind me. That was prince charming, I have missed my shot at happiness, and the most I can hope for is just to get used to the new normal and resign myself to a life of mediocrity.
And then when I learned how I could retell that story and actually go back and not change the facts, but actually see it through a different lens and take that same story and make it strengthening, and like you said, put myself in the place of the heroine, and really use it as a way to create more of what I want going forward, then it becomes 40 year old widow learns to kick the shit out of option B.
And go on to help others do the same, as opposed to the whole thing. I love the idea, I’m thinking of my current clients in my program of having them actually go through that process and come out with a tangible product of the story that they choose to tell about what this life experience is going to be for them, like what they are going to make of it, as opposed to just succumbing to whatever shows up in their mind, which is usually not so useful.
Brooke: I love it so much. And I was going to say Martha Beck has a writing exercise where she does exactly that and she has people write the most painful memory they have as if you were a victim of the circumstance, and then as if you were the heroine, exactly what you just said. If you’re going to tell the story in a totally different way but not change the facts, how would you tell it differently? So yeah, it’s really helpful.
Krista: I did that on a podcast episode just to kind of illustrate the purpose. It’s called The Stories That We Tell. But it was really just about the actual day of Hugo’s death and how I experienced it without intention and then what the facts were and then how I decided to experience it with intention.
But I like the idea of just kind of deciding on purpose how you’re going to experience the whole thing, this whole chapter of life, and what you choose to make it mean, and that seems like it could be perfectly captured after you had gone through that process with a tiny book. So if people wanted to do this, say they want to use the journal option, what are some ways that they could get started? What are your ideas?
Brooke: Yeah, I love this. So I would literally just go buy a journal. And it could be nice or it could be – so some people I talk to get really intimidated when they have a nice journal. So if that’s you, just get a spiral-bound notebook. The point is it doesn’t have to be perfect. I don’t want people to get this nice notebook and not want to write in it because you want to have the perfect memory or the perfect way of talking about your husband.
So if that’s you, get a couple of notebooks and just start writing, and then maybe you’ll have a bunch. Because I think the point is to unstick yourself. And so if you’re stuck by having a really nice fancy journal, don’t do that. So pick the thing that is going to work for you and don’t make it into a bigger thing than it is.
Krista: Yeah. It could even be a Google doc, right? Sometimes that’s what I do. Because it feels less permanent and I’m able to give myself permission to mess it up in that way, so I hear what you’re saying.
Brooke: Yeah, totally. So choose a venue, but some people might want the journal to look nice, so whatever is going to work for you. But I think part of is it some prompts to get you started, and again, there’s a free downloadable with 25 ideas for stories you could start with.
But this could be the story of how you met, the story of your wedding day. If you have kids, this could be your kids’ births or special birthdays, things like that. Favorite family memories of your husband with your kids, favorite trips that you’ve gone on. I think this could also be something where if you choose, and you’re doing a handwritten option, you could have a journal where on special holidays, you could have other family members write in the journal, write their favorite memory of him at Christmas or a birthday.
And I know it’s harder with COVID, so this could be something again, that’s electronic, maybe everyone gets access to this Google doc and everyone types in on whatever special day it might be. This could be something that you write over a year. You decide I’m going to spend the next year filling this journal and use it for special days, or it could be something you fill in a couple of weeks.
It’s kind of you get to decide, or there could be multiple iterations of it. And I think I love this idea of having it be this memento that you can get out and read. So there’s this episode of Queer Eye on Netflix, which I love, and I forget what season it is, but there’s a season where they work with a family where it’s a husband with two little boys and his wife died of cancer I think two years previously.
So Bobby, who does the home design, he makes this beautiful chest. So it’s this beautiful custom wooden chest and they have all of their mementos of – I think her name was Alison, in this chest. And he actually had taken her handwriting, she had written all these birthday cards to their sons through their life, and she always wrote be nice to your brother.
