By Judith Briles
Not a week goes by when I don’t get an email or a phone call with an “I don’t know what to write about” statement from an author. Some who are in the newbie realm; others who have been publishing for years.
The subject could be a blog. Adding to the ezine. Or gulp, a new book.
I’m a firm believer in “going with what brung you.” If writing something is in your midst, ask yourself:
- What books have I already published?
- What blogs have I created and pushed out?
- What new variables have surfaced since I’ve previously written and published?
- What would I change in my original book or add to it if I could?
What have you already written?
It’s a start. We all run out of creative juices at some time. All of us. Your kick start could be waiting on a computer file, ready for you to take action—just a click away.
Within the folder or file, was it a book, a blog, an article, or something that you had contributed to someone else’s blog, book or article? Whatever you are noodling, how about dusting it off … and bringing it back to life. Or, how about using it to reseed an idea you are currently working on? Maybe, pulling a section and doing a rewrite around it?
Last January, I had scheduled a rewrite week on a book I had published three times in the 90s. Taking back the rights almost two decades ago, the few books I had left sat on my personal shelf with visitors in my offices goosing me to get it back out. Asking, how can I get a copy of this?
Always responding, “Maybe.” Or a, “I’ll think about it.” Knowing that if I did, I wanted to make multiple changes. Over the last two years, multiple readers of the previous edition had encouraged me to get it back in print.
Well … if you are like me, your thoughts, and possibly your beliefs, have changed over the years. Originally written in 1988 and published in 1990, it had two additional updates and publishings with traditional publishers.
The original was a small book, 140 pages with a title of When God Says No-Finding the “Yes” in Pain and Disappointment. Over 50,000 copies had been sold, yet I had held back from publishing it one more time. It was a title that flew off my book table when I spoke at conferences—a title that spoke to those who saw it.
I no longer had the Word documents—back in the 90s, I didn’t file the way I do now, I just turned all over to my traditional publisher. For the January rewrite, I had scanned the latest edition of the book. The first day, I reviewed the new file and immediately knew I would be tossing out most if I was to go forward. I would keep the opening two chapters and “play” with them. Then, make a decision.
It was a start. Rewriting the emotions and feelings of what was going through my body and mind over thirty years ago when my 19-year-old son died was a challenge. And then, the rewrites took a new direction. My fingers took over and the chapters that flowed … well … just poured as I pounded them out. In six days, the entire draft of a new book was completed and ready for the first round of editing. A very different book.
Still opening on Frank’s death and the impact it had on my community, my family, and me, it became so much more—a the book designer said to me when she got her hands on it, “Normally, I ready the first and second chapters of a book to get a feel before I start to lay it out. I couldn’t put it down until I got to the last page.” That was a wow moment for me. The new book was about my mercurial life—something friends said I should title 50 Shades of Purple. That’s on the back cover.
The new book, When God Says No-Revealing the YES When Adversity and Loss Are Present is a similar title but in a new direction was a “repurpose” – something old, something new, something with a new twist, something with a new reveal, and something with new take-aways. A repurpose.
The power of repurposing
I’m a repurposer within my home. Old stuff takes on a new life. Why not with words. YOUR WORDS.
- Blogs that are more than a year old are excellent candidates.
- What’s changed since you wrote it?
- Is there a new story or example or key thoughts that you can quickly add?
Do a rewrite of the opening two paragraphs. Even start with your closing “to do” or conclusion then reframe some of the body and add your call to action.
- What’s changed since you wrote it?
- Rarely is there a nonfiction author who doesn’t have new material to add to an already published book. Do it. Add “updated” to the cover and republish your work with a new ISBN … it’s like starting anew.
- If you’ve been blogging, how about grouping “like blogs” together and create a new mini-book? Come up with a snappy title, add an opening “Author’s Note’s” to lead it off. Possibly divvy into secitions with a very short insight from you. And of course, an About the Author and How to Work with YOU page at the end. A stand alone mini-book—the short read that is desirable today with your savvy ahas.
The bottom line is don’t sit on something you have already done. Revisit it. Is it topical … can you pull a section or piece of it and tweak and create something new? I bet you can.