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The Published Author Podcast

BOOK PROMPTS AND THE JOY OF WRITING WITH BOOK COACH LISA TENER

As a young girl, Lisa was a slow reader but knew she wanted to be a writer. A career in writing led to coaching others to write nonfiction, and today Lisa’s clients have been featured on Oprah, NPR, Today, Good Morning America, and scores of other media outlets.

In this episode, hear about Lisa’s own journey as an author, and learn how she guides her students to publishing success.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Steimle:

Welcome to the Published Author Podcast, where we help entrepreneurs learn how to write a book and leverage it to grow their business and make an impact. I'm your host, Josh Steimle. Today, my guest is Lisa Tener. Lisa guides aspiring authors to joyfully write and publish. Lisa has taught writing and publishing for Harvard Medical School's publishing course for over a decade and teaches award-winning book writing courses. Her clients have received five and six figure book deals, won prestigious book awards, and been featured by Oprah, NPR, Good morning America and all over national media. Lisa's next book, The Joy of Writing Journal, which I have an advanced copy of comes out September 22nd, 2021. Lisa, welcome to the show.

Lisa Tener:

Thank you so much, Josh.

Josh Steimle:

I'm excited to have you on here now. You've got this background in helping other writers, but tell us a little bit more about your background and how you became a writer yourself?

Lisa Tener:

Well, I could probably trace it back to or probably even further, my dad's an English teacher. And so he was always talking about books and he'd give us the beginning and then we'd say what happens and he'd say, go read the book, which backfired in the beginning, we were a little resistant, but in the long run, I think we all became readers and my mom was a big reader too. But interestingly, I was more of a writer than a reader. I was really slow reader. I still am kind of slow. And but I did fall in love with books eventually. And like in high school, I started to become a really voracious reader despite my slowness. But by second grade I was writing some books and writing a lot of poetry and kind of had this dream of being a writer even when I was little.
And then interestingly when I was applying for colleges, my father was all about, you know, go somewhere where you can really come out and get a job right away. And MIT had been actively recruiting more women and also just people with a more diverse background in terms of interests. And, you know, I had both the math and science and the writing and the creativity. So, he was all excited and I went to MIT. And kind of interestingly, we had all these amazing writers there. MIT was actually paying a little more than Harvard. So, they were pulling these great writers that supposedly they were fighting over with Harvard. But I learned poetry writing from Gjertrud Schnackenberg and playwriting from Pete Gurney who was just amazing teacher. And Frank Conroy who at the time was the Director of the National Endowment for Arts and Literature. And the next year became the Executive Director of the Famed Iowa Writer's Workshop. Was it MIT for just this brief one semester? And I was so fortunate to be in his seminar and he really taught me how to edit. And so when I edit people's writing, it's his voice in my head and it's all the things he taught me. And that one semester that have really I think catapulted me on my career from an editing standpoint.

Josh Steimle:

Sounds like an amazing environment to be around all those people?

Lisa Tener:

It was. It was. I almost double majored in writing, but I realized I'd need an extra semester and more money. And so that was enough for me to say, oh, I'll just minor in writing, but I took writing classes every semester, one or two, and just loved it.

Josh Steimle:

So, you had this inherent love for writing. Did you have an idea of what you wanted to do with that while you were still going to college?

Lisa Tener:

