Writing a book might be a very difficult task especially when starting it. There comes a time when procrastination and impostor syndrome comes. Thinking about the people that need to hear your voice and committing to writing could be great ways to combat these. It will open up a lot of opportunities you did not even expect.
In this episode, Steph Caswell talks about how she moved from being a deputy head to an author of six books, including her latest book, Dare to Write. She also talks about how a book can help your business and what you should do if you're procrastinating around writing a book or if impostor syndrome comes up.
Listen and Enjoy!
00:00 Episode Intro
00:40 Podcast Intro
02:05 Who Steph Caswell is and who she helps
03:05 How Steph ended up with the business that she has today
05:22 What Steph learned from the process of shifting into her business
06:25 About Steph’s books
09:30 What drove Steph to start writing
11:15 Why are books good for someone’s business
12:54 Steph’s advice on getting started with writing
14:59 What to do when Impostor Syndrome comes
17:57 A take on over researching before writing
19:34 Steph’s advice on starting a business or a freelance work
21:21 Listening to your intuition
24:40 How to find more about Steph Caswell
Hi, I’m Ruth, a business coach specializing in helping freelancers and business owners adjust their mindset and their marketing so they can get fully booked with clients they LOVE to work with. I’ve helped hundreds of self-employed women achieve the time and money freedom they craved.
I’ve started this podcast because when I first went all in and left the corporate world to be a freelancer, I was grateful for any work that came my way. After over 20 years of freelancing and working for other people, I started to realize I’d created a glass ceiling for myself.
In 2017, I finally started listening to that voice that had been telling me for a long time that I wasn’t doing what I loved and fulfilling my true potential. It took a critical illness to give me that wake-up call. I don’t want the same to happen to you.
You can expect practical advice, inspiring stories, and a lot of aha moments as we uncover and kick to the curb all the obstacles you have been putting in your way.
I’m on a mission to inspire women to start and play bigger in business.
Free Masterclass: https://www.ruthgilbey.com/the-sold-out-solution-2022
Ruth Gilbey 00:00
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the inspiring women in business podcast. Today I've got Steph Caswell on the podcast with me. She's going to be talking about how she moved from being a deputy head to an author of six books, including her latest book, dare to write. She's going to also talk about how a book can help your business. And she's also going to talk about habits and what you do if you're procrastinating around writing a book or impostor syndrome comes up. It's a great episode packed with loads of advice.
Ruth Gilbey 00:40
Hello, and welcome to the inspiring women in business podcast. My name is Ruth Gilbey, and I'm a business and marketing coach. I'm on a mission to inspire women to start and play bigger in business. Now I started this podcast because when I first went all in and left the corporate world to be a freelancer, I was just grateful for any work that came my way. After over 20 years of freelancing and working for other people, I started to realize I'd created a glass ceiling myself. It was in 2017 when I finally started listening to that voice that had been telling me for a long time that I wasn't doing what I loved, and I wasn't fulfilling my true potential. It took a critical illness to give me that wake-up call. And I don't want the same thing to happen to you. You can expect practical advice, interviews, inspiring stories, and a lot of aha moments as we uncover and kick to the curb. All the obstacles you've been putting in your way.
Ruth Gilbey 01:46
Hi, everyone, welcome back to the inspiring women in business podcast. I'm very pleased to have Steph Caswell with me today. I hope I've said your name right, Steph, a book mentor, and a coach. Yeah. So thank you so much for coming on the show today. Could you let everyone know who you are, and who you help?
Steph Caswell 02:05
Snippy. So I run a business called Creating Happy Writers. And it's a business that helps other small business owners who want to write books in their niche area to publish as a business book or self-development, but I support them with the writing process. So planning the book and outlining it and then tips on structure and actually writing. And yeah, that's kind of where I'm at because I am an author. So I have six books now under my belt, and I realized is quite a daunting prospect. When you're first thinking about it with the rise of self-publishing a lot more people are interested in doing it. And I thought, well, I'll marry up my experience and help other people to do the same thing.
