Erica Dhawan on the Challenges and Experiences of Writing Her First Book

Erica Dhawan on the challenges and experiences of writing her first book

writing your first book how to start

Writing my first book on Connectional Intelligence was certainly a whirlwind process, lots of HARD work, research, mind share– and one of the greatest learning experiences of my life.

My experience has made me think a lot about the writing process and what it’s all about. Authoring a book is so much more than writing. Authoring a book is about believing in yourself, generating new ideas, gathering insights, and trusting the process despite challenges that come. It’s also made me more aware to practice what I preach.

Erica Dhawan

As I wrote this book, my big questions were: How do I connect intelligently to get this book into the world? How do I marshal what I know that much more quickly? How do I find and take on supporters? How do I influence the greatest number of people? How do I propel connectional intelligence beyond networking and entertainment and toward a loftier purpose–improving other people’s lives, building sustainable societies, creating the futures we want? In short, how do I get behind this newfound connectivity in ways that are targeted and un-serendipitous, and that get us all to the places we want to go?

Here are some of my greatest real-time learnings from these questions:

1) Trust the process.

As I was full-stream writing my first book, I had to stick with the writing process to make it work–breakthroughs don’t happen in an instant, they happen out of years of hard work.

2) Don’t sweat the small stuff.

There were always those little things that got in the way, but they were usually just politics, mindless emails or the ego. Focus on the work at hand that really matters.

3) My schedule was never fully structured.

Sometimes disorganisation is okay and the creative process will take shape over time. Since I normally crave structure, I have learnt that being in less structure can both keep me more creative and drive me crazy.

4) It’s lonely.

Working on new material for the first time was hard and lonely. So having supporters was really important to keep me going and energised for a larger purpose.

5) Accept full responsibility of decisions.

There is not someone to “fall back on” when you are authoring a book. You have to show up and delivering 100% all the time.

6) Choose more and choose wisely.

There are plenty of ways to use your time and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by how much information and how many connections are coming your way. Instead, when writing my first book, I focused on what I care most about and what I knew would have the greatest effectiveness for my work.

7) Accept spending more time sleeping on friends’ couches than in fancy hotels.

This work isn’t glamorous. It’s hard work, involves a lot of travel, international Skype calls at odd hours, early morning emails and taking care of my health.

8) Believe in yourself despite rejection.

Nothing happens easily, it takes time to find supporters and collaborators for any new ideas.

Those are just of my few learnings so and I’m sure there will be many more.

What are you learning about the challenges you face in your life? Any big decisions you are facing? How do you think about “connecting intelligently” to the big challenges that are currently present for you? Thanks for sticking with me through this crazy journey and one of the best learning experiences of my life.

By: Erica Dhawan 

Erica Dhawan is the Founder & CEO of Cotential, a global innovation firm that helps organisations unleash the connected potential of people everywhere to solve their most pressing challenges. Follow @cotential and @edhawan for more innovation updates.