Interview with Marilyn Pierce [Writer’s Fuel]

Marilyn Pierce

Marilyn Pierce spent her life on every possible diet but alas continued dragging the physical weight of her body with her year after year. After a long difficult marriage ended, she found herself at a peak of almost 300 pounds. Finally, with the support of friends and family, she began the slow and steady ascent out of the darkness of obesity to the life of health, wellness, working out and finding herself.

Her professional life working in the healthcare field as a Registered Nurse, coupled with her genuine desire to help others, has led her to write a book that supports not only her success but validation of the steps it takes to change the old habits and create new ones. Now Marilyn is best known among her colleagues for her healthy eating habits, her regular work out habits, and her willingness to help others by teaching them what it takes to become healthy and happy. Her reputation for being positive and upbeat matches the results that she is able to continue to show each day, week, month and year. In addition to practicing and improving her healthy habits, Marilyn also enjoys writing poetry and music, playing guitar and singing with friends and family.

This is not another lose weight fast to gain it back again book.  Marilyn wrote this book from the perspective of one who has been there, done it wrong, and then did what it finally took to lose weight while gaining only self-confidence and healthy living. This is the story of a survivor, with a real live positive ending. The methods described are from a remarkable continuous journey from a very low point in her life to a place of happiness and health. With practical ideas and strategies that anyone can use, Marilyn describes the behaviors she learned and perfected to achieve lasting and continued success in healthy living and weight loss.

YVONNE PIERRE:  What inspired you to write “Ground Work before Pound Work?”

MARILYN PIERCE:  I’ve always known that I wanted to write a book.  It has been said that everyone has a book in them, and I knew that I certainly had at least one.  But I did not know how to manifest a book in my hand.  I was clueless, except for the fact that I knew I had stories and I knew that I could write.  One day I was given an opportunity to attend a free conference called Publish a Book and Grow Rich.  It was perfect timing for me and free was right in my budget.  So, I attended a 3-day conference and that started me off in the right direction.

What was interesting about the conference was that they encouraged us to write about something that we were experts at.  It was not a novel, but instead a “Self Help” or “How To” type book that they recommended.  It was during this conference that I decided the goal of my first book, was to learn how to write a book.  I did not have to write my manifesto or my best work first.  I wanted to know what it would take to publish and how to do it, and I wanted to learn from my own experience.  So, I began the physical journey of actually writing a book, a “Self Help” type book that I could write because I had experienced it and I was, if not an expert, at least a step ahead of others.  The journey to write the book began at that conference.  What I would learn about writing a book was far more than I ever even considered or could have imagined….and the journey was one that I was not prepared for.

 

YVONNE:  What challenges did you face writing this book and how did you overcome it? 

MARILYN:  The challenges I faced writing the book were not physical.  I was certainly intelligent enough, and I had the skills needed to physically write the book.  The challenges I faced were within me.  I had to overcome myself in order to write this book.  Let me try to explain.

I chose to write my self-help book about the journey I took to lose 130 pounds and to become healthy and well.  It was a health and wellness journey.  The conference provided me a tool that could be used and it aligned with how I think and organize myself.  I wrote the book in small increments and was able to organize it and create the actual body of the book by writing 15 minutes at a time.  Any time that I had available, I was able to simply pull out the book project and get another little bit of it written.  I did this pretty easily, and the contents of the chapters of the book were done in a short period of time.  I had help to determine the cover of the book and the title of the book.  But after reading and creating what I wrote, I realized that I had written something like a textbook, that it was boring and without character.  I did not like it.  Thus, began the self-doubt and the tearing up and re-doing and the continuous criticism of what I had written.  My challenge was my own self-doubt.

The way that I overcame the self-doubt was by talking to other authors in a Facebook group  (I paid to be a member of) that was created for people doing the same thing I was doing.  I began to see that others were having the same self-doubt issues and could not be satisfied with their final product either.  I fought with myself constantly and criticized all that I did.  I was not able to take criticism from others about what I wrote, therefore, did not show the content to anyone else.  I fretted and worried until I nearly talked myself out of the project.

One suggestion that I received was to add stories to make the book more personal.  I looked at other people’s books and saw an idea that I liked which helped me to get over my barrier of quitting.  I decided to add a quote and a story at the beginning of every chapter.  Each quote and story would be relevant to the topic of the chapter.  Since it was a self-help book, each chapter was laid out as a next step on the journey I took to lose weight and become healthy and well.  Quotes and stories began to come to me, and as I added them, I began to see that the book was more personal and possibly more inviting to read.

