She Grows with Allyson Scammell
Ep #31: How Writing Your Heartfelt Book Will Spread Your Vision and Wisdom to a Wider Audience with Nikki Starcat Shields
Allyson Scammell: Hey, Hey, this is Allyson Scammell and we have an amazing episode for you today. If you’re a soul guided entrepreneur, I have a hunch that the thought of writing a book has crossed your mind, at least once and probably many times. Today I chat with author and book midwife, Nikki Shields about how writing your heartfelt book will spread your vision and wisdom to a wider audience.
[00:00:29] We talk about the biggest blocks to getting started that Nikki hears, why writing a book is a great idea for women entrepreneurs. And a daily practice to help you build momentum. We end on a challenge that will get you tapped into a powerful creative process. So stick with us until the end. Welcome to She Grows, a podcast for soul guided women entrepreneurs, ready to grow their income impact and inspiration each week.
[00:01:01] We’re going to explore how to align to the soul of your business and grow it from there. I’m your host Allyson Scammell. Let’s get growing
[00:01:16] Well Hello She Grows Nation. That is the name of this sisterhood of soul guided entrepreneurs at she grows nation. Your heart is CEO, and you’re getting fully booked with ideal clients by using your unique genius, intuitive voice and spirit guides. In today’s episode, we explore how to write a book that calls in your ideal audience.
[00:01:40] My guest is Nikki Starcat Shields. Nikki is an author book, midwife, priestess, and leader of transformational writing retreats. Nikki teaches people to be thriving artists. Writing their heartfelt books while also nurturing themselves and their creative lives. She lives in Maine and adores spending time by the ocean.
[00:02:02] Please enjoy welcome, Nikki. I’m so thrilled to have you on the show.
[00:02:07] Starcat: Thanks for having me.
[00:02:08] Allyson Scammell: Oh, my gosh, this episode is going to be so much fun. So I want to start with Nikki, the most common thing you hear, I’m really interested to know this from people, clients, people in your audience who want to write a book, but just aren’t getting started.
[00:02:26] What’s their number one reason as to why?
[00:02:29] Nikki: The number one reason that they usually give is that they’ve had a book idea and they want to write a book, but they don’t have time. However, once we dig into that a little bit often buried underneath the surface of that answer is actually just either one of two things, either just.
[00:02:45] They don’t really know how to get started and, or there’s some self doubt. Right? A lot of times when we have an idea for a book it’s to share something that we are passionate about, that we know a lot about, and yet there are other books on the topic. So people are like, well, maybe so and so wrote this better.
[00:03:03] Maybe I don’t need to do this. Is this really going to work? And I like to reassure people that. The book has may have been written on a similar or even the same topic, but it hasn’t been written by you and your unique wisdom, that the way that you share this work in the world,
[00:03:19] Allyson Scammell: Hmm. I love that. I love that.
[00:03:21] Those are two juicy reasons. What do you tell people when they say, I just don’t have time, Nikki, I don’t have time, but I want to do this, but I don’t have time.
[00:03:30] Nikki: I love to give the example of one of my clients because she is a woman, a mompreneur, she has four and now five, she just had another baby. She had four girls at the time when she wrote her book, she started in 2018 and homeschooled them.
[00:03:46] So she is a very busy person, as you might imagine. However, she wrote her book in under a year by getting up before the girls in the morning and writing for like 20, 25 minutes. At a time and not every day, even just like three or four days a week, she did this and if she can do it, but I know you can do it.
[00:04:07] So I really like to give that because it seems reassuring to people. A lot of times people think writing a book means hours and hours and days and days every week. And. None of us have that. I mean, we have full lives, we’re already doing things, but it doesn’t have to be that it can easily be fit into your existing schedule.
[00:04:27] Allyson Scammell: Yeah. I love it. And if I can just share here quickly Nikki, in my journey to leaving my old career, my shadow career and arriving to where I am today, where I feel like I’m totally in alignment to my soul’s calling. I started with writing a book, but I never published. And I did exactly what you said that your client did.
[00:04:50] I was single at the time. It didn’t have kids. Okay. But I had a super, super demanding day job. So I got up every morning and wrote from 5:30 to 6:30 and it was incredibly productive because it was, I was so consistent.
