Guest Blog Post – Rachel Dacus

I am so honored a pleased to bring you a  guest post from author Rachel Dacus, whose time travel romance novel, The Renaissance Club, was released in January!

In this post, Rachel shares with us what got her interested in writing and how reading led her to her dream of becoming an author.

How I Began to Want to Write

Writing is nothing but wanting to tell a story so much you actually learn how to. I had that desire at age ten. I blame my mother, who took me to Acre of Books in downtown Long Beach, California and encouraged me to pick out books. I found my books by color: a row of colorful, clothbound books written by a man named L. Frank Baum. I remember the word “Oz” was stamped in gold on their spines. It was a short hop down the Yellow Brick Road to the Writing Wishing Well, my source of all inspiration and aspiration to tell a good story.

Next came the colored fairytale books, notably the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. The idea of a kingdom under my bed was so appealing that I began to imagine alternate kingdoms everywhere—in my back yard, down the block, in the ravine, over the hill.

Then came Nancy Drew. Mysteries! After all, everything in my world, and every kingdom I could imagine, was mysterious. At the age of ten, eleven, and twelve, there’s so much you notice and don’t understand. And the adults in your life are always telling you they’ll explain it all when you’re older.

My first novel was called The Prisoner of the Locked Room. It was 100 pages long! I can’t imagine what I wrote because I still didn’t understand that a mystery revolved around a murder. I don’t believe at that age I had yet heard of murders. I led a sheltered childhood. So, I wrote all around this mysterious locked room, with its nameless prisoner—why imprisoned? Who? I decided to figure that out later. But I also decided to better Nancy Drew, and devised twin girl sleuths! Double the fun, double the fancy clothes, double the mystery-solving! Now all I needed was an actual mystery.

I trace my love of literature to the lavish amounts of bedtime reading aloud my mother did. I learned to love words and stories so young. Hopefully, every child in the world can be read to. And I not only learned to love words, but to make them. I was the kid who brought a typewriter to fourth grade, so I could write a play for the class to enact. The Westward Expansion may never be the same, but the thrill of hearing my words and story spoken aloud is unforgettable. Thanks, Mom, for reading to me and teaching me touch typing—giving me a love of language and an important tool to write!

The Renaissance Club Media Kit

By Rachel Dacus

Fiery Seas Publishing

January 23, 2018

Time Travel Romance

May Gold, college adjunct, often dreams about the subject of her master’s thesis – Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies, she’s in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man who invented the Baroque.

But in reality, May has just landed in Rome with her teaching colleagues and older boyfriend who is paying her way. She yearns to unleash her passion and creative spirit, and when the floor under the gilded dome of St Peter’s basilica rocks under her feet, she gets her chance. Walking through the veil that appears, she finds herself in the year 1624, staring straight into Bernini’s eyes. Their immediate and powerful attraction grows throughout May’s tour of Italy. And as she continues to meet her ethereal partner, even for brief snatches of time, her creativity and confidence blossom. All the doorways to happiness seem blocked for May-all except the shimmering doorway to Bernini’s world.

May has to choose: stay in her safe but stagnant existence or take a risk. Will May’s adventure in time ruin her life or lead to a magical new one?

Buy Links

ISBN: 978-1-946143-41-9  ~  eBook  ~  $6.99

ISBN: 978-1-946143-42-6  ~  Paperback  ~  $16.99

Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble  ~  Kobo  ~  iBooks 

~  Praise for The Renaissance Club  ~

Enchanting, rich and romantic…a poetic journey through the folds of time. In THE RENAISSANCE CLUB, passion, art, and history come together in this captivating tale of one woman’s quest to discover her true self and the life she’s meant to lead. Rachel Dacus deftly crafts a unique and spellbinding twist to the time-traveling adventure that’s perfect for fans of Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon. — Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

The Renaissance Club is a beautifully written story about a woman torn between two worlds—the present and the distant past. This time-travel adventure kept me guessing until the end about which world May would choose, and if that choice would be the right one. Highly recommended for lovers of time travel fiction or anyone looking for a compelling story about a woman trying to find happiness. — Annabelle Costa, Author of The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend.