The quotes were really fun to find and I enjoyed placing them at the beginning of each chapter.  It allowed me the opportunity to share something profound from really smart and inspirational people whose words had given me energy and ideas to continue the journey.  But there was something missing in the stories.  I knew what it was.  Something personal was missing from the stories.  I loved writing the stories that other people had given me, but I was avoiding my own personal story and I knew it.

I remember the day that I wrote the first story about myself for the first chapter.  It was a revealing story about my life prior to my health and wellness journey and I felt so afraid that I would scare people away.  It was a bold move to put it at the beginning of the book, but I knew that I was hiding from myself and to come out and let it all be known with my own personal story right before the first chapter was a very scary thing to do, but necessary.  I peeked out from behind a curtain of shame to write that first story, and I felt that it finally gave the rest of the book a touch of authenticity.  It made me, the humble author, a real person, and possibly would actually help people who were in the same place.  It was one of the boldest and most frightening things I have ever done in my life and I am still grateful that I did it.  It helped me to overcome the fear of self-doubt and made my self-help book a story about a real person – someone who others could relate to and feel close to.   Everyone knows how to lose weight and eat right and exercise.  We don’t need a book to tell us how to do it.  But now I had written a book about a real, imperfect and flawed person who lost weight and got healthy.  I believed that by revealing my shame and giving insight into my personal journey, I had given hope to others who may have felt the same way and possibly inspired them to try too.

 

YVONNE:  A lot of writers come up with ideas that never come to fruition.  What inspired you to not only write your book but publish it? 

MARILYN:  This is a very delicate question for me to answer.  I felt inspired to write, but I did not do it.  I knew that I wanted to write a book, but I never followed through.  I am older than most of the people I hang around with.  I was getting well into the latter half of my 50’s when I realized that if I depended upon myself, then I would probably, most likely never get a book written nor published.  I mentioned earlier that I attended a conference called Publish A Book and Grow Rich.  I was more worried about publishing the book than anything else.  I began to realize that I needed help.  It was more than lack of knowledge that prevented me from writing and publishing.  I was using this as my main excuse.  What was stopping me from writing and publishing was ME.  I did not have within me the confidence and self-belief it takes to actually continue the process of writing and publishing a book….without absolutely talking myself out of it.  I had started over and over and was left with written words on papers and computer files in folders.   When I would come up against barriers or things that I did not know, I would give up.  More importantly, when I heard what it took to overcome the barriers, or if I looked for help to find answers to what came next, I would absolutely talk myself out of all the solutions and tell myself it was harebrained and ridiculous to believe that I could write a book.  I determined that what I wrote would not be of interest or worth to anyone else.  And I truly believed that I was crazy to think that I could be an author and successfully publish a book.  I walked away very easily and over time, I was very practiced at leaving book projects behind.  I had practiced giving up so many times that it became a habit.  I was doomed to never get it done because I did not believe in myself.  In addition, I had developed a very strong habit of giving up, a habit that I needed to break, and I did not have the means to do it myself.  I needed help.

Inspiration and skill are needed to write and publish.  I had both of these, so I did not need to pay for them.  What I needed to pay for was help with the next steps.  I needed to have someone with knowledge of how to publish who was outside of myself.  I needed someone I could be accountable to.  I kept pondering regret.  Would I die regretting that I did not ever write a book?  I had spent so much of my life thinking about doing it, and still, I had not done it.  I was in the second half of my life already, and I was working against myself.  So finally I decided to seek help.

I paid someone to help me to publish my book.  I had the ideas, the inspiration, the writing skills, the stories, and they had the knowledge that I was missing about HOW to get it done.   But more importantly, they provided me someone – who was outside of myself – that I had to be accountable to.  They showed me the path and the steps to get to an end result of a written and published a book and then pushed me along when I stopped my process.  Even though all I had to do was follow the steps, I balked and reared my stubborn head over and over.   Phrases like, “I can’t” and “You don’t understand” would come from me as I was guided and led to move forward over obstacles that I had come across before and habitually stopped, quit, and turned back.  It was a fight, a struggle, and a real all-out battle sometimes.  My accountability partner was objective and almost robot-like about what the next steps were.  They allowed me to spew and yell and argue and complain, and then went back to the steps to take, for my excuses were not valid.  The battles were within me alone and the fight was only with myself.

