Welcome to the first episode of Alchemy for Authors!
Today I talk about where my passion for writing began, the purpose of Alchemy for Authors, and how knowing your Writing Why can help drive you to take action on your writing dreams.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Start With Why by Simon Sinek
- Find Your Why by Simon Sinek
- For more information about Simon Sinek and finding your Why, visit https://simonsinek.com/
If you enjoyed this episode please rate, review and subscribe on your favourite platform so you never miss an episode.
Join the Alchemy for Authors Facebook Group here.
Download your free copy of my short story collection Between the Shadows here.
Find the full transcript of this episode below.
Episode 1: Finding Your Writing Why – Transcript
Hello my lovelies!
I am so excited to have you join me for the very first episode of Alchemy for Authors. How exciting is this?
So, if you are here listening to this podcast, it is because you are passionate about writing and you’ve got big dreams for the written word. Maybe it’s that you want to be a bestselling author or you just want to be an author. You want your books out there in the world in the hands of readers. Maybe it’s that you want to write poetry or television scripts, film scripts, nonfiction books. It really doesn’t matter. But something inside you lights up at the idea of putting words on paper and sharing those words with the world.
Now everybody has a different story as to how they came to grow this passion inside them. My own story starts way back when I was about five and I came across my very first library. It was my first day of primary school here in New Zealand. And on the tour of the classrooms and school and everything, the principal and my mom took me into this little library so I could see this library, and it was so little. It was a very little country school that I was in and it was really just a small little room. But it was lined, from what felt to me at five years old, from floor to ceiling with just books, books, books. Now I couldn’t read at that point, but I did go over and I touched the spines of the books. I pulled some of them out and looked at their most gorgeous covers and just knew, I just breathed them in and knew that there was something so special about the written word.
It was on my 6th birthday that I woke up and decided I was going to be an author. I don’t know where that thought came from, but it stayed with me my entire life. It grew with me as I went through my angsty teenage years and wrote really bad poetry. It was there with me when I enrolled in distance learning courses to fine tune my fiction writing. And when I started novel after novel after novel and gave up after about one or two chapters, it was there with me when I would speak endlessly to my friends and anybody who would listen all through my teens and twenties about how I was going to write a book. I was going to write a novel. I was going to, going to, and I didn’t. I was all talk, but I never actually took those steps to do it until much later in my life. In fact, it was 2014, 2015 when I actually had my first couple of short stories published in a local literary journal. Something about that sparked me to try my hand at novel writing. And so, at the age of 34, in 2015, I dove straight into Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, and started to really go past those first couple of chapters. And I’m using air quotes here, but write a novel.
And I did reach the 50,000 word goal, but it was a bit of a mess, to be honest. And it certainly had no ending. In fact, I don’t even know if the book had a middle, to be completely frank with you. It was just an absolute brain dump of random ideas. And then that got shelved. But me talking about being an author, me talking about one day being a self-employed author or entrepreneur was always there. My poor friends, my poor family, I’m sure they thought it was actually never going to happen.
It is said that about 80% of the population believe that they have a book in them. They want to write a book. They want to leave something behind before they die. But it most certainly is not that many that actually do.
But I did. In 2020, I actually published my very first novel, and then I published a second novel. And between those, I’ve also published two collections of short stories. And I’m onto my third novel. So, I have wanted a writing life and author life almost the entirety of my life, but it’s only been recently that I’ve actually embarked on this journey. And so, when I speak with you, I’m speaking as someone in the trenches with you. I’m learning and growing as I go along. But there are some things that I’ve picked up along the way and things I’ve picked up from others. And with my knowledge of writing, and I’m a self-published author, so self-publishing as well, I can marry that to years and years and years of diving deep into personal development and all that lovely woo-woo, manifestation stuff that can really supercharge your life.
And that’s what Alchemy for Authors is. I want us to really dream hard about what we want to create in our lives, what lives we want to lead and leave behind us where writing can be a core component. Because we’re here listening to this podcast, you’re here because you are as passionate about writing as I am. And so why wouldn’t we want to bring that into our lives in a really solid, real, fulfilling way? Because I truly believe that when we do what we are passionate about, oh my gosh, we are so much better for it. We as people are better for it. And because of that, we light up all of those people around us as well. We contribute more to our time here on Earth.
