• Maggie McReynolds

Remember Paper Clip Guy?

He used to pop up in MS Word: "I see you're writing a letter! Do you need help?"

When you write a book, the Universe is, essentially, Paper Clip Guy.

"I see you're writing a book!" The Universe says. Here, let me help."

And then the Universe throws the book at you. YOUR book. Often, the very stuff you're writing about.

Writing a book about the dangers of procrastination? The Universe grins and throws obstacles at you.

Writing a book about your hard-won victories from the past? The Universe offers lessons in stuff you really thought you'd worked through already.

Whether you're writing a book about the overwhelm of being a new parent, how to lose weight, or a spiritual guide to star seeds and the Akashic Records, the Universe delivers just what you need, but probably don't want, to make sure you're all clear and leveled up in order to be the author your readers can trust and learn from.

But only every single time.

Writing a book is a beautifully and perfectly transformational process. It might not feel all that beautiful and perfect at the time, however.

Which is why I'm a life coach *and* a book coach. My clients count on me for the programs, processes, tools, accountability, and know-how to get their books imagined, completed, and published.

And they rely on me for deep-dive life coaching into the ish that inevitably shows up and gets in their faces. Sometimes even in the way.

Paper Clip Guy was annoying, but easy to dismiss. The Universe? Not so much.

If you're going to write a book, you're going to be given the opportunity to heal every last wound relevant to your book, to level up your soul and your business, and to step into the future version of yourself who has already hit the best-seller list and is out there making a real and lasting difference in the world.

It's invaluable to have a coach who can address both your book and your life on your side.

  • Maggie McReynolds

Writers often eat weirdly. Salty snacks by the bagful. Cold takeout for breakfast. Caffeine and more caffeine. Nutrition can fall by the wayside in favor of fast, convenient, and whatever won't get the keyboard too sticky.

But food is not the only nourishment authors need.Our hearts, minds, and souls require feeding, because we are pouring those parts of ourselves into our work. This is why I take UnSettling Authors to storied locations to recharge, take in beauty, get group support, and learn more about both the creative and business aspects of our craft.

Recently, we were in Estes Park at The Stanley, the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write "The Shining." We fed ourselves on camaraderie, mountain vistas, elk calls, ghost stories, homemade brownies, and incredible beauty.

For 2020, I'm planning retreats to Santa Fe, Chicago, California, and, likely, back to The Stanley next fall. UnSettling Author clients will get first dibs and discounts to those events, but I'll also be opening up a few spaces for newcomers who want to hang with us, get a taste of how UnSettling Books works with the opportunity to apply to write a book with us, and have a unique, story-filled adventure.

We'll walk the paths of Georgia O'Keeffe and George R. R. Martin, soak up Richard Branson's person branding genius, take a tour of Chicago's best storytelling stages and blues clubs, visit the hotel that inspired Frank Baum's Emerald City in "The Wizard of Oz," and feed our writer brains and our creative souls.

Feed your visions. Nurture your dreams. Commit to travel and broadened experiences as part of rigorous self-care. You, and your writing, will be richer for it.

Every step and adventure we take outside ourselves becomes a part of our internal vocabulary, mindset, and toolkit. For those of us who are writers, coaches, mentors, and strategists, it is part of our commitment to our own evolution, our broadened outlook, and deepening the way we serve in the world.

  • Maggie McReynolds

Mark Twain, George Orwell, Edith Wharton, Woody Allen, Marcel Proust, and Truman Capote all wrote while lying in bed or on a sofa.

Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll, and Philip Roth all wrote standing up.

Vladimir Nabokov ("Lolita") wrote his books parceled out onto index cards, which he even slept with under his pillow in case he got ideas in the middle of the night.

Victor Hugo wrote naked. Dan Brown ("The Da Vinci Code") writes while hanging *upside down* and also sets aside time each hour to do push-ups. John Cheever, mid-century New Yorker essayist and novelist, would get dressed in a suit with briefcase, kiss his wife goodbye, and then take the elevator in his apartment building down to the boiler room, where he stripped down to his underwear and wrote for the day before re-dressing and heading back upstairs.

They all did it really differently, but they have one crucial thing in common: they wrote, and they wrote consistently, every day.

If you want to write a book that ever sees the light of day, there's only one thing for it: you have to actually write it. That means having not just talent and a good idea, but also a system, a process, and, yes, deadlines.

Some writers do really well with self-imposed deadlines and internal accountability and commitment.

Many - myself included - do not.

I've tried setting aside a specific time of day to write. I've tried writing to a specific word count for each session. I've tried finding the Perfect Place, be it my own study or front porch, a great coffeehouse, and even a bar.

For me, the only thing that reliably works is an externally imposed deadline and someone on the other side of it holding me accountable. Without that in place, I am likely to rewrite the same three chapters over and over again, creating a new opener, a new plot line, and even switching genres (memoir! self-help! hey let's make it *fiction*!). It's good writing, because I am a good writer. But no one ever sees it except me, because I literally never finish.

I created Un-Settling Books in large part because writers like me need a system. We need a process tailored to our writing styles, temperaments, and life commitments. We need deadlines. We need someone not only holding us accountable, but helping us when we get creatively stuck, and coaching us when life gets hard and writing feels impossible to sustain.

Whether you write naked, upside-down, or hanging out a window, you deserve to get the help and support you need to make sure your writing happens every day, and that you progress toward getting it out to the world.

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