No, I mostly read fiction and then in my 20s and 30s, then, you know, I kind of more self-help and business and all kinds of other non-fiction types of books, but it wasn't really till I had this weird idea for my first book. And that was maybe I'm trying to think when that was, that was, out of college, I went to MIT and then I took this job at PG&E in San Francisco doing computer stuff. And that was I'm not going to even say, because I'm so old, but I was in San Francisco, came back to Boston. And then when I was back in Boston, I did a little bit of work for Fidelity, went back to business school and then worked briefly for at AT&T and then a nonprofit ran a nonprofit for 10 years. So, that was kind of my big thing. And that was all, you know, while I did that, I still kept writing. And I took a poetry class at Cambridge Center for Adult Ed and, you know, always had a foot in the writing thing, but it wasn't until I had a chronic illness that I actually got the idea for my first book.
And it was, you know, what, it was laying in bed at night and I couldn't sleep. And I felt like this, it felt like kind of anger kind of in my body. And I felt uncomfortable and I didn't know where it came from, what it was. But I've been taking this class call called Polarity Therapy, it was this kind of energy healing work that just, I was curious about because it had helped me heal. And I was thinking, you know, in class we learned that anchor is just an energy and its fire energy. So, I imagine this fire energy coursing through my body and I suddenly felt much better, but then I had all this energy, I couldn't sleep because I had all this fire energy coursing through my body. And I just thought, wow, this is really interesting. I, you know, started writing about how we can, you know, imagine anger differently and therefore be more creative with how we deal with that and use it to communicate in healthy ways.
So, that was sort of the gem of that book or the germ rather of that book, I guess, a gem as well. And I ended up really fortunately finding two amazing collaborators, Pico Todd, who was a cartoonist and added these wonderful cartoons to the book and Jane Milton Mas (ph), who was really the person who had the credentials to write this book because I had no credentials to write this book except my own experience. But she is a social worker and was author, I think at the time already have 10 books. Most of them actually having to do with anger. So, she was a big anger expert and often one of the featured speakers at health communications conferences. And so we wrote this book and then I started teaching workshops on anger with Pico and realized I had no interest in teaching anger. Sometimes people came in and they'd be like this, you know, their husbands or wives had sent them. And it was, I don't know, it wasn't that much fun, even though we were trying to tap into creativity. And I felt like I was over my head, you know, I wasn't really the psychology expert or anything. I just knew about sort of this energy work way of thinking of things.
So, I was really struggling and I had my first child, so I didn't want to go back. I had run a nonprofit, which is an incredibly intense and demanding job, and I knew I didn't want to do that. And I wanted to be home with my child, but what, you know, kind of, what could I do, I needed to contribute to the family financially too. And one day it was sort of like a download, it was, just teach what you did to write your book. And particularly it was these five steps for getting in the zone and getting in that creative space. So, I started teaching that and I thought, oh, this is for artists, it's for writers, it's for creative people. But really it was the writers who came. And then more than that, the people who kept coming to me wanted to help with a book or a book proposal. So, my whole career was sort of informed by the people who really needed what I had to offer. And they really taught me what I was there to do and how to serve more than, you know, some grand vision or business plan, I had it really just unfold it bit by bit, which is kind of an exciting way to find your avocation and your love.

Josh Steimle:

And when you say you started teaching workshops on writing, how did you start those workshops? Who are you teaching? How are you getting people into those workshops?

Lisa Tener:

This was in the days when you didn't have, you know, the internet was not quite what it is today. And so a lot of what I did was like making flyers. I did make them on my computer, but, and hanging them in coffee shops and stuff like that. And, you know, I said at first it was open to photographers and artists and, you know, some of those people came to, but it was really the writers who most needed what I had to offer. And I started offering them retreats and pretty soon helped to really write a book. And it became my “Bring Your Book To Life Program,” which won a Stevie Award for best new service of the year, one year. And, you know, it's been a fun journey surprising in many ways.

Josh Steimle:

So, when about was this that you started doing these writing workshops and teaching people how to write books?

Lisa Tener:

When was that? I would say in the early 2000, like 2005, kind of around there. Yeah, maybe a little before that.

Josh Steimle:

So, it's been a good 15 years or so. And then you've also spent some time with the Harvard Medical School, teaching them writing.

Lisa Tener:

Yeah.

Josh Steimle:

Tell us a little bit about that?

