13: Getting to the "Third Layer Why" of Your Book
Identifying your motivation for writing a book is about far more than simply saying, "I want to write a book about my experience learning how to nurture an organic garden" (for example).
One thing I've discovered over the past nearly 2 decades is that stopping at that layer of clarity is what keeps many authors in a state of stagnancy once they've started writing and lost a bit of their initial momentum.
Which is why it's important to take the time to peel back the layers of your why until you get to the third layer, revealing what I refer to as your Third Layer Why.
What are the 3 layers?
Your first layer why is often your knee-jerk reaction or response when asked, "Why do you want to write this book?"
For example, I'm working on my 6th book right now, which is about how to write non-fiction and memoir. That's a surface-level summary that barely touches the surface of why I actually want to write this book now.
Taking the organic gardening book as an example, the author might say, "I want to teach people how to grow an organic garden, even if they think they couldn't have a green thumb if they were paid to." Intriguing, but also surface level.
Your second layer touches a bit more intimately what's new or different about your book, compared to others already available on the subject. For my own book, my second layer is, "I want to speak to both the tactical and the energetic aspects of writing non-fiction and memoir, which I don't believe many have done.
In many cases, the tactical how-to process alone isn't enough to get someone's book out of them, onto paper, and out into the world. I believe I know why, and that's something I'd like to address.
For the gardening book, the author might say, "I want to teach people how to start and sustain a thriving organic garden and also how they can incorporate aspects of gardening into their life to reduce stress and increase longevity."
You're taking your WHY a layer deeper in order to speak not just to what YOU want to say and to what your reader wants to learn on the surface but to an emotional level that will resonate with your reader.
The third layer addresses an underlying belief you have related to your topic. When it comes to writing non-fiction and memoir, I believe that there are so many magical stories, perspectives, and insights that aren't being told because people are caught up in both the "I don't know how to do this" AND the "I'm scared it's going to suck and no one is going to read it."
This borderline haunts me because I've read so many amazing books in my life that provided me with a shift in perspective or approach that truly changed the trajectory of my life. If that author had been too afraid to share his or her viewpoint, I never would have received the gift of their experience.
I deeply believe that all of us are connected by our sameness---even when we have no idea that that sameness exists (until we read it in a line that takes our breath away because it's so true).
With the gardening example, the author might say, "I deeply believe that organic gardening heals the soul and the planet. I believe that everyone has the ability to thrive through the art of building and sustaining a thriving garden. Not only are people unaware of how simple it is to create such a garden but they are being robbed of the benefits of doing so---benefits they don't even know about!"
When you are able to identify and come back to that Third Layer Why each time you start feeling stuck, doubtful, or outright terrified, it reminds you of your SOUL'S desire when it comes to sharing yourself through a book. And it's pretty hard to ignore or talk yourself out of!
I encourage you to take some time to identify your Third Layer Why. If you'd like more support with this, it's a topic we dive much more deeply into in our monthly Book Writing Made Simple coaching sessions.
Book Writing Made Simple helps you write powerful, thought-provoking memoir or non-fiction that readers can't put down so you can start a new business, expand your current business, or simply share your story.