Last spring I attended a weekend writing workshop run by Wayne Dyer and his publisher at Hay House, Reid Tracy. Five hundred budding writers were eager to hear any words of wisdom about getting their books out there. We completed writing exercises and listened to presentations about creativity, the changing world of publishing, and the all-important ‘platform’. It was an information treasure trove.
I was especially intrigued by Wayne Dyer’s description of his writing process. After a dozen published books, his system is well defined. The first step he takes after an idea for a book has taken root is a call to the graphic designer at Hay House who creates his book covers. He tosses out a title and subtitle for her and briefly describes the topic. Then he waits for the FedEx package to arrive: a mockup, glossy jacket for his as-of-yet unwritten book. He wraps it around the nearest hardcover volume and props it up where he can see it while he writes.
I thought this was a brilliant idea. It reminded me of that Michelangelo quote about his David already existing in the marble – he only “released” him. I like the notion that all art is only waiting for us to give it form and visibility.
Because I am no Michelangelo, and because I did not yet have a title for my book, I temporarily abandoned the mockup cover task. I told myself that I would revisit it farther down the road when I had more concrete ideas and some imagery to use that suited my story. After all, I don’t have a graphic designer on speed dial.
Looking back at my notes from the conference, I realize now that I missed the point. Wayne Dyer was talking about inspiration, not refinement. Several of his books ended up with completely different titles than that first attempt to name his ideas. He did not do this to finalize anything, but instead to remind himself of an important truth: the book is already a reality. We have to string the words together and present it to the world.
So, five months later, I sat down to take a stab at my own book cover. I photographed one of my paintings and altered it a bit with some cool editing tools. Then I added a title using the Over app on my ipad, including my name at the bottom, in the author spot. Now I know exactly why Wayne Dyer starts here. It’s the perfect prompt.
Carolyn and Leah
Writing exercise: Create your own book cover. At this point it is for your eyes only, so don’t fuss over the title or images, just choose something inspirational. Be sure to include your byline.