Ruth Gilbey 02:46
Amazing. I missed out on that very, very important fact that you have six books under your belt. It's absolutely amazing. I want you to tell everybody in a bit more about your latest book, which is called Dare to Write as well. So I'll be asking you about that. Can you tell me? Where did it all start? How did you end up with a business that you have today?
Steph Caswell 03:05
It's a very interesting journey, and not necessarily one that I thought I would have in terms of the outcome of the journey that I took. I used to be a teacher, I was a deputy head for a while. And then I decided actually, I wanted to leave teaching and I wanted to go into running my own business. So the most sort of obvious choice for me was a tutoring business, which I had for a little while supporting children with their SATs, revision, and other aspects of their learning. But actually, it wasn't really filling me up in terms of that kind of joy aspect of owning a business. And so I did it for about a year. But actually, all that time, I was thinking, Well, what else can I do? I like working for myself, I like having a business. But actually what does that business look like? And I qualified as a coach, I decided I'd go down the sort of coaching qualification route in the hope that I'd be able to use that moving forward. And that was sort of an eye-opener as well, because then it was like, well, what kind of coach do I become, and I dabbled with thinking about whether I was a life coach and thought about maybe I help other teachers leave the profession. And because sadly, you know, there's a market for that, because lots of teachers are looking to try something else. But again, it didn't really fill me with, you know, a lot of excitement. I enjoyed working with people, but just there was something missing. And I thought to myself, right, I love writing. Writing is my absolute joy and passion. How can I marry up everything that I had learned and use the skills that I have to bring writing into my everyday life? So that's how the business started. And it's sort of got two arms to it really. It's got the mentoring side, supporting people with books, but also on the other side, which is actually writing for people so as to get copywriting and support people in their businesses that way. So yeah, it sort of came about by just trial and error, really, and thinking I do want to do something I love as well as something that can be a business. So that's how it came about really.
Steph Caswell 03:56
That's really interesting though, that initially when you left the teaching world that you felt that you needed to do something that was connected to what you were doing before. I've heard that story quite a few times. What would you say to someone who's sort of feeling like that? What did you learn from that process from hanging on to thinking you needed to do that?
Steph Caswell 05:22
I think it comes down to identity, I still identified with myself as a teacher, again, when people ask me what I did, up until probably a year ago, 18 months ago, I probably would have said, I'm a teacher, I never left that identity behind that label behind maybe because it's a security thing. And it was something I felt I was good at and knowledgeable in. And it took me a long time to shake the label. But actually, it was only when I started to call myself a writer and a copywriter and an author that things shifted for me because it just changed my whole perception of what I was doing, I started to take the business that I wanted to do much more seriously. And it allowed me to almost leave that part of the past behind. And because it wasn't serving me right now, I think I've brought a lot of my teaching skills into what I do now, particularly with mentoring and supporting other people. So I'm always very grateful that I had the experience of teaching, but now I'm kind of doing it in a very different way. And it's actually not my primary role. It's just one of the skills that I happen to have.
Ruth Gilbey 06:21
And can you tell us a little bit more about the six books that you've written? Are they all quite different
Steph Caswell 06:25
Yeah, sure. The first three, I wrote the first one, when I was still teaching. And I decided, as a deputy head, I was supporting a lot of newly qualified teachers. And I realized that I was giving them the same sort of advice over and over again. And I still to this day, can't remember why I decided I'd write a book about it. But it was one of those things where I thought, Well, like I like writing, I keep saying the same things to people, particularly with behavior management. And I thought, Well, why don't I just write it down in a book. And I can remember the process very vividly because my process has evolved massively since then. But I remember thinking, right, if I'm going to do this, I'm going to get up at five o'clock every morning. And right before I go to work, because that was the only time I could fit it in. And a young family at the same time. So I got up and I wrote it. And just as much as I enjoyed writing it, because I had a lot of experience and knowledge, I actually just loved the whole process of writing. And I can remember finishing it, I can remember just getting really swept up into this whole idea of writing books. And then I wrote the second and third ones for teachers and very soon after. So I had three books in three years. And then as a result of that had lots of opportunities come my way in terms of other writing, again, within the education sector, but opportunities to try writing articles. I had a podcast for a little while. And it was just a fantastic way of broadening my scope and horizon in terms of Oh, actually, wow, this can open up different doors for me that I had not considered. And then from off the back of that, I had a ghost, two ghostwriting opportunities for an Australian publisher, which were books around personal development, which on the side, I'd started to learn a lot about. So they asked me to do that, which I did. And then the sixth book, which came out this year in January, it was basically, yeah, well, I know how to write books, other people would like to know how to write books. So I wrote a book that tells you how to write a book.