And so he took her handwriting and had it printed on the inside, so it says be nice to your brother, and then they have this quilt made from her clothes, and photos of her. And his idea was that for this family, he wanted them to have this one special place where they could connect with mom, but she’s not everywhere in the house.
So that if he wanted to go and date someone again, there’s space for someone else, but also there’s this special place where they connect with her. And my idea is that if you have a special place like that, a journal could be the star memento where you can always go, if you’re having a moment, you want to feel connected, you can go and take it out and look at pictures and everything is all together. So I think a journal aspect would be a really nice thing to have.
Krista: I love that so much. I love that so much. And I do think that is – there’s just so many purposes for it. And I’m thinking about all the widows that I work with and different ages of their children and different stages of life, and some are remarried, and some aren’t. I love that idea. Love it, love it.
Okay, so that’s the journal option, so it’s a little more informal. Don’t stress about – don’t be so concerned about it being perfect that you don’t start, or that you hold yourself back from writing what you want to write is what I hear you saying, which I feel like you’re speaking to me and that maybe you understand what happens in my brain. Something a lot like that. But the point being that it will be beautiful in whatever way you choose to write it. So what if someone wants to do something more, you said, produced? What are the options there?
Brooke: Yeah. So I think that if you’re doing something that’s more produced where you want to get it printed and again, it could be one tiny book or a series of tiny books, there’s kind of some different options. I think there’s this piece around – so it’s a little bit almost more like memoir-ish.
So the genre of memoir in our culture is sort of like – it’s a true story but where people used to maybe a generation ago write autobiographies where it’s the story of your entire life, you’re kind of summing up your whole life in a book, the trend right now in a memoir is that you’re telling a slice of your own life.
So one of the great memoir writers is this woman Mary Karr, and she has – one of her most famous books is called The Liars’ Club, and that is the story of her childhood. So she grew up with a mother who had a pretty severe mental illness, and so The Liars’ Club is the memoir just of her childhood.
Then she has another memoir called Lit, which is about her journey from alcoholism into sobriety. So she has these different slices of her life. So my idea for this more produced tiny book is that it could be this more produced arc of a particular story.
So maybe there is – depending on what your marriage was like, this could be like, the story of your dating life. So my husband and I dated for five years, so not everyone has that experience. Or maybe it’s the story of your pre-children life.
So there could be different box in your marriage, depending on how long the marriage was or the dating life was, or there could be a slice where it’s funniest moments. And then there’s these really short vignette style stories – a vignette is a page long.
So if you imagine in a Word document, it’s maybe one-page story of all these one-page memories of some of your funniest moments with your husband. Alternately, you could do something where you have a book maybe about your favorite holidays.
So if you love Christmas, maybe there’s a tiny book that’s these are our favorite Christmas memories. Like there was the Christmas we traveled and did this, or there was the Christmas we got snowed in, there was a Christmas we stayed home, whatever it might be.
And I know I had the idea for you because I know that you and Hugo loved to hike, of there could be a tiny book that’s all about hiking and there could be a metaphor of it. So what is the metaphor of hiking have to do with life? Or it could just literally be the mountains you climbed, the things you talked about.
So if you had a shared hobby, you could use that as a slice. And so then maybe you have this series of tiny books where you’re kind of doing all these different things.
Krista: So many options.
Brooke: So many options.
Krista: So many options. Okay, so when you talked about – you called it vanity? What did you say? Vanity press?
Brooke: Vanity press. So these are companies where you can – there’s different kinds, so I’m going to put some options in the downloadable. But there are different kinds where you can basically send them a Word document and they will type set it and print it out, and it’ll be bound. You can choose is a hardback, is a soft back, what size do you want it to be like? Very little and square, do you want it to be more like a paperback?
There’s all different sizes of books and they have different options like that. And you can choose if you want to design the cover yourself, if you want it to be a simple cover or a photo cover. You get to choose and customize a lot of those options.
Krista: And so ballpark for me because this is all new, what’s the minimum investment someone would be looking at if they wanted to go the vanity press route?