The Renaissance Club shimmers with beauty, poetry, and art. Author Rachel Dacus sweeps her readers away to Italy with her, lifting the senses with the sights, sounds, and tastes of that stunning country; imparting her deep knowledge of Renaissance and Baroque art while immersing the reader in a gorgeously romantic story. This book is time travel at its best! — Georgina Young-Ellis, author of The Time Mistress Series

About the Author:

Rachel Dacus is the daughter of a bipolar rocket engineer who blew up a number of missiles during the race-to-space 1950’s. He was also an accomplished painter. Rachel studied at UC Berkeley and has remained in the San Francisco area. Her most recent book, Gods of Water and Air, combines poetry, prose, and a short play on the afterlife of dogs. Other poetry books are Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau.

Her interest in Italy was ignited by a course and tour on the Italian Renaissance. She’s been hooked on Italy ever since. Her essay “Venice and the Passion to Nurture” was anthologized in Italy, A Love Story: Women Write About the Italian Experience. When not writing, she raises funds for nonprofit causes and takes walks with her Silky Terrier. She blogs at Rocket Kid Writing.

Social Media:

Website

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Finding Inspiration Within

For a writer, sometimes the scariest monster–the killer of inspiration–is the BLANK PAGE.

When we are trying to start something new, or finish something we’ve started in the past, finally committing and sitting down to write something can be horribly intimidating. Our inspiration dries up and cannot be found. At these moments, sometimes the best thing we can do is to walk away from the beast. Sometimes, in order to be productive with our writing, we need to step away from it and feed our soul.

What do you do to feed your soul? For me, I love to sit with my horses or go for a long trail ride. Sometimes, I like to work on something specific in the dressage arena or tackle that thing I have been avoiding to reach my equestrian goals.

Other times, I like to sit down to draw, or do crafts. In the past, I have spent time doing cross-stitch, embroidery, beading, and coloring when the words don’t flow. Doing tasks that require a different kind of concentration and focus often allow our subconscious to let go, to unlock and set free our imagination. The dam is broken and the river of thoughts and ideas that have been bottled up breaks free.

Recently, my father passed away. Dealing with the emotions of that loss, and all of the other stuff that comes along with the death of a loved one has made it difficult for me to get motivated to write. But in the sorrow, I’ve found inspiration. My father was a wonderful and brilliant man. He was a scientist and a painter—gifted with a combination of skills that many of us only dream about.

I think my father used his art as a way to keep himself inspired in his scientific work, and when he retired, as a way to keep his creativity alive. He was feeding his soul and creating beautiful things. Since his passing, I’m inspired to do the same. I feel more in touch with myself, more in tune with my feelings and emotions, and more sensitive to the world around me. This heightened sensitivity has helped me in the mourning process and has also helped me to find inspiration every day, in things great and small.

I’ve enrolled in a colored pencil “painting” class. The reason the instructor refers to the pencil work as “painting” is because the technique she employs–burnishing–makes the pencil drawings look like oil paintings. I don’t have the time or the talent to pursue oil painting like my father did, but I still feel like I can create something beautiful. And, in making that beautiful thing, I am feeding my soul, luring back the inspiration to work on my writing projects.

So when you are on a deadline for your writing, either your own deadline, or one that perhaps an agent or editor has set for you, and the beast of the blank page is looming, step away. Take a walk in the garden. Smell the roses. Spend time with one of your animals, either in activity or in stillness. Light some candles in the bathroom and take a bubble bath. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Meditate. Go for a run. Paint something. Do whatever it is that speaks to you to refresh your mind and your spirit. Then go back to the page and just start writing–anything for ten minutes–and voila! No more blank page.

You’ve slain the monster. Now go on and write your masterpiece!

Dealing with Dysfunction

I love this quote because it is so true.

How many times a day, week, or month do you say to yourself something like . . . “once I get things in order, I’ll start working on my book?” Or, “I just need to get through X, then I can work on my blog.” Or one of my personal favorites, “once I get this piece perfect, then I will share it with…”—whether it’s a blog post, a short story, a novel, or even an email to a friend.