[00:05:03] Nikki: Perfect. Oh, I didn’t know. You’d written a book. That’s so cool.
[00:05:07] Allyson Scammell: Yeah. And it’s sitting inside of my desktop, like collecting dust, but I knew it’s not the book that I wanted to share, but it was that creative process that led me to where I am today.
[00:05:21] Starcat: I love that you say process because that’s something that I’m really passionate about is the creative process itself and how it can affect our lives.
[00:05:29] Allyson Scammell: Yeah. Awesome. So let’s get into that. Can you share a little bit about your process, your creative process, two birthing books.
[00:05:37] Nikki: Absolutely. And just as a little bit of backstory, I wanted to write ever since I was a little girl, but I ended up going into a completely different career of public radio because of a lot of cultural myths about being a writer and how you can’t make a living that way.
[00:05:54] And it’s not a real career choice in yada yada, yada, but I came around full circle and actually wrote and had my first book published when I was in my. Early forties and I’m 50 now. So it’s been within the last decade, but I mean, I’d been writing, but as far as sharing it with the world, it took awhile.
[00:06:10] So what I love to tell people is that it’s, it’s better to let go of the myths and enculturation we have around writing and just creativity in general. And to just embrace, I think that we are each creative. In our own way. And we bring that creation process. We bring that passion for creating to our lives, but then it can get shut down.
[00:06:35] So what I like to do and how, the way I kind of eased into it is to get really, really playful. About it to really enjoy the creativity and to, and you won’t be surprised probably to hear this, because this is kind of this type of, you know, podcast is, is soulful. I mean, it’s creativity is highly connected to spirituality, at least in my experience.
[00:06:58] Allyson Scammell: So, yes, I love that.
[00:07:01] Nikki: So when I start with someone of starting to write their book, we start with an intention. Let me start with an intention. What is your intention for writing this book and what impact do you want this book to have in the world? And I encourage them to think big blue sky, you know, no, no obstacles at this point.
[00:07:19] Just what would you love to have this book do out in the world? And then from there? We kind of ground it back in with things that’ll sound a little more mundane. However, we still approach them with creativity. So an outline and a writing habit. And yeah, so, so, but we do those things. It’s not an outline like, like in high school where you had, you know, the Roman numerals and then the let capital letters and you have to have everything, all the ducks in a row.
[00:07:48] It’s, it’s not that it’s more of a, a creative and flexible outline a plan so that when you sit down in front of that blank page, it’s not so scary.
[00:07:58] Allyson Scammell: Yes. And maybe you’re going to get to this Nikki, but please at some point, tell us how to get into a writing habit. And I’m sorry if you were already going in that direction.
[00:08:09] Starcat: Oh yeah, no, not at all. So a writing habit is much like a daily spiritual practice. It’s something and it doesn’t have to be daily. I say daily. You know, but it doesn’t have to be literally daily, but a regular practice. And what I like to lead people through is a process called aligning with the triple self.
[00:08:28] So it sounds to say, yeah, I love this reward. It really works. So the triple self is a concept that comes from the author Starhawk who wrote the spiral dance. And she started the reclaiming tradition, which is an earth based spirituality. And so she started this, she wrote the spiral dance, I think, back in the seventies.
[00:08:48] And so the, the triple self is a little bit like the ego and superego, but it’s, it’s a little more. I dunno, a little more spiritual to me. So the talking self is your waking consciousness. It’s what we’re talking to one another with right now, and the listeners are listening with right now. So that’s your, your left brain, your, your, the chatter remind that talks to you.
[00:09:09] So that’s one part. Then there’s the, the inner child self younger self. And I had a client who had a really tough childhood and didn’t resonate with the, sort of the joy of the, of the younger self. So she called it the younger self, like Carl Yoon. So you can think of it whichever way works for you, but it’s that.
[00:09:31] Part of us that delights in the sense, sensual pleasures, the senses, the sun, the way things smell and the beauty of flowers and just the magic of life. And that’s more of a right brain conception. And it, to me that the talking self kind of lives in the head, the younger self kind of lives in the heart.