Lisa Tener:

So, it's part of the continuing medical education program, CME and doctors and therapists and others in medical professions need to earn education credit, continuing education credits. And so this is a course that they offer, and it was the second year that the course was being offered. And it just so happened that my publicist, we weren't publicizing the book actively anymore, but he thought of me when he was asked to be a speaker and talk about PR for books. And he asked the course Director and Founder, Dr. Julie Silver, do you need another writing coach? And she said, yes, I do. And so from the beginning, I taught these writing workshops in the evenings where people would give us like 10 pages of writing and we'd give them feedback. And we'd also involve the group in giving feedback. And we'd have a panel that I was on where we would. Well, sometimes we would have a panel where we would offer information about working with a coach or an editor or working on a book proposal.
And then there's this pitching panel. So, there's this pitching contest you have to have, like, I think it's three minutes. It's very short pitch and agents and publishers and book coaches like me and editors would give people feedback and kind of rate them on there maybe five or six items like their platform, like the book concept, is this marketable, things like that. And it's just like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, for an hour and a half each time, but it's really powerful. And the people get better and better at pitching. You know, each time they do it. So, I've seen people pitch one year and then another year and another year, and it's amazing to see their growth. And also what they've done in that time between the course, you know, a lot of them have worked on developing a platform and somebody who had no platform the first time they pitched suddenly has an impressive platform. So, that's really fun to see people's growth over the years, because a lot of people will come back year after year.

Josh Steimle:

And in the intro, we were talking about how some of the people that you've worked with have ended up on Oprah and NPR. Can you tell us about some of these specific cases where people wrote a successful book and it went on to do well?

Lisa Tener:

Sure. One example is that I love is a Reset Your Child's Brain and the author Victoria Dunckley, who's a psychiatrist. When she came to me, she actually had kind of a broad idea for what the book would be. It was like all the things, she would get a lot of the most difficult cases, people who couldn't be helped and they were all children and they often were on multiple medications at once and really like challenging medications. And she found that there were a variety of things that affected them, you know, diet, sleep but especially screens and, you know, Wi-Fi and other electronics issues. And when she would give, she would start out as she developed this with an electronic fast and then kind of bring things back in to see how the child did. And when she did that, the results were remarkable.
A huge percentage of those kids just, you know, were basically cured, didn't eat the medications, but they couldn't do a lot of screens. And then other kids needed some of these other things, but I said to her, you know, you're going so broad with all the things, but really, and this was the time when people weren't talking about screens and what they do to kids' brains. So, she was one of the first people really. And I said, you know, that's really, the book is this. And that's often the case, right? As an author might be thinking broadly of all the things they can offer someone. And it can be so much more helpful when you package it as one piece, but maybe the most crucial piece and the piece that's been missing all these years. So, that was interesting because also she didn't have a platform at the time.
And so one of the things we talked about was how does she get, develop a platform, but at the same time, not give away all this research she did because it wasn't original research. It was looking at all the research that's out there. And what does it tell us about brains and the effects of electronics on brands effects, Wi-Fi on brands and particularly children's brains. So, she was sort of putting all of that together at a time when people weren't. But, you know, she could put it out there on psychology today and somebody with a bigger platform could just scoop that and write their own book. So, we were nervous about that. I'm usually not nervous about that. Usually, you know, it's your book, it's not going to be scooped, but in this case we were and I was, so I said just blog tangentially for now. And so she blogged on things like the effects of screens on Tourette's syndrome. So, something very specific or the importance of getting outdoors for kids and taking breaks from electronics. So, she really blogged tangentially, not the core message of the book. And she pitched a psychology today and they took her column, which is, I'm not going to remember the name of the column.

Josh Steimle:

That’s fine.

Lisa Tener:

But it's a great column. And it really now focuses mostly on the effects of screens and computers on children's brains and how to support your kids to have healthy habits. And so she also was, you know, really nervous about doing other things like TV, you know, that just felt so big. And it wasn't a natural thing for her, but her husband actually worked doing video for the Today show. So, you know, I encouraged her over time and she developed a pitch and she ended up being on the Today show a couple of times. And that of course really helped with getting the agent and getting a publisher. They love to see that you've got some platform and that you're reaching people already. And now she's been on Good Morning America, really big features showing what she does with a family and in their home and the changes that they make and how it affects them. So, they're really inspiring pieces. If you look up Good Morning America and Victoria Dunckley, you'll find them. And then she also is, whenever there's a panel about the effects of electronics on children's brains and how to help your kids with electronics, she is, you know, almost always one of the speakers, she's really renowned in the field and in other bestselling authors referred to her work because it is really seminal in this area. So, she's a great example. And I'll tell you one quick, am I talking too much on this one topic?

