Sunday, February 5, 2012

Drawing Solutions--How Visual Maps Help Your Book-Writing Dreams Come True

I first met Patti Dobrowolski at a seminar on the East Coast, at a time when I was trying to manifest a new goal with my writing--finish and get my book on writing, Your Book Starts Here, published at last. I knew I was stuck.  I felt overwhelmed by the need for a good editor and a bigger vision for the book.

I had lots of chapters, but I knew they weren't especially good.

Patti is a fireball on stage.  She loves what she does, which is mostly about drawing or visually mapping the goal-setting process.  She handed out copies of a simple goal-setting worksheet made up of three parts:  (1) a place to describe the vision of how you'd be or feel when your goal was realized, (2) any obstacles that stood between you and your goal, and (3) three bold steps to take.

Patti is the founder of Up Your Creative Genius, a consulting firm that uses visuals and creative processes to help companies and individuals around the world accelerate growth and change. A critically acclaimed comic performer, internationally recognized keynote speaker, writer and business consultant. She talked about how she'd imagined getting into a Broadway show in New York, and how she used this goal-setting method to imagine it.  Of course, it came true.  Since then, Patti has brought her innovative visual practices to NGOs, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and individuals around the world.

So, in that seminar, I wrote down my vision for my book project.  I imagined finding a wonderful editor who would help me take it the final steps to publication.  I saw it being the basis for my classes, and I wrote down how it would benefit all the writers who would use it. 

Three Bold Steps
The last aspect--three bold steps--intrigued me the most.  I thought about this seriously.  What would be my wildest dream?  First, to find a fabulous editor who believed in my book and would be able to help me take the final steps in shaping it.  I knew such an editor in New York, but she was pretty busy.  I took a deep breath and wrote as one of my bold steps to email her and ask.  She might think I was insane but it really wouldn't hurt.

The second bold step was to take the plunge and get my website revamped.  It was old and tired, and I knew just the right person to help with that.  But what I had in mind would cost thousands.  Was I really able to justify the cost right now?  Would it make that much difference?  I imagined the book being published, people visiting the site, and decided yes.

The third bold step was about my book cover.  I wanted something really great.  I also wanted the interior to look amazing, with some graphics and a clean feel and wide margins for taking notes.  So I wrote down:  Find a designer and typesetter whose work I love.

After the seminar, even though I was reinvigorated by Patti's unique method, I put the chart away as life went on.  Daily demands took me away from my book ideas and it wasn't until a month later that I remembered Patti's chart and what I had promised myself.  I found it and looked over my three bold steps.  They still seemed incredibly scary to me, but I knew they were what I wanted.  I started taking action.

Miracles Happened!  This Method Works!
The editor, to my drop-dead astonishment, said yes.  She and I began working together and within months the manuscript took shape, becoming something so much better than I could've imagined.  With the enthusiasm of that success behind me, I contacted the website designer and forked over the money to start working with her.  When she sent me the template for her redesign I was astonished again--a huge step up.  Amazingly, she also did book design work and I talked with her about a possible cover.  Again, the results were better than I had imagined.  The best typesetter in the world was also easy to find.

Was this magic?  Or just good visioning, with the help of Patti Dobrowolski's wonderful template?  Had she really allowed me to tap into my creativity--my creative genius--in some new way, which allowed these miracles to happen?

I'm a great believer in good visioning.  And a firm supporter of Patti's way of doing it.

Her new book is just out, which gives all the details of how to do this visioning for yourself.  It's called Drawing Solutions and it's wonderful.  She's doing a book give-away contest the week of February 12 and click here to enter the contest.

Questions for Patti
I asked Patti to answer some questions about her process and how she discovered it, then wrote her book.  Here's our conversation:

When did you first know you wanted to write a book?
In 1995, I began experimenting with using visuals to goal set and develop the Snapshot of the Big Picture process. I realized how simple it was for me to make change when I had a visual to help inspire me, and be a road map for the success.  It was at this point that I thought, I should really write a book about this.
How long did this book take to write, from first written word to publication?

I started writing the book at a workshop lead by a writer's coach, Tom Bird.  I remember sitting next to a woman at a conference and she was the speaker and her book had just come out.  I asked her how long it took and she said, "Five years."  I thought to myself, I just finished my first draft, it will never be five years, maybe 1-1/2 at best.  How long did it take me?  Exactly five years!

Who do you imagine is your ideal reader for this book?
The ideal reader is someone who has a dream but isn't sure quite how to get it started.  It may be as simple as writing your first book, or creating that change that keeps you up at night, that you fantasize about.  That is the perfect reader, because this book helps to motivate you and get you doing by helping you see that by using a visual and lining up your brain to start working for you, you too can make that dream a reality.
What are some of the funny/tragic/inspiring experiences you had during the book-writing journey?

Tragic:  the typos that were found after I had two copy editors review the materials!  Funny:  how easy it was to get derailed in the process.  Anything became an excuse not to edit!  Here's a synchronistic thing:  Early on when I sent out query letters to get an agent, and one of the agencies that approached me gave me some really solid advice:  The agent said, "Look at other people's websites:  you have to have a slick video, a cool platform, a unique differentiator."  He then offered to coach me for about $10,000.  I declined, of course, thinking I could get that stuff together on my own (which I did).  

Recently I got a referral from a friend to do a private coaching session for a woman in transition (this is a two-hour session I do in person or on Skype and I draw a big map for them real time)  That woman was the former business partner of that agent.  She had left the agency and was going out on her own.

What's some advice you might give a new writer who is interested in putting together a book? 
Discipline is critical!  In my case, what I learned from Tom was to get up every day and write for two hours or a certain number of words, without going back and editing.  

Also, I went all the way through just writing the book before I came back and edited it.  I wrote longhand and when I went to transcribe it into the computer, that was my first edit.

What's your experience with publishing these days and why did you decide to publish the way you did?  
While I did land an agent, he couldn't ever figure out how to get a publisher interested in my book. So I decided to do POD (print on demand self-publishing), which Tom Bird outlines in his writing.  

I think, for me, this was absolutely the best choice. I am still learning about it, but all that money that would have gone to a publisher goes directly into my pocket and that is very satisfying.  It does go right back out the door, however, for advertising, etc.  But I think it is worth it.

What would you never do again, in terms of book writing or publishing?  
Probably never work with an editor I didn't know. I spent a huge amount of money getting a "writing coach" and a New York editor who was recommended by a  friend of a friend.  While I was happy to have them, I see now that they took me down a path that diverged from me developing my own voice, and I eventually scrapped what they had me write and went back to my original idea.

Anything else you want to share? 
While writing a book is an enormous amount of work, there is nothing quite as satisfying as finishing it.  It feels like a huge mountain, but once you are on the top, you see the whole range of mountains there are and yet each of those next peaks do not feel quite as daunting as this one.

Your Weekly Writing Exercise
The weekly writing exercise is to check out Patti's book!  You may have some miracles appear in your life because of it, as happened to me.

Imagine your personal three bold steps, and see what it might take to bring your book into manifestation.