Brooke: That’s a good question and I don’t know off the top of my head. But I don’t think this is a big investment. I think minimum investment like, $50, $100? This is if you’re printing a couple of copies. Usually – and I haven’t looked at the prices in a little while, but I think usually there’s a setup fee, and then you could pay this much for five copies, this much for 50 copies.
So the more you order, the less expensive it is per copy. So you’re usually going to be paying a fee to kind of have them set up the book, and then a smaller fee per copy that you order.
Krista: So you could take it a whole lot of control and really be very specific in terms of the layout and design and everything exactly as you want it, or it sounds like there are options where you could give it over to people who that’s what they do and make it look pretty.
Brooke: Yeah, definitely. And I think this is anything from – like we’re saying, so many options. So this could be something you get 10 copies printed and it’s for closest friends and family, those are the only people that you want to read it. It’s this very special thing that – it’s for the innermost circle.
And then maybe there’s an option for someone else that’s like, you want copies for all your families and friends, coworkers. Maybe it’s 50 to 100 copies. There’s this other option for people who have a non-profit or a cause that’s attached to your husband’s death.
So for example, my friend’s sister and brother-in-law were killed very tragically, and so they now have a non-profit that’s set up to benefit families and they do a 5K. They do all these things. So there could be something, if there’s a cause or fundraising attached where maybe this tiny book is the story of his battle with cancer.
It could be something related to the death or not, or could just be who he was. And this could be something that goes into gift bags or could be a bonus. If you do a silent auction, it could be a bonus that you get for that. So there’s kind of all different purposes that you can use it for. And there might be like, that you do multiple over the coming years for different purposes. So there’s kind of the sky is the limit.
Krista: I love it. So many options. I was thinking about some dads are just notorious for their quirky sense of humor. It could be really fun to do bad dad jokes. Maybe if your husband was known for…
Brooke: Practical jokes.
Krista: Yeah, practical jokes or funny wardrobe. Just kind of quirky things. It would be a really fun way to capture someone’s personality in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. But it’s more than just a scrapbook. I love that idea. What else are we missing? What else did you want to talk about today that I don’t even know to ask you about?
Brooke: I feel like we covered all the main parts. But I know at the beginning you said there were some other things you wanted to talk about and it was about being the hero of your own story. You said you had something you wanted to return to.
Krista: Well yes, so I was just – what I would love to do is have you come work with my group on how do we – so there’s the telling of the story of the past, we could do that. We could also do the who am I part. Who am I becoming because of this, who do I choose to become in the future because of this.
And kind of writing our own tiny book about us, about our own evolution through the grief. So that’s just what was jumping out at me. Not only the idea of how do I capture a slice of life related to my husband or how do I capture something that I don’t want to forget about the past, but how do I also kind of cement with intention who I am becoming because of what I’ve been through.
Brooke: I love that. And I think the other thing that I want to offer to people is so one of the things I hear the most often from people that are interested in working with me or doing a retreat or anything writing related is well, I’m not really a writer.
So that there’s this bar that people have in their minds of what a writer is. And what I always say is that the act of writing is what makes you a writer. So some people are like, well, I journal but that doesn’t count. And I’m like, yes, it does. Or they’ll be like, well, I write a lot for my job but that doesn’t count. And I’m like yeah, it does, you’re totally a writer.
So I think that there’s this bar. And I mean, I have colleagues – this is going back to the stories we tell ourselves. So I have colleagues from my MFA program who have a master’s degree in creative writing who don’t believe that they are “real” writers because they haven’t published a book or sold a certain number of copies.
So the bar does not – everyone has this high bar in their mind of what a writer is, including people with master’s degrees in writing. And I don’t think that it’s the master’s degree, I don’t think it’s a book deal, I don’t think it’s a certain level of technique or anything like that.
I think what makes you a writer is a desire to write and you sit down and write, whether or not it’s good or perfect, because also, I’m writing a new book right now and I’m kind of worried that it totally sucks, but I’m going to sit down and work on it anyway.