Josh Steimle:

Oh, this is great.

Lisa Tener:

I'll tell you one quick tip I gave her, they really opened doors for her. And that was also I think, before, yeah, I pretty sure it was before the book came out. And I had gotten, it was the Huffington Post had sent something I had subscribed and it sent me a morning email about this article on cell phone use for kids. And I just thought, oh, this is a per alium (ph). And because they're promoting it, she should go and be one of the first comments. So, I sent her an email, said comment on this right away. And in this case include a link to one of your articles on psychology today, because we don't want to be spammy with that. But once in a while, it's really helpful to the readers to get more information. And this was a case where that was definitely true.
So, she did that and she ended up getting hundreds of thousands of more readers for article because of that, just because it was in the comments. And then also on Facebook, she got all kinds of engagement and she was contacted by other colleagues and she didn't really know other people doing this work at the time because there weren't that many. So, somebody told her about a listserv, and then she became part of this community, which of course is, you know, when a book comes out and you've already got a community of influencers who are going to support your efforts, it really helps carry a book. So, that was fantastic. She had really wanted to have one article in a research journal. She had never done that. And that came about somebody contacted her because they saw her comment on the LinkedIn post article and then her psychology today article. And then in addition she was asked to write something for scholastic news. So, it was really a case of, you know, one thing led to another and another, and this is such an important thing to remember, you know, even just commenting on other people's posts and of course, sharing the post too. You want to be a team player, right and support that person who wrote that article. But even just a small step like that can open so many doors and really help pave the way for your own book.

Josh Steimle:

I think that's such a great example of how to do your own PR and how to get your message out there. Oftentimes we feel like, well, I need to be the focus of an article. I need to get TV to interview me and focus on me and my book. But like you're saying, sometimes we can get a lot of exposure for our work by helping other people and supporting other people in commenting on their posts and sharing their posts. And sometimes when we give value like that, the value comes back to us.

Lisa Tener:

Absolutely.

Josh Steimle:

Quick break here, are you an entrepreneur? Do you want to write a book that will help you grow your business? Visit publishedauthor.com, where we have programs to fit every budget programs that will help you write and publish your book in as little as 90 days, starting at just $39 per month, or if you're too busy to write your book, we'll interview you and then write and publish your book for you. Don't let the valuable knowledge and experience you have go to waste, head on over to publishedauthor.com to get the help you need to become a published author. You've already waited long enough. Do it today. Now back to the show. Well, let's dive into your most recent book then, The Joy of Writing Journal. Again, if you're watching the video, here's what the book looks like. It's coming out September 22nd, 2021.
So, by the time you're listening to this podcast, you'll probably already be able to go get it on Amazon. And I've been using this book. I mean, I read, I try to read all the books that are from the authors that I interview here on the podcast, but sometimes I skim them. This is what I'm actually using. And it's been sitting on my desk for the last month because I journal every day. And so every day I wake up and I start journaling and sometimes the ideas flow, but sometimes I sit down to journal and I think I have no idea what to write about. I don't feel like writing about anything. And so I'll flip through this and I'll find some prompt in here and I'll think, oh, I could write about that. And I'll start writing. And it's been really helpful to me. So, talk to us a little bit about why you chose to write this type of book, because it's not just a pick it up, read it from cover-to-cover type of book. It's very interactive. It's more of a workbook, really.

