Life is filled with questions, some of them gut-wrenching, time-consuming and all-around difficult.
There’s the standard “Who am I?” and “Why am I?” that plagues us when we have enough downtime on our hands. And if a person really wants to get deep, they can take it a few steps further with this trifecta:
What have I done?
What am I doing?
What can I do?
Those three and the previous two are pretty heavy, I know. They call into question everything we stand for, everything we’re meant for and everything we’re supposed to be. They make us look deep inside ourselves to our real motivations and habits and mindsets.
That’s probably why so many people try to avoid questions like that. In fact, let’s face it, we human beings are exceptionally good at coming up with ways to avoid questions like that.
We’ve got out “echo chambers,” where we surround ourselves with yes men and women to pat us on the back and say that we’re doing great. "Don't you worry," they say. "You don't need to change a thing."
We turn everything into a “us” vs. “them” instead of honestly contemplating the issues. Or we dive right into dangerous habits in order to ignore that we’re not doing as well as we desperately wish we were.
Answering the real whos and whys and whats in life to our fullest benefit? It typically requires work, and a good bit of it too.
Here’s the thing though… as much as we human beings like to avoid such questions, we can’t escape them. As long as we exist, we’re going to be asking them. There’s no amount of distractions that can ever completely remove them from our heads.
That’s why the self-help genre does so well. Because, somehow, someway, it seeks to answer our questions with the ultimate goal of making ourselves happier, healthier human beings.
Therapeutic literature. Philosophical literature. Whatever you want to call the self-help book you’re writing, the purpose doesn’t change: to help people help themselves.
And not just with anything. This genre may borrow the same structure as your average, old how-to. But the topics are much, much deeper. This kind of read focuses on inward reflection in order to achieve outward goals. Therefore, as a self-help writer, your job is to get readers to appreciate who they are and what they’ve got going for them in order to live healthy lives.
This could take a spiritual tack to it. It could be a new-age book about understanding and connecting to your inner energy for example. Or it could be a Christian self-help book that suggests working biblical truths into your life.
It could take a physical approach, suggesting a diet or fitness routine in order to change your whole life. Or it could take a mental one: something along the lines of “Change Your Mind; Change Your Life.”
Then there’s this angle to consider… If you’re writing a self-help book, you could gear it toward just men, just women, just teens or just children.
There’s a lot to contemplate when you’re writing a self-help book. A whole lot, actually, as we’ll continue discussing in our Writing Challenge up ahead.