Ever wondered if you have a “good reason” to write a book?
On this week’s episode of the Find Your Voice podcast, we interview Donald Miller. Donald Miller is a best-selling author several times over. His books include Scary Close (#5 New York Times), Building a StoryBrand (#1 Wall Street Journal) and Marketing Made Simple (#9 Wall Street Journal).
Miller has written memoirs and business books—and he’s also built a career around narrative marketing. He knows a thing or two about writing books and selling them.
Find Your Voice founder Allison Fallon asks Donald Miller about his writing practice and for his writing advice. He gives five compelling reasons to write a book now.
1. To get into mental shape
Miller describes his writing routine, saying, “It is the number one outlet, discipline or hobby—whatever you want to call it—that has dramatically changed my life.” Writing, as a practice, sharpens your mind. He compares writing to yoga or a regular habit of exercise.
Writing takes a kind of mental gymnastics: it is work to put the events, feelings, reflections, and relationships of our lives into words. It’s even more difficult to make connections, see themes, and make meaning out of them. As you get stronger, you’ll better be able to handle what life throws at you, and your next steps become apparent.
If for no other reason than to “work out” your mind, you have a reason to write.
2. To heal from past wounds
Not only is writing strengthening, it’s also therapeutic. Writing is reflection. Miller says the practice of writing a memoir is “framing the events in your past and choosing to interpret them in a way that makes sense to you and others.” What that framing does is help us heal. It gives the pain a story and meaning, and, as you find closure, you can move on.
3. To be heard, known and understood
A book lets us connect with people in a unique way. People we might not know that well get a deep look into our lives—our processing and our thoughts—and they see a bit of themselves in our story. When people take the time to honor your story by reading it, it allows you to be seen in a new way, perhaps a side of you that people do not normally or immediately see.
And once others hear you, you can make space for others to be known, too.
4. To solve a problem
Having hit best-seller lists over and over again, Miller has a knack for writing books people want to read. His advice? Write something that solves a problem. “When I write a book,” he shares, “I want it to be helpful.”
Miller’s first book, Blue Like Jazz, became a hit completely on accident. His roommate at the time worked for a Christian college campus organization, and he saw the potential for Blue Like Jazz to help create spiritual conversations on college campuses. The organization ended up buying 150 thousand copies, and printing more. With thousands of young adults talking about Blue Like Jazz, the awareness and momentum grew. People found the book helpful for navigating spirituality during college.
Ever since, Miller has taken the lesson from that experience to heart. Every book he writes solves a problem.
5. To make a living
Miller gives us one last reason to write a book: to make a living. But, he doesn’t mean you’ll get rich off of your book. “There’s no money in book royalties,” he laughs. His books have been a natural part of his career path: products that catapulted him to the next step. He confesses that his books made his next moves possible: for example, he would never have started speaking at business conferences about narrative marketing if it wasn’t for his writing.
While publishing doesn’t pay, writing a book can be a strategic step for your business and for your career, setting you up as an authority, and letting people know what you’re about.
Whether you’re looking to build your business, share your experience, or make sense of your own life, writing is a tool you can take advantage of today.
Ready to write your story? Head over to our Prepare to Publish page and take your next step.