Lisa Tener:

So well, first of all, I'm so excited to hear that Josh, it just makes my heart so happy. And, you know, so the short answer I think is that I am a very experiential type of person. And the way I love to teach is just, you know, let's do something together, right? Let's create together, let's get met zone space together and really help people tap into their own creative source and their own voice there, you know, it really teaching people to fish, right, rather than I'm fishing for them. It's definitely my orientation. And I think that I can be a time sort of hyper creative and just create lots of stuff and exercises and things. So, it comes naturally. That's just, you know, a natural way that I tend to teach. But actually there's another truth below that, about this book, which is that I wasn't writing it. I was writing a different book that I think is still that book is in its umpteenth draft.
It's definitely going to come out after this one. But this book does like came forward in like a day basically. And, you know, of course there was much work to do after that day, but the gem of, the germ, I'm doing that again, gem germ, the gem and germ of it came in just overnight. So what happened was I have this colleague, Tamara Monosoff and she published with McGraw-Hill quite a few books. And then when QR codes were first, just first being introduced, she had this idea to put QR codes in her book and add videos and every chapter one or two videos that would engage the reader and introduce the chapter and create some kind of relationship really between her and the reader.
And so she did that and now she helps other authors do that. And so sometimes I have a client and I just think, oh, their book is perfect for having these QR codes with like audio meditations or video, for instance Carrie Rowan is the musician and tell your own story is a self-help book, but I thought, wow, wouldn't it be great if every chapter had a song, you know, and video and audio, they could listen to. So, I suggested to her to work with Tamara. And then another client of mine, Lisa Langer, who's a psychologist. And Lisa wrote the book Deeper into Mindfulness. And I said, wow, you know, audio meditations, this is perfect. She should work with Tamara. And she did. And the book has won a few awards already. It’s been out less than a year, and it's already won a few awards.
So, those are some examples. And so I was talking to Tamara and I said, Tamara, would you ever go back to traditional publishing? And she said, oh, no, never. And I was really intrigued by that. And, you know, for some of my clients, I always suggest traditional publishing. It just makes sense for their goals and others, I would suggest self-publishing for a variety of reasons. And for my own books, I wasn't really sure, but I was thinking, I'd go traditionally published with that book I was working on. But when she said that to me, it made me think, and I thought you don't be really fun to have QR codes in a book and do the kinds of things that Tamara does. It's not that you couldn't do that with a traditional publisher, but not every publisher would know how to do that, that they might not be into it, you know, it's not as sure a thing.
But when she said that, I went to bed that night and I woke up the next day with this idea for a book, it was The Writer's Journal to begin with. That was my actually book for a whole series of books. And I wrote not just The Writer’s Journal, but The Entrepreneurs Journal and part of The Spiritual Seeker’s Journal, you know, I just kind of had these ideas with the prompts. And at first they really were, I did have like 30 prompts, so whole months’ worth of prompts, but that was it. And then I gave that to some beta readers and they said, you don't give me more. I want to know a little bit about your relationship to this prompt or, you know, what brought it about or what it's going to do for me. And so I wrote a bit around that and I have to thank Joshua Home Edwards. I think he was the one who suggested that, and maybe also Tracy Hart had similar suggestions.
But I think that also shows, you know, writing a book is not like, oh, I'm a single person writing book. It really is about community. And there are so many amazing people who help with this book. So, when it came to doing videos, I'm not super comfortable with video. It always makes me nervous. And so my friend Portland Helmich, who is the, I met her originally doing a TV interview with her. She had hosted a show called What's the Alternative? And I think another show actually before that, when she first interviewed me on the Hallmark Channel. So, Portland actually did some coaching with me. She shot a lot of the videos. She was just an incredible support and help for this project. And then she recommended Dan Thibeault of, oh, now I'm forgetting the name of his company, Fast Twitch media. And Dan did those little if you, when people were watching see any of the videos, you'll see this wonderful little animation in the beginning, and he did that and he put the videos together. And to make his job a little easier, I had my son doing some of those, what do you call it when you have the lower third, where you put the information about the person?

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, the thing.

Lisa Tener:

Yeah. The thing. There's a name for that?

Josh Steimle:

Like a Chiron type thing.