Perfection is elusive, so why do we always try to capture it? Because it allows us to procrastinate living our purpose. We feel a need to have everything in order before we start to dream and create—to be who we really are instead of what we think the world wants us to be; the perfect wife, husband, mother, employee, employer. So how do we stop this cycle?

We can realize that we are only one step away from dealing with dysfunction, so lean into that premise. Work with what you have—don’t try to make things perfect before you jump into the moment, because the moment will slip away like a leaf floating downstream, out of reach. Start living your passion—whatever that is. Be in the moment, and appreciate what you have and what you are, today. Open your mind, your heart, and your soul to what God or the Universe is trying to give you. And most importantly, give thanks for your imperfections, your crazy busy life, and for that dysfunction right around the corner that makes you human.

Be who you are today.

 

 

 

 

Fear Series #4: Fear of Failure

Woman holding hands over face in failureFear of Failure. We’ve all faced it at one time or another. But, does it stop you from doing what you feel you are meant to do, or called to do, or simply want to do? Like writing that book you’ve always wanted to write. Or perhaps, sharing your experiences and stories in a blog. Maybe it prevents you from querying an agent, or editor, or diving into self-publishing.

The fear of failure can be immobilizing. It can prevent us from reaching our goals, and sometimes prevents us from setting goals. It can stop us from living our dreams and doing the things we want to do or need to do in life. It can also prevent writers and would-be writers from expressing their thoughts and feelings through their words, or sharing their message and stories with others.

What does failure mean to you? Maybe it means that others won’t accept you, or believe you, or like you. Maybe it means you will be laughed at or ridiculed. Maybe whatever it is you want to do won’t be perfect. (Is anything in life?) Maybe it means you might not get that agent or book deal that you want. Well, you might be right.

So then what?

You can either choose to give up in the hopes you will never fail again, (not possible) or you can accept your failure, learn from it, and see the opportunities that might arise from it.

Here are some tips I hope will help you confront and manage your fear of failure. The tips come from my experiences with AFT, (The Aroma Freedom Technique) some practical advice I’ve received from others, and from my experiences in dealing with my own fear of failure.

#1) As with the first step in AFT, we must set an intention.

This intention should be something you intend to do if you knew—beyond doubt—you wouldn’t fail. Write a book. Publish a book. Start a blog. Write a newsletter. Query your dream agent. Get the picture? Write down your intention.

#2) Write down what failure means to you, as mentioned above.

woman writing in journal

#3) Identify where that fear of failure came from.

Unsupportive or critical parents? A bad teacher? Perhaps you had a bad experience in the past where you failed and had difficulty recovering. Maybe you lost a job over your “failure.” In AFT we try to capture what the negative voice in our heads is telling us. Or, pick a moment in time when we had the same emotions of unworthiness or despair. Write down what you came up with.

#4) Next, write down the absolute worst thing that can happen if you “fail” at whatever it is you want to accomplish with your writing.

What will you lose? Did you really need it anyway? How long will this affect you? Forever? A couple of weeks, days? Be honest with yourself.

#5) Establish what you have control over.

You have control over what you do with your writing. You have control over what you wish to share. But, can you control what others think, say, or do? If you could, how would that be satisfying? Maybe if you are a narcissist it would be satisfying, but I know you aren’t!

#6) Understand that others have this same fear. Even extremely successful writers. The difference is, they’ve made the choice to not let their fear of failure hold them back. One of my favorite Ted Talks of all time is Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating.” You can find it here. I hope you are as inspired by it as I am.

#7) Write down what positive things you’ve learned from failing – no negativity here.

Did it help you to change direction or try something different? Maybe it caused a falling out with someone who only brought you down or made you feel bad about yourself. Failing is an opportunity to better yourself, learn, reflect and plan. Don’t beat yourself up. Everyone fails. It is what you do with that failure that counts.

 

 

Fear Series: #3 Fear of Revealing the Human Within

naked woman hiding in dark - fearing exposureFear of self-exposure and fear of rejection go hand in hand. In exposing our innermost thoughts and feelings through our writing, we are risking criticism, ridicule, and rejection.

