Whether you want to write a book or not, today’s episode is for you. You’ll learn some valuable tips on how to crush any of your goals by listening to today’s conversation with Linda Sivertsen. Linda has authored and co-authored eleven books, including two NYT best-sellers, and she also helped me to write The Miracle Morning back in 2011!
Statistics show that roughly 80% of all people want to write a book—whether it’s to help others, generate a source of passive income, or leave a legacy—but how many people actually take action and do it?
In this episode, we discuss why writing a book can be a transformational experience for you and your family. You’ll learn the habits and routines that will not only help you write your manuscript but will also help you achieve all your other goals, no matter how difficult.
- The top three routines and habits that helped Linda achieve her goals of writing eleven books, including two New York Times bestsellers.
- Why being OK with a “s*itty first draft” may be the most important thing to have in mind in order to start writing a book.
- The most valuable lessons from Linda’s newest book, Beautiful Writers.
- The mindset that helps bestselling authors churn book after book.
- The correlation between working hard and getting “lucky.”
- How can you use the time (that most people spend watching an average of 5+ hours a day) in a more fulfilling way?
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- Book Mama
- Follow Linda Sivertsen on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
- Beautiful Writers: A Journey of Big Dreams and Messy Manuscripts–with Tricks of the Trade from Bestselling Authors by Linda Sivertsen
- Lives Charmed: Intimate Conversations with Extraordinary People by Linda Sivertsen
- The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy
- Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want by James Arthur Ray and Linda Sivertsen
- Katherine Woodward Thomas
- Cheryl Strayed
- Nia Vardalos
- Anne Lamott
- Mary Karr
- LIT: A Memoir by Mary Karr
- Robert Kiyosaki
- Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
- Danielle LaPorte
- Steven Pressfield
- Rhonda Britten
- Living Untethered: Beyond the Human Predicament by Michael Singer
- Seth Godin
- Ann Patchett
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Copyright © 2022 Miracle Morning, LP and International Literary Properties LLC
Hal Elrod: Hello, friends. Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and you are in for a delight. The person I’m speaking with today, I would call her delightful. That just describes her. She has such a positive, lovely energy about her, Linda Sivertsen, author of the brand new book, Beautiful Writers. I’ve known Linda for over ten years. I hired her actually to write the Miracle Morning book proposal to try to get published by major publishers and decided to self-publish after all that work we did together. But she for sure helped me to gain clarity on the message I was trying to convey with the Miracle Morning book and her new book, Beautiful Writers: A Journey of Big Dreams and Messy Manuscripts–with Tricks of the Trade from Bestselling Authors. Today, we’re going to talk about you writing a book. And usually at least once a year, I do a podcast encouraging you, the listener, even if you have never thought about writing a book, of course, if you’ve thought about it, this podcast is definitely for you.
But I encourage everybody to consider and you’re going to hear Linda talk today about people on their deathbed regretting that they always, they thought, they had the idea they could write a book, they could share some knowledge, some wisdom, even if just for their children, even if just publishing the stories of their life and their wisdom to their kids and to not do that. You can’t go back in time and undo that missed opportunity. But of course, when you write a book, the other side of the coin is you leave a legacy. You leave behind your stories and your wisdom for future generations. And it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made to write and self-publish my books. And Linda, she’s known as The Book Mama and she’ll tell you she’s in love with books, reading, writing, selling them and her titles have won awards and hit all the lists as an author, coauthor, and former magazine editor and ghostwriter.
And when she’s not fostering literary love matches on her beautiful writer’s podcast, which is really a favorite stop for writers that are on tour promoting their new book or whether she’s midwifing books at her Carmel or virtual writing retreats, Linda can be found on the back of a horse or running with her dogs. She and her husband live on a ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona. And today’s conversation, I think you’re going to really enjoy this. Really, whether you want to write a book, don’t want to write a book, it’s really a conversation about how to do the things that have been on your bucket list that have stopped putting things off, stop making excuses, stop justifying why you’re not doing it and take action. And I’m calling today’s episode Your Permission Slip to Write a Book with Linda Sivertsen.
Before we dive into that, I want to take a couple of minutes to acknowledge two things. Number one, in case you are not aware, we had the ten-year-anniversary event last week for the Miracle Morning 10-year anniversary of the original book on Monday, 12-12-2020, ten years after the original book launched. And during that, we had a couple of big announcements. One is that the Miracle Morning movie is now free. We have made it free just to reach and impact the most amount of people possible because it’s an easy way to share the Miracle Morning, right? Like, alright, you don’t have to buy the book. You don’t have to read the book. Just here click this link and watch this free movie. And if you go to MiracleMorningMovie.com and you can put your name and email and you’ll get a link sent to you that you can watch the movie from and you can also share it with people you love and people you lead and your teams and family and friends and so on and so forth. So, that’s the first big announcement we made last week. Miracle Morning Movie is now free. And the second announcement was the Miracle Morning app now has a premium subscription option. We have been working on this all year long. The voice of the Miracle Morning app, Lucy Osborne has been recording over a hundred audio and video tracks to guide you through your SAVERS.