Lisa Tener:

Yeah. So, my 14-year-old did that and Luke, and so, you know, just there's so many people who helped you create a book and then Tamara who did that beautiful cover and the inside and she did all that QR code stuff, which is not easy to set up. So she, I always do this wrong, but she set that up and she was just such a joy to work with and still is. So, yeah, it just speaks to what a team effort at all is.

Josh Steimle:

And so what's your goal with this book? What was the objective? What did you want to accomplish?

Lisa Tener:

So, you know, it really, like it just came to me and so I can't say like, oh, I had this goal in mind when I first wrote it, but I think it came from a place of, you know, which is kind of always a piece of what I want to offer people is to make it easy and fun and joyful, to write, and to easily get into a state of flow, you know, that that's a big thing that I'd like to help people with. And then also to develop a habit and, you know, this is a 30 days’ book, so you can really use it to write every morning, eight minutes a day, you know, and create this writing habit. And that's a powerful thing to do. I will go through periods where I'm writing every day and then other periods where I don't. And, you know, I think that writing every day, having a habit like that is amazingly powerful, but if that's not how you work, don't beat yourself up over it.
Writing, you know, I and my writing coach actually said, she goes like this too. So and she's written many wonderful books, so really don't worry about that piece of it, but it is how powerful to develop a habit. And this certainly does help you do that. And I wanted things that, you know, were some that were just super easy, and maybe you wouldn't go that deep and others that maybe are a little deeper or just more wacky and creative, and I wanted a whole variety of things. So, it would make it fun to work with and fresh. And then also that could really interact with video or audio well, so that and with video and audio, some of it, I think, you know, this was like at the beginning of COVID, and I think some of maybe I started it before that I can't remember, but it was right around the beginning of COVID. And my sense was, wow, this could really help people who are feeling isolated to feel like a sense of community, but it wouldn't take them a lot of time. They don't have to look at somebody else's writing, or it really would be just to watch this short video and see what other writers are saying about the prompt or how they're responding to it.
So, you know, it, it was, it was meant to create a sense of community. And in October, we're actually going to do something where, I've worked on the book all summer in the sense of doing all the prompts myself. And so in October, I'm going to share little snippets of that each day, matching day one on October 1st, etcetera. And give people the opportunity to share a little snippet from what they wrote or about the experience. Sometimes I'll share, I think more about the experience for me and, you know, there's, I think that's going to be helpful because sometimes I didn't like the prompt myself, I felt so much resistance. And I said, well, you know what, I'll just do the five, the list of five or 10 things, and I'm not going to do the prompt question today. And I left it and did the prompt question the next day. And that was really surprised. Some of those were the most fruitful or fun, or maybe went a little deeper and maybe that's why I had resistance to it. So, it was neat to see how, when I gave myself permission to not do that, the exact way that I had written it for that actually opened things up. So, I want to share those things with readers too, so they give themselves some freedom and flexibility.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. Sometimes it really helps to sleep on it. And then come back to the writing the next day. I'm working on a memoir, which is just personal. I don't think it'll ever see the light of day outside of my family, but it's for me. And it's for my family. And some days I'll be working on it and I'm excited, but then my energy kind of drains as I'm working on it. And then I get to a point where I just say, ah, I could include this, but I think I'll skip it. And whenever I start thinking that, I just say, you know what, just stop writing, come back to this tomorrow. And then the next day I'll come back and I'll say, no, I really do want to write about that. And now I've got the energy to do it. And so I'll write in detail about that part. But if I just sat there and wrote eight hours a day, there's so many things I would be leaving out because I would just be tired. And it's not that it's not good for the book. It's just that my energy level goes down throughout the day. And sometimes pretty quick, sometimes it's like 20 minutes and I'm like, ah, I'm done.

Lisa Tener:

Yeah. I find too, there's this phenomenon of like I feel like I'm going to skip over something like, oh, I don't feel like writing about that. And that's often the deeper stuff, but it's, I think you're right. It's like, I don't have the energy to write about that right now. That's a great insight.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. A night's rest can do wonders for keeping it going. So, with The Joy of Writing journal, what's the goal for writers, who should be using this book, is this to help aspiring authors to figure out what they want to write a book about, or is it just to help people get comfortable with writing so that they have more writing ideas and they build up their confidence as a writer, but who are you thinking of as you created The Joy of Writing Journal?

