Mental Health Caregivers

(Ep 20) Mental Health and Writing Therapy: From the Inside Out

On Thursday, September 1, 2021, the book, “Blueprint for a Book: Build Your Novel from the Inside Out” by Jennie Nash publishes. What a treat it was to chat with Jennie who has been my book coach and mentor for years and who has been instrumental in my own books getting written and published. Jennie Nash is the founder and CEO of Author Accelerator, a company that’s “on a mission to raise the bar on book coaching.” She’s the author of several books, and her latest is a “how-to” that emphasizes the inner work that needs to be done when one embarks on a book writing journey. Her “inside out” blueprint to writing a book concept is so aligned with how I view writing therapy, self-care, and the core of what is mental health. I hope you enjoy and learn lots from what Jennie had to share. And be sure to buy her book and grab her free blueprint download here.

Here’s the transcript below on my chat with author Jennie Nash on writing books from the inside out and how it aligns with our mental health.

 

 

Subscribe on iTunes Listen on Soundcloud

 

Hello everyone, and welcome to Madness to Magic, and my podcast, “I’m with Crazy: A Love Story.” I’m your host, Paolina Milana, I’m the author of several books, all of which tell stories that I hope help to inspire, enlighten, heal, maybe give you permission to have a good cry, and maybe even a good laugh about all things crazy. For those who don’t know my personal story, I grew up surrounded by madness. Raised by a mom who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and then becoming primary caregiver not only to her, but to my little sister, also diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Keeping it secret and being ashamed of the insanity that had taken root in my family tree is what nearly did me in. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. I journeyed on, and what an incredible ride it’s been. So for anyone listening who is struggling with their own mental health or that of a loved one, this podcast is for you. Know that you aren’t alone. Your life isn’t “just” about the cray-cray. And your story isn’t finished. “I’m with Crazy: A Love Story” is where we can come together to share our stories and to realize that there’s magic to be found in whatever madness we may be experiencing. I know it to be true, and I hope so will you. So let’s get to today’s episode.

Mental Health and Writing Therapy: A Chat with Jennie Nash author of her latest book: Blueprint for a Book: Build Your Novel from the Inside Out:

Paolina:

Hi Everyone. Welcome back. I’m so excited, because today we have Jennie Nash. And Jennie Nash is first and foremost joining us to discuss her new book – Blueprint for a Book: Build Your Novel from the Inside Out. It comes out September 1.

 

Jennie, welcome, and thank you for being here.

 

Jennie:

Thank you for having me.

 

Paolina:

My pleasure

 

For those of you wondering why are we’re talking about a book on this podcast about mental health and why Jennie Nash. I just want to touch on those. Jennie Nash is the founder and CEO of a company called Author Accelerator, is on aa company on a mission to raise the bar on book coaching. Jennie has worked with a number of writers and guess what? She worked with me. She has been a mentor through all of my book projects. I love her to death. She is awesome. The reason I wanted her on this podcast is because – no, neither of us is crazy – although that’s debatable – but because Jennie has kind of hit the nail on the head in terms of writing, writing therapy, in terms of how it’s a self-care, kind of writing therapy kind of thing. And that it’s so important to focus on your book from the inside out. That’s exactly what’s needed when we’re talking about mental health.

 

Jennie, thank you so much again. I have a bunch of questions.

 

First question: Author Accelerator your business – you have a number of books – 10 in 3 different genres on your own – and then shifted into becoming a book coach. You’ve knocked it out of the park for your clients with 6-figure book deals, landing New York agents, big five houses in publishing deals. You’ve done so much. Could you give us a look into why you made that shift and why you started this?

 

Jennie:

It’s an interesting question. I’m 57 years old, and I’ve been in publishing for more than 30 years. I started my career right out of college started at Random House. I’ve been in publishing this entire long sweep of time. It’s given me opportunity to do a lot of different things and be on different sides of the business and to sort of find my place. I mention my age because I started my business when I was 50. What happened, I learned that I’m a better book coach than I am a writer. I think I’m better at helping and inspiring other people – that’s my super power – than I am doing it my own self. So I moved closer to what my talents are, and I learned really late that I could be an entrepreneur and run a whole business and do this whole new thing that I never imagined I could do. So it’s all been a move closer really moving to the core of who I am.

 

Paolina:

I believe you when you say you think you’re better at this other thing, although that would be debatable as well. Especially that first book of yours – your memoir on breast cancer – The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Keeps Coming.

 

Jennie:

I think what I mean is it’s short-hand for what brings me joy. I love coaching teaching…because I’m my best when I’m one on one – I don’t know where we are in the pandemic – are we out of it? I don’t know. But I actually loved being in lockdown for a year. I’m a very rare person. My daughter is another among them. I don’t miss groups of people, crowds. I like being with people one-on-one, especially in creative work and finding people’s stories. Really what I do is I help people find their voice, raise their voice, claim their voice, speak their truth. That I need another person in order to do it. I’m a good writer, but writing feels smaller to me somehow because the impact you make on others you often don’t see or feel. You get feedback, obviously I’m sure you have especially with your books – you get letters and notes – that’s sustenance, food you live on. That’s awesome. I love the synergy, the mind-meld of being in it with somebody else.

 

Paolina:

Wow – awesome. Lucky them…lucky those who are in it with you, I consider myself one.

 

What’s interesting, right up front – Jennie is somebody who is NOT going to snow or sugar-coat something. Not that you’re rude. But you are point blank – “is that what I taught you?” – I remember you said that about a query letter of mine. You tell readers who are all fired up to just start writing their books, that this book is to convince them to stop. That seems counter-intuitive. What do you mean and why is it a must?

 

Jennie:

I see in the work that I do every day the mistakes that people make in writing. There’s so many. The mistakes are painful and dangerous. Years of people’s lives writing in the wrong direction or being afraid to send something out in the world – whatever the thing that’s holding a person back from writing – again that’s raising your voice — and I see them damaging themselves over and over again. In the work I do I see the patterns of how they do it. I recognize people are doing the same thing. So the Blueprint for a Book Method I developed is designed to solve the biggest problems people make – it’s a way to save themselves from themselves.

 

This is what’s weird about writing – we’re storytellers – this is what humans are, we’re born to it, we’re good at it, we tell stories. We come naturally to it on the one hand, on the other hand, writing a novel is not a straight-forward thing for the vast number of people but because of the storytelling nature, we fool ourselves that it’s easy, that we don’t have to be trained or learn. There are some out there who can do that, but most of us, we don’t know what we’re doing, but we convince ourselves that we know what we’re doing.

 

My book is 14 steps and it’s designed for people to answer these questions before they start. It might take a week, two weeks, maybe three weeks to answer and get clear, but that will save them the overwhelm and frustration that comes down the road. So my plea is to stop a hot second and think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and the intention the structure the format. It’s not craft-based. This is more structural and getting clear on those things…it will make them more efficient as writers.

 

Paolina:

And as you said – this helps them get their voice out tell the stories they want.

I want to touch on something you had said you know, as humans we tell stories, right. And when it comes to writing books or whatever, we just kind of feel like, how hard can this be? Right. I can do this. I’m going to bring that into the mental health arena here, because how often do we tell ourselves stories of who we are, what we can do, what we can’t do. Right. And a lot of writers, there’s a lot of that self doubt, right? This makes it easier for which what’s the path to take. How easy to get there. I also am fascinated with when you’re talking about the biggest problems that people have. It seems, I don’t know about you. But social media, all of the kind of advertisements that are out there are, you know, write a bestseller in a weekend, make a million dollars in a month by writing your book, right. That all plays into this too. And I’m, I’m wondering if you might speak a bit about reality and what your, what your program offers.