Literally, you just click play and each track has one or more of the SAVERS. Most of them have multiple SAVERS, and many of them have all of the SAVERS. So, you literally hit play and in a matter of minutes, it takes you through your silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and scribing all just by pushing play. It’s really, really cool and there’s a lot more features in there. If you have the Miracle Morning app, just update it to see the optional premium subscription you can upgrade to and you can do a seven-day free trial. So, seven days, no strings attached, seven-day free trial and try it out, listen to the tracks, watch the videos and I think you’ll love it as much as I do. I’m really, really proud of what our app team has done. I really think this is as good as or better than the Headspaces and the Calms and those apps. And I say it’s as good in terms of the quality but it’s better in that it does the SAVERS for you, right? It’s more than just a meditation app. You are taking care of all the 6 personal development practices known as the SAVERS.
So, if you’re a Miracle Morning practitioner, this is the perfect app for you and all the free features still exist. There’s still the free Journal and Affirmations Creator and SAVERS Tracker and 30-day challenge and timers. And all of the three features are still free and there’s just an optional premium upgrade if you are interested. It’s pretty cool. All right. Oh, and last but not least, our sponsor, Organifi, I almost forgot. I want to thank Organifi. They bring you this show every single week and Organifi makes the highest quality organic superfood supplements. Every afternoon I take their Red Juice and I say that because I just took it and it gives me this really nice, clean, natural energy boost in the afternoon with no caffeine, no crash. It’s much healthier for you. That is their Red Juice. Head over to Organifi.com/Hal and then as a listener to the podcast, use the discount code “HAL” and you will get 50% off. I’m sorry. No. I misspoke. 20% off any and everything at Organifi.com/Hal when you use the code “HAL” at checkout.
All right. Goal achievers, members of the Miracle Morning community, I love you. Let’s dive in. This is your permission slip to write a book finally with Linda Sivertsen.
Hal Elrod: Linda Sivertsen, it is so good – it’s beautiful to see you.
Linda Sivertsen: Ditto.
Hal Elrod: Most people listen to this podcast via just audio only. It does go on YouTube and you’re so lovely. I hope people will tune in on YouTube and not just listen to this.
Linda Sivertsen: Bless you.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s just the light. You’re glowing, though, but it’s your energy. I think that’s a big part of it. We were just talking about like how we connected initially, which was literally 10, 11, 12 years ago. That’s crazy to think.
Linda Sivertsen: Yeah. Pre your success or your Miracle Morning.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, now, I will tell that story. And you and I were both trying to figure out who the heck connected us. We can’t remember. So, I said, well, it was the universe. It must’ve been the universe, right? But somebody connected us because I had this concept, the Miracle Morning. I was writing the book and I thought that the only way I could be successful with that book was to traditionally publish it. I got to find a publisher and then I started researching, how do you get a publisher? And it’s like you don’t get a publisher. You get an agent. And then if you can give it to your agent, they will take it to a publisher. So, to get an agent, you need a book proposal. And so, you know what it was? I actually remember now. I somehow came across a webinar that you were leading on how to write a bestselling book proposal.
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, my gosh.
Hal Elrod: And then I just reached out and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, this is the woman. Like, this is the expert that…” And you had written, remind me some of the people that you’d written proposals.
Linda Sivertsen: I think before you called me, I had already done The Compound Effect with Darren Hardy, which was a great business book and I had done Harmonic Wealth with James Arthur Ray, and those had both become New York Times bestsellers. And what happened was James, and this is before he had like a huge public fall, it was really crazy, but before that happened, he ended up sending an email to his list. And I was in a divorce, I was losing my house. So, I was sort of desperate. I reached out to James and said, “I’m thinking about trying a webinar. I’ve never done one before. They were kind of new.”
Hal Elrod: Wow. Yeah.
Linda Sivertsen: And I said, “If I write a sales page,” which I didn’t realize was going to take me like three months, “If I write a sales page, will you promote it?” And I thought he’d just send a blurb out to his list. He sent an email out with the subject header, “The Secret Weapon Behind My Seven-Figure Book Deal.” And that webinar that you found me through saved my house.
Hal Elrod: Wow. Wow.
Linda Sivertsen: Yeah. Bless him. That was amazing.
Hal Elrod: That’s incredible. Yeah. And then you and I, we kind of went our separate ways and then we reconnected.
Linda Sivertsen: Well, first of all, wait a minute. Can we just say like I was so in love with the Miracle Morning from the very beginning. I was so taken with you and your passion and your total, unwavering faith, which is always what somebody like me looks for. When we’re trying to help somebody be successful, you guys are the easiest people to help, right? Because you’re unstoppable. And yet the few agents that I sent your query out to didn’t jump, and I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “What is wrong with these people?” And then you had no patience. You were like, “I’m out. I’m just going to self-publish.” I thought, “Oh, God, this is the kiss of death. Like self-publish, are you kidding?” And sure enough, like 2.5 million books later you were right. You’re right. Hats off.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, that’s why I ended up self-publishing is while we were going through that process, I was just continuing to research the publishing process. And where I landed was, “Okay. Wait a minute,” because I was trying to understand like, what’s a publisher do? How do you get to advance? How does this work? And where I landed was so a publisher will, you know, they have a team that will edit the book. I can hire an editor, right? Proofread it. Yeah, I can hire that out. They’ll do a cover design. I could hire that out. But what I landed on was I still have to do all the promotion. Like, they’re not going to invest money to promote a new author that they have no idea whether or not I’m going to be successful. Like, that’s what I learned is they put their money typically behind the authors that have a proven track record or have a platform. And so, I went, “Well, wait a minute, I believe so much in this Miracle Morning that I’m willing to promote the heck out of it for as long as it takes to get it out there to the world.”