Is fear of exposing your true self holding you back from writing your message or your story? It’s not an uncommon problem. When we write, we pour ourselves into the work. We leave some, or a lot, of ourselves on the page for all the world to see. This can be intimidating and overwhelming. When we think about who might read our work–our parents, our children, our colleagues etc., and what they might think of the work, or us, after reading it can sometimes prevent us from writing what we are called to write. Here are some things to keep in mind when you fear self-exposure.

1. You have control over what you reveal.

If you are writing a memoir or any other piece of non-fiction that is personal, it is important to know you have complete control over what you reveal. That said, be aware that what you are afraid to write about may resonate with someone else. If it is your aim to help others through your work, in exposing your experiences, good and bad, you may reach someone who is going through or may have experienced the same thing. You can be of service to that person. You can connect with that person in a profound way. Isn’t that what sharing your work is all about?

In fiction, we can “hide behind the curtain” so to speak. We can put ourselves, our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and experiences into the development of a character. We can also recreate experiences we’ve had, and unless we divulge it, the reader will never know if it was our experience or not. Still, if the emotions or experiences are particularly painful, it can often feel as if we are exposing a part of ourselves we don’t want people to see.

In writing my historical mysteries I often use people from my life to portray a character. Many of my antagonists have been crafted from people whom I didn’t like, who have done me or my loved ones harm, or who are just negative, not very nice people. I used to fear that if my work got published that person would recognize themselves and get their feelings hurt. I expressed this fear to a critique group once, and someone said, “they don’t see themselves the way you see them. They would never recognize themselves in the character.” That statement made complete sense to me. It also made me realize the people I used to create my antagonists were not “bad” people, they just exhibit bad behavior because of past wounds or their own negative experiences.

2. You are human and others will relate to what you expose.

We are often not alone in our embarrassments, our bad behavior, our negative thoughts and feelings. When we expose ourselves, either outright or through our characters, we are sharing our human nature. That is how our readers will connect with us. Also, it is important to remember, it’s not about you. When a reader picks up a book, they are looking for an experience for themselves, one they can relate to—the good, the bad and the ugly. You are simply providing the mirror of their own human experiences.

3. You won’t please everyone.

Will someone hate your work? Probably. Will someone love your work? Probably. This is the area where you have NO control. Just like you cannot control what people think of you, you cannot control what they think of your work. Writers and many other creative people often share the trait of wanting to be liked by everyone. Writers and artists are driven to do what they do, and they want people to like and accept what they do. This is something we cannot control, so we shouldn’t try. Do your best, put your words on the page, be proud of what you do. Don’t let the one or two naysayers crush your dream. Sometimes people love to find fault. Remember, this isn’t about you, it’s about them.

4. Look at the negative things people say about your work with objectivity.

Try to view the criticism, and your work, as an observer. Take yourself out of the equation for a few minutes. Ask yourself, is this constructive or destructive criticism? If it is constructive, and you feel your work will improve by listening to the criticism, brush yourself off and learn from the experience. You have control of what you do with this information. If the criticism is destructive and makes you feel ashamed, put down, or threatens to make you quit writing, put it out of your mind. Forget about it and move on. If you can’t do this, distance yourself from the work and the criticism for two weeks. Go back to it and see if you feel any different.

Discerning between harsh, constructive criticism and destructive criticism can be difficult, because neither one feels very good. We all get destructive criticism from time to time. This goes back to tip number 3. Some people live to find fault. Consider the source and then move on.

woman smelling flower - no fear of exposure5. Celebrate the positive things people say about your work.

Take in the positive. Pick the positive flowers of what people say about your work, bundle it all up in a bouquet and water it often! Write those positive affirmations down in a journal, or better yet, write them on a sticky note and place it on your computer, or your bathroom mirror. Keep your rejection letters and highlight the positive remarks. Sometimes when we hear three wonderful comments about our work, and one terrible comment, we focus on the terrible one. Don’t let this play into your fear of self-exposure.

One of the best pieces of advice I have received about fear of self-exposure is to write your book, your essay, your blog post, etc. as if no one will read it. That is called writing your first draft. Then go back and decide what you feel most comfortable revealing, and what you feel the least comfortable revealing, and go from there. Good writing is re-writing. You have the power and control to share what you want.

