Reilly: Bryna, how did you come up with the idea to write The Art of Inspiration?
Bryna: I’m an editor by trade, as well as a writer. This book was a way for me to systemize the knowledge and techniques I have developed to use with my writing clients.
When I first conceived the idea, I spent some time researching, and realized that there are very few how-to books which focus specifically on writing for the self-help and inspirational markets. More, there are virtually no how-to books which also address the potential emotional and spiritual hurdles which can emerge for those writing in this field. I wanted to create a guide that would help writers through every step of their creation processes, from the concrete to the ethereal.
Reilly: What is your hope or dream for The Art of Inspiration long-term?
Bryna: I hope that the book will provide a timeless guide for authors of world-changing inspirational books, and encourage those who harbor fears about the book creation process to jump in with both feet. I also intend that the book will be a gateway to greater opportunities for me as a teacher and presenter, and enable me to share my knowledge with a broader audience of authors.
Reilly: In writing The Art of Inspiration did you find yourself using the tips (education) you are giving to writers within your book to help you? Can you give an example?
Bryna: Absolutely. It wouldn’t make much sense for me to outline a process that my own book didn’t reflect! As I wrote my first, second, and third drafts, I consciously committed to following my own process to the letter, both to test the veracity of the process and to give readers a sense of how my methods can potentially play out across the scope of a book.
Reilly: In the start of The Art of Inspiration you refer to yourself as not your “typical editor” can you explain that idea in more detail? How would you say that has helped your book have its own ‘special’ take to guiding inspirational writing?
Bryna: I think that I’m fairly unique among my peers in that the scope of the teaching and services I provide go far beyond form, flow, and grammar. My experience as a yoga instructor, philosophy teacher, musician, and photographer give me additional perspective on creative processes and how people relate to them. Also, my “internal” work has taught me to look deeper than the mechanics of my clients’ writing and see the core issues that are either helping or hindering their creative expression.
Reilly: Mediation and yoga seem to have been a big help to you in your writing. What are a few ways in which they helped you with writing The Art of Inspiration?
Bryna: The practices of yoga and meditation have taught me one of the hardest lessons of my creative life: the art of letting go. When I finally learned to detach from the outcome of my work (and others’ opinions of it) and create for the sake of the process, everything about my life and work started to feel more easeful.
Also, these practices have taught me to look beyond the surface. When a writer’s process isn’t working, it’s often because they’re stuck spiritually or emotionally, and sometimes not in an obvious way. I offer many tools for self-reflection in the book, most of which originate in the practices of yoga and meditation and have been adapted specifically for writers.
Reilly: In your book you talk about the “expert myth” and use the quote “if you have lived it, you can teach it”; so would you say that your book is based on your own personal experiences in writing? If yes can share an example?
Bryna: The book is based both on my experience as a writer and my work as an editor. If I wasn’t a writer, I don’t think I would be a very good editor, because I wouldn’t have an intimate understanding of the process. The reverse is also true: I am a better writer because I’ve learned how to think like an editor. I have lived the process in the book from both sides.
The first example of “living my lessons” that comes to mind is my use of what I call my All Purpose Power Question.” When I started asking the question, “What would it look like if …” about my writing, instead of getting all worked up whenever someone made a suggestion, I was able to see possibilities. My entire approach changed. I no longer needed to be “right”; I only needed to be curious.
Now, I can teach people to let go of their attachment to their writing because I have been empowered, through experience and repeated practice, to let go of my own attachments.
Reilly: When setting up the chapters what were your main thoughts for the layout in how the information would flow?
Bryna: My main goal when designing chapter flow was to ensure that readers have the tools they need to fully understand, and feel confident about executing, each action step in the book creation process. In my mind, understanding why is at least as important as understanding what and how. Since every stage of the process builds on the ones before, beginning with the core idea of the book and working outward and upward, it was very important to me that readers understand the whys of the creation process from the very first page, as well as the specific actions to take.
In practice, this meant that every chapter, section, and page needed to progress in a linear, logical fashion, but also in a way that honored the inherent “creative chaos” of the writing process itself. It also meant including a lot of explanation in each section; in my experience, when someone understands how an action can affect other parts of their process, they are less likely to skip or skim it (and potentially weaken their book).
Finally, I wanted to make each action step, both large (e.g., the first draft) and small, feel digestible and easy to accomplish. Many writers abandon their books due to nothing more than the sheer enormity of the process. I wanted to remove, as much as possible, that feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to begin; a solid, logical structure within my own book – one in which readers could see the process of information delivery in action – was one of the ways I could do that.
Reilly: What are the main messages you want someone to take from reading The Art of Inspiration?
Bryna: This book is intended to make the process of writing a book accessible and surmountable, even for those who have little to no prior writing experience. I passionately believe that anyone – regardless of experience, education, or background – can write if they want to. Some might have a greater learning curve than others in terms of the skill sets required (like sentence construction, grammar, punctuation, etc.), but that doesn’t mean that they can’t write powerfully, effectively, and persuasively. They just need someone to say, “I believe in you. You can do this”―and then hold their hands as they walk the path.