 

YVONNE:  Now that your book is published, what have you found to be the most effective way to market your book? 

MARILYN:  Marketing a book is really about marketing yourself and your own brand.  There needs to be an understanding of this process.  It is not an item on a list that is done and over with once it has taken place.  Marketing your book aka, yourself and your brand is a continuous, ongoing process that needs to be done daily.  There are so many ways to get out into the world and be seen, from billboards to social media to websites to interviews in all areas of the media.  Everyone who is an author should also consider themselves to be a speaker.  If you wrote it then you need to be able to speak on it.

I think that there are many methods you can use help and support marketing.  The most effective way to market is the way you feel you can do best.  Everything has to be done, it’s all effective.  So start with what makes you happy, and maybe something you feel confident doing, and then know that everything else is still needing to happen.  There are no limits or best way to market yourself.  You must be aware of the need to market on a daily basis and choose to start and keep on going.  An example would be that you feel comfortable with social media.  So start there with the one that you like best.  But know that you need all of them.  You must be present on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and GoodReads just to start.  Staying up to date and posting regularly is time-consuming like a job.  You also need a website, business cards, and a media kit that you can send out.  This only touches the surface of the ways to be ready when more opportunities are sought in radio, TV, podcasting and other media that may be up and coming.  You must also keep track of everything and post an update and manage it mostly yourself.  You must be your own best marketer of yourself.  But when you decided to delegate any of this, be sure you know how to do it yourself first.  It’s a long learning process.  Get help, but be sure you know yourself better than anyone else and be ready to tell people about your book and more importantly about you.

Just let it be known, I’m still working on all of that.  If I had an emoji for myself at this point, it would be a bashful smiling shrug.

 

YVONNE:  Every writer has their own process.  When you wrote your book, what was your process? 

MARILYN:  My process for writing this self-help book was suggested to me in the free conference I attended.  I broke the book down into chapters and chose the topics I would be covering in each chapter.  Then I listed the topics I would discuss within each of the chapters.  For each of these topics, I wrote notes or questions that I wanted to cover.  With this process of whittling the information down too much smaller pieces, I was able to write the book in 15-minute increments about each of the mini-topics I had determined would be in each chapter.  It was nice because sometimes I did not want to write in the order of the chapters, and I could skip around and find something I was interested in or passionate about that day.  After I got all the little pieces written, I put them together to make the chapters and found quotes and stories for each.

This process, of course, would not work with a novel, but it was really easy for me to do it this way for a self-help or how-to book.

 

YVONNE:  If you could share one lesson you learned about self-publishing (or publishing) what would it be? 

MARILYN:  My lesson was that I waited too long to get help.  I hired a publisher to help me and I learned all I needed and was given the tools to do it.  I also found that I created a final product that I felt really proud of.  I know that I would not have been as pleased with the book if I had tried to complete it all by myself.  I needed the help to do the tasks and steps that I did not have the expertise to do.  In the end, I made a sizeable investment and I’m pleased with the results.  I do not regret spending the money and I wish I knew to do it sooner.  It was my personal journey for it to happen later in life and we should not compare ourselves to others, only to our own selves.

 

YVONNE:  What words of advice would you give up and coming writers? 

MARILYN:  Jump.  It feels like a cliff, but the landing is always a wonderful lesson. Do what feels uncomfortable.  Go where you do not want to go.  Find others who have done the same and learn from their journey.  If you won’t do it yourself, then find help.

 

YVONNE:  Anything else you’d like to share (tips, advice, upcoming events, projects, etc.)? 

MARILYN:  I would encourage everyone to get their own domain that matches their brand.  Do not give Gmail and Yahoo and others the privilege of being marketed by you.  Let you and/or your book be the domain that people write to and look up.

I can finally say, “I am a published author.”  It took me over a year AFTER I published my book to say that statement with any sort of confidence.  I had helped to get it done, and although I wish that I could have done it myself, it was not going to happen.  Now I stand on the platform of a published author and I continue the journey to market myself.   It’s a journey of belief in myself.  I still battle self-doubt, but now I do it with a book to stand on and a new sense of confidence and accomplishment.  It changed me to write a book and I know that the journey never ends.

 

Connect with Marilyn:

www.GroundWorkBeforePoundWork.com

Facebook – Ground Work Before Pound Work

Marilyn@GroundWorkBeforePoundWork.com