Andrea Hanson – Book Journeys Author Interview Transcript – April 21, 2016

Book Journeys Author Interview – April 21, 2016

Dr. Angela Lauria with Andrea Hanson, author of Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis: How to Manage Stress and Live Well with Multiple Sclerosis.

 

“In my opinion, getting a team is the best way to get a book done.” ~Andrea Hanson

 

Angela:

Well, hey, everybody, we are back. Took a week off last week, while we were launching our ten newest best sellers, so sorry I missed you guys, but we were very busy with a couple of bottles of … toasting everybody’s success here at the Author Castle, and we got a whole ‘nother round of toasting just about to start here. I am having a wedding celebration on Saturday, and so, I actually took today and tomorrow off work, but I was super excited to … sneak over to my office for just a quick half-hour to record this podcast with our guest today, Andrea Hanson, who is the author of Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis: How to Manage Stress and Live Well with Multiple Sclerosis. Andrea, thank you so much for being with us!

 

Andrea:

Thank you so much for having me!

 

Angela:

Awesome. So – so, let’s just get started by telling people about your book, what’s it about, who’s it for?

 

Andrea:

This book is for people who are newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It can be really – I – really shocking diagnosis to have, and it can be a very stressful situation to go through, and having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis myself, in the year 2000, I understand a few things about how to live well with MS, because you certainly can, and one of the major factors of living well with – with MS is understanding how to manage your stress, and that is the main point of what this book is about. It’s how to manage your stress even if you’re living with multiple sclerosis.

 

Angela:

And … I feel that we should all be managing our stress, … all do that, it’s the biggest contributor of … heart disease –

 

Andrea:

Uh-huh.

 

Angela:

– or weight gain or whatever –

 

Andrea:

Yes.

 

Angela:

– but why do you think it’s particularly important for people with MS to manage their stress? What happens if they don’t, that maybe wouldn’t happen to someone without MS?

 

Andrea:

Well, MS can be specifically hit by periods of high stress, and so do – right. High stress affects us as humans. It’s not really a state that you wanna be in, that state of chronic stress, but if you have multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease, or any autoimmune disease, your immune system is heightened to things like stress, so when you’re stressing out, your immune system gets really excited about it, because it wants to fix it.

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Andrea:

It wants to fix – a couple of things that go on in your body that stress brings on, and when you have any kind of autoimmune disease, when your immune system is excited, that’s when bad things start to happen, because in autoimmune diseases your immune system attacking your own body. So that’s why it’s especially important to, when you have any kind of autoimmune disease, really, to learn how to control your stress, because so much of it is absolutely controllable.

 

Angela:

Mmm, I love that. So, lots of people have MS, lots of people have learned to manage their stress, probably better than me, who’s at my wedding, but why a book? How did you decide that this experience that you had was – was calling you to write a book? How did you pick – how did you pick that topic and make that decision to – to actually take it to the level of becoming an author on the topic?

 

Andrea:

Yeah, … it – it’s such an interesting question. The first – the first answer would be, I’ve always … known I would write a book, it’s just something that I’ve known since I was a little girl. I did not always know I was gonna write a self-help book, but one thing that I have learned – one thing I’ve learned through having – living with MS, and that is how to control my symptoms, and I learned that through coming to this world of coaching. I’m learning how to coach, I’m learning how to become a coach, and it was only natural for me, once I figured these few tools out, to start coaching other people with multiple sclerosis and teach them these tools, and that’s when it … put it together. I thought, “Wait a second. I can totally write about … tools in a book and distribute it for far more people than I’m gonna be able to coach or reach. So, it was just … a natural progression, take what I learned, what I coach people with and just put it in a book and give it to everybody.

 

Angela:

I love it. So, you get the idea for the book – I think this happens to a lot of people, I don’t know, they’re taking a shower, they’re going for a run and they’re … “I know! I could turn this into a book.”

 

Andrea:

Mm-hm.

 

Angela:

What did you do next? What – what was the next step in your process?

 

Andrea:

I – I opened up my laptop and I popped up a new Word document and I thought, “Okay, I’m gonna write an outline for my book.” And that’s – that’s about where that got ended. The first time. But that’s literally what I did. “I’m gonna outline it,” and then … I had, maybe, like four or five different –

 

Angela:

And why … ‘cause people do this. A lot of people don’t start an outline, they start by writing Chapter One, so –

 

Andrea:

Yeah.

 

Angela:

– they’ll be … “Chapter One,” … and then they don’t finish. Why do you think that is, now you – and you’ve actually written almost two boo – you have another book coming out June second?

