Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
If we want to write a successful non-fiction book—one that positions you as an authority in your niche, gets you speaking engagements, and inspires people—we should look to other successful books for inspiration. So I’m starting a series where we’ll learn from the best non-fiction books and use those lessons to improve our own writing. And today's book is one of my favourites!
I’m Liz, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting. I help for entrepreneurs who want to write a book to demonstrate authority in their niche, get speaking engagements, and inspire others. If you're frustrated that writing about your work takes forever and the words don’t sound like you, I can write your book for you, in your own voice, so you can finally level-up your business.
Better Than Before
We're starting this new series with Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits—To Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life by Gretchen Rubin.
I’ve always struggled with building good habits. I’m English so, y’know, I have bad teeth. Getting in the habit of using mouthwash after brushing my teeth is, honest to god, one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. It’s pathetic. But there you go.
This book helped me understand why good habits are such a struggle for me, and what I can do about it. And I’m not the only one it’s helped. The book has 643 reviews on Amazon.com averaging 4.2 stars, and it hit a bunch of bestseller lists around the world.
So what can we learn from this book?
Before the introduction there’s a note to the reader. The first line says, “Better Than Before tackles the question How do we change? One answer—by using habits." This book knows what it is. It knows the question it’s answering.
That’s essential. When you try to answer too many questions, or aren’t clear on the question you’re answering, you won’t be able to write a clear message. So that’s our first lesson.
1. Know the one question your book answers.
In her research for the book, Gretchen realized you can split the world into four main personality types, regarding how they respond to expectations and habit-building. At the beginning she names these four groups, and then she talks directly to them throughout the book.
She knows who she’s talking to.
You may not have a name for your audience like Gretchen does, but you must know who you’re talking to, so you can meet them where they’re at. So lesson two is...
2. Know who your book is talking to.
Gretchen uses a lot of stories from her own life and family. I’m going to read you a very small example.
“On our flight home from a family trip, a chatty flight attendant remarked, as I declined to take anything from the snack basket, ‘After the holidays, a lot of people turn down the cookies and pretzels.’
“‘How long does that last?’ I asked.
“She smiled. ‘About as long as most New Year’s resolutions.’"
You might think you don’t have many good stories to include in your book. But I chose this example to prove your stories don’t have to be earth-shattering.
The simple act of including your personal experiences, whether dramatic or not, will engage your audience and help them connect with you. That’s lesson three.
3. Include personal stories.
Next week we’ll talk more about ghostwriting, and we’ll look at lessons from another non-fiction book a few weeks after that.
In the meantime, if you want some writing tips from 15 of today’s top entrepreneurs, all gathered in one place for you, enter your email below and I’ll send that your way. I’ll also send you cool stuff about writing for your business as I come across it.
See you next time.