Lisa Tener:

So, I always tell my clients, you know, it's so important to be really clear and specific about who can benefit from this, and it's not everybody. But when I think about it, there really is a broad spectrum because anybody who wants to develop a writing habit, this is going to be helpful. And I think create more ease in developing the habit. Then maybe if you had to work on a book every morning, which I think is a lot more pressure and might be a lot more time too. So, people who are want to write, but are kind of stuck for time. People who, you know, maybe if you're working on something and it just feels so intense and you want something a little easier to first like work your way into that state of flow. This can do that. It can be kind of that stepping stone to flow.
But also somebody who is thinking I'm want to write something. I'm not sure what, let me just play with this and see, and I wouldn't be surprised if something like a book or an article comes out of some of the exercises, so it could be the potential to generate material. And then, you know, it's not just for writers, it's for anybody who wants to journal because there's so many benefits of journaling. And I did write this in a way that I think you don't have to see yourself as a writer or be a so-called writer, you know, we all write something, we all write emails. So, you know, just anybody who wants to explore a little bit of, you know, the inner world, outer world, any of that, I think it can be a valuable tool.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. I've experienced the benefits of journaling so much in my own life. I used to journal once every six months or something. I have one journal. That's not that thick. And it took me about 10 years to finish it because I hardly ever wrote in it. And then a few years ago I started journaling pretty much daily. I mean, I miss a day here or there, but pretty much every day I put something in there and some days I'll write three pages and sometimes I write three sentences, but pretty much every day I put something in there, but it just helps me think things out. It helps me find answers to questions I have. It's kind of like meditation in a way, it just helps my brain calm down. And of course, then I've got this record, which is so handy to go back to later and say, when did I do this? And what was I thinking at this time? And what was the story there? Why did we make this decision in our family or in the business or whatever? And I've gotten so much value from that habit of journaling each morning.

Lisa Tener:

Yeah. It is a great tool for personal growth and insight as well.

Josh Steimle:

So, what was the book that you were working on when the idea for this came along, that you said you're going to write one of these days?

Lisa Tener:

So, that book is, you know, it's similar in some ways, but there's more memoir to it. And I wouldn't call it a memoir, but there are stories that begin every chapter that I think are little beautiful moments maybe in my life as a human being and also as a writer. And so I usually tie whatever, well, I think I do in all the chapters, sort of tying whatever that lesson was in that moment to writing. And sometimes, you know, it's about animals. I meet in my, on my day, I was in the woods and singing, singing my prayers in the woods, just kind of I just love to be in nature when, you know, when I go deep, nature is just so supportive I think for that. And this deer started coming towards me and I always think of deer as, you know, a very shy animal, right. They'll run as soon as they see you, unless they're in the headlights and then they just stand there, but it came towards me at one. And it was, I think it felt the sacredness of the song. And that was really a lovely experience. So, I wrote about that or, you know, just writing about and I live in a lovely little community, it's called Saunders Town, Rhode Island. And it's a place where everybody knows your kids, you know, your kids speak and connect with people of all ages. They'll help the neighbor get the groceries out of the car. It's just a very lovely community. And so, you know, sometimes I read about that, but there's short, short little stories and then kind of weaving into this writing lesson, whatever that will be.
And then I have often a practice that goes with, so some of the stories also are about this practice, but it might be a breathing practice. I practice chee-gong. And so it might be a practice from chee-gong that especially breathing practice or even a yoga practice, but something that how often helps us tap into our vitality. And I think when we into our vitality, like you said, you get tired, it's hard to have that, that quality to the writing. That's very powerful. And I think when we have vitality and energy, we have more offer and people often talk about the breath is right being like the holy spirit, right? That's like the breath is a sacred thing. I think it's so many religious traditions. So, there's that sense too that the breath really brings something in when we bring our attention to deep breathing, you know, it enlivens us, it inspires, right? The word inspire even comes from breath.
And so we have some kind of practice that might be, like I said, yoga, or chee-gong breathing. Most of it's a breathing practice. And then that's followed by some prompts that often will playfully relate to the story or the breathing practice. There's kind of a weaving, but again, it's a book that's experiential and it helps readers tap into their creativity. So, it's a similar spirit to The Joy of Writing Journal, but kind of a deeper dive, I would say.

