What My First Book Taught Me About Writing Books

My writing career is unusual in that it started early. When I was 18, I wrote a book proposal for a non-fiction book, to explore the lives of overachieving girls and how many young women in high school and college are hyper-ambitious, at the expense of their physical and mental health. I landed a book deal with Simon and Schuster, and Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls, was published in March of 2009, when I was 20.

I learned so much during the process of writing the book and having it published.  One thing in particular that I learned is really serving me as I work on my new book, Tell the Story You Want to Live. Live the Story You Want to Tell.

In this book, I'm encouraging the reader to develop awareness of the story they're telling themselves, about themselves.  For me, I need to keep my stories to myself.  For virtually every section of this book, I have a personal anecdote that I could share: an experience that inspired my argument or pushed me to think about something in a new way.

I'm keeping these anecdotes in my brain box, because this book is not about me. It's nice when non-fiction authors offer enough of a look at themselves to give them credibility and likability as a narrator. But there's a fine line and a hard limit on how much personal sharing non-fiction writers can do before it's oversharing.

With this book, I'm going to err on the conservative side when it comes to writing about myself. After all, a book is forever. A print book is an extremely static medium.  

On the internet, you can share whatever you want. Personally, I am very candid over at my website Befriend Your Glowing OCD Brain, about my experience with OCD. In general, I'm candid on the internet. Because the internet is the Flubber of mediums; you can add to it and change it. Its survival relies on constant updating. And it's less formal.

The internet can be screenshotted, but a book is basically a stack of bound screenshots.  They're frozen in time.  So, I'll be choosing my words carefully this time around.