 

JENNIE:

So one of the, I mean, those things make me crazy, first of all, make me crazy too. And you know, what’s interesting, I haven’t written about this or said this anywhere. So this is, this is an exclusive so I have this book coming out, it’s coming out, we’re talking on it’s to be on like two weeks. And I’m self-publishing this book, and I have a community that, that it will resonate with and you know, all that. But the thing that most people pay attention to when they have a book coming out is getting an Amazon number one best seller release. Number one, bestseller, they get a little orange flag. And I know this to be true that I don’t have to do anything. And, and this book will be that almost any book gets that is not is not a metric of success. And there are, there are places that will charge a lot of money to teach you how to be an Amazon bestseller. All you have to do is put a book up and pick a little narrow category, and you’re going to be a bestseller in that. It’s preying on people’s I don’t know, ego or something. And so the, the exclusive bit that I’m, that I’m telling you is I, I don’t care about that. I don’t, I’m not gonna pay attention to it. I’m not going to have a social media post that says, oh my gosh, I’m a best seller. Like I’m, I’m kind of doing a lot of things that are counterintuitive with my own book. You know, you see these unboxing videos on social media all the time in, and they’re on the one hand, they’re beautiful. Like somebody whose dream has been to be a writer their whole life, and here’s their book and they’re holding in their hands and they often will hold it to their heart and cry. And like, it’s a beautiful moment. But so you said to talk about reality. What, what writers really want is they don’t want the Amazon flag and they don’t want the unboxing. Those, those are like the sprinkles on the frosting, on the cake and, and social media amplifies the sprinkles on the frosty, on the cake. And the cake is you want to impact people. You want your, your story to hit them in a particular way and resonate with them and mean something to them. You want to raising your voice is about being heard. You want to be heard. And in order to do that, you have to have something to say, and you have to, you know, and I’m not talking about, like, you wrote a fabulous book about Christmas and it doesn’t have to be some profoundly, you know, your message doesn’t have to be, you know, life and death. It can be a fun message or an uplifting message or an entertaining message or whatever that is, but knowing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it as a writer is so, so central and not paying attention to these things that we all get caught up in these, these social media type moments or things that are not actually what brings the satisfaction. So the secret announcement is I’m trying really hard to not do those things with this book, not, not fall into any of the things that doesn’t actually matter to me.

 

Paolina:

 Wow. And, and you hit on something really key, what matters to you. Right. And, and in my opinion, so you brought up and thank you very much, the Christmas novel Miracle on Mall Drive. Which honestly kind of just wouldn’t the voices in my head wouldn’t shut up until I wrote it. So I was just like, fine, fine, fine characters, we’ll let you out of, out of jail and I’ll write it. That book has been in me for a long time, but you actually kind of hit on what, what matters to you is really, and digging deep on that is really, what’s going to make that book. You talk about the heart of the story, right? The emotional kind of journey that’s involved that aligns with mental health, self-care, share some thoughts on how you actually kind of help writers really dig deep to what is your story? What is it that that should be coming out of you because it’s begging you to?

 

Jennie:

Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s such, it’s such an interesting question. And it’s, it’s the reason that I love the work of being a book coach is that I don’t know, I think we’re sort of trained, or we come as adults to, to find ourselves not really knowing what we want or not really knowing what matters to us. I think it’s really, I think particularly for women, it’s really easy to go through your life knowing, you know, this is what my partner wants, or this is what my children want, or this is what my mother wants, or this is what my neighbor wants, or, you know, we’re really good at that. But what do we want? And sometimes I think that can show up in all different kinds of ways. We might not know you know, literally what we want to have. How we want to dress ourselves. You know, like, I’m constantly talking about how hard it is to dress oneself over 50. Like how, how do I want to look in the world? How do I want to be in the world? Like, I think, I think that’s a hard question to know, or even what do I want to eat? What tastes good to me? What makes me feel good? What if I never have this thing ever again, just because it doesn’t work for me, I think this is the work of a lifetime, really. So when we’re talking about knowing what you want from your writing, I think it’s just a piece of this much larger thing. And when people hit on what they really want to say, that the release that they feel and the joy that they feel and that happiness that they feel is really profound. And so the work that I do is to move them from vagueness. Like what kind of want to sort of write this story or like you said, the story has been bugging me or nagging me, or I’ve wanted to do this thing my whole life. And they it’s like, okay, what is that thing? What is that story? And usually they’ll talk about the what’s visible in a story, which is the plot, well, this is what’s going to happen. This is going to happen. This is the other thing that is going to happen. And the inside-outline or inside outside dichotomy that you mentioned is the tool that I use to help them see that. Okay. That’s just the top level. That’s just what we’re seeing. That’s just the visible part of this story, but it’s not the story, but the real story is why do you care? Why does this matter to you? What are you trying to convey? What do you want other people to feel when they read this story? What matters to you? And it’s shocking to me, how hard it is for people to define what matters to them or why they care about a story. And it takes usually I’m pushing and digging and you know helping them see, you’re not there yet. You can go deeper, you can go further. You know I mean, here’s an example. I’ll, I’ll make this more concrete. The book that we’re talking about is for writers of fiction, but it also really can apply to writers of memoir and writers of memoir will often come to their story because other people are telling them, you should write this. This is extraordinary. You should write this in a book. And so they sort of have this external motivator and, and then they’ll come to me and they’ll say, you know what? I want to make this story. And it’s like, okay, why do you want to write it? And, and almost like clockwork, they’ll say something like, well, I don’t want other people to suffer the way that I suffered. I want them to feel less alone in this thing that I went through. I mean, that’s a great reason to write. That’s a great motivation. It’s a great place to start, but you can’t write a book with that as the reason that somebody would care, you have to go deeper than that into, well, what might they feel if they feel less alone or what, you know, what exactly are you dispelling? Is it anger? Is it shame? Is it fear? Like what, you know, really getting down to the specific thing that you want to say in that story and why it matters to you and not just tossing off that top level reason why — usually those reasons that people give at the beginning are, what’s the word I’m looking for? They’re like excuses for, I I’m going to do this. Cause everybody tells me that it’s gonna it’s going to be helpful and I’m gonna do it because it’s gonna help other people, like that’s a safe place to be. Right? But it’s probably not the real story. The real story is you got something you want to say. And, you know, I was speaking to a client this morning on a non-fiction project, but in my mind, it’s all the same. It’s the same process. And the blueprint for nonfiction follows almost the identical process. And, and she was, she and I were talking about why she wants to write this story and what she really wants to say. And she, in fact is a therapist therapist, her own self, and has a particular specialty. And, you know, she was giving all those sorts of easy top level answers. And it’s like, but why do you care? Why are you going to spend all this time? Why, why, why? Right. Just w you know, trying to get down to it. And she finally did get down to the, the thing. She was this very mild mannered person. And it was cool because then she got down to living, she got all fiery and like all up on her soapbox about it. And, you know, it was like, that’s what we’re looking for. That’s what we want is that like deep belly, knowing of why you want to do this.

 

Paolina:

Yeah. And that, that feeling. And I felt that many, many times that feeling is the power that’s, that’s writing from the heat. Right. That’s when it just kind of leaps onto the page, almost like writing itself. There are times I will admit, and I know, okay, this is gonna sound super egotistical, but I know I’m not alone. There are times when I will read something that I have written and I’ll be like, that’s. But like, after like putting it in a drawer and I’ll be like, that’s good. Like, who did I really write that? And I have to look back at my notes if I like, what, but then there are times when I’ll look at my stuff and I’ll be like, oh girl, you got to go back to school because you need to talk to Jenny. Cause that’s pretty bad. So it just, I mean, and no matter what level of writer you are, right. If you’re just starting out or you’re, you know, the JK Rawlings of the world that the, the emotions, the way of the writer is always the same. It just depends on degrees. Right. The self-doubt the, I love what I wrote. Oh, I should have done that. Right. I mean, it’s. Yeah. So I wanted to bring up from what you said, another example. So you said, you know, a lot of writers you know that you help you help them with like that vagueness. Right. And then we’ve talked about like, finding your voice and, and the reason the why.

When I was in, when you were starting out author accelerator, I was part of one of your very first, if not your first kind of beta groups when you were putting it together. And I remember I had two different books. One was a very cheeky kind of business book. That basically was, you know about leadership. Let’s just, let’s just kindly put it that way. And then the second book was about how I ended up with my house, which I called blueberry hill cottage. And I don’t know if you remember this. I, I was like, I really don’t want to write, you know, another memoir kind of thing. Not now I want to write this other thing. You took us all through the exercises, and that became, you know, part of your blueprint that you have now in author accelerator and in this book. And I remember there came a point where, as I talked about it, and as you kept digging into the why, I remember you just almost like exploding and saying “Paolina that’s, that’s the story of your house – it’s about finding you.”

And, and when we came to like the title of blueberry hill cottage, finding my way home had so many more meanings to it. Right. But that’s, that’s exactly what you help people do. It’s not superficial. It’s not, you know, okay. What is the market looking for now? Let me just write that, right. Because if you don’t have that heat, if you don’t have that power, it’s going to be flat anyway. Right.

 

Jennie:

I remember actually that time, even though it was a while ago, I remember very well with you because you came in and then many people do this, or a subset, I should say with like, I’ve six books I want to write and, you know, and, and I want to write them all now, and I want them to have them all done yesterday. And you know, that sort of impatient you know, so many projects, and what’s great that we’re talking here today and you’ve done them like really different projects that you’ve brought into the world and all these really different genres. Like, it’s so cool to have watched you do that, because back then it was just sort of like, wow, there’s all this noise. And I think I want to write all these things, but I don’t know what I want to say. Right. And like, the pain of that is, is real for a writer where, you know, you’re called to it or, you know, there’s that this is something you should do. And, and I, so what’s interesting about your story was the leadership book that was like a really safe choice for you because that was your work. And that was what you do in your career and was very kind of tangential to that or touching closely upon on it. And the other book was often left field. Like, what does that have to do with anything that is not. So when we talk about your, why, why do you care? Why does it matter to you? And claiming that that was what you did was to say, I’m not going to do this safe thing. I’m going to do this thing. That’s really speaking to me. And then the question was like, well, why is it speaking to you?

