Sunday, 5 November 2017

Top 5 tips to effectively co-author a book

In 2016 we decided to co-author a book and in March 2017 our first book 'Finding Your Inner Resilience' was published. It took us about 18 months to write our book from concept to finished product and there are a few tips we learnt along the way to help others co-author a book.

We (Theodora and Kate) are work colleagues and sisters-in-law. We have a background in Human Resources, Change Management and Organisation Development and have worked together at a couple of organisations.  Both of us have always wanted to write a book individually and we both have a lot of experience in writing, but it wasn't until we experienced a joint challenge when we started to discuss the idea of writing a book together. 

In our book one of the core principles we talk about is the importance of 'teamwork' as teamwork divides the task and multiples success and we are evidence that teaming up helps you to succeed - we are now both published authors!  

Since the release of our book we often get asked "Was it easy to co-author the book?" and "How did we go about co-authoring the book together?".  So here are our top 5 tips if you are thinking about co-authoring a book: 

1) Work with someone you know well and trust, you need to be open and transparent. Writing is a very personal experience and you need to be able to share your stories and your thinking with each other.  We know it sounds obvious but you need to work well together as you are business partners in your writing venture.

2) Set expectations on writing timeframes. This is very practical but essential to a good working relationship. It is important to hold each other accountable.

3) Communicate, communicate, communicate. You need to keep the communication channel open between the two of you. If you are struggling, unmotivated etc, communicate this to your co-author. Also, don't be afraid to make suggestions/improvements to the book as we found that we would build on each other's suggestions until we came up with an idea that we both liked. 

Communication is essential to critically reviewing, questioning and making suggestions on each other's writing. We would write different chapters and then swap work for review, add to then send it back.

4) Take time off to focus on writing together. We both took 3-6 months off our corporate careers to focus on writing. I know this might not sound ideal to a lot of people as you still need an income however it really got us into a writing rhythm where we would take turns writing and reviewing each others work. 

5) Set values or principles for your working relationship. We focused on being equals, this was important as we both have different strengths that we were bringing to the book. We also focused on honesty, respect and trust. This helped as we didn't always agree and these values would help us come to a solution that we were both happy with. 

Good luck in your writing journey!    

By Theodora Zourkas and Kate Zourkas, authors of Finding Your Inner Resilience. 

Follow us on Facebook @zourkasgroup and Instagram @zourkas_group 

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Seeking Resilience From Within. A Mindful Approach To Managing Life's Challenges

Awareness, presence, balance and stillness are all words we associate with mindfulness. However, life is full of challenges and stressful situations, so how does mindfulness stack up when you need it the most? 

I have used mindfulness to get me through some pretty challenging and stressful situations and I can talk from my experience when I say that it has helped me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually get through some of the toughest times in my life. Being mindful has helped me be resilient and as the world is increasingly uncertain and divided, it is even more important to go inside ourselves and build our own inner resilience. 

Mindfulness is a tool that I use to help me build resilience, it helps me handle stress and change and helps me to flow through challenging situations rather than getting caught up in them. I have trained myself through mindfulness to focus on myself, my inner world and to channel my energy towards what I want to achieve through challenges.  

Stress and change form part of modern lives, they are not going away, and if anything they are intensifying and taking a toll on our overall wellbeing. As individuals how we manage this stress is becoming increasingly more important and we need to find ways to be more resilient to challenges and daily stressors. I have found that this is where mindfulness steps in. Like happiness resilience is an inside job, we need to seek resilience from within ourselves. The truth is that no one else can be resilient for us, we need to build it ourselves and sometimes it can be really hard to persevere through adversity. But there are support tools like mindfulness available, personally, mindfulness has helped me shine through darkness. 

Mindfulness can support you by:

- Helping you focus on the present moment 
- Increases your level of awareness and consciousness
- Provides focus and clarity through adversity
- Supports mental perseverance
- Helps you to balance and calm the mind 
- Supports the healing process. Challenges and stress take a toll on us and can emotionally and mentally knock us down. Going through a healing process can help you deal with the damage from the stress you have gone through and heal the situation so that you can move on. 
- Mindfulness supports in managing your emotions. When you go through stress it is likely you will experience a range of emotions. Mindfulness will help keep things in perspective and bring you back into a balanced state. You will still get emotional but you will be more in control. 

Here are 3 ways you can be mindful during challenges and build your resilience:

1.    Focus on the present and what is in front of you. Don't get too caught up in the whole situation. Ask yourself what do I need to do today and just focus on what is in front of you. You can become easily overwhelmed and stressed if you focus on the whole situation, break it down and just focus on what you need to achieve in the present moment.  

2.    Be grateful. Keep a positive mindset and focus on what you are grateful for.  This will help keep things in perspective and help you persevere. Coming from a place of gratitude also removes your ego from the situation as you are responding from your authentic self. Our ego's can sometimes make situations harder than they need to be and hinder us from progressing through adversity.   

3.    Start your own daily mindful activity to increase your own awareness. Those who have been through stress will agree that stress is exhausting, so start a daily mindful routine to help restore your energy. Invest in your own mental wellbeing through mindful activities, examples include; yoga, meditation, nature walks, art/drawing, listening to music or journaling. Mindfulness never takes time, it gives time. If there is one tip I can leave you with it is learning how to use your breath. Take 5 minutes a day to focus on deep breathing or when you are in a stressful situation take a few moments to just breathe, it will calm you down.   

It is a fact that stress is harmful to our health and our lives are full of stress. Therefore building resilience will help you manage stress and challenging situations better. But it does take some investment from you, resilience is an inside job.      

We can all practice mindfulness and for some of us (like me), it might take a lot of practice but it is a great support tool to use when you are going through challenging times. And after a while, it will become part of your natural response to stress and you will be more resilient to life's challenges.