And so, I want to talk to you about one of the key components I believe is important to starting off strong towards your writing goals and writing dreams, and that is finding your Writing Why. Now just to back up a little bit, I want to just expand a little bit more on what I envision as a writing life, and it is different for all of us. We all have different dreams and different goals. For some of us, writing is such a passion that we actually want it to be our main source of income in our lives. We want to make a living as an author or writer or poet or screenwriter. For some of us, we just want to fall in love with writing and have the time to play with it, to have it as a hobby. But a hobby that really fills us up, makes us feel more true to who we are. Some of us will be wanting the accolades, maybe the awards. We want to be hitting the best seller lists. Maybe it’s important for us to see our ranks grow on the likes of Amazon or other storefronts. For others, that’s not important. It’s more important that somebody out there in the world will hold our words in their hands, read them, and feel what we were trying to express. So our writing goals, the way that we envision how the part that writing will play in our lives is all going to be, is so completely different for each and every one of us.
For myself, it was actually some of the worst times in my life that drove me to actually stop dreaming about being an author and writing and claim that title and actually do something with it. I was in a job at the time that was not a very healthy environment. It had me at the point where I was at the lowest of the low that I’ve ever been. And I felt trapped because it was good money and, well, I’ve got a mortgage and we’ve got bills to pay, so I wasn’t going anywhere. And my confidence was so low that I didn’t think I could go anywhere even if I wanted to. So, I felt really trapped. And of all the silly ideas, I had it in my mind that, well, while I’m trapped here I’m going to get myself out by actually writing those books I’ve been talking about to my friends and family for forever. I’m going to study those courses, really just dive deep into the world of self-publishing and writing and the writing craft. And somehow I’m going to create for myself a writing life that takes over financially and in every other way from this job that I feel stuck in.
Now that didn’t actually happen like that. I mean, it did absolutely give me the commitment and discipline to go really hard with sitting my butt in the chair and getting those words on paper, and not giving up and just blasting through all of that resistance and mindset issues that I come up against, and that everybody does when they go to write their first book or poem or any kind of substantial piece of work. But it didn’t actually get me out of that job. The amazing thing is, though, that was okay because my world actually started to change. For the first time in a long time, I felt in alignment with who I was because there was no kidding myself. Writing really did light me up and when I was committed and disciplined with it, I became a different person. I felt differently. I saw the world in a different way. I was happier, I had more resilience, I had something to focus on beyond the dramas in my workspace. And instead, I was able to transfer those dramas and put them on the page and keep the drama there. And whether it was because I was all of a sudden in this better, more mentally and emotionally stable place in myself, because I was using that awesome creative energy that comes with writing, or whether it was something different, my external circumstances changed as well. Life just got a little bit easier. The problems didn’t go away, but I had focus and dreams and goals now that they certainly didn’t get under my skin as much. And if anything, when the negativity rose to the surface in my external circumstances, it really just propelled me forward, further towards my goals.
And that’s why, on top of working a full-time job, dealing with my own anxiety and stress issues due to the day job that I was in, having normal, everyday family stuff going on, getting up at 4:30 am every morning to go to the gym, there was no time in the morning to dedicate to my writing, which meant that all my weekends, all my evenings were the only time I had to do it. I didn’t see friends that often. I cancelled lots of plans. I really focused on writing. And all of this was also amongst the beginning of the pandemic that we still find ourselves in.
I managed to get books written, stories written, I learned how to edit, I made contacts with editors and people who could design book covers, and people in the know of how to self-publish and get my books up on different platforms and to market and all of this stuff. I grew as a person. But there was something even beyond me that grew and it filtered out into the outside, into my outside world, and mirrored back to me that lightness, that energy, that passion that I felt inside. So my external circumstances changed.
So going back to the idea of your Writing Why – for that little while my Writing Why, was the reason that I really put in the energy and effort and worked really hard to try and create for myself what I believed was going to be my exit from my external circumstances, what would replace my income and everything else, was that I felt at the time I needed out and that I had no other avenue of an out, and that writing was it.