Right now, I’ve been working really hard on a book that I want to write about my very long experience with migraine. And I cannot figure out what I want to say. There’s so many different ways that I could approach it. There’s things I know I do not want to do and do not want to say, I keep, I keep buying books that are similar-ish to something I think I want to do. And then I, you know, in totally different topics and I’m like, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope. Like I cannot find my way to the why of this book. And I’ve been trying various times to write this book for 20 years. It like, it rises and falls in terms of my interest. And my mother died about four months ago and that really kind of made this topic rise up in me for a lot of different reasons. But I can’t, I can’t figure it out. I can’t get to what I want it to be. And the reason I say it’s painful is because I could write a book, I could kick a book out in six weeks. It would be, you know, for me, it would be very easy to do. I can put words on the page, but in terms of like, what is this and who is it for? And who’s going to care and why do I care? And what am I trying to say? And how does it fit? And where is the positioning? And those are the questions that if I don’t answer, I’m going to just write something flat and an ineffectual. And that’s what you were going to do with that leadership book at that time. Right. And you were like, why waste your time? So we talked before about stopping before you write, if you don’t, these are the questions. If you don’t know the answer to these questions, don’t start writing because you’re not, I have found it is a very rare person who can write their way to the answer. You can do it, I’ve done it. It’s just incredibly inefficient.

 

Paolina:

Right. So those two books, both the leadership book and the blueberry hill cottage finding my way home book they have not been done yet. And I say that because four other books have been done. And when it comes to you and your migraine book, I, I always think to myself books just like babies, they get to choose. I mean, if you believe this, you know, souls, et cetera, they get to choose when they want to come out. I mean, they really do. And I have known because I also kind of work with people who want to write their stories. And one of the number one things that I get is not just, you know, I have all these books and et cetera, right. That I want to write, which I totally get, but you, you need to pick a horse and ride it right. At some point. Right. But but I also get this whole thing about, like, I will ask the question. Okay. So what’s it about? And I, I use a lot of I had been in screenwriting for a very long time. And so I will use kind of that whole concept of the one sentence logline, which I know you also have that. And, and I always get the, well, it’s about a lot of things. Right. Which I do myself, right. Like, oh, my book is especially the more personal it is. So you have something that you, you put things in terms that even someone like me can understand. And so where everybody’s kind of talking about the theme and like all this stuff you literally are like, well, what’s the point, right? That’s your, you know, what’s, what’s the point. And can you speak to how your program helps someone when they say, oh, it’s about a lot of things, like find like distill it to, what is the point? Some of those like little steps, or even just like a, here’s the first thing to do or the second thing to do.

 

Jennie:

Yeah. Yeah. So the, the what’s, what’s your point is for a novel, it’s not a question that we typically ask. We typically ask, what’s the plot, what what’s going to happen in this book, you know, and what’s it about, oh, it’s about this person and they you know, whatever their story is. And then they’re just giving us the shape of that, the, the story, the plot level of it. And I want to know, well, what point is this novel going to make? What am I going to walk away feeling or believing our knowing about the world? You know, what if, if you, so this is a question I love to ask writers. Pretend that your book is out in the world and you are going to be on, you know, pick your venue Oprah, super soul Sunday, or the today show, or, you know, whatever the thing is, what are you talking about? So that’s, that’s kind of what the point is to, you’re not talking about, well, there’s this surfer and they fall in love with this girl. You know, you’re not talking about the plot. If you’re on stage, you’re talking about what it’s about, what, what this novel is trying to make you feel or believe, or experience. And knowing that. So people sometimes get frustrated with me and they’re like, I can’t possibly know that before I start to write and I write to find out, and that is totally true. That is what we do. But the way I describe it, as you imagine a bullseye, you got to at least know what the, what the target is. You might not be able to hit the center bullseye, but what’s the general idea that you’re trying to convey here in telling us the story. What, again, what do you want us to, to feel, or to take away?

And this is really true. It doesn’t matter what, what the genre is or what the story is. You know, you’ve got to know the writer has to know, or you’re not going to take the reader on not going to take them anywhere. So when we talk about flat or ineffectual, it’s, that’s what I mean, it’s just sort of sits there and doesn’t transport, you know, the, the reader. And we don’t want that.

 

Paolina:

Yes. Yes. Agree, agree. And something else too, that you talked about, you know, where you want to take the reader. Right. And one of the things that is and has been a struggle for me in writing. It’s also been a struggle for me, for the people that I coach in the resilient and empowerment kind of coaching is really this concept of time. And the reason I bring it up is because, you know, you’re, you’re writing a book, you are wanting to take people from one point to another, right. Hopefully madness to magic or trials to triumph, whatever you want to call it. Right. But we ourselves get so stuck in, in where we are in time, the judgment that comes with it. So you’re writing a book because you went through something, right. And, and your, why is, is this passionate kind of concept and you want to take them there, but when you are in the process of writing it, you’re sitting here while you learned a whole bunch of new stuff. Right. And you evolved, and maybe you’re writing about things and suddenly you are judging yourself. Suddenly you’re like, oh man, I should have done that differently. Can you speak a bit to how that kind of is taught in your classes regarding self-doubt judgment, the time kind of issue.

 

Jennie:

Yeah. So this is, what’s so weird about a book as an object in the world. It takes a pretty long time to write a book and to bring a book out into the world. And, and it lives in the world. The way we think of it is that it lives in the world forever. So that’s why a lot of people get nervous or they fall into perfectionism and they never finish. Or they’re worried about sending it out to a contest or an agent or whatever. Cause they’re worried about being judged. Those are all very real things. But a book like if we compare it to a work of art that happens in a moment in time. So I’m thinking about a dance that happens on a stage or a musical performance. That’s, it’s happens in that moment. And you’re either there watching or experiencing listening to it or you’re not, and maybe there’s a recording, but it’s not the same thing. Right. It’s I was there. I was there in that moment when that performance happened. It’s, it’s a moment in time and a book is not dissimilar from that at all. So it, a book also is a moment in time. You know, I wrote a book about getting married when I was 25 years old. And like, I was just a baby. And I look at that book now in a actually makes my blood curdle. It’s so horrible. And my oldest daughter recently got married and she’s like, oh, I think I’m going to read that book of yours. And I was like, oh, this is terrible. But I had a reframing experience around that book. And I thought, well, I wrote that book at a moment in time. Yes. It took me many months and you know, it took a year for it to become a book and all those things, but it was a moment in time and it was the first stepping stone to my becoming who I am as a professional, you know, in my career. So I have a great affinity for that book, even though it makes me cringe. Right. And, and so I think that idea of realizing, you know, balancing the reality that a book is going to live forever. It could sit on the shelf forever. Somebody could pick it up when you’re dead and gone, and this is what they’re going to think of you or what you thought, or, you know, it’s quite permanent, but at the same time, it’s part of a flow. And, and it’s that moment in time that it represents us what I made at that moment in time. And at this next moment of time, I might make something different. And I think about this a lot because we often hold politicians to this very strict thing, like, well, you said 25 years ago, you would never do X. Right. And you know, it’s like, okay, I dunno, it’s just this thing we’re allowed to get better.

 

Paolina:

No, no. Too often, there there’s this concept that you are, you are not allowed to evolve. Like you, I, you know, we are in this journey of life to learn and to hopefully get better. Right. So it’s, it’s interesting because when you’re talking about books and things, well, I wrote a piece, just a, a piece for the daily news and it was on careers and stuff. And gosh, I don’t even know when it was maybe 10 years ago and the whole piece had to do with leadership and an executive, female getting a seat at the table, how, how you can get what you want right. In a room full of men. I mean, let me just say it right. And I wrote the piece with the way at that time, things were and male executives versus female executives. How, how, how people who were male were given more latitude too, you know, pound their fist. And they were, you know, on the table and they were very you know, strong and forceful. And yet you may have done the same thing and you’re emotional and you know what I mean, all that kind of stuff. Well, that piece was written with my work arounds to get what you want without offending anybody, but the way you are. And people, for some reason, started finding it now and contacting me in almost a bit of a shame on you that you would even think you have to work around a male. And again, that was, that was my experience at that time. That was the way things were, right. We’re talking like a decade ago. So I, I totally hear you. And, again, this, this not only plays into writing pieces, but it plays into your, your own journey, your own mental health, your self-care. I love the quote from Maya Angelou that says, you know, we did what we knew how to do then now we know better. So we do better. Right. I mean, it’s pretty simple concept, but anyway, okay.

