Every year, the Philadelphia Writers Conference, offers a workshop on writing nonfiction books. I have attended these sessions year after year and am always fascinated to meet writers who have mastered the skill of turning information into an interesting book.
This year’s teacher is especially interesting to me, because her inspiring book “I Dare Me: How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life by Doing Something New Every Day” is based on her own experience. This is an important trend in nonfiction, (see for example Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin which spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list). The course Lu Ann Cahn will teach at the Philadelphia Writers Conference, Your Non-Fiction Book: Write, Sell, Publish will be a generally about writing any nonfiction book, but I couldn’t help noticing that Lu Ann’s notion of “daring herself” could be appropriate for any writer looking for courage.
Here is my interview with Lu Ann Cahn about how she turned her experience into an inspirational book.
Jerry: I love the name of your nonfiction book, I think all writers must constantly dare themselves to push past all the obstacles to writing and publishing a book. My own writing life has been built up from decades of doing new things, maybe not every day, but looking back at the many stages of becoming a writer, doing a whole series of new things is certainly part of the journey.
Could you say a few words about the sequence of firsts that got you into writing your nonfiction book?
Lu Ann: Hmmmm. Well, this book was inspired by a blog; a daily blog about doing something new every single day for a year. I actually didn’t start off with the idea of writing a book. I began my year of firsts just as a kind of self therapy to get my life unstuck. I didn’t have an end game. The daily creative process and discipline of writing something every day turned out to be a joy, a personal journey that opened up my world again.
Jerry: Your book is described as an inspirational memoir. Twenty years ago, self-help books were all about research and loads of interviews. Nowadays, readers are more interested in learning from the author’s personal life experience. How do you feel about writing a first-person point of view, allowing readers to see the world through your eyes?
Lu Ann: The blog was a daily look into my life and so it seemed a natural transition for me to share with readers in a book. I like first person. I think working and writing stories as a tv news reporter for 40 years is also great training. You are a daily observer of life, reporting on some of the worst and best moments in other people’s lives. It just wasn’t that hard for me to turn the lens for a “selfie.”
Jerry: I have heard it said that one can only really write a successful book in a genre that you love to read. Do you agree with that advice? What similar books did you read that inspired you to write your inspirational book?
Lu Ann: Haha. Well, I do love self help and memoir type books. I adored Eat, Pray, Love and was so thrilled author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote such a beautiful blurb for the cover of my book. That was a generous gift. Again, as a news reporter, I’ve always been a writer of truth; of fact; of real stories. I wish I could write fiction. Not sure that’s in me, but life stories? Absolutely.
Read up on PWC Board member Jerry Waxler at his blog, www.memorywritersnetwork.com/blog.
Ready to meet Lu Ann and check out her non-fiction workshop? Register Here!