So I think the thought that this isn’t good enough, this totally sucks, is completely normal and it does not mean that anything has gone wrong. And it doesn’t mean that you should stop. It just means that you’re right on track. This is part of the creative process.
So when those thoughts crop up, whether it’s at the beginning, like I’m not a writer so I can’t really do this, or it’s halfway through, you’re like, oh my gosh, who do I think I am to be writing this down? It’s just like, those are thoughts that everyone has.
Krista: I’m glad you brought that up because I could see a lot of people listening to this and then saying oh, that’s not for me because I’m not a writer. And then really missing out on the opportunity to capture a piece of life in this way, which it seems like a really lovely way to do it.
I remember, as you say, I’m not a writer. I remember going through that with running. I remember literally running, I would be running and tell people but I’m not a runner. Why do we do that to ourselves? You could actually be writing every day in a journal and telling yourself, but I’m not a writer, or having a published book and saying but I’m not a writer.
Brooke: Right. So one of my clients came on my writing retreat last year, pre-COVID and she was writing a book and she started the book. And it took three or four months of gently coaching her to be like, for her to be able to say I’m writing a book.
And I think the other thing, the obstacle that she encountered was this piece of first of all, we have a mutual close friend in common who is a writer, who has a book deal and all these things. So she was like, well, so-and-so is the writer, I’m not the writer.
So pointing at somebody else. And also this piece around like, this client is very creative in a lot of other ways. She plays music and she does interior design, and so she had this idea like, I am all these other things, but there’s not room – if you’re a writer, it has to be like your sole focus. People who are writers, that’s what they do. They are only writers.
So there’s this pigeon-holing that’s not accurate. So she gets to be a writer and an interior designer and a musician and all these things. There’s room for all of it. And you get to make – if writing is something that’s interesting to you and it’s always kind of you’ve had the desire, then that means you’re supposed to write.
Krista: There’s something in you that needs to come out and it doesn’t need to come out in a novel. It can come out in a tiny book or a series of tiny books. I love it. So if people want to – because you do this kind of thing, right? You can coach someone through this if they were so inclined.
Krista: Okay, and other things. Someday I’m going to write not just a tiny book and then I’m going to come to you and you’re going to help me.
Brooke: Oh my gosh, and it would be easy because – so here’s my thought for you to practice is I think for you, writing a book would be easy because you’ve already created so much content for people that it would just be a matter of packaging and plotting it out. In any case, yes. So people can find me at my website, which is brookeadamslaw.com.
So Brooke with an E on the end, law is law. People think that I’m a law firm, but I am not. That’s just my last name. It’s my husband’s last name that I took. And you can just hit the contact form and let me know if there’s a tiny book you want support on. And this could be from as little as we get on a phone call and I help you plot out what would be the tiny book, what would be the series of tiny book, a one-time thing.
Which by the way, I worked with a client who was like, I don’t know what to write about. 45 minutes later, we had a series topic for a series of six tiny books. We had each of the six topics written down, and then we took the first topic and outlined what’s the beginning, middle, and end of this tiny book.
So we can get a lot done in 45 minutes to an hour. Or this could be something longer term, like one to three months, where we walk through and do a series or a couple of tiny books together and I kind of support you through the whole process.
Krista: I love it. I love it. Thank you for coming to me with this idea. It just never occurred to me. I really had in my mind – I tend to be a black and white thinker. I imagine other listeners relate. But it’s either there’s no book or there’s a 300-page novel, like your Catchlight. Nothing in between. So yay for the idea.
Brooke: There’s so much in between.
Krista: So good. Alright, thank you so much Brooke, I appreciate it.
Brooke: You’re so welcome.
Krista: Alright take care.
Brooke: Thanks, you too.
If you like what you’ve been hearing on this podcast and want to create a future you can truly get excited about, even after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to join my Mom Goes On coaching program. It’s small group coaching just for widowed moms like you where I’ll help you figure out what’s holding you back and give you the tools and support you need so you can move forward with confidence.
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