Linda Sivertsen: Right.
Hal Elrod: And rather than give them like 80% of the profits, it seems like I’m going to take a shot on my own. And then maybe one day I’ll reconnect with the publisher after it makes more sense but, yeah, you helped me. The biggest thing was you writing that proposal helped me clarify how to explain the Miracle Morning because you are such a gifted writer, I would say humbly beyond my writing ability like there’s levels to this.
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, brother. Bless you.
Hal Elrod: Seriously. Well, I’m holding your new book in my hands, Beautiful Writers, and it’s just like, I mean, seriously, it’s a masterpiece. It’s just a different level of writing.
Linda Sivertsen: Bless you.
Hal Elrod: I can write for every person to really understand complicated topics in a really simple way but like your writing is like taking me on this journey. And so, let’s start with that. So, for anybody listening to this podcast right now, it’s kind of a niche topic, writing a book, and I think that there’s been like a USA Today popularized study that’s like 80% of people it’s on their dream list to one day write a book. So, it applies to the majority. I want to start with you wrote that books unborn weigh on you. Books unborn weigh on you. Can you talk about the cost of not following that dream to write a book?
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, my goodness. Katherine Woodward Thomas, who is a best-selling author, she and I used to joke that being pregnant with a baby was like having a 20,000-pound baby inside of you like ten years in gestation. That’s why it’s so frustrating when you have this big dream, this big goal. And I imagine this is the case for anybody with a big dream or goal, right? I tried to write this book as a blueprint for success in any genre. It’s really a writing memoir with advice from bestselling authors. But this kind of goes across the board because my mother on her deathbed, she said to me, “Linda, I wasted my life.” Wow, right? The most painful thing I’ve ever heard. And she didn’t, at least not from my viewpoint. I mean, her memorial was 350 people standing room only. She had a husband she adored who adored her. They had been together almost 40 years. She had these daughters who adored her. I mean, she had a very, very full life. But there were things that she didn’t do that ate at her at the end. And I have found that to be the case with the writing so specifically.
I remember one gal. She called me years ago, probably 15 years ago, wanted to write a memoir. Super excited about it, really on fire, had all these dreams and plans. And then she never came to one of my writing retreats but I always remembered her because she was so driven and her story was really unique. She was from Africa. It was a beautiful story. A couple of years ago, I found out that she had passed away and I met somebody who knew her and she said to me, “You know, she was still talking about that book on her deathbed.” And I think for anybody who’s got a dream like you’ve got to have that belief that you can accomplish it but then there’s also all those practical things you have to do to put in place to make it happen, like I saw you do on steroids. Not really on steroids but you know what I mean. And I always say to people, if you have the ache, you have what it takes. I trust that. Trust your ache. And then put those practical steps in motion.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, let me ask you, what do you think stops people from starting that dream, let alone completing it? But even like taking the first step and actually opening up their computer and starting to write that book, what’s holding people back from that? And I think also, what’s holding them back from that, which could also be applied to other dreams that they have?
Linda Sivertsen: Yeah. I think there are several things that hold them back. First and foremost, the very first thing I think often is that they just don’t believe that they’re smart enough. I was in that category in a huge way. I always wanted to be a writer but I was in the bottom third of my graduating class in high school on a poster board posted by the principal’s office, mind you. I didn’t finish college. I had three classes left at USC when I left. And so, when I had a literal dream that told me to write, told me how to write the book, what the title was, I mean, it was always gifted to me like as if I was taking dictation. I was worried that I wasn’t smart enough. And then a lot of us have those voices of mean. In my case, I have a whole chapter, Chapter 5, on mean girls, Silencing the Bullies Inner and Outer. I had some mean girls in high school who thought I was an airhead, and rightfully so. I think I probably acted like an airhead. I was a jock. I was super flirtatious. I mean, I was always late to my first class in the morning because I was messing with my hair like everybody had the right to think I was an airhead but, boy, these girls were mean.
And so, when I had the dream, I had a lot of internal tapes to overcome. And one of the ways I did that was through studying the greats, like the greats who I’ve interviewed for the book. The more you hear about people who you look to as icons or legends, the more you hear about their struggles to start and how they did it, the easier it becomes to believe in your own path.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. That’s one of the things I love about this book that is unique is lots of people have written books on how to write books. Very few, if any, have been, “Hey, I’m…” because you happen to know like all the writers. You know all these bestselling authors, right? They’re your friends. And so, that’s the beauty of this is it’s not just your opinion or your take on this topic. It’s you’re interviewing some of the most prolific writers that are alive today. What is some of the bestselling authors that you’ve interviewed due to coax the muse, if you will, to foster their own creative miracles, to overcome the voice inside that imposter syndrome, all of that?