Ruth Gilbey 08:24
Yeah. And then came Dare to Write.
Steph Caswell 08:26
Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, it's one of those things that it's been in my head quite a while, which tends to happen with all my books, I think about it for a long time and let it just sort of I like to say, you know, like a fine wine, it just sorts of percolates in my head and then eventually I decanted onto the page. So yeah, it's one of those things that I think you write the book that's inside you that's talking to you and you can't really I don't think you can really predict what books going to come next. For me it's just a natural creative process you start to think of oh, maybe I'd like to write about that next. So I already have book seven in my head I just yeah, just haven't outlined it at all yet but it's just in there just you know, gathering ideas and things while I carry on doing everything else.
Ruth Gilbey 09:10
So how did you learn to write? Have you always liked writing were you trained as a copywriter? What do you think talking about writing these books? It doesn't come it's one of its real stumbling blocks for a lot of people. I mean, there are so many people including myself who have said I'm writing a book for such a long time or it feels like a long time What drove you or helped you get to that outcome?
Steph Caswell 09:30
To be honest, I don't know. I was I've been an English languages person. I'm more languages than I am in science and maths and I love teaching English. I love teaching writing. I learned a lot about structure, particularly story structure through teaching it and then became an English specialist. And I think it kind of came from there really, and I've always loved us. I loved reading fiction, and nonfiction. And I think I learned the hard way is essentially the nice way of putting it. So a lot of people, for example, they'll write and try and edit at the same time. And I went through that whole process of writing a page or writing a few paragraphs, and then rereading it, deleting it, starting again, and trying to just get something on the page. And it was an interesting experience seeing it that way. And I thought You know what, there must be some way of learning how to do this in a way that isn't so frustrating. And I enrolled in a program that was called the time, I don't know if it's still running, I assume it is. It's called a self-publishing school run by a guy called Chandler Bolts in the States. And he basically helped you write to a point but his was more helping you with either how to launch it or self-publish it. And we worked with, there was a group of us and we all supported each other. So I just read a lot about how to write I wrote and self-publishing school. And I just sort of brought all those skills together and did it that way. So it was sort of a very roundabout way to get into it. But once I've done one book, you can start to think, oh, okay, there's sort of a system, there's sort of a strategy you can use that I then applied to the rest, and that was they were much quicker to write than the first one.
Ruth Gilbey 11:06
Amazing. So what if someone's listening to this and thinking, you know, what would you? If so, why, why do you think a book is good for someone's business
Steph Caswell 11:15
Books' are a fantastic way, the unfortunate thing about self-publishing is people say, Oh if people write books, that must mean that they're automatically very rich and famous. And actually, we know what I tell people, I write books that I, Oh, gosh, you know, that's their sort of the main question is that sort of thing. I think when it comes to it, though, writing a book for a business is more around, it becomes part of your business model, it becomes part of your marketing strategy. I know people who use books that they send, they, they don't actually expect to make profit from them, they write them as like a really engaging way to they send them to people as a sort of like, you know, this is more about me. But the main way really is, it just opens up so many opportunities that you probably would never even think about. It certainly did for me. And it's done for people that I've spoken to in interviews on Instagram about it, you know, it comes down to consultancy people consulting work because you're seen as an expert, you're seen as somebody who really has that knowledge and in your niche area, it can lead to other writing opportunities, it can lead to talking, it's you know, on podcast, it can lead to speaking events, it can lead to, you know, having it as part of your sales funnel, where if people want to get to know you, but they don't necessarily make me want to buy your program to start with a book is a really nice way of introducing yourself to them and saying, Look, this is, you know, this is my knowledge, this is kind of who I am because your personality naturally comes through in your writing. And that gives them that taste of what it might be like to work with you and your knowledge. And then it can sort of start to feed them through your sales funnel.
