Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Help Yourself

Writing, for me, has always been therapeutic. Its like having a long conversation with my best friend without that friend getting bored or tired of my problems. When my father died, I wrote reams of poetry and essays to work my way through the pain. When i was smitten with some boy, or crushed by some life event, I wrote about it and everything magically went on. As if putting it into words changed the reality of what had happened.
This, however, is not a tool all individuals can employ. Its the reason we read self-help books.
I have been interested in reading, writing and researching self-help for quite some time. Perhaps its my background in psychology, the work I did with troubled teens or even my experiences as a mother that have always drawn me to this arena. Whatever it is, I've learned a few things about writing such a book.
1.Write like a speaker, don't speak like a writer-
   The language of a self help book that is successful is not complicated, wordy or technical. Its basic, quotable and has a sense of humor. Dr. John Gray, The Author of "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus" learned this after he'd published a few other books, with a bit of success. Each time he discovered that the language he used to speak  to his audience was too complex. He said "I needed something they could repeat to each other in the line at the supermarket or pharmacy." This also made his books about 200 pages longer than people wanted to read.
2. Use humor-
   Nobody wants to read a dry and boring discussion between their therapist and themselves. The point of self-help is to see that all is not lost and if you can laugh at yourself and the world around you, hope is alive. Everything from title to quotes and stories within the book should allow your audience to laugh. Both at themselves and at the crazy world around them. In "Rich Dad, Poor Dad "by Robert Kiyosaki, he often makes fun of his own mistakes and the methods he used to learn life's crucial financial lessons.
3.Outline in 10-
   Many self-help  authors find their information to be very expansive and overwhelming. If they break the book down to its 10 most important concepts, and then make them the chapter headings, people will actually buy and read the book. The authors of "The anatomy of Peace", Wrote their book 12 times before the concepts were finally broken down to the basic format of the book.

If you just enjoy reading self-help or would like to write it yourself, go look up the writers who have been successful and read their stories. You'll be surprised how helpful they will be. In the meantime keep writing!.

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