[00:09:51] And so, and then the third part of the triple sub is your deep self. And to me, that’s like your intuition that lives often for people in the gut. And that’s your, your deep knowing and your connection to all that is your cosmic connection. Your there’s a lot of different names for it. The higher self. You know, the inner source.
[00:10:11] So that part, the interesting thing about the triple self is the talking self and the deep self are not able to directly communicate with one another. The language they speak is just so different. So it’s, it’s hard to, for them to communicate, but they can speak through the translation of the younger self.
[00:10:31] And when all of that is aligned, if you picture it like you’re sitting up straight and your shockers are aligned, you’re, you’re, you’re talking self and your head is collaborating with the younger self and your heart who’s then in touch with deep self in your gut. And you’re just all aligned. And the way to get there is to really appeal to that younger self.
[00:10:52] And so in the notion of developing a writing habit, I encourage people to sit down, to write with a special candle that they devote to this project, a playlist of music that lights them up. And often I suggest like instrumental music. Cause then your thoughts are free to flow as you write, but just a beautiful music that grounds younger self.
[00:11:15] And to have it be a ritual. Because ritual is, that’s what ritual is really about. It’s about appealing to that younger self and grounding us in symbols and magic and fairytales and that sort of thing, because that will anchor us to the deepest wisdom we have access to.
[00:11:34] Allyson Scammell: Oh, my gosh. That is beautiful. That is so lovely.
[00:11:37] And so much of what you’re saying reminds me of the work I do in that I help people discover their core gifts, which are the unique abilities you’re born to share. I sometimes call me your soul super powers and your soul super powers are really found in that childlike energy of play, you know, and in that, that it’s found when you’re delighting in the senses and.
[00:12:03] In, you know, really connecting into your inner child. So I love that this is also part of your creative process when you work with the writers, because it’s all connected, right?
[00:12:13] Nikki: It is.
[00:12:13] Allyson Scammell: Yeah. And then to use writing as a medium to express your core gifts is really, really powerful. So let’s talk about that.
[00:12:21] Why does a book, or how does a book help us spread our vision as soul guided entrepreneurs as spread our wings? Vision and wisdom to a wider audience.
[00:12:33] Nikki: Well in several different ways. So at the surface level or the talking self, but well, maybe your book becomes an ambassador for you, so you can be, you know, doing your best work from an aligned place and you’re out there and you’re talking to people, but.
[00:12:47] You know, you have to sleep and eat and have a life. So your book and be out there as an ambassador when you’re doing other things. And, um, also your book gives you a certain amount of respect and credibility as an expert on what you do now, an expert don’t get too, you know, People listening. Don’t get too freaked out by expert.
[00:13:09] Am I an expert? Well, you are because, you know, you’re an expert to those who know less about what you’re teaching, right? So you often, you know, encourage people to write. To like themselves at a younger age. Like what would I have wanted to know that I did learn, you know, at that younger age. So that’s kind of a good way to think about it.
[00:13:30] You’re an expert for those people who are at that stage. And so that’s how it kind of gets the word out. And then on a deeper level, Writing about what we’re passionate about, I’ve found helps us clarify it even more. It helps us even like go deeper. And I think it’s because of that process of, you know, connecting with your deep wisdom sometimes when we’re sharing what we know, like the ego can get in the way, I mean, the ego has a place, right?
[00:13:57] Like the talking self has a value, but sometimes it can get in the way. And when you connect and write from this place of deep connection with. That’s the deep self you’ll. You might discover things. You. You know, didn’t know about yourself or your process, or just ways to express it even better. Yeah.
[00:14:15] Allyson Scammell: I so agree with that.
[00:14:16] And I would even say, if you do that, if you show up consistently in this creative process, as you’re saying with a regular practice, I think you will. I think the likelihood of you getting something clarifying for your core gifts, your sole mission, the writing you want to do in the world, the work you want on the.
[00:14:36] We’re doing the world is almost guaranteed. I think that the clarity comes from this creative process. You know, I work with entrepreneurs to, to get them clarity. I help them get clarity. And I always say, I can only, we can only dream it so far in our mind’s eye at a certain point. It’s that? Creative process that inspired action.
[00:14:57] That’s really going to give you that clarity and nothing is more beautiful. I don’t know. Maybe because my personal experience is so profound with this, how clarifying the writing process was for me. And I did not publish anything. It was just what I received from the writing process was clarity. And so I believe in it so strongly.