 

So we just have a couple more questions if that’s okay with you, so align that you had in your book and your book is split into three parts. Right. and this came from the part that was about up, it was the third part. And I apologize, cause I did not write down what it was. Oh, I have no idea. You can tell me anything. Good. Okay. I’ll just make something up. And you said Paolina Milana is the greatest person. No, I’m just kidding. So here was the line you said in the third part of your book, “we read stories to watch someone else make meaning of the things that happened to them”. Right. And I, that that’s so hits home for me because one, I mean, obviously every one of my books, regardless of genre, you know, there’s the, the picture book for adults. There’s the Christmas book, right? There’s the memoirs, every single genre it’s pieces of me. It’s right. It’s, it’s the things that I am going through and giving them meaning from the inside out. Exactly. So can you talk to us a little bit about this line that you said and kind of like the writer therapy perspective?

 

Jennie:

Yeah. So what, what I mean by that? The difference something that is not, that would be, if you writing in a journal, you’re trying to sort things out for your own self and you’re trying to understand the way you think and the way your mind works. And, you know, there’s a purpose to that journal that is, that is powerful and an effective for you as a person. But if you just give that journal to somebody else, if it’s not gonna resonate most of the time, right? It there’s, there’s whole pieces that are missing or context that’s, that’s missing. When we read a really well-crafted memoir or novel, what that’s, what we’re looking for is somebody. We want to see them making meaning of their lives, but in a way that we can experience a way that lets us in that, that we can we can be in their skin, are seeing through their eyes. And if that meaning making isn’t happening, we’re not gonna keep reading. You know, there’s no reason to, to keep, to keep reading that story. And this is actually, I’m experiencing this right now as a, a reader. My daughter we, we, this summer read a lot of what I would call through the light hearted books, kind of rom-com type of books. And we would pass them back and forth to each other, oh, you should read this or read that. And they, you know, it’s just a great thing to do in the summer at the end of the pandemic, this sort of light reading. And she recommended this book to me and I’m blanking on both the name. But it was it’s a book about a romance. No, I’ve a murder mystery writer who accidentally starts killing people for real.

So it’s this super sort of bizzare thing that’s sort of silly, silly set up. And, and so I’m reading this, this book that my daughter said, oh, it’s so clever. It’s so fun. It’s so great. It’s so meta. Right? It’s it’s like, she’s going from pretending to do this stuff to actually doing this up. And I just am not feeling it. Like, I just am not getting it. And I am reading this and it, this is probably saying a lot about my own self it’s. I find it scary. I, I don’t like to read horror and I don’t like thrillers or suspense because I get so freaked out and I’m finding myself freaked out by this. And I said something to my daughter and she’s like, what are you talking about? It’s just silly. It’s like just the silly. And that’s like, I, I don’t, I’m not getting that vibe from it. Like, it feels too real to me, it feels, I don’t like the meaning making. In other words, I don’t know why I’m reading this. I don’t know. It feels like it’s just a scenario and the scenario is scary to me. You know, like I was I slept super badly last night cause I was up late reading, you know, they’re burying his body and they were doing anything in this, doing it in this way. That was sort of light. Like we’re supposed to not really think this is weird or bad. And I was like, this is terrible. And like, so it’s the I’m missing. The why should I care? Why should I care about this even silly situation? It’s not holding together for me. So I’m probably not going to keep reading this book. And that’s what we don’t want writers is for. I mean, of course are going to be some people who don’t get what you’re doing, but we, we, we read to watch meaning being made. So even in this scenario, there could be a lot of meaning maiden that right. There could be a lot to say about the stories we make up in our heads impact us just as much as the things we do in real life. I just made that up. Like that would be great. Right. And, but that’s not what this, what this story is. So it, I find myself lost and I, and I don’t care. So even in doesn’t have to be Viktor Frankl kind of making meaning out of things. I mean, it could be, but you know, even something light needs to have that, you know, why am I watching you wrestle with this? What am I going to what am I going to watch you learn or come to that? That’s what we want to know.

 

Paolina:

Absolutely. Yeah. And I wonder, you know, a couple of thoughts on that. Is it just maybe that well, not even maybe you, you made, well, I’m, I’m going to keep saying maybe you maybe not the, the target audience for that book. Right? I mean, obviously something, something clicked with your daughter, right? So, so it is, you know, I, and I want to make sure I put this out there because for goodness sakes, if you’re gonna write anything, if you’re actually going to do anything in life, not just writing, but like breathe, right. You’re going to have people who love you. And you’re going to have the social trolls, especially right. Who say same things. The best line that anybody ever said to me in my life, hands down was the only taste you have is in your mouth. Now I could get pretty ticked off with that, but I thought it was such a gorgeous line. It’s going to end up somewhere in one of my books one day. It is because the truth is, everybody has an opinion. Everybody has, especially today, right? Everybody has an opinion. And what really matters is one that you do find your voice and you tell your story the way you want to tell it, right. In, in, in a smart way by using like your program. Right. But, but I, I think too, when, when we write or when we actually have something, even to say, it’s super important that we realize it will hit home with the right audience and that right.

 

I saw this of all things on social media. Here we go again. But I saw something about a man who was giving a gift to his daughter on graduation. And it was a car. And I don’t know if you saw this, but he kinda fails the garage and the car looks like it’s been through hell and back and, and back in hell and back like six times, right. This terrible. And, and you’re thinking to yourself, what the heck? And, and the daughter says, what am I supposed to do? And he goes, I want you to go to three different places to get a quote, because whatever someone will pay you for that car is what I will give you. And so she’s like, what? I don’t understand. So she first went to, I don’t know, some, some junk yard kind of thing. And they were like, well, we’ll give you a 50 bucks. Right. And so then she went to I think some dealership or something. And they said at most, we’d give you a thousand dollars, whatever. And then the father had her go to a collectors show and they offered her something like, I don’t know, $300,000. And the father was trying to make the point that you stick with those who know the value of what you have and who you are. Right. And your story. So, so anyway, I told you, I go on tangent.

 

Jennie:

I love it. That’s a great story. Great story.

 

Paolina:

I thought so too. I think about it. Anytime time someone says something to me about, I mean, and we talked, my last book committed, a memoir of madness in the family, so many people actually wrote letters and emails. And I, I, they, they meant the world to me. And then some social trolls. Again, you get the, you know, your family should be at DCFS, you know, all that kind of stuff. So anyway one last question and then we will wrap up, but because we’re coming up on the hour if you were to choose, you know, two, three things takeaways for our listening audience, what would it be?

 

Jennie:

I feel like we didn’t talk about what we were supposed to talk about at all.

 

Paolina:

No, I’m sorry.

 

Jennie:

Are your listeners who were coming for lessons and learnings and understandings of mental health? Like why don’t we talk about books all the time? I feel like I should bring it around. We should bring it around and stuff to take away. I, I would, I would put together one takeaway would be if you were telling the story of your own life to your own self, and that’s about mental health and understanding your own mind and your own brain and your own experience lived experience in the world. If that’s the story you’re telling, knowing, you know, raising your voice and claiming your power and all of that is just the same as what we’ve been talking about. I think the process can actually be just the same of being brave and, and going from vague to clear and knowing why you want to be authentically yourself in the world. All of those things really are the same. So I think a takeaway for folks listening, who are not interested in being a writer, that this process is, is very much the same. Cause we’re creating our own, our own lives, our own stories all the time. And then I would say for, for writers, it would be the point that you made so well, which is stop and ask some hard questions before you just write. And that’s gonna save you a lot super easy, but how many people don’t do it right. Most right. Yeah.

 

And I can send people to my website, which is Jenny nash.com backslash blueprint. And there are some resources there. There’s a download of the insight outline, which is the tool at the heart of the blueprint that folks can download. And some questions to ask yourself about, about the story there and some things around the book, so they can check that. Absolutely. And we will, I will drop that on the on the podcast page for everyone. But this has been awesome. Jenny, I have loved talking with you, and when you say, oh my gosh, we haven’t talked about like the mental health stuff. I think you, you wrapped it up quite nicely. I will also say that the program that I do when it comes to the empowerment and resilience, I actually use storytelling elements to actually help people kind of work the way through it. So to me it just totally aligns.

Any final words? Any, any, anything?

Jennie:

Oh, just thank you for having me. And just from a personal perspective, it’s, it’s been so fun to watch you on your journey of becoming the writer. I always knew you were going to be, so that’s been a thrill for me.