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, gosh. You know, for everybody, it’s a struggle. Cheryl Strayed and I were talking. The Senate hearings were going on when Cheryl and I did our interview and we did it with Nia Vardalos, who wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for My Big Fat Greek Wedding. And Nia has this tape in her head that’s just constantly barraging her with negativity and so she was really honest about that. But Cheryl was just saying how hard it is when there’s a dumpster fire going off in Washington, like how do you believe? How do you pay attention? And one of the things that we all have to do, and that is pretty across the board when I was interviewing people about time is just making boundaries, boundaries everywhere with people, with your schedule, but also with your mental chatter. I mean, there has to be a point where you say, “Okay. This may suck. I’m going to do it anyway. Okay, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ll figure it out. My writing is terrible. I’ll get an editor.” You know, you just have to keep corralling yourself and putting boundaries around your own nonsense.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I think that’s one of the first important mental steps for people is to go to write that sh*tty rough draft, right, that sh*tty first draft. If you’re writing, think about that most authors their rough draft isn’t great. It even kind of sucks. And then you send it to an editor and then they make it better. And then like for me, I sent it to a handful of my friends and then they read it and they made it. It was this team effort and what people actually read, it’s kind of like success in general like the finished product you see you go, “That person is flawless. They’re so confident and well-spoken. There’s not a flaw that I…” You know, and it’s like, no, no, no. Behind the scenes, it was so messy, right? It was so messy.
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, God, so messy. I mean, Anne Lamott talks about it. She’s in my book. She doesn’t talk about it in my book but one of the things she’s so famous for is her whole sh*tty first drafts conversation. And we all write sh*tty first drafts. And one of the things that makes somebody great, like a Mary Karr is they edit over and over and over. I mean, Mary Karr tells the story that is so outrageous where she was writing LIT, which was a massive memoir, I mean, kind of reignited the whole genre. And she threw away 1,200 pages just over and over and over again. I think she worked on one section, one like opening of the book for like nine months or something. And she said she would get so devastated. Sometimes she’d just sit in her apartment, in her underwear, ordering takeout and think, “I’m never, ever going to get this done.” But the people who are great are the ones who keep getting to the other side of that process, right?
Hal Elrod: Yeah.
Linda Sivertsen: They know that what they’re doing is sh*t. They know it’s probably going to be sh*t tomorrow, but they just keep shoveling through the sh*t.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And then what happens is I find that one day you’re like, “Ooh, wait, I figured this part out,” and then you figure it out, and it’s all within just a paragraph.
Linda Sivertsen: The best.
Hal Elrod: You’re like, “Ooh, that paragraph is perfect. It’s a game-changer.”
Linda Sivertsen: It’s the best.
Hal Elrod: I’m doing that right now. So, I wrote a chapter for we’re doing a Miracle Morning updated and expanded edition. My next book that I’m writing is called The Miracle Life. So, I’ve been trying to do a Miracle Life chapter in the new edition of the Miracle Morning, kind of just because I want to show that content.
Linda Sivertsen: It’s a teaser. Yeah.
Hal Elrod: And it would tease the new book. And so, I worked with the ghostwriter and she sent me back six pages, final start to finish, the chapter’s done in six pages. I have been editing those six pages for the last three months. They’re up to 39 pages and I can’t get it back down anywhere near a chapter.
Linda Sivertsen: Story of my life. Story of my life.
Hal Elrod: So, what I do? I work on it every day and I get frustrated every day, but I keep going. And again, it’s such a lesson for like goals in general. Like, feel the fear and do it anyway. Fear the self-doubt and do it anyway. Feel like an imposter and do it anyway.
Linda Sivertsen: Do it anyway.
Hal Elrod: I feel like now is not the right time and get started anyway. Right?
Linda Sivertsen: 100%. And then those miracles come in. Those moments of grace happen where you meet the right person who tells you exactly what you needed to know. Or like me, you wake up and you have a dream tells you exactly what to cut. I always think that’s one of my dead parents. Like, I think my parents were so in love with me and my writing that they just feed me ideas sometimes. But frankly, I don’t care where it comes from but getting that certainty just when you need it often right in the 11th hour is like a gift from God.
Hal Elrod: Talk about that story. It’s a great story. Your first book, Lives Charmed, came out in a literal dream at 3 a.m.
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, yeah. And here was the kid who just totally didn’t think she was smart enough, right, but had this dream, always wanted to be a writer, avoiding the dream. I was a professional dog walker in Beverly Hills in Hollywood, which was so sweet. I mean, I’m a total dog freak. I’m like walking by the streets. I’m walking through streets and by homes that like tour buses are sitting in front of. They’re so beautiful. I’ve got keys and alarm codes for like Kiefer Sutherland and Kirk Douglas and on and on.
Hal Elrod: Nice.
Linda Sivertsen: So, I’m thinking I have a great life. I get puppy kisses all day, every day, and I’m paid to exercise. What could be better, right? But then my sister, so obnoxious, she’s like, “My friends and I think you’re wasting your brain.” And that really, really hurt and it needled at me and I thought, “What could I be doing? Am I supposed to be doing something different? And what?” I’m not qualified for anything was my belief. And then two things happened. And I think permission is a really important thing for people. You either have to give it to yourself or you got to go get it. And I on a wing and a prayer actually accidentally, I went for my husband because he was kind of an out-of-work actor at the time, I went to a Vedic astrologer and he looks at me. He had printed up my chart to kind of help my husband but he looks at me and he’s like, “Wait a minute, you’re supposed to be doing something really big and it has to do with writing and it’s going to come to you really soon. You couldn’t avoid it if you went underground.” I’m like, “What?” I started getting excited, right?