Ruth Gilbey 12:46
And so if someone's listening to this, and they've been putting off writing a book, or they're procrastinating about it, how do they get any advice for getting started?
Steph Caswell 12:54
I suppose this is a common question. And I would say that there's no sort of waiting for the muse to take you it's literally sitting in the chair. And committing to writing on a regular basis, people sometimes think that they will write a book sort of in their spare time, or just as and when they can. And unfortunately, it's more of a commitment than maybe people realize. And the best way to do it is to sit down even just for half an hour a day, 20 minutes a day. But building up that consistency is absolutely vital. So the best way to start really is to sit down and that you know, I advocate just almost dumping all your thoughts out of your brain onto paper. Because, you know, like I said, most people have had an idea that's just been swirling around in their head for such a long time that actually if they can just dump it all onto paper. It takes it out of their head, which is great because it frees up a lot of mental space. It also allows other ideas to start to come into your brain because I think that sometimes we can only hold on to finite amounts of information. So once you've got all of what you're currently thinking onto paper, I then say sort of leave it for a while week or so. And then you'll start to realize that other things come into your head because you started that creative process. And then it really comes down to putting all those ideas into an outline under common themes, which would generally become chapter headings. And then once you sort of got a rough outline of what would be in each chapter, you're then able to start writing and you know, that's the hardest part. But if you can commit to every day, just even if you just write 500 words a day, or 300 words a day over time that is going to build into a book.
Ruth Gilbey 14:33
And if people start I mean, this has happened to me when I when I'm writing if you start to get impostor syndrome, right? Why would anybody want to hear from me or you know, which is going to crop up, especially when you're putting your own thoughts like, whether it's a blog, whether it's a podcast, or whether you know, a book, it can feel quite daunting to people but how have you supportive people or what advice do you have for people when they're feeling that impostor syndrome? Like why me? Why would someone want to listen to me?
Steph Caswell 14:59
It's very common. But I think the only way I've tackled it in the past is because it happens to me even though you know when you've got six books, you can still have this sort of worry about it. And I what my next book is going to be around habits because it's something that I've read a lot about and done a lot of research into. And for me, you automatically think of the authors you know, and love. And you think, or what am I going to say that's going to be any different to James Clear and Atomic Habits, or BJ Fogg and Tiny Habits or, you know, anyone who's sort of Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit, I mean, all of these books are incredible books on habit. But actually, there's only a certain number of topics that we can talk about. And if you are having that impostor syndrome, look on your bookshelf, look at the books that you've got. And you'll find that there are so many that are all under the thing, sort of the same thing in the same sort of theme. Or maybe it's habits or mindset, or business, there are only so many ways you can say something, but it's actually the way you say it that matters. It's not the way anybody else has said it. And if you've got an audience, if you've got people that want to hear from you, they're going to want to hear your take on that particular topic, even though they've got loads of other books on the shelf. Because I know I've got loads of books on the shelf under a sort of similar themes. And I love the fact that I learned something different from each one. They're all written in different ways, with different stories, and different advice. And I've learned from each and every one of them, even though the theme is the same. So I think it's just remembering that it's your voice that people want to hear. Even though there maybe you know, how have many books on your topic already? Don't be put off by that because people want to hear your ideas and your strategies that could help them
Ruth Gilbey 16:39
So interesting. And I feel the same. And actually, as you're saying this, it's like reinforcing something because I love reading about money mindset. And I don't feel like oh, I've read one money mindset, but that's it. Like where give me more, you know, I read one, or I learned something about it. And I want to learn more. You know, I've read all of Denise Duffield Thomas his books and I've read lots of Jensen Zero's books as well. And I'm like, I'm always asking people, What else should I be reading as well, I think that's really interesting. Because when I was also when I was newly writing when I first started writing my blog, which I started, I guess probably in 2090 it was a habit I had to get out of where I felt like I needed to go and research and read and read and read what other people have done first before I put pen to paper and one of the things that I really do now is I try not to do that and I tried to what do you think first? What do you know at this point? What are your, what are my stories that I can interpret? Because I think you're so right we postmodern society, aren't we all pastiche and parody of everything, there isn't really anything new. It's what we bring to it and our stories. So yeah, is that, what advice would you have to someone if they are over researching and not putting your own thoughts on paper?