I was at such a low that it was almost like my life couldn’t get any shittier, so why aren’t I finally just giving this a go. I’ve always talked about writing. What do I have to lose now? And there was nothing. Except there was the idea that maybe, just maybe, I could actually make something of this writing gig. I mean, I’d had a couple of short stories published. I’d had writing teachers tell me even at university that I had something there. There was a spark there. There was potential there. So that was also in the back of my mind, that hopefulness that maybe I could change my life, mine and my husband’s life. Maybe this could be the door that opens to a life where freedom abounds, freedom of time and money, no longer having a boss tell me what to do, being able to take time off whenever the heck I wanted and not be so stuck with weekends and specific holidays, to have a little bit more control over my life. Maybe I could retire my husband.
To be honest, that’s been a definite part of my Why all this way along. Because unfortunately, he’s like lots of other people out there in the world and not necessarily in love with what he does as a living either. How amazing would it be if doing what we love was the thing that could actually not just fulfil us inside, but fulfil our ability to live in this world financially? Now, I really do believe that’s possible. Even though I’m in the trenches with a lot of you and I’m not there yet, I know I will be getting there. It is in my path. It is on my journey. It will happen. I have no doubt of that in my mind. But it’s not actually the driving force behind my Writing Why anymore? Because as my life got better externally, my Why has changed a little bit.
Finding your Writing Why is about getting really deep and honest with yourself about what appeals to you about writing. Why do you want this life? Why do you want to sacrifice time doing other things? To be sitting in your chair, at your laptop or at your desk, sometimes even hours on end, putting in words, battling imposter syndrome, throwing your words out there, into the world, into the universe, for other people to comment, critique. Why are you so willing to put yourself through that? Because I know plenty of people who could not think of anything worse. I have friends and family who have said that to me. Oh my gosh, you’re writing a book? Yuck. That sounds horrible. Why would you do that to yourself? And it’s kind of funny, because why wouldn’t I? For me, it is my path. It is the right thing.
The idea of finding your Why first came to me when I stumbled across Simon Sinek. He’s got an awesome Ted Talk. He’s written a couple of books, I think Start With Why and Finding Your Why. He says that it really comes back to the fact that everybody has a Why, a deep-seated belief that is the source of our passion and our inspiration, that aligns with our values, that aligns with the reason that we’re here on Earth, and throughout our entire life we can actually look back and trace themes that kind of tell us what our Why is. It is totally worth reading his books to dive deep into that. Because your overall life has a Why. But I’m just pulling that back a little bit just to look at your writing world, what you aspire to with your writing, and to look at finding your reason, your Why for your writing, for your idea of what your ideal writing life would look like or author life would look like. Sometimes it’s really good to journal these things out, to write down all the reasons that come to mind when you think about why do I want to be an author? Freedom, money, creativity? What is it that makes you love writing so much? And if you had that dream writing life that you envisioned, maybe living by the beach, writing bestsellers and making however much money a year, how is that going to make you feel? Like, really go deep with that and then think about what will you need to give up to get there? And I know that question sounds a little bit scary, but it really shouldn’t be.
There are so many pros to us following our passion and to living by our Why. So once you find your Why, your Writing Why, you can use that then to drive all of your decisions, your choices, your focuses, your mind, your money, your time, everything, to really hone in so that you get closer to that dream life that you aspire to. That in itself will allow you some actionable steps to get to that place that you want to get to with your writing. It gives your writing a purpose. And when you’ve got purpose, you can make things happen. Procrastination happens a lot when we don’t have purpose or when we feel like we’re lacking in purpose or there’s just not enough drive to actually get us motivated. Knowing and being really clear on your Why will keep you motivated. It’ll get you up at those ungodly hours of the morning to write. It’ll keep you battling through those multiple edits over and over.
To give you an example, I’ll share with you a little bit about my Writing Why at the moment. Because it does change. It does get tweaked at times. And what I see for my writing life actually does include this podcast. It does include helping other writers and authors and wordsmiths and word lovers live their best life with writing as a core component of that. So, when I talk about my Writing Why I’m talking about more of like an entrepreneurial lifestyle, with everything that reminds me of writing that I kind of work on in my life. And this is it. It’s a really simple statement.
“I want to entertain, educate and inspire others through living a prosperous author life that I love.”
So, I’m going to say that once more. “I want to entertain, educate and inspire others through living a prosperous author life that I love.”
