Six Things to Consider Before Writing Your Personal Story

I recently had someone share a book idea with me. It was about him dealing with a tragedy. If you want to write your story about a personal struggle, here are some questions to ask:

Are you emotionally able to write? This man was in the middle of his struggle. He was on edge and barely hanging on. He could journal about it or make notes for later, but I doubt any good writing could take place now. Time is needed for healing before writing.

Why do you want to write? Writing can be a catharsis, but that doesn’t necessarily make it worthy of publication. Are you writing to heal, to understand, or to share with others?

What’s the main point? A book needs one theme and only one. His had several, with the only connection being they emanated from the ripples of his experience. He had enough themes for several books. Clarify and focus before writing.

Has your idea already been published? Do some serious online research to learn how many others have written about the same thing. If too many books have been published then there’s likely no room for one more. Conversely, if nothing’s been published, there’s probably a reason why: from a business standpoint there’s not enough interest in your topic. (Personally your book is significant, but publishers will approach it as a product they must be able to sell and turn a profit.)

Are you able to complete the work? Writing is easy; writing well is hard. It requires work and perseverance. It takes time to hone your skills and letting others see your work is a baring of your soul. Are you at a point where you can do that?

Are you able to follow through? Finishing your book is just the first step, not the last. You need to find a publisher or agent — and sell them on your idea. Rejection is common at this step. Next your book will be edited. Will you be able to have someone correct and change your words? Once it’s published, you will need to promote it. Publishers focus their marketing efforts on the big name authors who will sell a million copies, not people like you or me.

This may seem overwhelming and discouraging. That’s the point. Know what you are facing before starting. But if you do proceed, know that books are published every day, so why can’t you be one of them?