[00:15:20] That everything you’re saying is very true.
[00:15:24] Nikki: Some people come to me and say, well, I’m not really a writer, but I don’t know. And I said, that’s writing, you don’t have to publish it out there in the world. I mean, it’s awesome to do that, but you don’t have to, for it to be valuable, you can be a journaler. And when I was, you know, kind of doing my public radio career and not really writing for other people that much, I did still journal and that just brought.
[00:15:44] A lot of stuff that I, you know, wisdom that I use today. So,
[00:15:48] Allyson Scammell: yes. So you’ve mentioned a few times that people come to you and say, ah, well, I don’t know if I’m the expert. I don’t know if I’m the one, I’m sure you get that kind of imposter syndrome. Quite often, what are some of the things you say to people?
[00:16:02] And they say, well, I feel like I have imposter syndrome. I’m not a read or I’m not an expert.
[00:16:07] Starcat: Yeah. They’re usually, they’re usually pretty competent in what they do, but it’s with the writing. Like I’m not a real writer or I’m not, you know, I’ve never been a real writer. And so what I say is, The key thing about writing and getting better as a writer is to write.
[00:16:23] So this is, it sounds sort of obvious, but I actually learned the value of practice from my kids when they were little. So I kind of grew up as someone who, for whom academic work came naturally for school, you know, schooling and that sort of thing. So that was easy and I didn’t have to work too hard at it.
[00:16:40] So when something came up that I had to work at, I thought, Oh, I’m just really bad at this. Mm. Mm. Well think that about their writing. Oh, I’m just not good at it. But then I saw my kids when they were little, they wanted to play soccer or just anything, but I’ll use soccer as an example. They were out there, they were terrible at it.
[00:16:55] They were little kids. Right. But they were out there for hours in the yard practicing because they wanted to, because it’s something they felt, you know, there was no pressure from anybody else. It was internal. Like I want to. Do this trick with the soccer ball and they do it for hours. And I just watched that and I was like, Oh, okay.
[00:17:12] So anything you want to get better at the practice? Yes. I encourage people to just start writing. Don’t don’t put your pressure on yourself. People tend to think, okay, I’m going to sit down. I’m going to open my word processor. I’m going to write this. Great either like the great American novel or the, you know, this awesome book for my clients and potential clients.
[00:17:33] Don’t put that pressure on yourself, especially at the beginning. Just let yourself sit down and play on the page a bit and see what emerges.
[00:17:41] Allyson Scammell: Yes, that is brilliant. That is brilliant. So in terms of like, let’s say we have listeners who are. Interested in writing, maybe they’ve started and they’ve got, you know, they’ve got something that could be even getting to a finalized form.
[00:17:58] And they’re wondering about publishing. Do you have any thoughts on self publishing versus getting published? I know that it, that that topic really evolves kind of rapidly with each passing year. What’s the latest on that, that conversation that, that, you know of.
[00:18:16] Starcat: I am a huge fan of self publishing, especially as it is today.
[00:18:20] There’s still a little stigma about it from way back in the day when it was sort of a vanity press thing where, Oh, I can’t get published. So I need to do this nowadays. It’s much, it’s opened up so many doors for people and I, the reason I’m really a fan of self publishing. Versus getting published is because, unless you’re already someone really super famous, like a Danielle LaPorte, or even like JK Rowling, you’re going to be expected by a publisher to help promote your book and to have an audience kind of built in for your book.
[00:18:52] And this is why it’s great for entrepreneurs. We already are building our audience all the time. We have a list, we have people, you know, so it’s, it’s, that’s, that’s, that’s a leg up that really helps. And. My first book was published by a small publisher and I was kind of expected to help promote it, which I did.
[00:19:09] And then you get a reward in reward, energy exchange, right. Money that you’re getting back is very small because you’re, they’re paying for all of their people to, you know, do all the different things that they do, which is, it makes sense. But just, I decided that if I was going to be out there promoting my own book and having my own platform.
[00:19:28] You know, I’d like to reap some more of those rewards and have more control over the book and how it gets presented. Now that said, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. There are a whole bunch of awesome professionals out there now who help people to get their manuscript ready. And, you know, I would say having a writing coach or someone like me who booked midwife is very valuable.