Now I’m just going to break that down for you and how that actually connects to me. I want to entertain. I write gothic fiction and ghost stories. That’s what I do. I love it. First and foremost, it’s got to be entertaining. No one’s going to read my stories if there’s not some entertainment to them. If they’re not going to grab people, and they’re not the happiest stories, they really aren’t, they’re not going to get people all buzzy and feeling like they’re going to go kick ass in the universe, they can be pretty dark at times, but they still entertain. They give people something that people need. Sometimes there is enough crazy and drama and scary stuff out in the world, but sometimes watching a horror movie or reading something a bit spooky in a book actually gives us a greater sense of control. We can feel all those horrible feelings that we don’t want to feel in the real world. We can feel them through reading a book, but still feel like we have an element of control because we can close that book at any time. We know there’s going to be an end to it. We can turn off that TV show, that horror movie. We’ve got that control. So it actually does offer something to the world. So I want to entertain. That’s my first thing.
I want to educate. Now my stories, although they’re fiction, I want them to get people thinking about things in different ways. I don’t want to shy away from hard stuff. I have a little bit of the supernatural too, so I bring in a little bit of that woo-woo. I want people to maybe stretch their minds, and they can do that safely in the world of fiction. But I want them to just reflect sometimes and wonder, is all of this actually fiction or is that possible? So, I want to help expand people’s minds and educate them. My hope is that also through this podcast I’m going to be able to educate people as well in ways that they can move forward into an author or writing life that they really love. That fulfils them. That ticks all those boxes of what their dream life could be.
And then yes, I wrote down that I want to prosperous for life. I do. I’m going to be honest with you: Money. It’s not the be all or the end all, but it’s important to me at least. It’s not going to be important for everybody. But I actually do want to make a living doing this. And the reason for that is because I want to enjoy the freedoms that money can offer. I want to be able to move away from having a boss to being my own boss, from having somebody else dictate how much I can earn and how many hours I have to work, or how many days or what days, or when I can take time off, or when I can have an appointment. I want a little bit of that self-control, that control back that money actually offers. I also think, how amazing would it be for me to be able to use my time as I desire to put more energy in there into writing, more into podcasting, more into putting content out in the world? More for me? That’s the dream. So yes, I want a prosperous author life, not a starving artist life. That’s not on the board for me. Like I said earlier, I still have a day job at the moment, and I’m okay with that. I know it’s not forever, but at the moment it certainly serves its purpose to get all my ducks in a row so that one day I won’t be so reliant on the day job.
And finally, the last part of my Why is that I must love it. I want to entertain, educate and inspire others through living a prosperous author life that I love. Don’t do this if you don’t love it, don’t do anything if you don’t love it, not something that’s supposed to be such a cool component of your life, that you want to build a life around, that you want to maybe make a living around. Now, if writing doesn’t light you up inside, doesn’t make you feel like you’re a better person, like you’re actually contributing and offering something to the world, then maybe you need to rethink whether this is really the right thing for you to be expending energy on. Because I will tell you from my own experience, when you love something, it fills you up in a way that people can see it. It makes you more radiant. It makes you a nicer person. It makes you a more giving, compassionate, loving person, a happier person. Your light shines out, and it also helps others shine their light too. It almost mirrors out to other people what’s possible for them. You owe it to yourself to be happy, to do something that you love. But I tell you what, other people will love you for it too, because you show them what is possible for them as well. So it’s a win-win.
Now you need to work out what your Writing Why is because that Writing Why can really sustain you. Why do you want a writing life? Why do you want to be an author? A wordsmith of any kind? Go deep on this. Think about it. Think about your deepest values and what living an amazing writing life would mean for you. How writing can contribute to your life. Obviously, it’s not going to be the be all, end all. Heck, I adore my family. I have a husband that I love, I have cats that I adore. I have other family members and friends and everything like that that are so important in my life. Writing is really only one aspect, but if I don’t include it, I feel like part of me is missing. And so, it’s really key to me that I build a life with writing at its core. And then once you know your Writing Why you can use that to your advantage. Every decision that you make, you can think back to does it serve my Why? Is this bringing me closer to my goal or pushing me further away? It’s going to test your commitment, and it’s kind of funny how this works. But once you tell the universe or God or whatever, when you tell the universe that this is what you want for your life, you’re going to get tested. So, you say that you want an amazing writing life and you want to write some books and you want to be a bestselling author and you want to earn however much dollars a year or whatever. And of course you’re going to need time to do that. But then you’re offered extra responsibilities or a promotion or something at your day job. And what do you do? Do you just think about the money aspect? Because maybe this promotion or extra responsibilities come with an extra boost to your pay check as well, and that can be great. That can pay for edits and covers or marketing or anything else. But what does that take from you? Does it take your energy? Does it take your time that you could be using to actually put into your passion project?