And then around that same time, my sister had called me and said, “I just had this session with this guy named Guru Singh, and he’s so amazing. You’ve got to go.” So, I booked a session just strictly out of curiosity. Never, never thinking he was going to give me some prophecy that would change my life. And yet he did. He looked at me and he said, “What the hell are you doing hiding behind all those dogs?” And I never told them I was a professional dog walker. And he said, “You’re supposed to be a writer remembered for 150 years after your death.” And I was like, “It’s…” But here he is talking to my secret inner wish that I never told anybody.
Hal Elrod: Wow.
Linda Sivertsen: So, when I had the dream of six books, titles, format, how to do them, the order in which to do them, it was so real and because I had probably been implanted, you know.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. In your subconscious.
Linda Sivertsen: The fantasy at least was there. I was whole hog. I woke up. I was like, “That’s it. That’s it. I know exactly what I’m doing for the rest of my life.”
Hal Elrod: That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. Right? You have to pay attention to the signs. And I think a lot might dismiss that and go, “Eh, it’s just coincidence,” or it’s just this or just that. And it’s whatever you decide that it is. Right?
Linda Sivertsen: That’s it. It could have been completely delusional. And believe me, my path I’ve had so many faceplants. I mean, the faceplants are my favorite things to write. I loved writing that stuff. But, boy, when you’re perseverant and you stick with the same thing over and over again for a long enough time, and you network and meet enough people on the path that can help you, good sh*t starts to happen.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, it does. Well, there’s an old quote. The harder you work, the luckier you get. And I still believe that, right? It’s so true. Like, when you’re on mission and you’re like, “I’m going to figure it out,” and you’re banging your head against the wall every day and you’re frustrated and then, yeah, the right person, the right idea, the right…
Linda Sivertsen: Well, like you with Robert Kawasaki. Is that how you pronounce his last name?
Hal Elrod: Kiyosaki. Yeah.
Linda Sivertsen: I mean, the fact that you, I mean, you did so many outrageous things like I did on the pathway up and I love those outrageous stories. But when you handed him your manuscript when you were a nobody and, you know, that’s part of the networking thing, right? You’ve got to put yourself in situations where you meet the right people. But when you handed that to him, you had no idea that he was going to read it twice and then recommend that book everywhere he goes to huge, huge groups of people. But you got lucky because you put yourself in the situation to be lucky.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I know. It’s such a great moment.
Linda Sivertsen: And you were ready. Your stuff was good, right?
Hal Elrod: Because in my head it was like, “Well, I’m not going to give it to him.” I almost didn’t give it to him because I was embarrassed. I was like, “Who am I? I’m a nobody.” And I’m like, “Hey, Mr. Kiyosaki, will you read my self-published book about waking up early?”
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, yeah.
Hal Elrod: Oh, yeah.
Linda Sivertsen: I’ve done so many of those things and I love it. It works more than it doesn’t work.
Hal Elrod: I want to talk about rituals for a second. In the Miracle Morning, obviously, we focus on morning rituals but I know that you had a nighttime ritual for writing your first book. Can you elaborate on that?
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I just really had a relationship with my muse, my higher self, God, whatever you call it but really I was always cultivating that relationship. And one of the ways that I did that was before I would go to bed at night, I would say just the quickest little prayer. I would just say, “Please show me what I need to know to…” and then whatever part of the book I was on and needed help with. Like, how to finish chapter three or who’s the next person I should reach out to, to interview. And I would literally put in a little order with the universe every night before I would go to bed and then it’s reminding me, now I need to do this more. But I always had a pad of paper by the bed, and I knew I would often wake up with exactly the instruction of what to do next. And it was so spot on and I would often, I remember one night I wanted to interview Wyland, the whale muralist, who was in the Guinness Book of World Records for like the largest painting in mankind’s history. And I wanted to interview him so badly because I’m a greenie, I’m an environmentalist. I wanted to help spread his message about saving the oceans. But he had turned me down.
So, I went to bed the night before, and I was like, “Oh, please tell me how to get to Wyland. What can I do?” I woke up with an entire introduction to his chapter in my head. Three pages, just I saw the whole thing. So, I sat down and I wrote it really quickly and I knew it was beautiful. I mean, I am not the world’s best writer but when I feel like I’m channeling something, it can come out perfect. And it did. It was perfect. And I faxed it to his people, and they got back to me 5 minutes later and said he’s happy to do it. And I interviewed him that week and we became friends. And that was given to me because I believed in that ritual.
Hal Elrod: Well, last week on the podcast, I had a conversation with Mary Morrissey who was just a legend.
Linda Sivertsen: Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Hal Elrod: And we talked about like where do thoughts come from? And we talked about the field of infinite intelligence where thoughts just because if you think about it, like when you have a thought that you’ve never had before and you’re inspired in the moment, like for me, if I’m on stage speaking for you, I’m sure if you’re writing or before bed, right? It’s like, where are they coming from? You know, it’s hard to take credit for the thoughts or the ideas when they just came out of nowhere. You know what I mean?
Linda Sivertsen: Exactly.
Hal Elrod: And what you’re talking about, though, before bed, that’s such an important piece. I think it was the book, you ever read Psycho-Cybernetics?
Linda Sivertsen: No, I’ve always wanted to.