Paolina:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And you I’m totally like I knew her when I’m now and now I’m just lucky that she’s still taking my call. How’s that?

 

Jennie:

I shall always take your call.

Paolina:

All right. Well, thank you. Thank you.

And thank you listeners. Until we meet again. September one. That’s when your book comes out, right? Yes. Honestly, whether you are a writer or whether you really just kind of want to hone in on writing therapy, kind of elements. Get this book.

 

All right, everyone. Thank you so much. We will talk on the next episode. Bye-Bye bye.

 

 

Hello everyone, and welcome to Madness to Magic, and my podcast, “I’m with Crazy: A Love Story.” I’m your host, Paolina Milana, I’m the author of several books, all of which tell stories that I hope help to inspire, enlighten, heal, maybe give you permission to have a good cry, and maybe even a good laugh about all things crazy. For those who don’t know my personal story, I grew up surrounded by madness. Raised by a mom who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and then becoming primary caregiver not only to her, but to my little sister, also diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Keeping it secret and being ashamed of the insanity that had taken root in my family tree is what nearly did me in. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. I journeyed on, and what an incredible ride it’s been. So for anyone listening who is struggling with their own mental health or that of a loved one, this podcast is for you. Know that you aren’t alone. Your life isn’t “just” about the cray-cray. And your story isn’t finished. “I’m with Crazy: A Love Story” is where we can come together to share our stories and to realize that there’s magic to be found in whatever madness we may be experiencing. I know it to be true, and I hope so will you. So let’s get to today’s episode.

Mental Health and Writing Therapy: A Chat with Jennie Nash author of her latest book: Blueprint for a Book: Build Your Novel from the Inside Out:

Paolina:

Hi Everyone. Welcome back. I’m so excited, because today we have Jennie Nash. And Jennie Nash is first and foremost joining us to discuss her new book – Blueprint for a Book: Build Your Novel from the Inside Out. It comes out September 1.

 

Jennie, welcome, and thank you for being here.

 

Jennie:

Thank you for having me.

 

Paolina:

My pleasure

 

For those of you wondering why are we’re talking about a book on this podcast about mental health and why Jennie Nash. I just want to touch on those. Jennie Nash is the founder and CEO of a company called Author Accelerator, is on aa company on a mission to raise the bar on book coaching. Jennie has worked with a number of writers and guess what? She worked with me. She has been a mentor through all of my book projects. I love her to death. She is awesome. The reason I wanted her on this podcast is because – no, neither of us is crazy – although that’s debatable – but because Jennie has kind of hit the nail on the head in terms of writing, writing therapy, in terms of how it’s a self-care, kind of writing therapy kind of thing. And that it’s so important to focus on your book from the inside out. That’s exactly what’s needed when we’re talking about mental health.

 

Jennie, thank you so much again. I have a bunch of questions.

 

First question: Author Accelerator your business – you have a number of books – 10 in 3 different genres on your own – and then shifted into becoming a book coach. You’ve knocked it out of the park for your clients with 6-figure book deals, landing New York agents, big five houses in publishing deals. You’ve done so much. Could you give us a look into why you made that shift and why you started this?

 

Jennie:

It’s an interesting question. I’m 57 years old, and I’ve been in publishing for more than 30 years. I started my career right out of college started at Random House. I’ve been in publishing this entire long sweep of time. It’s given me opportunity to do a lot of different things and be on different sides of the business and to sort of find my place. I mention my age because I started my business when I was 50. What happened, I learned that I’m a better book coach than I am a writer. I think I’m better at helping and inspiring other people – that’s my super power – than I am doing it my own self. So I moved closer to what my talents are, and I learned really late that I could be an entrepreneur and run a whole business and do this whole new thing that I never imagined I could do. So it’s all been a move closer really moving to the core of who I am.

 

Paolina:

I believe you when you say you think you’re better at this other thing, although that would be debatable as well. Especially that first book of yours – your memoir on breast cancer – The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Keeps Coming.

 

Jennie:

I think what I mean is it’s short-hand for what brings me joy. I love coaching teaching…because I’m my best when I’m one on one – I don’t know where we are in the pandemic – are we out of it? I don’t know. But I actually loved being in lockdown for a year. I’m a very rare person. My daughter is another among them. I don’t miss groups of people, crowds. I like being with people one-on-one, especially in creative work and finding people’s stories. Really what I do is I help people find their voice, raise their voice, claim their voice, speak their truth. That I need another person in order to do it. I’m a good writer, but writing feels smaller to me somehow because the impact you make on others you often don’t see or feel. You get feedback, obviously I’m sure you have especially with your books – you get letters and notes – that’s sustenance, food you live on. That’s awesome. I love the synergy, the mind-meld of being in it with somebody else.

 

Paolina:

Wow – awesome. Lucky them…lucky those who are in it with you, I consider myself one.

 

What’s interesting, right up front – Jennie is somebody who is NOT going to snow or sugar-coat something. Not that you’re rude. But you are point blank – “is that what I taught you?” – I remember you said that about a query letter of mine. You tell readers who are all fired up to just start writing their books, that this book is to convince them to stop. That seems counter-intuitive. What do you mean and why is it a must?

 

Jennie:

I see in the work that I do every day the mistakes that people make in writing. There’s so many. The mistakes are painful and dangerous. Years of people’s lives writing in the wrong direction or being afraid to send something out in the world – whatever the thing that’s holding a person back from writing – again that’s raising your voice — and I see them damaging themselves over and over again. In the work I do I see the patterns of how they do it. I recognize people are doing the same thing. So the Blueprint for a Book Method I developed is designed to solve the biggest problems people make – it’s a way to save themselves from themselves.

 

This is what’s weird about writing – we’re storytellers – this is what humans are, we’re born to it, we’re good at it, we tell stories. We come naturally to it on the one hand, on the other hand, writing a novel is not a straight-forward thing for the vast number of people but because of the storytelling nature, we fool ourselves that it’s easy, that we don’t have to be trained or learn. There are some out there who can do that, but most of us, we don’t know what we’re doing, but we convince ourselves that we know what we’re doing.

 

My book is 14 steps and it’s designed for people to answer these questions before they start. It might take a week, two weeks, maybe three weeks to answer and get clear, but that will save them the overwhelm and frustration that comes down the road. So my plea is to stop a hot second and think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and the intention the structure the format. It’s not craft-based. This is more structural and getting clear on those things…it will make them more efficient as writers.

 

Paolina:

And as you said – this helps them get their voice out tell the stories they want.

I want to touch on something you had said you know, as humans we tell stories, right. And when it comes to writing books or whatever, we just kind of feel like, how hard can this be? Right. I can do this. I’m going to bring that into the mental health arena here, because how often do we tell ourselves stories of who we are, what we can do, what we can’t do. Right. And a lot of writers, there’s a lot of that self doubt, right? This makes it easier for which what’s the path to take. How easy to get there. I also am fascinated with when you’re talking about the biggest problems that people have. It seems, I don’t know about you. But social media, all of the kind of advertisements that are out there are, you know, write a bestseller in a weekend, make a million dollars in a month by writing your book, right. That all plays into this too. And I’m, I’m wondering if you might speak a bit about reality and what your, what your program offers.

 

JENNIE:

So one of the, I mean, those things make me crazy, first of all, make me crazy too. And you know, what’s interesting, I haven’t written about this or said this anywhere. So this is, this is an exclusive so I have this book coming out, it’s coming out, we’re talking on it’s to be on like two weeks. And I’m self-publishing this book, and I have a community that, that it will resonate with and you know, all that. But the thing that most people pay attention to when they have a book coming out is getting an Amazon number one best seller release. Number one, bestseller, they get a little orange flag. And I know this to be true that I don’t have to do anything. And, and this book will be that almost any book gets that is not is not a metric of success. And there are, there are places that will charge a lot of money to teach you how to be an Amazon bestseller. All you have to do is put a book up and pick a little narrow category, and you’re going to be a bestseller in that. It’s preying on people’s I don’t know, ego or something. And so the, the exclusive bit that I’m, that I’m telling you is I, I don’t care about that. I don’t, I’m not gonna pay attention to it. I’m not going to have a social media post that says, oh my gosh, I’m a best seller. Like I’m, I’m kind of doing a lot of things that are counterintuitive with my own book. You know, you see these unboxing videos on social media all the time in, and they’re on the one hand, they’re beautiful. Like somebody whose dream has been to be a writer their whole life, and here’s their book and they’re holding in their hands and they often will hold it to their heart and cry. And like, it’s a beautiful moment. But so you said to talk about reality. What, what writers really want is they don’t want the Amazon flag and they don’t want the unboxing. Those, those are like the sprinkles on the frosting, on the cake and, and social media amplifies the sprinkles on the frosty, on the cake. And the cake is you want to impact people. You want your, your story to hit them in a particular way and resonate with them and mean something to them. You want to raising your voice is about being heard. You want to be heard. And in order to do that, you have to have something to say, and you have to, you know, and I’m not talking about, like, you wrote a fabulous book about Christmas and it doesn’t have to be some profoundly, you know, your message doesn’t have to be, you know, life and death. It can be a fun message or an uplifting message or an entertaining message or whatever that is, but knowing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it as a writer is so, so central and not paying attention to these things that we all get caught up in these, these social media type moments or things that are not actually what brings the satisfaction. So the secret announcement is I’m trying really hard to not do those things with this book, not, not fall into any of the things that doesn’t actually matter to me.