 

Andrea:

Yeah. I do.

 

Angela:

And have you finished writing that one, or are you still finishing …?

 

Andrea:

Yes. no, I’ve … in the final edits right now.

 

Angela:

So, you’ve written – got it. So, you’ve written two books now, why do you think … – why do you think, when you sat down that time and did the outline, that it didn’t turn into a book?

 

Andrea:

Because I didn’t have – I didn’t have a team. I didn’t have anybody to run ideas by that I trusted, … everybody – … I had a lot of support –

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Andrea:

– but a lot of the support is, “No, you’re great. I know, it’s awesome, keep going,” and I – … you love that support, but that’s not always the support that you need. Sometimes, you need someone to tell you, … “That – that – that’s crap, you need to start over,” sometimes you gotta be supportive, and I didn’t have that, I didn’t have a true sounding board, I didn’t have a team of editors, and … certainly the different types of editors that I now know you should have when you write a book on – so, I think that’s why. I had no id – I had no … to know if what I was writing is good or … wanted that tone.

 

Angela:

Mmm. Yes. So, what did you – what did you do to change that? You write the outline, you know that the book isn’t happening, and then what was your next step?

 

Andrea:

My next step was to start looking for people that could help me. It was – it was really realizing, “Okay, I’m not gonna do this on my own, this is …-” I realized, on some level, that this was not something that had to take a long time, that I knew that I was being hard for myself, and so, I started looking for help, I started looking for someone that could help me figure this whole book thing out and – and actually make it happen, ‘cause I was pretty determined to actually publish this book.

 

Angela:

Mmm. And – and so, after talking –

 

Andrea:

… Keep going?

 

Angela:

Sure! Yeah.

 

Andrea:

After I started look – I started looking, I started talking to people and listening to the whole idea of self-publishing, and I … got further and further turned off, … no idea –

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Andrea:

– and more and more – said, “I need a team.” I just – I just knew I needed a team, which is – that led me to you and working with Difference Press.

 

Angela:

Love it!

 

Andrea:

Mm-hm.

 

Angela:

So, when you – when you started working with us, had you already realized you wanted a team, did you have your project … envisioned as complete, or did that project change as you – and that vision change as you worked with us?

 

Andrea:

Oh, yeah, I totally changed as I worked with you. It just – it changed not like, all of a sudden I wanted to write a different book, it just changed you to where it was much more solidified, it just became much more real and much less of … these ideas that were swirling in my head. I was able to – … the first – one of the first exercises that I went through with you was to envision my book, just in my mind’s eye, and to … look at it and touch it and feel it and really know that it’s there –

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Andrea:

– and that really helped me just know that, “Okay, this is already done, now I just gotta get through the steps to do it.”

 

Angela:

Yeah.

 

Andrea:

Some time that …, so that really pushed me forward to have it changed to – to the point where it was – it was more – i – it was just easier for the reader to understand, opposed to, for me – … there’s a – I learned the difference between having a reader read it and having me write it.

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Andrea:

And understanding that it’s much more important to write for a reader than for me, and .. checking that list – checking that box on my list.

 

Angela:

Right. So, walk us through your writing process. You’ve written two books now –

 

Andrea:

Mm-hm.

 

Angela:

– what – what was different, maybe, between the two writing experiences, what was the same, and what sort of advice would you give yourself about writing – the actual part of the writing process, now that you’ve done a couple of these?

 

Andrea:

… yeah. The – it was – this time around, it was definitely more – much easier, because I understood the process, and I understood, also, that I could do the process.

 

Angela:

Mmmm.

 

Andrea:

… When you’re first going to do something, even tho – … even though you have a team, even though I know I’m supported, it’s still a little nerve- wracking. You still have all those fears, you still have these … “Who am I to write this book” kind of thing, and “Oh, my gosh, it’s awful,” … “What am I doing,” but you still have all of that. But the first time, it could be a lot more jarring, ‘cause you’re not expecting it, and so, the second time, … I was just editing, and I’m … “Yup, yup, there it is, the thought that I should just scrap this whole thing and start over.”

 

Angela:

Mmmm.

 

Andrea:

Totally. Right on time, …., it’s just – you just get to know the process, so it was a lot easier to move through – just those fears, those fears that ultimately don’t really mean anything, that pop into your head. So, …

 

Angela:

So, what was your writing process like? Do you write consistently? Do you write an hour a day, do you write in the mornings, what are some of your writing practices?

