I’m meant to be writing a follow-up book to A New Name. Meant to, because I’m still at the planning stage. There’s different reasons for this. I’ve done some speaking and blogging. IVF has occupied most of this year – and I haven’t been able to face it. Also there’s laziness and sheer, unadulterated fear.
I’ve had a couple of ideas floating around. The stuff I know about is eating disorders – so it would make sense to do something on that. But the issues underpinning EDs are very similar to the ones underlying depression, self-harm, addiction, OCD… and life. If I stick ‘eating disorder’ on the front, people will judge the book by the cover. And most will think, it’s not for me.
Even if I do focus on EDs, who am I writing for? Sufferers? Carers? The church? All – or none of the above? The internet is awash with books by doctors and specialists who are way more sorted than me. People with answers, where I still have questions.
I don’t think you can do life by yourself, let alone ‘recovery’. But for the sake of argument, I google ‘writing a self-help book’.
Here’s what I find. (I’m not making this up):
‘Much of it comes down to two skills:
- The ability to reduce complex topics to simple 3-step processes.
- The ability to produce quotable phrases.
…anything that’s hard or doesn’t produce immediate results isn’t going to sell.
No one will pick up a book that tells them that their goal is difficult to achieve and will take a lot of time and energy. Come on, of course no one wants to put in any effort! …We want fast, quick, easy, n0-brainer solutions to our problems. So, if you, as a writer, can’t deliver that kind of solution, you’d better change genres.
…If you can’t think of one big idea, then use steps. Create a 3-step program to achieve what your audience wants to achieve. Each of those “steps” may actually cover a vast area of mastery, but as long as you can encapsulate each area in one clear word or phrase, then your readers will forgive you.
For example, if you’re writing a book on how to cure a health problem holistically, your 3-step program might include:
- Find out the cause.
- Adjust your lifestyle.
- Try alternative therapies.
Those three steps are so vague as to be almost useless, but that’s not the point. The point is, you’ve created a 3-step program to cure, say, yeast infections, and your readers will accept your word on it….
I resist the urge to go back to bed and unplug the google.
I don’t have three steps. I have stories from people like me – many of whom have never struggled with an eating disorder.
I don’t have a cause, a lifestyle, a therapy or a solution. I have a tottering faith that needs propped up each day.
I don’t know how to help myself – or anyone else. I have a Saviour who does: but He can’t be explained in a soundbite.
So I come back. To the empty page. I think. And I try to write.