4 Questions to Ask Before You Write a Book About Your Experience

In 2017, a very personal story of mine appeared in SUCCESS magazine. This wasn't a story covering the life of a celebrity or an entrepreneur. It wasn't a piece on how to acquire a vital business skill or a psychological trait that could make or break your success in life.

This article was about me and some brutal truths about my life.

I’ve had countless pieces published, but the fact that this one was going to be on newsstands was terrifying to think about in the days leading up to publication.

Writing about someone else’s struggles is enlightening. Writing about my own was empowering ... but scary.

Know what I mean? I learned a lot from that experience, and I continue to learn as I share my own story. 

If you’re someone who is working toward building a business or writing a book based on what you’ve learned from your story or experiences, you’ll need to ask four big questions to tell your story in the right way.

What's the Point?

Do you want to change perceptions? Change hearts? Alter the course of people’s lives? Do you want to create inspiration, motivation, or aspiration? Do you want to guide people to clarity, teach people a skill, or help people achieve their dreams?

Get clear on what your primary mission is in telling your story. Sure, you’ve got a lot of lessons to pass on, but there should be one overarching goal. That way, as you tell each part of your story, you’ll know how it fits into your larger work.

This mission will guide how you tell your story too. If you want to uplift, you can crack a joke now and then. If you want to instruct, you’ll need to illustrate with case studies. If you want to motivate, you might need to dole out some tough love.

I see too many people rambling about their otherwise impactful experiences because they don't have any direction or consistency. Figure out what the point is for you and the people who follow you, and you’ll be miles ahead of the competition in your space.

Do You Have the Writing Skill?

If not, don’t give up right away. You can always learn to tell your story or hire someone to write for you. This is the second choice you need to make after choosing a primary goal: hire or write? 

If you want to write but are feeling unsure of your skills, find someone whose writing you enjoy and see if you can emulate some of their techniques. Don’t just write what they write, obviously. But if they use a lot of subheadings or they tell a lot of stories, try that in your own work.

To become a more effective writer in less time, you’ll need a proven writing process. You can either develop this yourself through trial and error (the hard way but doable), or you can find someone to show you specific steps and a method for self-editing when the time comes to polish your work.

Your Free Book Writing Guide: Get the exact writing process that Amy used to help experts, coaches, and entrepreneurs create powerful, engaging, professional bestsellers. Click here to grab your copy.

Are You Confident?

Writer’s block, imposter syndrome, fear of haters, and that dreaded inner critic affect most of us. Sometimes they all show up on the same bummer of a day.

If you want to share your story, you’re going to have to build a defense against these dream-killers. They’re like a wall around your heart and mind, keeping you trapped inside and barring the world you want to help at the door.

Take quiet time for accurate self-reflection. What holds you back from writing or posting or speaking about your experiences? When you identify the confidence obstacle, air it out. Talk to a friend. Find a therapist or coach if necessary.

Confidence is a choice. It doesn’t have to be loud or extroverted or brash. It does have to be bold in its willingness to take at least a small risk now and then. It has to be brave in the face of fear. And it has to be open to something new.

Can You Open Your Heart?

This might seem like a superfluous question given that you want to share your story with the world. But hear me out.

If you tell your story with a closed heart, you’ll share facts. You’ll tell stories in the order of events. You’ll relate details. And you might make an impact with all that.

But if you open your heart and really share what’s deepest about those circumstances, the effect will be radically different.

This is what I had to consider when writing my article for SUCCESS magazine. Was I prepared to write with heart or did I just want to tell the facts? It certainly would have been easier to just skim the surface of the painful life events I shared in that piece. But would it have helped anyone?

To write with heart, you have to do two things most people are uncomfortable with: admit to your real feelings no matter how unattractive and write in your authentic voice no matter how unpolished.

Basically, this boils down to being yourself. Can you do it? Can you write like yourself knowing that the world will see it? Can you share the feelings you wish you didn’t have?

Heart is the ingredient in great storytelling that makes us identify with the hero—or the villain. It’s what twists our stomach into knots over impossible situations and draws tears over the smallest of triumphs. Heart is vital if you’re going to really make a difference in people’s lives with your story.

You really can do that, you know.

You can change lives by sharing your story with skill, confidence, and heart. [Click to tweet]

So start now. Write your mission. Decide if you’re going to write or hire someone else to do it. Then follow through with that choice. As you write about the small things, your confidence in the big stuff will grow. And as you share the easier feelings, your willingness to open your heart wider will increase.

The world needs your lessons. Tell us.

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