 

Andrea:

Mmm. My writ – I do it in – in spurts, so, if I – I’ll have … a writing day, where that’s pretty much all I do, and I put the blinders on and I just motor through, and I’ll get … two chapters done. And so, within a couple of days, I’ve got … three or four chapters done and edited enough to send to my editor for the first draft, so – and I’ll do that … once a week, so I’ll have … a three-day burst once week, and then I’ll get – I’ll get through it like that, but I definitely – I put my blinders on. I don’t answer e-mails, I – … get up for … a thirty-minute break for lunch, if I have – … if I get that writer’s block … feeling. Sometimes, you’re writing, and then it just … slowing, and you know … but you don’t know what to do –

 

Angela:

Mmm. Love that.

 

Andrea:

– part of my process will be going on a walk. So, I’ll – I’ll grab my dog and I’m gonna … quick walk, and come back an hour later – yeah, and that’s – an hour later, all of a sudden, it just flows, because you sort through it – well, I sort through, when I’m on a walk, so that’s definitely been part of the process, but, yeah, it … just to put the blinders on, get my laptop and I’m all set, with no distractions, and I just go.

 

Angela:

So, obviously, stress management is very important for you, since you also have MS –

 

Andrea:

Mm-hm.

 

Angela:

– and writing a book can be pretty stressful. So, what are some – and – and we’ve already talked about how everybody should be managing their stress –

 

Andrea:

Yeah.

 

Angela:

– not just those with MS, so what are some of the stress management techniques, or self-care techniques, that you’ve delivered – that you’ve developed yourself, during the writing process, that might help everyone who’s writing a book?

 

Andrea:

Right. Well – and it’s – it’s funny, because when I wrote the first book, we actually were in the process of remodeling our kitchen, because – it was actually because of a leak, it wasn’t even that we just wanted to do it, and so I had some construction people all in my – in my house at the time, and then – so, I was dealing with extra stress when I was writing my book about stress, that was pretty ironic. So, I – w – w – one of the main things that I did, while I was writing this book, to minimize the stress, was – I think that’s really when I developed that … put the blinders on and just … go into your center and focus and just stay current, stay in the moment –

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Andrea:

– and just write in the moment, and somehow, that was a big stress release. Just not worrying about what was going on in the kitchen, not worrying about anything else besides the words that I was putting on page right then, and anytime you stay present is golden, because, when you’re present, that means that you’re not thinking about is all the what-if’s and all the things that did happen and all – … and all the other stuff that you’re stressing out about that really isn’t happening right then and there.

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Andrea:

So, that was the main – major, major thing, and then the other thing, actually, that I … developed into my writing process that is also a huge stress relief in and of itself is that movement’s a part of it. … Instead of sitting there, beating myself up – that’s never good for staying stress-free, right? Sitting there and just getting mad at yourself. I … So, when I couldn’t make things work, I – I would know very quickly, that feeling. I would – I would understand that feeling in my body of … “Okay, something’s not right, there’s a block here, I don’t really know how to proceed,” and then I would grab my dog and I would go outside, and that movement, that exercise, is a huge stress relief, and that’s something that I incorporated into this writing process that helped me – just immediately, when I found my block, I would go and exercise and would come back, and it was completely reset and the … are gone.

 

Angela:

That’s amazing how that reset can just completely … the experience. So – …

 

Andrea:

Mmm. Absolutely, … time I was getting – … I was gonna say, half of stress management is to realize what’s going on and to nip it in the bud.

 

Angela:

Totally love that. So, is there anything that you wish you knew before you wrote – before you wrote your first book, is there anything you learned in that process that you … wish you’d known, or something that you applied to writing this …?

 

Andrea:

I guess I – I wish I knew that all the little things that I was freaked out about didn’t really matter. … People could tell you that as much as they want, but until you understand that for yourself, it’s – … so, I wish I understood that for myself. So, … all the training … –

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Andrea:

– should I be blue or off-blue, I don’t know, it’s … all of these things that you really think matter. I – I kind of wish I could go back and erase all of those little things –

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Andrea:

– because it would have saved a lot of energy.

 

Angela:

Mmm. Love that. Okay, so, your first book came out a – a few months ago, now.

 

Andrea:

Mm-hm.

 

Angela:

What are some of the best things that have come out of being an author?

 

Andrea:

Uh, so much. I mean, I honestly – I love hearing from the people who read my book and have told me how much it’s helped them and how different their approach is to stress and to MS, that’s just – I – I think that’s just one of the most delicious things about being an author is hearing how your reader has been … affected by your work. It – but -a – another thing that’s really helped me, personally, is, it’s opened doors. It’s – especially on things like speaking, for me, it’s just this instant credibility, writing a book, to be able to say you’re an author. … Now, I – … I tell people, “Yes, I’m a coach, yeah, I work with people who are … diagnosed,” but I can also put, “I – a – I’m an author, I write self-help books for people with MS,” and that’s huge, to be able to say that.