 

Paolina:

 Wow. And, and you hit on something really key, what matters to you. Right. And, and in my opinion, so you brought up and thank you very much, the Christmas novel Miracle on Mall Drive. Which honestly kind of just wouldn’t the voices in my head wouldn’t shut up until I wrote it. So I was just like, fine, fine, fine characters, we’ll let you out of, out of jail and I’ll write it. That book has been in me for a long time, but you actually kind of hit on what, what matters to you is really, and digging deep on that is really, what’s going to make that book. You talk about the heart of the story, right? The emotional kind of journey that’s involved that aligns with mental health, self-care, share some thoughts on how you actually kind of help writers really dig deep to what is your story? What is it that that should be coming out of you because it’s begging you to?

 

Jennie:

Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s such, it’s such an interesting question. And it’s, it’s the reason that I love the work of being a book coach is that I don’t know, I think we’re sort of trained, or we come as adults to, to find ourselves not really knowing what we want or not really knowing what matters to us. I think it’s really, I think particularly for women, it’s really easy to go through your life knowing, you know, this is what my partner wants, or this is what my children want, or this is what my mother wants, or this is what my neighbor wants, or, you know, we’re really good at that. But what do we want? And sometimes I think that can show up in all different kinds of ways. We might not know you know, literally what we want to have. How we want to dress ourselves. You know, like, I’m constantly talking about how hard it is to dress oneself over 50. Like how, how do I want to look in the world? How do I want to be in the world? Like, I think, I think that’s a hard question to know, or even what do I want to eat? What tastes good to me? What makes me feel good? What if I never have this thing ever again, just because it doesn’t work for me, I think this is the work of a lifetime, really. So when we’re talking about knowing what you want from your writing, I think it’s just a piece of this much larger thing. And when people hit on what they really want to say, that the release that they feel and the joy that they feel and that happiness that they feel is really profound. And so the work that I do is to move them from vagueness. Like what kind of want to sort of write this story or like you said, the story has been bugging me or nagging me, or I’ve wanted to do this thing my whole life. And they it’s like, okay, what is that thing? What is that story? And usually they’ll talk about the what’s visible in a story, which is the plot, well, this is what’s going to happen. This is going to happen. This is the other thing that is going to happen. And the inside-outline or inside outside dichotomy that you mentioned is the tool that I use to help them see that. Okay. That’s just the top level. That’s just what we’re seeing. That’s just the visible part of this story, but it’s not the story, but the real story is why do you care? Why does this matter to you? What are you trying to convey? What do you want other people to feel when they read this story? What matters to you? And it’s shocking to me, how hard it is for people to define what matters to them or why they care about a story. And it takes usually I’m pushing and digging and you know helping them see, you’re not there yet. You can go deeper, you can go further. You know I mean, here’s an example. I’ll, I’ll make this more concrete. The book that we’re talking about is for writers of fiction, but it also really can apply to writers of memoir and writers of memoir will often come to their story because other people are telling them, you should write this. This is extraordinary. You should write this in a book. And so they sort of have this external motivator and, and then they’ll come to me and they’ll say, you know what? I want to make this story. And it’s like, okay, why do you want to write it? And, and almost like clockwork, they’ll say something like, well, I don’t want other people to suffer the way that I suffered. I want them to feel less alone in this thing that I went through. I mean, that’s a great reason to write. That’s a great motivation. It’s a great place to start, but you can’t write a book with that as the reason that somebody would care, you have to go deeper than that into, well, what might they feel if they feel less alone or what, you know, what exactly are you dispelling? Is it anger? Is it shame? Is it fear? Like what, you know, really getting down to the specific thing that you want to say in that story and why it matters to you and not just tossing off that top level reason why — usually those reasons that people give at the beginning are, what’s the word I’m looking for? They’re like excuses for, I I’m going to do this. Cause everybody tells me that it’s gonna it’s going to be helpful and I’m gonna do it because it’s gonna help other people, like that’s a safe place to be. Right? But it’s probably not the real story. The real story is you got something you want to say. And, you know, I was speaking to a client this morning on a non-fiction project, but in my mind, it’s all the same. It’s the same process. And the blueprint for nonfiction follows almost the identical process. And, and she was, she and I were talking about why she wants to write this story and what she really wants to say. And she, in fact is a therapist therapist, her own self, and has a particular specialty. And, you know, she was giving all those sorts of easy top level answers. And it’s like, but why do you care? Why are you going to spend all this time? Why, why, why? Right. Just w you know, trying to get down to it. And she finally did get down to the, the thing. She was this very mild mannered person. And it was cool because then she got down to living, she got all fiery and like all up on her soapbox about it. And, you know, it was like, that’s what we’re looking for. That’s what we want is that like deep belly, knowing of why you want to do this.

 

Paolina:

Yeah. And that, that feeling. And I felt that many, many times that feeling is the power that’s, that’s writing from the heat. Right. That’s when it just kind of leaps onto the page, almost like writing itself. There are times I will admit, and I know, okay, this is gonna sound super egotistical, but I know I’m not alone. There are times when I will read something that I have written and I’ll be like, that’s. But like, after like putting it in a drawer and I’ll be like, that’s good. Like, who did I really write that? And I have to look back at my notes if I like, what, but then there are times when I’ll look at my stuff and I’ll be like, oh girl, you got to go back to school because you need to talk to Jenny. Cause that’s pretty bad. So it just, I mean, and no matter what level of writer you are, right. If you’re just starting out or you’re, you know, the JK Rawlings of the world that the, the emotions, the way of the writer is always the same. It just depends on degrees. Right. The self-doubt the, I love what I wrote. Oh, I should have done that. Right. I mean, it’s. Yeah. So I wanted to bring up from what you said, another example. So you said, you know, a lot of writers you know that you help you help them with like that vagueness. Right. And then we’ve talked about like, finding your voice and, and the reason the why.

When I was in, when you were starting out author accelerator, I was part of one of your very first, if not your first kind of beta groups when you were putting it together. And I remember I had two different books. One was a very cheeky kind of business book. That basically was, you know about leadership. Let’s just, let’s just kindly put it that way. And then the second book was about how I ended up with my house, which I called blueberry hill cottage. And I don’t know if you remember this. I, I was like, I really don’t want to write, you know, another memoir kind of thing. Not now I want to write this other thing. You took us all through the exercises, and that became, you know, part of your blueprint that you have now in author accelerator and in this book. And I remember there came a point where, as I talked about it, and as you kept digging into the why, I remember you just almost like exploding and saying “Paolina that’s, that’s the story of your house – it’s about finding you.”

And, and when we came to like the title of blueberry hill cottage, finding my way home had so many more meanings to it. Right. But that’s, that’s exactly what you help people do. It’s not superficial. It’s not, you know, okay. What is the market looking for now? Let me just write that, right. Because if you don’t have that heat, if you don’t have that power, it’s going to be flat anyway. Right.

 

Jennie:

I remember actually that time, even though it was a while ago, I remember very well with you because you came in and then many people do this, or a subset, I should say with like, I’ve six books I want to write and, you know, and, and I want to write them all now, and I want them to have them all done yesterday. And you know, that sort of impatient you know, so many projects, and what’s great that we’re talking here today and you’ve done them like really different projects that you’ve brought into the world and all these really different genres. Like, it’s so cool to have watched you do that, because back then it was just sort of like, wow, there’s all this noise. And I think I want to write all these things, but I don’t know what I want to say. Right. And like, the pain of that is, is real for a writer where, you know, you’re called to it or, you know, there’s that this is something you should do. And, and I, so what’s interesting about your story was the leadership book that was like a really safe choice for you because that was your work. And that was what you do in your career and was very kind of tangential to that or touching closely upon on it. And the other book was often left field. Like, what does that have to do with anything that is not. So when we talk about your, why, why do you care? Why does it matter to you? And claiming that that was what you did was to say, I’m not going to do this safe thing. I’m going to do this thing. That’s really speaking to me. And then the question was like, well, why is it speaking to you?