Steph Caswell 17:57
Yeah. I always think it's procrastination in disguise. If you're over researching, I think there's a place for research. But for everybody that I work with, and myself, I don't do that research. Until I've done the first draft, I like to get all my thoughts, like you said, my thoughts, my ideas down first and the first draft. And if I know during that, first that writing of that first draft, that there's something that I'll need to do more research on, or there's somebody that I definitely want to reference at that point, I just write a note to myself in the first draft, say research needed here. And it's literally all I say, or I'll say, you know, I'm a big Jen fan as well. And so I might say, you know, Jen's quote about this, or Mel Robbin's quote about this. So I don't let that stop my flow in the first draft, because sometimes we're writing and flow is such an incredible experience, you know, that when you're really in the zone. And if you stop to be like, watch, I'm just going to Google that really quickly. Or who said that quote, I'm thinking about it, it just breaks it. So I tend to just put a note, and then I just carry on writing, because otherwise the research can stop me ever getting the first draft written.
Ruth Gilbey 19:06
That's such good advice. brilliant advice. Thank you so much. I've got just got a couple more questions for you. For anyone listening. A lot of my listeners are freelancers, or they're online business owners for those listening that are sort of almost and I think some of my audience as well might be in the corporate world where they're thinking about going freelance or starting a business, what is your best advice that you would give someone what advice you wish you'd been given when you first started your business or went freelance?
Steph Caswell 19:34
I think the best advice that I probably now have is to have a plan, but don't be you know, don't be held totally rigid to it, because that's the danger. I think we sometimes set ourselves goals, and we just want to know how we're going to achieve them. We want to know how it's going to happen. So we know what we want. So we know the end goal. We know where we are now. We're just desperate to control that middle part. And actually, for me what I've then it's uncontrollable. So how I've got to where I am today, doing what I'm doing is definitely not how I thought I'd get there. When I started my writing business, you know, 18 months ago, it was very much, I definitely want it to look like this. And every time it didn't look like that, I'd be like, I don't understand why it's not working. And then as soon as I relaxed into the process and realize, actually, you've just got to deal with problems that come your way, or opportunities, you know, that come your way. As soon as I relaxed and stop trying to control that middle part. Everything just became much easier. And it's hard. It's a leap of faith, you have to be confident. And I'm not saying don't have a plan at all, but just don't be absolutely held accountable by it. Because otherwise, you could miss opportunities that are coming your way. Because you're so blinkered and thinking this is the way it definitely has to be because it never is. It never is. Things always come up and opportunities present themselves that you can't even foresee.