Fear Series: #2 Overcoming Fear of Rejection

 

Pearl and Oyster - Rejection is the sand in the oyster, the irritant that ultimately produces a pearl. Burke WilkinsonRejection is something all writers hate and fear. When we put our hearts and souls onto the page, we want people to like what we’ve written, and better yet, accept it. Writing is an intimate form of self-expression, and when we are criticized or rejected for something we wrote, it’s painful. Many other writers might say, “it’s not about you as a person, it’s about something you’ve done, or something you do.” While that may be sound advice for some, it never gave me much comfort. Writing is a part of who I am, so yes, when someone rejects or criticizes something I have written, for me, it’s personal. Believe me, I’ve had my share of rejection, and one thing I know to be true; it will happen again, and again.

Writing is a tough business. So how do we overcome this fear that can paralyze us and often debilitate us from expressing ourselves with our words?

#1 Ask yourself the question: Is writing something I must do in order to be happy and fulfilled?

Be honest with yourself. Is writing your passion? If it is, you will find a way to deal with your fear of rejection. If writing is something you are called to, and I think you know if it is, the desire to express yourself in this way will rise above the fear. That doesn’t mean the fear of rejection is diminished, it just means that you are willing to endure the pain of rejection, and find a way to work around it. You will keep getting up after being knocked down, and prepare yourself for the next punch until you are victorious—whatever that means to you.

#2 Understand that rejection can be helpful.

If you’ve submitted to agents and editors, and you find their comments are similar, you might take note of what they say.  At first, you might be hurt, and maybe even angry, but try to look at it the criticism as constructive. Take the emotion out of it and hear what they have said.

One of the best things you can do is to educate yourself. Take online courses, go to writer’s conferences and workshops, join a critique group. Get outside feedback from people other than your mother, best friend, or spouse.

I find that one of the easiest and least painful ways to get feedback is to enter contests. You most likely won’t know the judges, so you can take their criticisms and compliments in a more objective way. Contests provide a nice distance from the criticism. You will also get feedback from three or more judges. This way, you can determine if they are all see the same thing. If they do, you need to do more work. If not, you can decide whose input is more valuable, and what you are going to do with it. You will have a sense of who is on the mark, and who just didn’t get what you wrote.

#3 Know that it may not mean your work is terrible.

Agents and editors are in the business to SELL. If they don’t feel they can sell your work, they won’t accept it. Just like you, they are trying to make money at what they do. For most, it is their livelihood, and if the work doesn’t speak to them, they probably won’t take a chance on it. Do your homework and find out just want kind of work they are looking for. The Manuscript Wish List is a great resource for this. http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com

Still, it is important to note that even if an editor or agent is “in love” with what you have written, they might be answering to powers that be, and cannot take on the project even though they want to.

#4 Find something positive in the rejection.

I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but it is something we all should do more often. You might get a rejection stating that your characters are compelling, your writing is strong, and you have a gift for humor, but the work wasn’t fast paced enough. What do you focus on? Like most of us, the one negative criticism or comment. If you get a rejection like the one I’ve just laid out, you are on the right track. Go you! Take stock of the negative comment, but rejoice in the positive ones. They have value as well.

#5 DON’T GIVE UP.

The writers who truly fail are the writers who don’t get their work out there. Today there are so many options for writers to publish. If you work at your craft, look at your rejections and criticisms as objectively as possible, and keep finding the courage to put yourself out there, you will find success. If you have a story to tell, or a message to impart through writing, share it. Learn from the positive and the negative comments. Rejection will happen. In your writing and in your life. It is never pleasant, but it can help mold who we are and who we will become.

To read last weeks article, “Fear of Writing Emotion” click here.

Fear Series: #1 Fear of Writing Emotion

photo of girl at computer. Fear of writing emotion.Fear. That overwhelming emotion that can save us from danger, but also holds us back from doing what we desire, or in many cases, what we must do. Many writers and would-be writers, suffer from all kinds of fear. Fear of self-expression, fear of criticism, ridicule, rejection, and sometimes, fear of facing and writing down their own emotions. Fear stops writers from finishing the book they’ve always wanted to write, or prevents them from sharing their message with the world through their words.