Go back to your Why? Think about what is really important to you, your Writing Why? I’m going to say this again: your Writing Why can really supercharge and make it so much easier for you to reach your goals faster. Every time you have a choice or a decision, whether the decision’s about how to use your time or your money, whether to take a promotion, whether to spend energy with maybe a friend who does not build you up, kind of tends to drag you down a little bit, go back to your Writing Why. Will this bring me closer to my goals? Does it align with what I want to put out in the world, how I want to contribute? Or does it take away? I’m not going to be able to entertain, educate, and inspire others with a prosperous author life that I love, if I am spending every spare moment taking on extra responsibilities at the day job or extra responsibilities around the house, that leaves me zero time to live, to write, to do the things I’m passionate about. Life is going to get pretty boring, and I’m not going to get any closer to my goals at all.
It helps you too. If you find yourself like I did years past where you just feel like there’s a little bit of toxicity or drama in your life that you need to escape from. One of my mantra’s is “Keep the drama on the page”. I don’t have the time, the energy, the space, really mentally or emotionally to allow others to bring their drama into my sphere. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about people, not at all. I love people. I’m very compassionate and empathetic towards others. But if their drama feels like it’s starting to overwhelm my ability to put my best energy forward towards creating a life that is in alignment with who I am, then I need to step away. So I remind myself, “Keep the drama on the page”. I don’t want my head to get stuck in other people’s problems to the detriment of me being able to write. And that can happen easily for me personally, and maybe for you too, where if something’s going on externally and your head gets stuck in that space of this drama, or there’s high emotions or things that are going on, that it gets really hard to get to the page, to focus, to really get into working on your passion projects. Then you need to find a way to push that drama away, to just sidestep a little bit, to not let it lie so heavily on you. You have more important things. I mean, you deserve an awesome life. You deserve a life using your gifts and your talents and contributing to the world. For you, that’s going to be through writing of some sort. That’s why you’re here, listening to this podcast. That is important to you. So that’s where our focus is needs to be.
So that’s really what I want to leave you with today. I want to leave you with the importance of finding your Writing Why. I could talk about this forever, because there are so many positives to knowing why you want to step out onto this journey, why you want to be a person that puts their words out in the world. What’s driving you? What’s going to keep you focused on this? Maybe you already know your why. And then this is simply a reminder to you to put it first. When you make your decisions, when anything comes up in your life that may potentially take you away from your goals, go back to what is your Why. For some of you you’re going to have some homework to do. You need to do a little bit of reflection, a little bit of journaling, whatever it takes to really go deep and find out what is driving you. Why do you love words so much? Why do you love writing so much? What does your dream life look like? And when you’ve got your Why put it on a little cue card or poster or something like that, a post it note, and put it somewhere by your desk or wherever you write, on your laptop, somewhere where you’re going to see it every day to remind you so that you don’t get side-tracked, because whatever life you envision for yourself that includes writing in some form or another, I truly believe you can have it. You wouldn’t have been given that dream without also being given the means to make it a reality.
I am so thankful that you have been here and listened to me today and made it all the way through this very long spiel. I would love if you could write and subscribe, review this podcast and let me know what you think. You can connect with me on Instagram or Facebook. I’m @jobuerauthor, or join me on my Alchemy for Authors Facebook Group. Let me know what you think. Let me also know what you want to hear about. I have so much that I want to share with you and I have some amazing talented authors who are going to be coming onto this podcast to talk to you about their experiences and what they have learned that I can’t wait to share that with you, but I would love to know where you’re stuck, what you want to learn to help you grow into that wonderful writing life. It doesn’t always have to be all about manifestation and mindset. That’s definitely a passion of mine, but oh my gosh, there’s so much to do with the craft of writing to do with self-publishing and marketing and all of that. It’s all so interwoven so we can talk about any of that. But I so appreciate you spending this time with me today. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I hope it’s given you something to think about to go away with and to think about how you’re going to implement your Writing Why in your life.