As an author, I’ve spent a lot of time asking myself ‘what if?’ questions.
What if you met the love of your life before you were ready to settle down? What if you were ready to settle down but hadn’t met the love of your life? Those two questions led to the idea for my first novel, Waiting at Hayden’s.
The book I’m working on now called The Influencer started with this what if question: What if each chapter of a novel opened with a photo from a woman’s Instagram—that told one side of her story—and what actually was going on in her life behind the lens was revealed in the story itself?
There’s a power in asking ‘what if?’ questions when writing books. And I’ve found that there’s also a power in asking what if questions when it comes to bringing our businesses and dreams to life.
Before I came up with shopfiction, I spent years going to writing conferences and attending workshops. I heard the same discouraging stories over and over again. “It’s insanely hard to write a book. It’s even harder to sell it. New authors rarely receive advances over $5000. Less people are buying books.” I didn’t like these stories at all. So, I did the same thing I do when I don’t like the direction my fictional stories are going. I asked myself ‘what if’ we could find a way to change this?
From there my thought process went something like this: What if there was a way to reach more people with books? What if the book industry cross-promoted the same way other industries do? What if there was a way to combine my love of clothes with my love of books? What if there was a way for authors to make way over $5000 so they could afford to keep telling stories and a way for readers to be more engaged in the stories we’re telling?
And all that led to this: What if you could shop the characters’ clothes in a book? Bingo.
I’m working on another business this year as well (with Ketara, pictured above!) that started by asking: “What if there was an easier way for authors to connect with readers and for readers to meet up with other readers in real life?”
I’ve found that a lot of people (myself included at times) ask what if questions that aren’t helpful. What if I can’t figure this out? What if this idea is crazy? Sometimes, it’s important in business to play devil’s advocate with yourself. I will say that doing this has occasionally helped me from going in certain directions that would have wasted a lot of time.
But in most cases, those what if questions that are fear-based get in the way of forward movement. And forward movement is what progresses industries and moves our lives along in new and exciting directions.
The other day I was talking with Ketara and I told her, “It’s interesting I used to think it was impossible to write a chapter of a novel in a day. But I did it every day last week.”
“What changed?” she asked me.
“Just one thing,” I told her. “I literally asked myself, what if I could?”
What if this year you asked yourself more what if questions? What if this year we all believed a little more in possibility?