Now that my book is out (you can get it here) I thought it would be good to share some of the things I learnt through the process of writing a book.
1. “You are not Writing a Book”
There were many times that I felt completely intimidated by the thought of writing a book. The task seemed too big.Every time I sat down to write, I felt overwhelmed by how much I had to do.
But then I read a quote that “if you write one page per day, at the end of a year you’ll have a 365 page book”. This changed my whole perception of the task: I didn’t have to write a book. I just needed to write a few words every day. Thinking this way, meant I felt more in control and didn’t feel so overwhelmed. With only writing a few words a day it is still remarkable how quickly you can make progress over time. I started writing the book in the new year of 2011 and was finished by August 2011.
This has so many parallels with weight loss. If you set a goal to lose 4 stone (56 pounds) it will likely feel intimidating and overwhelming. But if you set sub-goals of losing a few pounds at a time, you will make it much easier for yourself. And small changes over time add up to significant weight loss.
2. What’s the Right Length for a Book on Weight Loss?
There is a lot of “official” guidance about how long a book should be. Most books in the weight loss genre are expected to be 200 pages. This isn’t some magic number that ensures your book is good quality. Instead it’s all about the physical dimensions of the book which affects shipping and how it can be stacked on book shelves etc.
These are all publisher requirements. But the beauty of self-publishing is that you don’t need to worry about what anyone else says. My book is 150 pages. It was initially a lot longer than that, but I cut it back because I wanted to keep only what was absolutely necessary. I even took out whole chapters if I didn’t feel they were up to standard.
The result is a shorter book, but I feel more comfortable with it, than if I had “padded” it out to get to an arbitrary number of 200 pages.
When you are trying to lose weight, there is all sorts of “official advice” about what to do. But in the end, you know yourself best. You have to be able to apply diet and exercise changes to your own life.
This is the beauty of the behavioural approach compared to a standard diet. Rather than enforcing a strict regime, a behavioural approach is about trial and error and making changes that you are confident will endure in your life.
3. The Danger of the Deadline
I was absolutely fixated on getting the book released by new year 2012. This meant a rushed November and December trying to get everything done and coordinating book cover designer, interior formatter and book publisher (with three different time zones). What it meant is at least one error in the book (a misplaced quotation mark) that I didn’t have time to send back to publisher to be corrected.
In retrospect what was the hurry? Why the deadline? The irony is that if a client presents to me saying they want to lose x amount of weight by a particular deadline I will say “sorry I can’t help you”. Why? Because deadlines are poison for my weight loss programme. I am concerned with helping my clients change who they are, so that they become a person who manages their weight naturally. This requires a long term perspective. I tell clients that this should be the last time they ever need to lose weight. But a deadline ruins everything. It changes the focus from the long term to the short term. People start doing things for a quick fix instead of for life.
Similarly, because of my deadline, I was rushed and purely focused on getting the book published rather than ensuring the finished product was perfect.
4. We Don’t Just Want Results
This is a lesson for anyone who provides a service (myself included). I hired an editor to proof-read my manuscript. I sent it to her by email. She corrected it and sent it back.
Technically speaking she did a great job. But there was no emotional connection. We never spoke. She wrote her corrections down and that was it. It was a pure business transaction. And so bizarrely, while she did what I paid her for, I don’t think I would recommend her.
I find this fascinating. I stand by my ability to get results for clients who come and see me. But results are not enough. We also want to know that the other person cares.
5. Some Things Just Take Time
When the book was first released at the start of the year, it was only on Amazon US. Given that my clinic is based in London, it was very concerning that it couldn’t be purchased in the UK. I was planning all sorts of convoluted and complicated ways of getting the book here, when suddenly it appeared on Amazon UK. Since then it has found it’s way to Barnes and Noble in the US, Amazon Italy, France, Germany and Japan as well as Borders in Australia (and probably a few other places I am not aware of).
When losing weight it is almost universal to feel like things aren’t moving fast enough, to have doubts about the weight loss method and consider either giving up or trying something completely different. Everyone goes through this. But the fact is, sometimes the best way to deal with it is to wait. To be patient. Because some things just take time. And losing weight is definitely one of those things.
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