Hal Elrod: So, Psycho-Cybernetics, it’s basically about that and I think it really talks about the science behind it and what it’s doing to your subconscious. Basically, it’s just simply that before you go to bed, you set an intention that, “Hey, I want to solve this problem. Hey, I want to figure this thing out.” And like clockwork, there’s a reason that book sold millions of copies because it works. What you’re talking about is not unique to you, right? No offense.
Linda Sivertsen: Of course. Of course.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, but it’s available to all of us. But how many people do that, right? Most of us go to bed thinking stressful thoughts and wake up feeling stressed out.
Linda Sivertsen: Yeah. I am so re-energized about this. The biggest one of my life that I remember, nobody can spell Sivertsen, right? They can’t say it. They can’t spell it. And I had like all these disparate websites and one day Danielle LaPorte and I were coming out with a book and I was like, “I’ve got to have like a name, an umbrella name.” And I was teaching a retreat and I said to the women, “Help me. Help me.” Somebody came up with a book, Love, which I loved, but it wasn’t quite it. Went to bed, said a prayer, “Tell me, what is the name of my business? I want it to be easy to spell, available, and memorable. I need to remember it when I wake up.” I woke up with Book Mama and it was so simple, I ignored it. I just thought whatever. And about an hour later I thought, “Book Mama, that’s pretty good. I should look it up.” Tons of people were using it but not as a URL. It was available in Russia for like $800. I offered them $500 and I had it the next day.
Hal Elrod: Book Mama. Yeah. And you don’t forget Book Mama like that’s, yeah, it’s the same thing. When I had the idea for Miracle Morning, I was like, “That’s for sure taken. That’s for sure a thing. That’s for sure a brand.”
Linda Sivertsen: Right?
Hal Elrod: And then I’m like, I go to GoDaddy and MiracleMorning.com is available.
Linda Sivertsen: No way.
Hal Elrod: I’m like, “No freaking way.”
Linda Sivertsen: That’s amazing. It’s like it’s waiting for you, right? Sometimes I think the universe really saves things for us.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. It’s so interesting. I really ride that line between being like very woo-woo out there and being very left-brain practical, right?
Linda Sivertsen: Me too. I’m so jaded and I’m also so faithful.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Interesting, right?
Linda Sivertsen: Somebody called me practi-woo. I’m practical and I’m woo-woo.
Hal Elrod: I like that. Or Woo-tical. One of the two. Yeah. Practi-woo or…
Linda Sivertsen: Yeah. Oh, Woo-tical. That’s good.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. All right. So, I want to stay on, you know, you talk about the evening routine. You devote a whole chapter of beautiful writers to habits. And I know you were Darren Hardy’s collaborator on The Compound Effect.
Linda Sivertsen: Yeah.
Hal Elrod: And I love that this writing book weighs heavily on habits. Beautiful Writers, your new book, heavily on habits. What would you say are the top three habits that have led you to your bestselling success?
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, my gosh. Well, there are your SAVERS. I mean, I always exercised in the morning. Always.
Hal Elrod: And what’d that do for you? What’s the benefit of that?
Linda Sivertsen: You know, I feel a couple of things. When I would walk in the morning, whether I lived in Los Angeles or the New Mexico like hinterlands or wherever I am, I always feel like, A, like you say, it gets the blood pumping. But also, now we know a lot about sunlight, right? When you get sunlight in your eyes before 10 a.m., it helps your sleep schedule. It helps your melatonin, helps your mood. I didn’t know any of that when I was younger. I just knew that it made me feel optimistic. I knew that when I would say my gratitude is when I was walking and talk to God as if God was my best friend and noticed the beauty wherever I was. And if I was in a funky, ugly place, I would drive to beauty before I would walk but it’s always helped me to be more optimistic. And I think I’m a natural, a little bit of a nervous person. I’m definitely a doom stare. I definitely worry. I’m super sensitive. So, I feel the weight of the world all of the frickin time. And so, I think it helps me to kind of release that stress and start the day optimistically and then like your scribing, right?
Hal Elrod: Yeah.
Linda Sivertsen: I wasn’t physically scribing but I was talking my scribing. I was talking my gratitude while I was doing the walking. So, I think that was really key. What else? Oh, I think reading. I’ve always read in the morning. I’ve always like picked something. Now, it’s audiobooks. So, if I’m walking, I’ll do an audiobook. And then the other thing, visualization. I’m a really big thinker but I’m not good at sticking with something and like really holding a vision for something. I’m too impatient. And so, I think I was kind of good at it but I got a lot better at it when I met you because what I love about your piece for the visualization is visualizing what are the steps that you can take today that are going to make everything unfold. And once I do, in my mind, the things I know I should do that I don’t want to do and I make them easy in my mind, then they happen easier in the world. I think that’s really helpful.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, beautiful. All right. So, the answer is the Miracle Morning. I mean, that’s it. That’s the answer to everything.
Linda Sivertsen: Yeah. It’s all you need.
Hal Elrod: So, I want to talk about what you refer to in your book in Beautiful Writers. You call it the messy middle both in life and in writing, right? Like the messy middle, both in life and in writing because we all go through it. Right?
