What would it look like to write about what you’re passionate about? How do you handle the negative self-talk that pops into your brain while you’re trying to write? How can birdwatching help you overcome life’s challenges?
For some insight into these questions, we’re thrilled to share this chat we had with first-time author and KN Literary Arts client, Tammah Watts. Her new book is called Keep Looking Up: Your Guide to the Powerful Healing of Birdwatching.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
In short, my answer is a resounding YES! And really, it hasn’t been so much about always wanting to be a writer because deep in my soul, I have always identified as a writer who had not written my book—yet.
Tell us about your book and what made you decide to write it.
Oh wow. My book—that is indeed a story unto itself! First of all, Keeping Looking Up is a descriptive narrative memoir and transformational self-help book about the powerful healing of birding.
I share my story related to each chapter’s theme and also offer practical toolkits, reflective exercises and prompts to deepen the reader’s connection with our feathered friends in meaningful ways.
Second, I was inspired to write Keep Looking Up after reflecting upon advice that Reid Tracy, Hay House CEO, had given during a Hay House Writer’s Workshop in-person event. He said, “write what you’re passionate about!” During the lunch break, I sat alone in a cafe and realized that I am passionate about birds and how they’ve changed my life for the better.
I knew then what my book was going to be about instead of the children’s book I was pondering. I still plan on writing the children’s book, but for now, it’s all about celebrating living life with the wonderful birds that are all around.
What surprised you most about the writing process?
Oh my goodness! I found myself surprised by so much. What surprised me the most was reckoning with my internal dialogue about my writing process, particularly when it involved being vulnerable.
On the days that were exceptionally challenging for me to write what was formulating in my head, I found myself at times devolving into subtle and not-so-subtle negative self-talk and criticisms about my lack of perceived progress.
It forced me to evaluate why I was writing the book and to acknowledge my fears and concerns as being valid so that I could move forward with my creative process.
I hope this makes sense for fellow writers. In other words, I was most surprised by how loud my critical voice could get and it adversely affected my writing process which was usually directly linked to increased levels of stress.
Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they will learn or experience from reading your book?
My ideal reader is someone who is curious about birds and how forming connections with them can support their own healing from depression, anxiety, chronic pain, stress, and isolation.
Or perhaps it is a reader who has noticed birds already and will find resonance from the various ways in which they can deepen their understanding and communion with them and therefore, with themselves and heal.
Did you self-publish or go with the traditional publishing path?
I am on the traditional publishing path. This is my first book and I am the 2020 Hay House Online Writer’s Workshop Grand Prize Winner and I am very grateful for having been chosen for this.
What advice would you give to someone choosing the same path that you did?
My advice for someone thinking about joining the Hay House Writer’s Workshop is: ABSOLUTELY DO IT!
Please submit your proposal. You are being called forward to write about your experiences and your sharing it will most certainly benefit others. Remind yourself of this daily as a motivator to carry onward. Listen to your knowing what it is you need to write about and do that.
How did KN Literary Arts support you in your book journey? Can you describe that experience?
Again, oh my goodness! I would not have been able to submit the book proposal that I did without the assistance and expertise of KN Literary Arts. Period.
I was fortunate to listen to and even briefly speak with Kelly Notaras at the Houston HHWW in the Fall of 2019 and that is what led to me reaching out for book coaching and developmental editing.
I needed support to complete my proposal in a timely manner and so I chose to have four book coaching sessions to create productive accountability. I also had a developmental edit done of my final draft so that I could submit a proposal that best depicted my ideas and knowledge.
I consider KNLA’s support to be an invaluable investment in me, the writer, which in turn allowed me to share this gift with others throughout the world. I am so very grateful for KNLA and proudly proclaim to be one of their biggest fans!
Where can everyone find you and your book online?
You can find me with the birds in one manner or another—oh and at tammahwatts.com.
Keep Looking Up is available everywhere you buy your books including in a number of Barnes & Noble, indie bookshops, Amazon, Hay House website, and other online retailers. I’m also on Instagram (my preferred space) and Facebook.