Ruth Gilbey 20:58
I love that. I love that. Yeah, be leaving yourself a bit open. Yeah, have a plan. But leave yourself open to opportunities. And yeah, I like that. I think that's probably the biggest thing that I've taken away from being a business owner as well. Yeah, you have to find a way of coping with it and enjoying the journey somehow. And it is it's not about the end destination
Steph Caswell 21:21
No, I think also, it comes down to intuition and gut and I was never really fully aware of the impact that obviously, you know, your vagus nerve has on that gut-brain connection. And just since I've started to think to myself, all those times where I've reflected back on opportunities that I maybe did take, and then actually afterward thought, oh gosh, why did I do that? I knew when I said yes to that I knew in my gut that probably wasn't the best decision. So now what I try and do and I know it's not, you know, it's obviously not the only way I live my business, but it is a big part of it. So think to myself, right? Take the time to think about something. So when something comes your way, you don't have to answer straight away, you can say can I get back to you? I'd like to think about that. And then just let it sit with you for a while and listen to your gut. Listen to your intuition. If there's any part of it that's got a doubt or a niggle that just keeps coming up. I tend to think to myself, right, what is that saying to me? And how am I going to listen to that? Is it that I'm nervous? And actually, I just need to be bold and brave? Or is it actually something where there are so many red flags coming up here that you know, for now, I'm gonna say no. And it's hard. When I listened to the author Neil Gaiman talk, he does a great he did it addressed to universities in America. And he was saying that he always has his end goal in mind. So his end goal was always to be published as a published author. And he every decision he made, he was like, is it taking me closer to that? Or is it taking me in a different direction entirely? And he said, as much as it was tempting to do some of these other things. He was like, if my ultimate goal is this, I have to make my decisions, thinking, Am I going towards it? Or am I being led away from it? And I always thought that's so interesting because you know, I know what my ultimate aim is what my ideal day is, however, people like to look at it. So now I think to myself, as tempting as those things are, actually, it's just distracting me from my ultimate goal.
Ruth Gilbey 23:17
It's really interesting that you've said this, because yesterday in my membership, and we do this, every 90 days, I do a live goal setting and 90-day planning. And I reiterate, I always reiterate when I'm doing the goal setting, why are we doing this, the reason why I'm getting you to do this is that I want it to be your journey and want it to be what you want. Because I think there's so much noise, there are a lot of opportunities, there are things that we could be doing things that we could be signing up to another course another this another that you know, we all get the FOMO and shiny red ball. And I say in it once you have your goals, you can then qualify everything that comes your way or every decision you make does this take me closer or further away from my goals? I think it's really good. Because if you don't know what you want, you don't know why you're doing it or why you're signing up to something or saying yes to something or notice something. So yeah, that's really good advice. And interesting what you said as well about intuition and gut because I used to mix up fear and intuition. So I think what you said about listening and understanding, Is it fear or is it intuition is that what's happening here? Taking some time to be curious is giving yourself a breather. I think that's brilliant advice, Steph, so thank you so much for your time today and all your great advice. How can people find out more about you or where can we find you?
Steph Caswell 24:40
Well, I tend to be mainly on in terms of social media, on Instagram at creating copywriters. I'm also on LinkedIn, dabbling a little bit to LinkedIn. It's not my platform. I know it's not social media. It's not my networking platform, that of sorts of choice just because it's one of those things where you're having to sort of learning how it works. On LinkedIn, but I'm doing my best. And then then I'm creating Everywriter.com is the website and then yes, as you kindly mentioned, Dare to Write is the latest book. So yeah, that's sort of how you get to know me.
Ruth Gilbey 25:12
Okay. Well, all those links to what you've mentioned, your website, your book, Instagram, and LinkedIn if you want as well will be in the show notes as well. And yeah, I'm really excited that you're coming into the online business collective membership in June as well do a masterclass on seven, what was the title against Seven Benefits for How Book Can Grow Your Business? Yeah, looking forward to that. Thank you so much, Steph for joining.
Steph Caswell 25:13
Well, thank you.
Steph Caswell 25:14
Thanks for listening and subscribing to the inspiring women in business podcast. Please do take a few moments to leave me a review. I love getting reviews they absolutely make my day. Also, go and check out my business-building hub. In there you're going to find lots of great resources free resources for business owners who are launching, running, or growing their businesses I have a brand new masterclass for you is called the sold-out solution and in that, I share my exact roadmap to help you get your first online clients in 30 days. And guess what? It's only a 29-minute masterclass as well. So I'll get straight into the value. Lots and lots of great advice for you in there. And also, for those of you who watched the masterclass a freebie for you within the masterclass as well go and check it out.