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Andrea:

And that definitely gives credibility in people’s lives. And I’ve been given a lot of different speaking engagements, for sure, because of that.

 

Angela:

Give us a couple a – a couple of examples of the types of places that you’ve had the opportunity to speak.

 

Andrea:

… A couple of them are just workshops that people have asked me to come, and teach different tools, … psychology tools or – or things like that. I have spoken at self-help groups for MS, there’s a lot of – of amazing self-help groups where people come, and I’ve taught a couple of workshops for some self-help groups. I was – I was invited by a – MS specialist – specialty authors at a hospital, to come and talk, they were holding a symposium for their newly-diagnosed patients and caregivers, and they were having their entire team – yeah, they had the entire team stand up and talk about what they do as … workers and as physicians and … some things, and they had me stand up and they said, “Andrea is part of the team, and she’s a coach,” and – and I was able to stand up and … say a little bit what to expect when you’re diagnosed or caregivers can expect and that kind of thing. So, it ….

 

Angela:

Very cool.

 

Andrea:

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Angela:

Love it. So, what was different about writing and publishing your book than you – all those years that you thought, “Well, someday, I’m gonna write a book.” What – what about this whole process and experience of becoming an author has surprised you?

 

Andrea:

It just – it became real. It – it stopped being this idea in the back of my head, it stopped being this “One day,” and “Yeah, I’m sure it will happen, right?” and – and just became … you’re in it, you’re a part of the team now, the ball is all …, you’ve got your deadlines, let’s do this, and it just, all of a sudden, write this real thing, right in front of me, that I was – I was doing, and did way more quickly than I thought I would ever be able to do it.

 

Angela:

Mmm. So, a lot of people have this fantasy – it’s … – there’s a romantic fantasy about becoming an author –

 

Andrea:

Yes! …

 

Angela:

– there’s some sort of romance in that, and it’s … like, “Well, that -” and I mean, this is also true for – for self-help wor – work, in a way, but it almost is like, “Well, then, I’ll be done, then I’ll have arrived. Then, I can … check the box, get my gold star and … I’ve done what I’m here to do.”

 

Andrea:

Uh-huh.

 

Angela:

Did – did you find that experience, like it was a big check mark, or did you find more than it opened up more questions than in some ways it solved?

 

Andrea:

Hm. It di – … getting that published, … on that – on that day of being published, … and we – we have that party and we talk about our book, and it really – that – in that moment, it was … ”Yes! I have arrived, the box is checked, this is awesome.” That – that moment was … five minutes, and then, all of a sudden, I’m … “Okay, what’s next?”

 

Angela:

Mmmm.

 

Andrea:

Now, let’s do something with this book, now, let’s get out, now, it’s – how do I get this to as many people, and within … a couple of months, I was … “I’ve got another book that I need to do,” so, yes, it was this fantastic moment, and then all it does is just – for me, it just … was a big firework that went off in my head, I was … “Oh, my gosh. Now, I can do this, and I can do that, and I … here, and I could do that, what if I do this,” right? It just sparked all of these other fantastic things that I could do.

 

Angela:

Yeah, I think that it’s interesting that it – it seems – what is it? I – it’s kind of like graduation –

 

Andrea:

Mm-hm!

 

Angela:

– … graduation is called “commencement,” and it feels like and end, but really it – commencement is about the beginning of something.

 

Andrea:

Totally, that’s exactly right, ‘cause you graduate, and they’re like, “Hm, what about grad school?”

 

Angela:

Mm-hm.

 

Andrea:

“What about this career?” Yes. It’s exactly right. It’s exactly right.

 

Angela:

Hm. Love that. Well, what is the advice that you would give to somebody who wants to write a book, maybe like you, somebody who has … known forever that they were going to write a book –

 

Andrea:

Uh-huh.

 

Angela:

– but they just – they aren’t getting it done, they’re starting outlines, they’re starting chapters –

 

Andrea:

Right.

 

Angela:

– those chapters aren’t somehow turning into a book, what would you specifically tell someone like that to do if they really wanted to get their book done?

 

Andrea:

… The first thing I would tell them was, just because you’re not getting it done on your own doesn’t mean that it’s not gonna happen. It’s not this – … i – if you really wanted to do it, do it kind of a thing. … It’s okay if you can’t get it done, or if you’re not getting it done on your own. And … there are people who can help you, … you don’t have to do this on your own. In fact, I would argue that you shouldn’t do this on your own, to be honest, because there are so many things that you don’t realize that’s missing when you’re trying to do it. So, I would say, … i – it absolutely can be done.