Josh Steimle:

Hmm, interesting. I'll look forward to that coming out.

Lisa Tener:

Thank you.

Josh Steimle:

So, as we get towards the end of our episode here, we're wrapping things up. Can you talk to us a little bit about as a book coach, as you're coaching people and mentoring people through the writing process, what are some of the most common challenges you see these writers facing and how do you help them overcome them, or how do they overcome those challenges?

Lisa Tener:

So, one of the biggest is time, right? None of us has time to write a book or we don't think we do. And so often it is helping them see what's on their plate and what they're willing to let go of to make the time for the book. And, you know, it might mean, and this was an example, someone might bring your book to life program, it might mean saying, okay what's coming up, I've got this huge thing on this fundraising committee, and it's going to take so much time. Maybe it's time to get off that committee and train the person to replace me. And she did that, and that was crucial. So, it's creating that space and time and then being consistent about it. So, I have people schedule it in, you know, Wednesday from four to six, very specific times that they know that they're going to be writing. It doesn't have to be every day and it could even vary week to week, but it's in their calendar, they're treating it as sacred.
Another piece is confidence. And I think, you know, partly confidence comes from doing the writing and sharing it. You could share it with a beta reader or a friend or a client or colleague or you can hire a coach and get feedback, or hire an editor and get feedback. And as you work with a professional, you probably will become a better writer too. And certainly somebody who nurtures your gifts and talents but also knows what's missing is going to help you to become a better writer. And all of that's going to help increase your confidence. You can have also community, you can have like a self-lead writing group, or you can join a writing group or join a course.
Those are always I think that can help increase that confidence and also tap you into that sense of community and potentially accountability as well. So, in my course, I often have this accountability partner and you answer five questions and I can thank Mitch Feinberg for these five questions. They're such great questions. What did I say I do this week? What did I actually do? What worked? What didn't work? And what's next? So, part of the beauty of those five questions is you're not coaching your accountability partner, and you're just listening and they're coaching themselves, right. And what worked and what didn't work is going to inform what they do next. Okay. So, I'm going to do more of what worked and here's how I problem solve what didn't work. So, I don't have the same problem this week. So, it's really simple and really powerful.

Josh Steimle:

Oh, that's great. Now you mentioned before we started recording, you've got an eBook that people who are listening to this are going to be able to download. Can you tell us a little bit about that resource?

Lisa Tener:

Yeah, absolutely. So, I'm going to have to look down to look at the title. It is called 12 Ways Journaling Can Spark Your Creativity, Support Your Writing & Transform Your Life. And so it has the 12 ways that journaling can transform for you. And then it also has some ways to journal. I think it's seven ways to journal and they're, they're really fun and powerful ways and different ways to journal. So, somebody who's thinking they want to journal, and isn't sure how these will give you some great ideas for getting started.

Josh Steimle:

Perfect. So, go find the show notes for this episode, and we'll have a link to that, there you'll be able to download that eBook that Lisa's given away. Lisa, thanks so much for being with us here today. Where's the best place for people to connect with you if they want to learn more about you and your book writing programs?

Lisa Tener:

Thank you. lisatener.com is a great place to connect. And I do have a blog that I write every other week. And in addition, I'm on Instagram, Lisa Tener writes with between the words it's got the little underscores to join them. And Twitter is @LisaTener.

Josh Steimle:

Perfect. Lisa, thank you so much for being with us here today on the Published Author Podcast.

Lisa Tener:

My pleasure Josh. Thank you so much. And I wish everybody lots of inspiration as they journal.

Josh Steimle:

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