In this series on fear, we will delve into the different kinds of fear that hold us back from writing and sharing our stories and messages with the world.

One of the most painful and debilitating fears that writers face is the fear of their own emotions. Sometimes writing takes us back to a memory that is too difficult to face. Or, in telling a story, we have to tap into darkness or depression to make our story believable and relatable. In fiction, we must live the pain and suffering that we create for our characters. In non-fiction, we have to face a painful subject matter, or reach back into our own painful experiences to share our message.

The more we get comfortable with the discomfort of the intensity of our emotions, the more we can tame them. When you face your emotions, you control them instead of your emotions controlling you.

Here are some suggestions to help you break free from the fear of facing your own emotions to do your best writing. If you have access to them, essential oils are terrific for support in facing and confronting, and breaking free from emotions that hold you back. The oils I will suggest are singles and blends from Young Living Essential Oils, but you might be able to create your own blends but you can use other brands of essential oils. I also use the Aroma Freedom Technique (AFT) that utilizes essential oils to help me confront difficult emotions that I need to use in my fiction. See here for more information on AFT.

[It is not necessary to use essential oils in this process. If you do not have access to essential oils, make sure you are in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Listen to soothing music, grab a nice cup of tea, and sit in a comfortable chair, or on a soft cushion.]

Have a notebook handy to write down your experiences and feelings while going through this process.

Identify the emotion. Is it sadness, fear, loneliness, depression? Essential oil to use: Clarity. Ingredients: Basil, Cardamom, Peppermint, Coriander, geranium, bergamot, lemon, ylang-ylang, jasmine, roman chamomile, palmarosa.

Identify where the emotion comes from? Why are you afraid to express yourself? Did it come from a painful memory or experience? Are you afraid to express yourself because of how you perceive others will react? Essential oil to use: Inner Child. Ingredients: Orange, tangerine, ylang-ylang, royal Hawaiian sandalwood, jasmine, lemongrass, spruce, bitter orange, neroli

Give the emotion, the memory, or the perceived situation, your full attention. Lean into it. Breathe into it. Essential oil to use: Ingredients: Acceptance. Ingredients: Orange, frankincense, ginger, clove, myrrh, cinnamon, spruce.

Write down how the experience makes you feel.

Let the tears and/or fears come. Welcome them. Essential oil to use: Release. Ingredients: Ylang ylang, olive, lavender, geranium, royal Hawaiian sandalwood, grapefruit, tangerine, spearmint, lemon, blue cypress, ocotea, jasmine, blue tansy, rose.

Observe the emotions, but don’t get caught up in them. Imagine you are on the banks of a stream watching those memories, experiences or perceived experiences float on the current. Essential oil to use: Present Time. Ingredients: Sweet almond, bitter orange, black spruce, ylang ylang.

Write down what you are feeling.

Now that you have faced that emotion and are in the state of that emotion, it’s time to free yourself from it. I don’t’ want you to stay in a dark or scary place!

Think of something good or positive that can come from your writing. Is your message something that can help others? Is your story entertaining, or innovative in some way? Will people get enjoyment from it? Essential oil to use: Abundance. Ingredients: Orange, patchouli, clove, ginger, myrrh, cinnamon, spruce.

Jot down why do you feel the need to write your story or message? Then write down why you are the only person to write this. Do you have a special talent or special knowledge about your subject matter? Do you have information to provide? Do you have skills to share? Essential oil to use: Envision. Ingredients: Black spruce, geranium, orange, lavender, sage, rose.

Relay your story or message as if no one will ever read it. Pour yourself into it. Share all of your gifts, talents, and knowledge. Let your imagination take off. You have a gift, or knowledge, or experiences, that make you qualified to share your writing with others. Remember, you won’t be able to please or impress everyone, but if you can reach a handful of people, or even one person with your story or message, you’ve succeeded! Believe in yourself. Believe in your writing! Essential oil to use: Believe. Ingredients: Idaho balsam fir, coriander, bergamot, frankincense, Idaho blue spruce, ylang ylang, geranium.

