This is an interesting story in itself. I was teaching children with autism and special needs, really pioneering a program for the Philadelphia School System for those children who were previously denied access to public education. This was happening all over the US due to a federal mandate: PL 94-142.
Since it was a new program, never before implemented, I kept copious notes on the children and the events in the class and school without even considering writing about this. However every day upon waking, I would hear a line of a story, the same few lines over and over about the first student who entered the program. Finally, I surrendered to my inner guidance and began to write it down and the story just evolved from there.
What have you learned from writing and publishing a book?
I think what I’ve learned and continue to learn is patience and endurance. Writing a book from the first inspirational idea to outline, research and to its eventual publication, is a long process and not for the faint of heart or anyone lacking stamina. You have to show up for it over and over again with the same enthusiasm and commitment that you’ve made to yourself and others initially.
Once the book is written, the editing process begins. Marketing your book is an entirely different procedure and takes a lot of work and engagement. Writing is the solo process unless you’re doing research or interviews that require input from others or writing collaboratively with others. Marketing is social, interactive and time consuming.
The first draft of “More Heaven: Because Every Child Is Special” was written over 30 years ago and has gone through several professional edits, its own transformations and updating. I think the book was visionary and ahead of its time and I had to wait until what seemed to be the right time to bring it forward.
The reason that the book waited so long to be published I believe was firstly because at the time of the program and the writing, the educational, social and cultural climate were very different from today. Many of these children were hidden. Often physicians recommended institutionalization as the best option for families and there weren’t resources and supports like there are available for them today.
What advice do you have for new authors?
I believe that the challenge for writing anything is to initially avoid being critical of what you’re writing and not be too concerned about errors like spelling etc. If you’re constantly trying to correct your work as you begin, it slows down the process and derails the enthusiasm and the creative flow.
Of course you have to go back and edit and change and revise; but the first go-round is all about getting your thoughts onto paper as seamlessly as possible. Also, if you’re constantly editing initially it wears down your confidence in your writing ability. Let go of the judgment and evaluative hat until later. Trust me; you’ll have ample opportunity to revise and cross-correct ad nauseam.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
Writing from inspiration and excitement makes the process easy. For me, it’s the reviewing and self-editing tasks, before I actually get it professionally edited, that’s time consuming and unexciting. This is the tedious process that can’t be put off. It’s not the most rewarding aspect to the writing journey, but necessary. It says a lot about you as an author and also adds merit to the book itself if there aren’t numerous grammar, spelling and syntax errors that could be avoided with a skilled editing process. “More Heaven” was edited numerous times by me and also by several skilled professionals at various times in its journey into print and especially in the final stages before publication.
Have you received any awards for your literary works?
Yes, my two books “Bully Free” and “More Heaven: Because Every Child Is Special” received the Mom’s Choice Award for Excellence: Named among the Best In Family-friendly Media, Products and Services. Also “More Heaven” was featured in Aspire magazine’s April, 2016 issue as one of the top ten inspirational books for women.
What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
I have been in several anthologies and enjoy being a part of a group with shared values, eager to help others and share our mutual yet divergent talents. I’ve made many wonderful and cherished friends, colleagues and even business partners that way.
I recommend choosing the book idea selectively. The themes and co-authors need to resonate with you and your ideas in an important way. Not every book project is right for you, your time frame, interests and pocketbook.
Have you ever faced rejection and how did you handle it?
Of course, I’ve faced rejection and it’s important not to take it all too personally and get down on yourself and your writing capability. It can sting if you let it; however that depends greatly on your attitude.
I advise other writers and my clients to keep writing. The more we write, the more skillful we become. Also don’t let criticism translate into defeat for you. There are many doors to open and sometimes it takes staying power and research to find the receptivity and compatibility for your work.
How important is research to you when writing a book?
Research is essential for accuracy, but it truly depends on the type of book you’re writing. I’ll use “More Heaven: Because Every Child Is Special” as an example.
As I stated earlier, I kept consistent notes on the children I taught which was a form of research. The epilogue required more factual information about the education of children with autism and special needs in the late seventies. I also needed some comparative analysis of where we are educationally and culturally today regarding these children; thus more research was essential.
What is your motivation for writing more?
I think stories are very powerful to elicit change and growth and emotional connection and it’s a strong form of communication. Also, many of my books offer wisdom, advice and practical solutions for business, life and relationships and I believe that I have much more to give through writing, coaching and teaching.
To me, writing is also a form of service. By sharing your expertise, others are favorably affected. I’m in the business of serving others, and have devoted much of my life to help people and businesses grow and prosper. I believe my writing is an extension of that.
I also love to write; it gives me much pleasure. Also, I hope and trust that it offers others hope, solace, joy, empathy, knowledge and more.
What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
I am and always have been a strong advocate for people’s rights to equality, and recognition and support of diversity. I’m also a proponent for the humane treatment of animals, the planet and us.
“More Heaven: Because Every Child Is Special” was my way of alerting people to the beauty, intelligence and depth of these children that society once ignored and devalued. And also to show that they are like us with hurts and scars, fear, hopes and dreams so we could ‘love’ and appreciate them.
I learned so much about how we dismiss what we don’t understand or view as different. The truth is when that happens, we all miss-out. We never truly accept and reap the benefits of the gifts that could be delivered. If we take the time to understand and learn rather than reject or dismiss others for their differences, I believe we’d fare far better globally.
This book is very different from the others I’ve written and has a very special place in my heart as well as in my life.
About Dr. Jo Anne White
Jo Anne White, Ph.D is an International Award-Winning, Bestselling Author and Speaker, Certified Professional Coach and Energy Master who has helped millions of individuals and organizations shape their dreams, master their own success and triumph. Known globally as the “Success Doc,” Dr. White is the Executive Producer and Host of the popular Power Your Life TV and Radio Shows and CEO/President of Dr. Jo Anne White Consulting Services, LLC.
She’s been featured online and in national and international media outlets, such as CNN.com, Good Housekeeping, More, and WebMD. Jo Anne’s made frequent guest appearances on Radio and Television Networks such as NBC, CBS, FOX, and Voice America. Dr. White is also the founder of the recently launched Power Your Life Network and Power U Online University: both aimed at helping individuals, families, businesses and professionals grow, soar and succeed. She was named a 2015 Worldwide Branding Top Female Executive for Professional Coaching by Worldwide Who’s Who and is featured in Women of Distinction Magazine, 2016.
Both More Heaven and Bully Free received a Mom’s Choice Award for Excellence and have been named among the best in family-friendly media, products and services. Jo Anne has also authored and co-authored many books for women, men and businesses as resources for personal, professional and spiritual growth, leadership, success and empowerment. They include Amazon International Bestseller Keys to Conscious Business Growth, Mastering the Art of Success, JOY, and The Self Architect.www.drjoannewhite.comwww.poweredbysuccess.biz