 

Angela:

Do you feel like you would have one book published, and another one months or so, month and a half, of being published if you didn’t have a team?

 

Andrea:

It’s like a trick question. No way.

 

Angela:

 

Andrea:

There is no way. There is no doubt in my mind, I would still be sitting with that outline halfway written, or rewritten … three times, maybe –

 

Angela;

Mm-hm.

 

Andrea:

– on my Word document. There’s no way.

 

Angela:

Yes.

 

Andrea:

I would have done this on my own, hah.

 

Angela:

So, that’s – that’s really the question, is … do you want to sit around rewriting outlines and trying to get better at this, or do you want a team around you, people who can hold you accountable to crossing that finish line, maybe in a way that is different than you would have expected, but hopefully even more powerful?

 

Andrea:

Absolutely. …. Absolutely, in a more powerful way, … questions that you don’t even realize are questions you should ask when you’re writing your book, right? I mean, things that – it’s like you don’t even realize you need to put in there, that – yeah, … absolutely, … – in my – in my opinion, getting a team is the best way to get a book done.

 

Angela:

Love it. Andrea Hanson is the author of Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis: How to Manage Stress and Live Well with Multiple Sclerosis, you can find that on Amazon. You can also learn more about Andrea at andreahansoncoaching.com. Andrea, tell us a little bit about the types of people you work with and how you work with them.

 

Andrea:

Well, I work with people who are … diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and they are just confused about … how to live well, how to really live their life as normal and keep their – keep their MS … calm, and so, I work with them on everything from diets and what is best for them to eat, to exercise, to different health habits, to stress management – all the things that you can be doing on your own, to … soothe your MS and have you live a fulfilling, healthy life for twenty, thirty years in the future.

 

Angela:

And so, if somebody has someone that they know or love with MS, I would say, for sure, … MS, for sure, check out Andrea’s book, but are there other ways we – we’ve told them about andreahansoncoaching, anything else that you would recommend to them, if – if they have MS or if they know somebody with MS?

 

Andrea:

Well, I would just recommend … one getting a great MS specialist in their – in their corner. That’s something that’s very, very important, and, number two, know that it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay, there are people that could help you and that there are things that you can do to help yourself and help yourselves as well, with this diagnosis ….

 

Angela:

And if they wanna know more of those things, andreahansoncoaching.com, you offer a consultation.

 

Andrea:

I do, yeah. They can go to callitandrea.com and set up a complementary discover session where we can just sit and chat and you can ask me anything you want about your diagnosis and what’s going on, and we can talk more about what you can do to help you live your life.

 

Angela:

Yeah. I bring this up, because I actually have this experience, in the last couple of weeks, where I was talking to somebody that was newly diagnosed, and –

 

Andrea:

Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

 

Angela:

– they weren’t exactly asking me for advice, but I really didn’t know what to say, other than, “I’m sorry,” and “Can you call my friend, Andrea?” So –

 

Andrea:

Yeah!

 

Angela:

– that was the best advice that I could offer people, is to really talk it through with someone who’s been there, has a plan and knows … how to get to the other side of the shock and the overwhelm of a new diagnosis.

 

Andrea:

Absolutely. ‘Cause you can be there and not have this diagno – diagnosis for sixteen years, so I know. I understand the shock, and I understand you can absolutely live well on the other side, so, yes, … sometimes they … – when you’re newly diagnosed, you just want to talk to somebody who’s been there.

 

Angela:

Mm. Yes. Well, Andrea Hanson, again, the author of Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis, available on Amazon, thank you so much for being our guest today.

 

Andrea:

Thank you so much for having me, this was so much fun.

 

Angela:

All right, you guys, well, we are gonna be back next week with Book Journeys Radio. If you are interested in writing and publishing a book with us, we are just onboarding our May class, they will publish in September. There is one spot currently available for the May group. If you are interested in securing that spot, just head on over to theauthorincubator.com/apply, and if you have any questions about that application process, I would just encourage you, go through it because there is a really juicy forty-minute interview on the other side of the application that tells you everything you need to know to see if the program is a fit for you. And every week on Book Journeys, we talk to authors who have made that transformation who have gotten their book out into the world and making a difference, and just remember, no matter how powerful your message of hope, healing or transformation is, it does not make a difference unless it gets into people’s hands, in their heads and into their heart, and that is how we change the world one book at a time. Thanks for joining us, we’ll be back next week.

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