[00:19:49] Also an editor, someone else to get their eyes on, on the manuscript. Some people hire someone to format the book. For, if they’re going to put it on a big platform like Amazon or smash words or other, you know, there are different formats, you can put it in and you might want to have a book cover design.
[00:20:07] So there are ways to get professionals to help you with the self publishing process, but really you have the most control and the most reward from being self published in my experience. Yeah.
[00:20:17] Allyson Scammell: Yes. And I’m so glad you mentioned book midwife, that is like the best title ever. I saw it in your bio. Is that something you coined or is that a thing?
[00:20:27] Nikki: Well, I’ve since discovered that it is a thing that a few people have, but it came, um, from a client that I worked with when I first started helping other people write their books in 20, just a few years ago in 2017. And she and I were kind of, she said, I was helping her and she said, Oh, you need to do this.
[00:20:45] You need, this needs to be your business. You really, you know, you’re really talented at this. And, and we kind of kicked around what it would be called and came up with. I think our first iteration was book doula, which is similar, but somebody else was a book doula. So book midwife became the, the term. It really is.
[00:21:02] It’s like a process of giving birth, right? Because yes, creating this. Entity that represents you, that you then send out into the world. Right? Right.
[00:21:11] Allyson Scammell: Absolutely. And if there’s something as like, like I said, I’ve actually written two full books and, and I spent years on them. So really, like, I feel like. They were serious projects, both of them.
[00:21:23] And there’s something. So I know about that. And I know about creating a podcast. I know about creating YouTube channel and I know, I know the different mediums out there and there is something different about a book because it’s such a, Hm. What, how do you describe it? It’s like all your focus into one thing, like one baby, right?
[00:21:43] Nikki: Yeah. Well, and it’s, it’s. The podcast I would say is evolving. Like, you know, as you, as you grow and learn, you know, it’s evolving a book. Once you put it out there, that’s kind of static. It’s true. It becomes its own thing. And then you can write other books and, you know, do other things. But that, that book is represents a point in time and space of your wisdom at that point.
[00:22:04] So yes,
[00:22:05] Allyson Scammell: well said, well said exactly. So Nikki, what are some daily practices or tips you can offer listeners who are interested in birthing a book. To help them get started and, or build momentum.
[00:22:19] Nikki: What I would love to see people do is to integrate. Now I’m thinking your listeners probably have some kind of spiritual practice, but if they don’t, that’s, that’s fine.
[00:22:28] But for those who do have like a spiritual practice, I would love to see them integrate writing. Into that, or would that energy or approach. So in other words, getting that triple self really aligned, I like to meditate before I start writing, or, you know, you could, whatever appeals to you, do some yoga, whatever it is that gets you really in the zone of feeling connected with something bigger than yourself.
[00:22:53] And then. Sit down to write. And when I, when I, when people get started, I say, go ahead and do it longhand at first, you know, take pen and paper, uh, journal and, and start that way. Cause it’s a, it’s a way to really connect your body to the process. Like the process of writing long hand in a journal. Really?
[00:23:13] It, it also slows you down a little bit, so you’re like, okay. What am I, what am I letting through here? It’s almost like channeling in a way. See what comes through you when you’re super aligned. So just start that end. Don’t don’t put any pressure on it. Let it just be 10 minutes and you can ask yourself, you know, guiding questions, like, what is my wisdom?
[00:23:33] What am I being called to share kind of questions, actually, questions that you ask your clients, Alison, when you’re, you know, getting into the soulful process of, you know, connecting with the soul, do that in your journal. Like, yeah. Just, just write for a few minutes.
[00:23:47] Allyson Scammell: Ooh. I love that. I love that. And it is so like, you know, helping people connect to the soul of their business and create business offerings from there, which is one of the things I do.
[00:23:58] It’s like, so similar to what you’re talking about,
[00:24:01] Nikki: right?
[00:24:01] Allyson Scammell: Yeah. I love, I love that. Yes.
[00:24:04] Nikki: The other thing I want to add about that is I love mind mapping.
