What is your book about?
There are lots of things to consider before you start writing your book. One of the most important is answering the question: what is your book about?
It may seem obvious to you, but the real test is whether or not you can explain it to someone else—in just a sentence or two.
It's a good way, too, to help you focus your efforts and writing.
To answer the question, consider what you’re trying to accomplish with your book. Do you have insights and experience that might be helpful to others? Are you eager to share your knowledge? Is it a guide or handbook? Will your book recount the history of an event or company?
It can be difficult to distill what your book is about in one sentence, but the process can help you define what you're writing about ... and why.
What's the point?
When I started my book A Snail Mail Guide to Cursive Writing Practice, it started as a book about cursive writing. Why cursive? Schools across the country have cut cursive writing instruction from the curriculum and friends and family have recounted stories of their children not being able to read cursive.
Writing is an important part of my life and I wondered: does it matter that children aren't being taught cursive. That they can't read cursive? I think so.
Studies show writing by hand can help us learn and retain more information. And if we’re worried or struggling with something, writing about it by hand can help us make sense of things.
Making a connection
I decided to write an instruction book for cursive writing, but also understood I needed to give people a reason to write by hand. I had to find a reason for them to write.
The answer came through letter writing. As an avid letter writer, I know letters, cards and notes build connections. Letters can help us reach out, in a tangible way, to the people we care about. And someone’s handwriting on the envelope and letter inside? It brings them closer. Your handwriting is a reflection of your personality and is as unique as you are. It's part of what makes the letters we send so special. When I get letters, I don't even need to read the return address ... I know who it's from just by looking at the handwriting.
And now, as we navigate the isolation and social distancing of the pandemic, more people are writing letters.
Years ago my grandfather wrote to me and I saved one of his letters.
The broad stroke of the capital "H" that begins his first name reflects his strength and wisdom; the big loop on his letter "y" at the end of my name, his warmth and open kindness.
When I talk about writing letters, so many people tell me they worry about their handwriting. Say they’re embarrassed by it. I want to change that. I want people to use their handwriting as a tool, not to shy away from it.
I knew I wanted to write about cursive writing and letter writing, but I had to figure out what I was trying to say. I needed a hook, an emotional connection. Here's what I came up with:
Spend more time with the people you love and like and improve your handwriting at the same time.
Reducing your book to one sentence may be a challenge, but when you do, you’ll find the clarity and purpose you need to move forward.
Need help clarifying what your book is about? Reach out, maybe I can help.