Linda Sivertsen: So nasty. I mean, I helped both of my parents die, so they both had cancer. I moved home. My sister and I moved home and took care of them when they were dying. And in each case, I had book deadlines. So, life doesn’t stop because you’re dealing with tragedy and all of us deal with tragedy. All of us. And in your manuscript, there’s that messy middle where it’s like you start off and it’s all people are cheering you on. If you’re sharing it with the people, they’re cheering you on, they believe in you. It’s like so exciting. And then at the end of a project, oftentimes you get all that congratulations. And it’s like the end of awards. Like people are in Time Square kissing and high-fiving and all of that but the middle for me, it’s like all foxholes and breadlines. It’s just lonely. It’s lonely and it’s ugly. And you were going to be done with that project how many years ago? Yeah. It’s just messy.
And I think so many people quit so close to being done because they can’t handle that marathon middle where it’s like nobody’s meeting you with the power bars and you’re on your own and your knees hurt. So, I think one of the things that helps is to know that we all go through it. Life is messy. Projects are messy. They’re often messy until the very end. I mean, I’ve been in deadline where I didn’t figure out the end of a book until it was due then the next day.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Me too.
Linda Sivertsen: So, you don’t want to live like that but sometimes that’s just the way it goes. And what’s helpful is to know that everybody, all the greats, everybody deals with this. This is just life. This is Steven Pressfield’s resistance. This is Rhonda Britten’s fear. I mean, everybody has a different take on it. My astrologer sister would say, “It’s your celestial timing.” But what my sister also says is that if you came for an easy life, you picked the wrong planet. This planet is in a solar system where most of the planets are malefics. They’re not benefics. According to Vedic astrology, there’s only two positive planets in the solar system. So, we’re here to learn lessons, I guess.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And it’s going to be messy. You know, I’m rereading a book right now. I mentioned this to Mary last week, Living Untethered by Michael Singer. Have you read that one yet?
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, he’s so amazing. I read his first one. I haven’t read that one yet.
Hal Elrod: It’s amazing. It’s awesome. First one was great. This one’s great. But he talked in the book. Well, really, one of the things that I can’t shake, it just stuck out to me, is he talked about the human brain and how miraculous it is. And he said people opt in two things. Either, A, they think, “I’m dumb,” like you thought, right?
Linda Sivertsen: Totally. Yeah.
Hal Elrod: In high school, right? “I’m stupid.” And he goes, “You have a brain like Edison had a brain or Einstein had a brain.” He said, “The difference is, what are you doing with your miraculous, brilliant brain? Are you watching Netflix every night until you pass out, looking at your smartphone? Or are you thinking of ways you can help the world, help humanity, live to your full potential, write your story. I mean, on and on, right?” But it really took away this whole like they’re smart and I’m not. It’s like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. We all have this incredible thing called the human brain and it’s frickin brilliant, and it’s a tool. What are you doing with that tool?
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, God, I love that so much. I mean, the average person in America, I talk about this in the book, spends 5 hours a day watching television. And it was interesting to interview all these bestselling authors about their habits. I mean, Seth Godin says he doesn’t watch television. He doesn’t go to meetings. He’s not on Twitter. Ann Patchett doesn’t watch television, doesn’t ever even plug hers in. And she goes, “Linda, my art requires my eyesight. Why would I spend hours watching other people living their lives on the screen, hurting my eyesight when I could be saving my eyesight for reading and writing?” So, I think it’s just a matter of we all have to know what we need. I’m a big entertainment person. I get inspired by entertainment. I just have to be careful about putting boundaries around it. Otherwise, I’ll zombie out and watch 5 hours of The Crown every night, right?
Hal Elrod: Totally.
Linda Sivertsen: But I do let myself watch The Crown every night. I’ll do an hour.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, an hour.
Linda Sivertsen: I won’t do 5 hours.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And that’s it. It’s just having that discipline where it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Linda Sivertsen: Yeah. I can’t do all or nothing.
Hal Elrod: But you have to ask yourself, “Is binging Netflix…?” And that’s the problem is that used to not be a thing. You used to have to watch your show Thursday night and wait until next Thursday for the next episode. You couldn’t watch 12 hours’ worth of shows. And then the beauty, or not the beauty, the problem with Netflix is there’s so much out. It’s like you can watch season after season after season after season after season. Right?
Linda Sivertsen: Right. And we lie to ourselves like I have this section in the book about time where I say my now husband made me a time tracker because when he met me, he was like, “You’re wasting so much time.” And I was pissed. I was like, “Are you kidding me? I have a business. I have a kid. I’m a single mom. I worked my ass off like what the F?” Okay. But when he made me the time tracker and I started watching, I noticed I watched Oprah every day. I watched The View every day. And it was like, okay, so the way I justified that was I need to know what’s going on. It makes me more connected to emotional stuff, which is healthy. Like, there are so many ways to justify it. And I got to be current with topical events, yadda, yadda. And then I realized that while that was fun, it was never going to take me to Bestsellerville.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. You weren’t going to get your dreams by doing that, right?
Linda Sivertsen: Right.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And for me, for anybody listening, I like TV as well. I just stack it interestingly enough with lunch. So, the only time that I really – I watch TV while I eat lunch and it’s the middle of my day. So, it’s like this total, I get to zone out, not worry about work, not think about work. I’m eating and just watch.
