Do You Have to Be an Expert to Write Your Book?

Not long ago, I was coaching an entrepreneur who wanted to write a book. Every time I inquired about her progress, there was very little to show. She kept procrastinating and simply couldn’t follow through with the writing activities and prompts. She was perfectly clear about the topic she wanted to write about and knew the audience for her book. Her lack of enthusiasm for getting the book done and in print puzzled me.

“What’s really holding you back?” I asked.

“There’s so many books out there by experts. I don’t feel like I’m an expert enough on that topic. Who am I to write this kind of book?” 

Ah ha. A breakthrough.

What holds many people back is the perception that they are not the best person to write the kind of book they’re attempting.

But here’s the thing, you don’t have to be an expert when you begin writing a book. What’s important is that you become an expert in the process. 

Several years ago, I came up with a title for a book—Unwrapping Your Passion—while relaxing in the bathtub. I pictured a bow on the cover—the reader would see passion as a gift. I was so excited about the title that I jumped out of the tub soaking wet and ran to my computer to see if the domain was available.

Unwrappingyourpassion.com was available!

I purchased it right then and there. I thought I would start writing the next day.

There was one problem, I had just finished reading The Passion Test by Janet and Chris Attwood, and I felt like they had already written a great book about the topic. Who was I to write about passion? I had no real expertise on the topic, other than the experience of rediscovering a long-buried passion for barefoot water skiing in mid-life.

I didn’t know what to do. So I reached out to a mentor, Kevin Hall, author of Aspire: Finding Your Purpose Through the Power of Words.

“I’ve got this awesome title for a book,” I told him, “but I don’t feel like I’m in any position to write it. How will I find people to interview?”

Kevin gave me some great advice. “Dive in with all your heart, follow your bliss, and people will appear to help you with what you want most.”

Boy, was he right! It took me almost seven years and lots of passionate living, but I finally saw Unwrapping Your Passion on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. That was a defining moment for me.

If you have a book within you—one that keeps nudging at you—it’s time to put the foundation in place so that you gain the expertise you need to allow the birth of the book. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Brain Dump—Get a spiral notebook or use a phone app like Evernote or Notes and write out life lessons, quotes, tidbits, ideas, etc., related to your topic. Do this without censoring.
  • Learn from the Experts—Find others who have the expertise you need, connect with them, and learn from them. Build up relationships through social media before asking for an interview.
  • Read Everything You Can on Your Topic—Read as many books as you possibly can on your topic. Take everything you’ve learned and compile it in a different way for the readers of your book.
  • Let Your Readers Learn with You—As you learn and pick up the expertise, let your reader experience the process as well. Write about the learning you went through to seek out the expertise that you’re now sharing with them.
  • Find a Different Angle—Take an unrelated topic, memory, or life lesson and find an unusual way to connect it with the topic of your book.

Remember this: No one else can write a book exactly the way you can. You have your own beliefs, lessons, experiences, and skills that will make your book completely unique.


Karen Putz is known as The Passion Mentor. She specializes in helping people unwrap their passions at any age. She is the author of multiple books, including Outside the Wake and Gliding Soles. For fun, she walks on water as a barefoot water skier.

 


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