Having enjoyed witnessing and supporting Yoga Instructor and Mindfulness Guru Cara Bradley in writing her self help book proposal and helping her shape her book, On the Verge, I am excited to introduce her here at “How to Write a Book” and to share how she integrates yoga and mindfulness into her writing.
Lisa: What were your goals in writing your book, On The Verge?
Cara: My goal in writing On The Verge was to offer readers the possibility that when they show up in this moment, open to whatever is happening, they will experience a sense of clarity and vitality, a natural aliveness, already available in every moment.
Lisa: I certainly got that out of reading On the Verge and the mindfulness practices have helped me be more present. What do you hope your readers will get out of it?
Cara: I hope, with practice, readers will trust there is no better version of themselves waiting out there and they already have everything they need to shine in their lives.
Lisa: Beautiful! Everyone needs to hear that, but I think it’s an especially apt lesson for writers, who often feel self-doubt when writing a book, or they second guess themselves. Whom did you envision as your core readers as you were writing the book?
Cara: I envision my book will appeal to curious seekers, those questioning the value of the constant over-thinking and over-doing, those wondering if there is more to life than going to work and planning the next vacation.
Lisa: So not just yoga or mindfulness practitioners—your audience is much broader than that. I’d like to point that out to our readers, because sometimes we can get a bit caught up in thinking that our readers are just the people we work with. I encourage readers who are writing a book to think in broader terms, but still a niche market—such as the “seekers” you mentioned. I notice that all the blurbs on the front and back covers (but not the inner cover) are by men. Did you decide to focus the book more towards men than women?
Cara: I didn’t plan to have endorsements from only men on the front and back covers. I was, however intentional about getting reviews from a wide variety of teachers, authors, business people, politicians, and coaches.
Lisa: How did decisions about market come about and when?
Cara: I knew early in the book proposal writing process that I did not want my book to appeal to only the yoga and mediation markets. My intention is to speak in common sense language so that I’d attract a larger audience of people searching for how to feel better and experience life more fully.
Lisa: How did your thinking about the book or the book concept change over time?
Cara: On the Verge started out as a how to guide to creating and committing to daily practices. I quickly realized it was a boring topic and decided to focus on the outcome or “prize” of having consistent daily practices and that is the experience of being awake and fully alive.
Lisa: I remember us doing some work with your inner muse to access that clarity! The idea of consistent daily practice is certainly key to mindfullness and yoga, or any practice, and it’s probably the biggest reason writers will give for their successes—they take their book writing practice seriously. How did you employ the tools and techniques you share in On The Verge in writing the book?
Cara: My practices informed my writing and my lack of practice reminded me of how I could not transmit the energy of presence unless I was writing from a state of presence.
Lisa: Ah, that’s a lesson we, as writers, often need to be reminded of. What is your writing ritual, if you have one?
Cara: I’ve always been a morning writer. When I was in the thick of writing my manuscript I woke at 4:00 am and wrote until about 9:00 am when I usually had a meeting or was scheduled to teach a class. I took a month off of teaching to complete my manuscript in time. Sometimes I’d walk in the park by my home and dictate a chapter into my iphone transcriber.
When you were meditating, doing yoga or practicing mindfulness, did ideas for the book just pop into your mind, even when you weren’t focusing on it?
Cara: This happened all of the time. During a meditation or yoga practice I would sense a “download,” an insight or direction to support my writing. Often, this would happen in the shower or during a walk in the park.
Lisa: You know you’re in the zone when that happens. What were some of the surprises in writing a book and/or a book proposal?
Cara: I was surprised at how much the direction for the book changed over the course of writing the proposal and the manuscript. While the overall direction has remained the same, the chapter titles and content has shifted dramatically. It was an amazing process to experience. It’s as if the book wrote me.
Lisa: It’s always magical when that happens. What are some of your plans for reaching readers and promoting On the Verge?
Cara: In addition to the free app that supports the content of my book, my plan is to offer content through emails, social media, video, podcasts, and articles. People who do not know my work will need to see my name or book cover at least three times before they decide to buy it.
Lisa: What were some of the magical steps on the journey?
Cara: The first agent who read my book proposal, Rita Rosenkranz—the agent you introduced me to—eventually became my agent. She finally agreed to represent me after an intense eight months working with you to sharpen my message and build my author’s platform. After receiving a copy of my book, my agent left a voice mail telling me what a privilege it’s been to work with me and how proud she is to be associated with my project. That voicemail was priceless.
Lisa: I’m smiling at hearing that. Rita was the first literary agent I ever met and she was incredibly helpful in leading me to the resources that informed my early career as an author and then a book coach. What roles did various people play in your journey?
Cara: After giving the book proposal process a go on my own I hired you as my book proposal coach—and you set the bar high. You knew I wanted to “go for it” and didn’t let me settle for a mediocre book proposal. After signing with my agent and selling my book to New World Library I worked with a freelance editor, Kelly Malone—another resource you introduced me to. Kelly gave my manuscript a “once over.” Now, during the launch phase I am supported by another editor who helps me churn out blogs and articles, a social media expert who helps me engage on line and a book launch expert who gives me countless ideas of how to continue to promote my book.
Cara: Have a team on your side is necessary. Don’t do it alone. Find people to help you and keep your sense of humor along the way.
Lisa: Can you close our interview with a mindfulness exercise to help writers get into a mindset conducive to creativity and writing in a state of flow?
Primer Practice #1: Stop. Take Five. Experience
- Set your timer for 2 minutes. Close your eyes.
- Pay attention to your breathing by counting five full breaths. It helps to think, “Inhale, exhale one. Inhale, exhale two,” and so on. Listening to the sound of your breath will almost immediately relax you and begin to settle your busy mind.
- After five breaths, open your eyes and sit quietly.
- Now, with your mind calm and body still, slowly look around and actively notice your surroundings. What do you see, smell, hear, taste, or touch? Can you notice the space in between thinking. Rest in the moment until you feel called to move.
Cara Bradley, author of On The Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine (New World Library) is a yoga teacher, mental strength coach, entrepreneur, and former pro-skater having devoted more than three decades to helping others experience more clarity and vitality in their every day lives. She is the founder of award-winning Verge Yoga Center and co-founder of a non-profit, Mindfulness Through Movement, providing programs to schools in Philadelphia. Cara also speaks to corporations, universities, trains college sports teams and contributes to The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, and Mindful Magazine. For more info visit www.carabradley.net