Linda Sivertsen: I did this same thing with I read client proposals or client books, but I do it when I’m on the treadmill. So, I am getting my exercise done and I’m getting that reading done.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Kill two birds with one stone. All right. So, as we’re coming toward a close, I want to ask you about something from Chapter 21 of Beautiful Writers. Okay, so start thinking in Chapter 21, Divine Timing and Dreams Realized. You wrote that despite all the delays, the naysayers, the deleted files, the money woes, the sleepless nights, writer’s block, many books are born every year from other human beings that have the same fears and insecurities and mental and emotional challenges and time constraints and kids, and all of it, right?
Linda Sivertsen: All of it.
Hal Elrod: But millions of books are born every single year. And you say that there’s always room for one more, which I love. If you’re listening to this, there’s room for one more. And so, what do you think is the difference between people who start writing but never finish and those who see their books like this one, Beautiful Writers, that I’m holding up in front of a screen right now? What a pretty cover, very classy and simple, the typewriter. But what’s the difference for those that see the books on the shelf?
Linda Sivertsen: You know, I think, Hal, that it goes back to what we were talking about earlier, that you really have to believe that if you have the ache, you have what it takes. And if you have that ache, it’s coming from somewhere. There is a destiny involved in that. Who is it? Somebody very famous. Elie Wiesel, is that how you pronounce his name?
Hal Elrod: I’m not sure.
Linda Sivertsen: He said that books have a destiny. And I really believe that I’ve seen it now through helping hundreds of thousands of people with their books. It’s just amazing to me to see the trajectory of an idea that becomes a reality. And I think books do have a destiny. So, if you believe that, even if it’s not true, like if you believe it, it helps you to have faith when sh*t hits the fan, when those delays happen, when your money woes happen. Because that stuff happens pretty much to everyone. But if you just hold that beautiful desire in your heart and keep making space for it, even if it’s 15 minutes in the morning, even if that’s all you’ve got, I know so many people who’ve written books with 15-minute increments.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Two or three paragraphs a day.
Linda Sivertsen: Yeah, just hold on to it and keep going.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I’m with you. I so believe that books have a destiny. I never thought of it that way, but Miracle Morning, I feel like as a destiny. And here’s what I would encourage anyone to consider. The reason I wrote Miracle Morning wasn’t because I wanted to be an author or make money or any of those things. It was because I felt that I had discovered something that helped me and the few people I had shared it with and I had a responsibility to not be selfish and let my own fears and insecurities hold me back. That was selfish, in my opinion.
Linda Sivertsen: It’s so good.
Hal Elrod: I had a responsibility to get out of my own way, get over my fears, and take action and share that message with the world. And so, I want you to consider that because I think that’s a different frame of reference, that if you’re like, “Well, I don’t care about being an author or being famous or being or whatever.” Okay. Do you care about helping people? Do you care about other people? And can you consider the possibility that to not get out of your own way and get Linda’s book, Beautiful Writers, and follow this journey. And I’m telling you, it’s doable. Like, you hit one foot in front of the other. You get the book. You learn how to do it. You schedule the time, right? And you go from like, I mean, right? When you finish a book, you look back, you’re like, “Oh, my God, how many times, how many days was I thinking, ‘There’s no way. I’m throwing in the towel. I can’t do that. Not going to happen. I can’t figure it out. I don’t know where I’m going with this.’”
Linda Sivertsen: Like Cheryl Strayed says, “Writing a book is impossible.” It’s impossible and yet millions of us do it every year. It’s Herculean. Like, when I look back on my book now, I’m like, “How did I do that?” I mean, decades of work, a billion hours went into it. But it’s done. It’s done and it’s physical and it’s real. And I’m working on the next one. Like, it’s so fun.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. So, the book is Beautiful Writers: A Journey of Big Dreams and Messy Manuscripts–with Tricks of the Trade from Bestselling Authors. Where is the best place for people to pick up their copy of Beautiful Writers and to connect with you after this episode?
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, well BookMama.com has all the buy links from all the retailers, so go there and sign up for my newsletter and hopefully you’ll be entertained, inspired, and have one big fat permission slip. I’m all about making people feel and remember that they’re magical.
Hal Elrod: I love it. Maybe that’s what I’ll title this episode, Your Big Fat Permission Slip with Linda Sivertsen.
Linda Sivertsen: Yes!
Hal Elrod: I like that.
Linda Sivertsen: Oh, I love it. I’m all about it.
Hal Elrod: Awesome. All right. Well, Linda, I love you.
Linda Sivertsen: I love you more.
Hal Elrod: It’s so great to see you, talk to you, and thank you for getting out of your own way repeatedly and putting this book, Beautiful Writers, out to the world.
Linda Sivertsen: You’re the best. You’re the best. I just adore you. Thanks a million.
Hal Elrod: Awesome. Goal achievers, members of the Miracle Morning community, you know I love you. I love you. I appreciate you. And get this book, Beautiful Writers, and take your message, your mess, turn it into a message, and schedule that time every day to start writing and you can make this happen. And you could end this year, 2023 with a finished manuscript. And think about this. Linda talked earlier about how it’s a regret of her mother and other people that in their death that like, “Man, I had this inside of me and I never put it on paper. I never did that.” I want you to think of the other side of that coin, which is that if you do it, when you do it, you now leave something permanently behind that can transform other people’s lives, make their lives better, indefinitely, indefinitely. So, I think that I feel like I have a responsibility to do that with whatever message I receive from higher power and I think that you do too. So, make it happen, Beautiful Writers at BookMama.com. And love you. I’ll talk to you next week.