Jen McDonough is a motivational speaker, mom, wife and author. Her inspirational books share personal stories of challenge and triumph. In her new book, Living Beyond Awesome, Jen offers a glimpse into her life as a self-described “couch potato mom” who decided to participate in an Ironman Triathlon. Certainly, experiencing that adventure firsthand isn’t something everyone wants to do, but regardless of their athletic inclination (or lack thereof) her readers learn valuable life lessons that apply to every area of success. Jen offers the encouragement: If I can do it, you can, too. We think that message applies to writing as well athletics!
Thanks, Jen, for being our guest on MyWritersConnection.com!
Q. What events, places or other writers have influenced your work?
A. Dan Miller, bestselling author and mentor to countless people through his books, podcasts and conferences, played a huge role in my becoming an author. Becoming an author seemed like an impossible goal for someone who was teased as a child and adult for her misuse of grammar and horrendous spelling. Through his teachings and his “Write to the Bank” workshop, I learned that one does not need to be perfect to become an author…one just needs to have a passion for sharing their story. Dan’s free 48days.net online community for writers (Write It Forward) served as a huge source of encouragement and support. It is a community that bursts with kindness, knowledge, and synergy. This group—that consists of mainly of bloggers, fiction, nonfiction, and children’s writers—has a common goal: to share their passion of writing and their experiences so that others can learn from them. I feel extremely blessed to get to be a part of this incredible community resource.
Q. What books are you currently reading?
A. Dan Miller’s Wisdom Meets Passion and Karen Putz’s Gliding Soles
Q. Describe your writing process. (Where do you write? Do you have a routine?)
A. My writing process is still developing. In my books Living Beyond Awesome and Living Beyond Rich, I started off just “blurting out” my story on paper. I really had no idea what my outline was, I just wrote each day. The books started off to actually be one story, however, after writing the “story” out, I discovered “my story” was really two separate books. While this was not the “best” way to write a book, I found it worked for me at the time and was something I needed to do. I learned a lot from my mistakes and the experience helped me grow. Going forward, I am using my blogs as content for my next books and will be using a more systematic approach to writing the outline first and then filling in the content. This will serve to be a great use of my time and enable me to repurpose my content as I go.
Q. In thinking about your writing, what do you know now that you wish you had known in your early writing days?
A. Hmmm…there were a lot of things that could have saved me time and frustration with the first two books. The first being as I mentioned above about writing the outline first and then writing the content as well as using blogs as content. I would say the best piece of advice I would have for myself would have been to be patient. I was in such a hurry to get the first book out (I wrote in less than eight weeks and had it published in about eight weeks) that it caused an unnecessary amounts of pressure to try to find the BEST way to go about getting my first book published. While it was fun seeing progress made, I have to say that being somewhat patient on my second project has led to great results. Did I intentionally try to be patient with this latest project? NO, however, because this was a bigger project and was somewhat of a painful subject for me to write about it took longer. I delayed the book launch by several months which was hard at the time, but proved to be a wise choice. For my next project, I will know ahead of time that while goals are important to have, flexibility is just as important as it is worth it to wait a few weeks longer in the long run in return for better outcomes when needed.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. Well, as Dan Miller says, 10% is in writing the book and 90% is in marketing. I am in the process of working on marketing, branding, and product development. For 2013, some of my goals include:
- Hosting free monthly teleseminars
- Starting The Iron Jen’s weekly leadership podcast centered on helping people to live with intention, passion and purpose. Some examples of the subjects and guest experts include: Using a virtual assistant, self-publishing a book, personal branding, marketing, etc. (Note: let this serve as an official invite for MyWritersConnection.com to be our guest on the show!)
- Putting together two workbooks to go with my current books
- Putting together workshops off of my current two books
- Writing several ebooks that will eventually be turned into self-published books
- Developing audio products from my ebooks and books
- Building my speaking platform
Along with the above goals, I have plans to participate in several conferences which will help me grow, learn, and connect with others.
Q. Why do you write?
A. My passion for writing is simply this: I have a deep desire to share hope, inspiration, and tools for people to live extraordinary. I usually tell people that I am not perfect and neither is my writing, HOWEVER, my stories do connect with people as they are written from the heart and from an everyday ordinary person.
My best advice for first-time authors includes:
1. TAKE ACTION—Don’t worry about being perfect, just start. I would much rather be imperfect and be able to share my God-given gifts with people rather than worrying about being absolutely perfect and not getting anything done. Embrace your imperfections and know there are others around you that have gifts they can share in helping you through your project. Some other action items you can take include:
- Join a community
- Seek out mentors
- Hire a coach
- Attend conferences
- Contract out services you are not skilled in
- Share your project with others (click HERE for the 1+1 = 3 concept)
2. SET YOUR GOAL—Set your goals, and go for it. If you chose to get up 45 minutes early each day and write 400 words five times a week, you could have a 24,000 word book written in a year.
3. BE PATIENT—Rome was not built in a day and neither will your book be written in a day. Enjoy the process and don’t stress about it. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but know this advice comes from a person who wants things done YESTERDAY.