See my last post on “The Five Elements to Unlock the Mystery of Writing a Book.” 

 

5 Elements to Unlock the Mystery of Writing A Book

 

woman staring at computer screenWriting a book. Sounds easy? If you have ever tried to write a book, or actually succeeded at writing a book, you know what kind of commitment it requires. Taking about it is one thing. Doing it is another. So, how do we unlock the mystery of writing a book?

Many people want to write a book. They either have a message or information they want to share, or they love to tell a good story. Perhaps they have experiences they feel people can learn from. Perhaps they want to make a statement about the human condition, or provide social commentary. The variety of reasons for writing a book is as immense as the variety of ideas people have for those books.

But, what does it take?

Here are the 5 elements I feel are necessary to unlock the mystery of writing a book, and more importantly finishing a book.

Element #5 Understand your gifts, knowledge, and talent.

 This goes along with the old adage “write what you know.” If you have access to certain information, or are gifted with unique skills, or have a particular talent – write about it. Would a bee-keeper write a medical thriller? Possibly, if she had a passion for medicine, or had access to a medical professional. Or, if the plight of bees threatened the medical well-being of mankind in her book. But generally, no. If medicine is not an interest of the bee-keeper, she might be better served to write a book involving bees, beekeeping, or perhaps a book about a honey-salesman. That could have some interesting connotations!

Stick with what you know, or what you are passionate about. It will come through in your story or in your message.

Element #4 Create time and space – figuratively.

When I am working on a book, I find it is top of mind, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But there are times when I can’t sit down to write. As much as I would like to say that I am an author who writes every single day, it is just not a reality for me. I have other things I am equally passionate about. It’s always a struggle to get everything in. Instead of neglecting my other passions and responsibilities, I make time and space in my head for my book. When doing physical chores that don’t require a lot of concentration, I work out the next scene or chapter I want to write. I might fantasize about a new character, or a new setting for my book.

Keep a small notebook in your pocket or purse to capture your thoughts. I used to spend a lot of time in the car. Instead of listening to music, I listened to the story unfolding in my head. It’s a great way to make the commute shorter. Don’t take notes unless you are at a stop light!

Element #3 Create time and space – literally.

It is important to take your writing seriously. Do not put it on the back-burner, or think to yourself, “I’ll get to it later.” Schedule it into your day or week. If you can only fit in 20 minutes a day, great! Put it in your calendar. If you can write one page a day, then you will have 365 pages at the end of the year. Viola! A book.

Finding a space where you cannot be disturbed is instrumental. I try to create a cozy, comfortable atmosphere in my office. I have my essential oils diffuser, tea pot, comfy sofa or chair, and a clean desk (somewhat) ready for me when I sit down to write. When I spent a lot of time in the car, I carried my lap-top with me everywhere. I wrote in airports, coffee shops, restaurants, even the nail salon! Some people claim they can’t write anywhere but their office. I get it. But, being flexible gives you more writing time. And, the more you do it, the better you get at it!

Element #2 Read, read, read.

 Reading books of all genres and types is the best way to learn to be a better writer. It’s important to take stock of other authors’ strengths and weaknesses, what works and what doesn’t. Take note of things like their writing style, their voice, their message, and themes that run throughout their book. Focus on your genre or area of interest. Write down the passages that strike you. Analyze what the author did to make their words so colorful, exciting, terrifying, or real. Do you get lost in the setting or world the author has built? Why? Do you love or hate a character? Why?

Element #1 – The single most important element to writing a book: Belief in Self

 Writing a book can be a hefty undertaking. You’ll spend a lot of time in your own head. This can be a dangerous place! Naturally, your thoughts will want to take you where you aren’t good enough, you don’t know enough. You go to a place where people won’t want to read what you have written, or take you seriously. Am I right?

Belief in yourself is so important as a writer. You cannot please everyone. People will give you advice and commentary whether you want it or not. Whether you are published or not. Whether you are a best-seller or not. Unfortunately, being a writer or artist requires the development of a tough skin, a love of your craft, and a love of self. If you don’t love what you do and what you write, how will anyone else? Believe in your craft. Believe in your work. Believe in yourself.