Right now, I’ve been working really hard on a book that I want to write about my very long experience with migraine. And I cannot figure out what I want to say. There’s so many different ways that I could approach it. There’s things I know I do not want to do and do not want to say, I keep, I keep buying books that are similar-ish to something I think I want to do. And then I, you know, in totally different topics and I’m like, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope. Like I cannot find my way to the why of this book. And I’ve been trying various times to write this book for 20 years. It like, it rises and falls in terms of my interest. And my mother died about four months ago and that really kind of made this topic rise up in me for a lot of different reasons. But I can’t, I can’t figure it out. I can’t get to what I want it to be. And the reason I say it’s painful is because I could write a book, I could kick a book out in six weeks. It would be, you know, for me, it would be very easy to do. I can put words on the page, but in terms of like, what is this and who is it for? And who’s going to care and why do I care? And what am I trying to say? And how does it fit? And where is the positioning? And those are the questions that if I don’t answer, I’m going to just write something flat and an ineffectual. And that’s what you were going to do with that leadership book at that time. Right. And you were like, why waste your time? So we talked before about stopping before you write, if you don’t, these are the questions. If you don’t know the answer to these questions, don’t start writing because you’re not, I have found it is a very rare person who can write their way to the answer. You can do it, I’ve done it. It’s just incredibly inefficient.

 

Paolina:

Right. So those two books, both the leadership book and the blueberry hill cottage finding my way home book they have not been done yet. And I say that because four other books have been done. And when it comes to you and your migraine book, I, I always think to myself books just like babies, they get to choose. I mean, if you believe this, you know, souls, et cetera, they get to choose when they want to come out. I mean, they really do. And I have known because I also kind of work with people who want to write their stories. And one of the number one things that I get is not just, you know, I have all these books and et cetera, right. That I want to write, which I totally get, but you, you need to pick a horse and ride it right. At some point. Right. But but I also get this whole thing about, like, I will ask the question. Okay. So what’s it about? And I, I use a lot of I had been in screenwriting for a very long time. And so I will use kind of that whole concept of the one sentence logline, which I know you also have that. And, and I always get the, well, it’s about a lot of things. Right. Which I do myself, right. Like, oh, my book is especially the more personal it is. So you have something that you, you put things in terms that even someone like me can understand. And so where everybody’s kind of talking about the theme and like all this stuff you literally are like, well, what’s the point, right? That’s your, you know, what’s, what’s the point. And can you speak to how your program helps someone when they say, oh, it’s about a lot of things, like find like distill it to, what is the point? Some of those like little steps, or even just like a, here’s the first thing to do or the second thing to do.

 

Jennie:

Yeah. Yeah. So the, the what’s, what’s your point is for a novel, it’s not a question that we typically ask. We typically ask, what’s the plot, what what’s going to happen in this book, you know, and what’s it about, oh, it’s about this person and they you know, whatever their story is. And then they’re just giving us the shape of that, the, the story, the plot level of it. And I want to know, well, what point is this novel going to make? What am I going to walk away feeling or believing our knowing about the world? You know, what if, if you, so this is a question I love to ask writers. Pretend that your book is out in the world and you are going to be on, you know, pick your venue Oprah, super soul Sunday, or the today show, or, you know, whatever the thing is, what are you talking about? So that’s, that’s kind of what the point is to, you’re not talking about, well, there’s this surfer and they fall in love with this girl. You know, you’re not talking about the plot. If you’re on stage, you’re talking about what it’s about, what, what this novel is trying to make you feel or believe, or experience. And knowing that. So people sometimes get frustrated with me and they’re like, I can’t possibly know that before I start to write and I write to find out, and that is totally true. That is what we do. But the way I describe it, as you imagine a bullseye, you got to at least know what the, what the target is. You might not be able to hit the center bullseye, but what’s the general idea that you’re trying to convey here in telling us the story. What, again, what do you want us to, to feel, or to take away?

And this is really true. It doesn’t matter what, what the genre is or what the story is. You know, you’ve got to know the writer has to know, or you’re not going to take the reader on not going to take them anywhere. So when we talk about flat or ineffectual, it’s, that’s what I mean, it’s just sort of sits there and doesn’t transport, you know, the, the reader. And we don’t want that.

 

Paolina:

Yes. Yes. Agree, agree. And something else too, that you talked about, you know, where you want to take the reader. Right. And one of the things that is and has been a struggle for me in writing. It’s also been a struggle for me, for the people that I coach in the resilient and empowerment kind of coaching is really this concept of time. And the reason I bring it up is because, you know, you’re, you’re writing a book, you are wanting to take people from one point to another, right. Hopefully madness to magic or trials to triumph, whatever you want to call it. Right. But we ourselves get so stuck in, in where we are in time, the judgment that comes with it. So you’re writing a book because you went through something, right. And, and your, why is, is this passionate kind of concept and you want to take them there, but when you are in the process of writing it, you’re sitting here while you learned a whole bunch of new stuff. Right. And you evolved, and maybe you’re writing about things and suddenly you are judging yourself. Suddenly you’re like, oh man, I should have done that differently. Can you speak a bit to how that kind of is taught in your classes regarding self-doubt judgment, the time kind of issue.

 

Jennie:

Yeah. So this is, what’s so weird about a book as an object in the world. It takes a pretty long time to write a book and to bring a book out into the world. And, and it lives in the world. The way we think of it is that it lives in the world forever. So that’s why a lot of people get nervous or they fall into perfectionism and they never finish. Or they’re worried about sending it out to a contest or an agent or whatever. Cause they’re worried about being judged. Those are all very real things. But a book like if we compare it to a work of art that happens in a moment in time. So I’m thinking about a dance that happens on a stage or a musical performance. That’s, it’s happens in that moment. And you’re either there watching or experiencing listening to it or you’re not, and maybe there’s a recording, but it’s not the same thing. Right. It’s I was there. I was there in that moment when that performance happened. It’s, it’s a moment in time and a book is not dissimilar from that at all. So it, a book also is a moment in time. You know, I wrote a book about getting married when I was 25 years old. And like, I was just a baby. And I look at that book now in a actually makes my blood curdle. It’s so horrible. And my oldest daughter recently got married and she’s like, oh, I think I’m going to read that book of yours. And I was like, oh, this is terrible. But I had a reframing experience around that book. And I thought, well, I wrote that book at a moment in time. Yes. It took me many months and you know, it took a year for it to become a book and all those things, but it was a moment in time and it was the first stepping stone to my becoming who I am as a professional, you know, in my career. So I have a great affinity for that book, even though it makes me cringe. Right. And, and so I think that idea of realizing, you know, balancing the reality that a book is going to live forever. It could sit on the shelf forever. Somebody could pick it up when you’re dead and gone, and this is what they’re going to think of you or what you thought, or, you know, it’s quite permanent, but at the same time, it’s part of a flow. And, and it’s that moment in time that it represents us what I made at that moment in time. And at this next moment of time, I might make something different. And I think about this a lot because we often hold politicians to this very strict thing, like, well, you said 25 years ago, you would never do X. Right. And you know, it’s like, okay, I dunno, it’s just this thing we’re allowed to get better.

 

Paolina:

No, no. Too often, there there’s this concept that you are, you are not allowed to evolve. Like you, I, you know, we are in this journey of life to learn and to hopefully get better. Right. So it’s, it’s interesting because when you’re talking about books and things, well, I wrote a piece, just a, a piece for the daily news and it was on careers and stuff. And gosh, I don’t even know when it was maybe 10 years ago and the whole piece had to do with leadership and an executive, female getting a seat at the table, how, how you can get what you want right. In a room full of men. I mean, let me just say it right. And I wrote the piece with the way at that time, things were and male executives versus female executives. How, how, how people who were male were given more latitude too, you know, pound their fist. And they were, you know, on the table and they were very you know, strong and forceful. And yet you may have done the same thing and you’re emotional and you know what I mean, all that kind of stuff. Well, that piece was written with my work arounds to get what you want without offending anybody, but the way you are. And people, for some reason, started finding it now and contacting me in almost a bit of a shame on you that you would even think you have to work around a male. And again, that was, that was my experience at that time. That was the way things were, right. We’re talking like a decade ago. So I, I totally hear you. And, again, this, this not only plays into writing pieces, but it plays into your, your own journey, your own mental health, your self-care. I love the quote from Maya Angelou that says, you know, we did what we knew how to do then now we know better. So we do better. Right. I mean, it’s pretty simple concept, but anyway, okay.