Reilly: In the book you talk about having an “ideal reader” for the book, please describe the ideal reader you are trying to reach with The Art of Inspiration?
Bryna: My ideal reader is someone who has a deep desire to write a world-changing book, but is either overwhelmed by the details of the process or lacking the confidence to get started.
I feel like the energy of the book is evenly balanced between masculine (action) and feminine (receiving and reflection). Therefore, the book isn’t focused on a specific audience in terms of gender, or even age group, but rather is designed to serve a motivated and curious person who is facing certain problems and fears around the writing process.
Reilly: You say in your purpose statement, “My purpose in writing this book is to codify the knowledge I’ve gained in over a decade as an editor, and empower writers of all experience levels to create powerful inspirational/self-help books which deliver their positive messages to a global audience.”
Was there a lot of change to your statement throughout your writing process or was it spot-on from the start?
Bryna: The purpose and audience of the book was obvious to me from the start, so there was very little change to my Purpose Statement during the writing process. If anything, I found that my definition of “empowerment” (in the context of the Purpose Statement) shifted as I wrote; at first, I intended to empower readers through information alone, but I soon remembered that every tool can be applied more effectively when we understand our internal motivations for using it.
Reilly: A lot of The Art of Inspiration is about all different processes within the journey of writing a book, how long did this book take you to plan out? If you could rewrite or add more to the book what do you think you would add?
Bryna: I conceived the idea for the book and created a rough outline in the fall of 2015, but didn’t start writing until March of 2016, three months before the book was released. The writing process went very quickly because I am so close to the information in my day-to-day work. It was really a question of getting into a quiet space and letting all the systems in my brain pour out onto the page. While I was writing, I interviewed clients and colleagues [including book writing and pubishing coach Lisa Tener] to better understand their writing practices, processes, and perspectives; I wanted these items, in particular, to speak to a wide range of authors. Much of the information in the book about overcoming “stuck places” is based on that feedback.
As for revisions … At this point, I feel like I am still too close to the work to determine if I missed anything, or would change anything. However, knowing myself as I do, I can pretty much guarantee that there will be a second edition released in a year or two.
Reilly: You mentor many writers now. Are there specific people who were mentors to you when you were getting started? Who are they and what were their contributions to your career?
Bryna: When I first started out as a freelancer, I had no experience, no resume, not even a sample article to hand out. But I found people who believed in me and were willing to take a chance on my work. Their support allowed me to complete those first few crucial projects – after which it was my work itself, not my experience level, which attracted new clients.
Award-winning book coach Lisa Tener was one of my first mentors and champions. I had completed exactly one project when she and I met―a short-form book on green cleaning with a client who was a home organizer―and I put it into her hands. Within a few weeks, she was sending me clients for ghostwriting and editing. It felt like a miracle, to be honest! I worked really hard to ensure that my work was worthy of the trust she placed in me during those first few critical months.
In 2010, Lisa introduced me to Linda Joy, founder of Aspire Magazine, who hired me as the editor for her new venture, a print anthology series. Like Lisa, Linda placed an enormous amount of faith in me, and I was buoyed by her trust and confidence. Today, I’m the chief editor for Linda’s rapidly-growing publishing house, Inspired Living Publishing, and have worked with over 180 authors on her international best-selling collaborative book projects.
Reilly: Now that you have published The Art of Inspiration, and you can look back at the journey it took, was there ever a time when you got stuck and thought about giving up? If there was what helped you out of the rut and back into writing the book?
Bryna: As I said, this book was easy for me in many ways, because it’s based in the work I do every day. However, on other projects, I’ve definitely encountered a point (or several) when I felt like giving up. What always saves me is a commitment to my daily writing practice. If I can just get myself to my desk, open the file, and start typing―even if what I’m writing is not up to my standards―I will eventually find the spark that gets me back into the creative flow. It’s actually rather ironic: it’s only when I don’t write that my writing truly suffers!
Reilly: How are you promoting The Art of Inspiration?
Bryna: The book landed on seven Amazon best-seller lists on launch day, which kind of blew my mind! My publisher, Linda Joy, really put the word out, and I had a wonderful and supportive network of launch partners and friends who helped me generate the necessary buzz.
Reilly: You published with Inspired Living Publishing. How did you make that decision and what are some of the benefits?
Bryna: Since I’m the chief editor for the publishing house, it was a natural choice. However, beyond that, I chose ILP because Linda Joy’s platform is firmly focused on the support and empowerment of visionary women, of which I am one. Additionally, her audience is made up in large part of my ideal readers. Her tribe is full of entrepreneurs, healers, thought leaders, and spiritual missionaries who are committed to making the world a better place―and what better way for these trailblazers to share their philosophies, ideas, and intentions than to write their own books?
Bryna Rene Haynes is president and founder of The Heart of Writing, the editor for Inspired Living Publishing, and the best-selling author of The Art of Inspiration: An Editor’s Guide to Writing Powerful, Effective Inspirational and Personal Development Books. My mission is to empower writers to move through their perceived limitations, harness the power of their authentic voice and message, and create world-changing written works. Buy her book here.