[00:24:08] Allyson Scammell: Oh, so I’m like I do every, I can’t even, I can’t even take notes anymore unless I’m mind mapping.
[00:24:15] Nikki: So if people don’t know about mind mapping, just go ahead and look it up on Google.
[00:24:19] It’s just, it’s like a creative process of it’s what I have people start with when they’re making an outline for their book. So just, you’re just getting topics on the page, out there in a creative way. And then later you can kind of organize them into how you want your chapters and things to be, but just start with the.
[00:24:34] The messy creative process.
[00:24:38] Allyson Scammell: Yes, yes, yes. Love it. So I always like to put my guests on the spot and if you ever listen to my podcast, then you’ll be ready for this. And we’re going to test you Nikki, to see if you’ve, if you’ve listened, if you’ve been a listener. I’m so kidding. I always tell my guests, you get a gold, you get the biggest gold star.
[00:25:00] I invite you to leave our listeners with a challenge. My friend.
[00:25:05] Nikki: Okay. So you’re a challenge this week is to find half an hour in your schedule, just half an hour. And to take the first five minutes of that half an hour, to get super aligned with your triple self, get, find something, music, or a scent or something that just gets you really in the zone.
[00:25:23] And then just to write for 25 minutes free, you know, free writing stream of consciousness, letting it be whatever it is. And then just. Seeing what emerges, that’s your challenge. That’s a beautiful starting
[00:25:37] Allyson Scammell: place. That is beautiful. And I’ll just add if you do that with any sort of consistency at all, like start this week and I love that.
[00:25:46] Yes. Start, start this week. And then if you add some consistency to that and do it a few more times, I think it’s going to be pretty magical. What you’ll see in a pretty short amount of time.
[00:25:58] Nikki: Yeah. And you’ll start to enjoy it. I mean, that’s what I really want my clients and everyone to enjoy the process.
[00:26:03] Allyson Scammell: Yes.
[00:26:04] Nikki: Your activity is fun. It’s so much fun.
[00:26:06] Allyson Scammell: It is fun. It is fun. And when you do get in that zone and it is just kind of flowing through you, I dunno for me, there’s very few things that feel better than that,
[00:26:16] Nikki: who I want to add the hat. So I like to tell people that you’re writing hat. And your editing hat are different parts.
[00:26:26] They use different parts of the brain. Yes. Oh, don’t try to edit while you’re writing. Save that cool editor hat for later. Yes. And just let it flow.
[00:26:36] Allyson Scammell: Let it flow. Yes, that is a really good. Good tip. Oh my gosh. Thank you so much, Nikki, for this wisdom, what an incredible episode. And I loved everything you shared.
[00:26:49] I think it’s, I think this is super, super timely for soul guided entrepreneurs, because I think getting that book out there, getting that writing out there, even if you don’t. Like, that’s not your thing. You’re not a writer, but you’re an entrepreneur who also has a book. There’s I just think it’s such a beautiful way.
[00:27:07] As you’ve said, to get a wider audience, get more people knowing about you. It’s a wonderful way to promote you and the amazing work you’re doing in the world. So I think it is fabulous and. If you are listening and you are wondering about this and thinking you might need some extra support birthing your book, Nikki, the book midwife is here.
[00:27:30] So tell our listeners how they can find you.
[00:27:33] Nikki: Oh, I’d be happy to welcome you to my website, which is Nikki starcat shields.com. Nikki spelled N I K K I in this case. And so come on over and join the community.
[00:27:45] Allyson Scammell: Beautiful. And that link will be in the show notes again, Nikki, thank you so much for taking the time to share your wisdom today on the show.
[00:27:54] I am so grateful and I consider you a friend and it’s just so lovely to connect with you in this way. So thank you so much.
[00:28:02] Starcat: Oh, you’re so welcome. Thanks for having me. It was super fun.
[00:28:06] Allyson Scammell: Thank you so much for listening. And if you’re loving this episode, go ahead and hit subscribe wherever it is you listen, and I’d be so grateful for a rating and review.
[00:28:18] So more people can find us. And if you want help activating your connection to your intuitive voice and spirit guides, then head on over to my website. At AllysonScammell.com and download three free guided visioning meditations. To help you call in that divine guidance so that you can double your business growth and reach in six months time.