 

So we just have a couple more questions if that’s okay with you, so align that you had in your book and your book is split into three parts. Right. and this came from the part that was about up, it was the third part. And I apologize, cause I did not write down what it was. Oh, I have no idea. You can tell me anything. Good. Okay. I’ll just make something up. And you said Paolina Milana is the greatest person. No, I’m just kidding. So here was the line you said in the third part of your book, “we read stories to watch someone else make meaning of the things that happened to them”. Right. And I, that that’s so hits home for me because one, I mean, obviously every one of my books, regardless of genre, you know, there’s the, the picture book for adults. There’s the Christmas book, right? There’s the memoirs, every single genre it’s pieces of me. It’s right. It’s, it’s the things that I am going through and giving them meaning from the inside out. Exactly. So can you talk to us a little bit about this line that you said and kind of like the writer therapy perspective?

 

Jennie:

Yeah. So what, what I mean by that? The difference something that is not, that would be, if you writing in a journal, you’re trying to sort things out for your own self and you’re trying to understand the way you think and the way your mind works. And, you know, there’s a purpose to that journal that is, that is powerful and an effective for you as a person. But if you just give that journal to somebody else, if it’s not gonna resonate most of the time, right? It there’s, there’s whole pieces that are missing or context that’s, that’s missing. When we read a really well-crafted memoir or novel, what that’s, what we’re looking for is somebody. We want to see them making meaning of their lives, but in a way that we can experience a way that lets us in that, that we can we can be in their skin, are seeing through their eyes. And if that meaning making isn’t happening, we’re not gonna keep reading. You know, there’s no reason to, to keep, to keep reading that story. And this is actually, I’m experiencing this right now as a, a reader. My daughter we, we, this summer read a lot of what I would call through the light hearted books, kind of rom-com type of books. And we would pass them back and forth to each other, oh, you should read this or read that. And they, you know, it’s just a great thing to do in the summer at the end of the pandemic, this sort of light reading. And she recommended this book to me and I’m blanking on both the name. But it was it’s a book about a romance. No, I’ve a murder mystery writer who accidentally starts killing people for real.

So it’s this super sort of bizzare thing that’s sort of silly, silly set up. And, and so I’m reading this, this book that my daughter said, oh, it’s so clever. It’s so fun. It’s so great. It’s so meta. Right? It’s it’s like, she’s going from pretending to do this stuff to actually doing this up. And I just am not feeling it. Like, I just am not getting it. And I am reading this and it, this is probably saying a lot about my own self it’s. I find it scary. I, I don’t like to read horror and I don’t like thrillers or suspense because I get so freaked out and I’m finding myself freaked out by this. And I said something to my daughter and she’s like, what are you talking about? It’s just silly. It’s like just the silly. And that’s like, I, I don’t, I’m not getting that vibe from it. Like, it feels too real to me, it feels, I don’t like the meaning making. In other words, I don’t know why I’m reading this. I don’t know. It feels like it’s just a scenario and the scenario is scary to me. You know, like I was I slept super badly last night cause I was up late reading, you know, they’re burying his body and they were doing anything in this, doing it in this way. That was sort of light. Like we’re supposed to not really think this is weird or bad. And I was like, this is terrible. And like, so it’s the I’m missing. The why should I care? Why should I care about this even silly situation? It’s not holding together for me. So I’m probably not going to keep reading this book. And that’s what we don’t want writers is for. I mean, of course are going to be some people who don’t get what you’re doing, but we, we, we read to watch meaning being made. So even in this scenario, there could be a lot of meaning maiden that right. There could be a lot to say about the stories we make up in our heads impact us just as much as the things we do in real life. I just made that up. Like that would be great. Right. And, but that’s not what this, what this story is. So it, I find myself lost and I, and I don’t care. So even in doesn’t have to be Viktor Frankl kind of making meaning out of things. I mean, it could be, but you know, even something light needs to have that, you know, why am I watching you wrestle with this? What am I going to what am I going to watch you learn or come to that? That’s what we want to know.

 

Paolina:

Absolutely. Yeah. And I wonder, you know, a couple of thoughts on that. Is it just maybe that well, not even maybe you, you made, well, I’m, I’m going to keep saying maybe you maybe not the, the target audience for that book. Right? I mean, obviously something, something clicked with your daughter, right? So, so it is, you know, I, and I want to make sure I put this out there because for goodness sakes, if you’re gonna write anything, if you’re actually going to do anything in life, not just writing, but like breathe, right. You’re going to have people who love you. And you’re going to have the social trolls, especially right. Who say same things. The best line that anybody ever said to me in my life, hands down was the only taste you have is in your mouth. Now I could get pretty ticked off with that, but I thought it was such a gorgeous line. It’s going to end up somewhere in one of my books one day. It is because the truth is, everybody has an opinion. Everybody has, especially today, right? Everybody has an opinion. And what really matters is one that you do find your voice and you tell your story the way you want to tell it, right. In, in, in a smart way by using like your program. Right. But, but I, I think too, when, when we write or when we actually have something, even to say, it’s super important that we realize it will hit home with the right audience and that right.

 

I saw this of all things on social media. Here we go again. But I saw something about a man who was giving a gift to his daughter on graduation. And it was a car. And I don’t know if you saw this, but he kinda fails the garage and the car looks like it’s been through hell and back and, and back in hell and back like six times, right. This terrible. And, and you’re thinking to yourself, what the heck? And, and the daughter says, what am I supposed to do? And he goes, I want you to go to three different places to get a quote, because whatever someone will pay you for that car is what I will give you. And so she’s like, what? I don’t understand. So she first went to, I don’t know, some, some junk yard kind of thing. And they were like, well, we’ll give you a 50 bucks. Right. And so then she went to I think some dealership or something. And they said at most, we’d give you a thousand dollars, whatever. And then the father had her go to a collectors show and they offered her something like, I don’t know, $300,000. And the father was trying to make the point that you stick with those who know the value of what you have and who you are. Right. And your story. So, so anyway, I told you, I go on tangent.

 

Jennie:

I love it. That’s a great story. Great story.

 

Paolina:

I thought so too. I think about it. Anytime time someone says something to me about, I mean, and we talked, my last book committed, a memoir of madness in the family, so many people actually wrote letters and emails. And I, I, they, they meant the world to me. And then some social trolls. Again, you get the, you know, your family should be at DCFS, you know, all that kind of stuff. So anyway one last question and then we will wrap up, but because we’re coming up on the hour if you were to choose, you know, two, three things takeaways for our listening audience, what would it be?

 

Jennie:

I feel like we didn’t talk about what we were supposed to talk about at all.

 

Paolina:

No, I’m sorry.

 

Jennie:

Are your listeners who were coming for lessons and learnings and understandings of mental health? Like why don’t we talk about books all the time? I feel like I should bring it around. We should bring it around and stuff to take away. I, I would, I would put together one takeaway would be if you were telling the story of your own life to your own self, and that’s about mental health and understanding your own mind and your own brain and your own experience lived experience in the world. If that’s the story you’re telling, knowing, you know, raising your voice and claiming your power and all of that is just the same as what we’ve been talking about. I think the process can actually be just the same of being brave and, and going from vague to clear and knowing why you want to be authentically yourself in the world. All of those things really are the same. So I think a takeaway for folks listening, who are not interested in being a writer, that this process is, is very much the same. Cause we’re creating our own, our own lives, our own stories all the time. And then I would say for, for writers, it would be the point that you made so well, which is stop and ask some hard questions before you just write. And that’s gonna save you a lot super easy, but how many people don’t do it right. Most right. Yeah.

 

And I can send people to my website, which is Jenny nash.com backslash blueprint. And there are some resources there. There’s a download of the insight outline, which is the tool at the heart of the blueprint that folks can download. And some questions to ask yourself about, about the story there and some things around the book, so they can check that. Absolutely. And we will, I will drop that on the on the podcast page for everyone. But this has been awesome. Jenny, I have loved talking with you, and when you say, oh my gosh, we haven’t talked about like the mental health stuff. I think you, you wrapped it up quite nicely. I will also say that the program that I do when it comes to the empowerment and resilience, I actually use storytelling elements to actually help people kind of work the way through it. So to me it just totally aligns.

Any final words? Any, any, anything?

Jennie:

Oh, just thank you for having me. And just from a personal perspective, it’s, it’s been so fun to watch you on your journey of becoming the writer. I always knew you were going to be, so that’s been a thrill for me.

Paolina:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And you I’m totally like I knew her when I’m now and now I’m just lucky that she’s still taking my call. How’s that?

 

Jennie:

I shall always take your call.

Paolina:

All right. Well, thank you. Thank you.

And thank you listeners. Until we meet again. September one. That’s when your book comes out, right? Yes. Honestly, whether you are a writer or whether you really just kind of want to hone in on writing therapy, kind of elements. Get this book.

 

All right, everyone. Thank you so much. We will talk on the next episode. Bye-Bye bye.

 

Leave a Comment