Be willing to go first. If you want to write a book that activates others and creates real change, you have to be willing to be activated and changed by your writing process. Books that spark movements don’t get written in a neat and tidy way! Know that you will be challenged as you write your book and called to step into your fullest, freest self. This is what will infuse your book with the most powerful energy and inspire your readers to make changes.
As part of my series about “How to write a book that sparks a movement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicola Humber, author of Heal Your Inner Good Girl, UNBOUND and the upcoming Unbound Writing (released October 1, 2020). She’s also the founder of The Unbound Press, a soul-led publishing imprint for unbound women.
After playing the archetypal good girl up until her mid-thirties, Nicola left her ‘proper’ job in finance to retrain as a coach and hypnotherapist and this leap of faith led her to what she does now: activating recovering good girls to embrace their so-called imperfections and shake off the tyranny of ‘shoulds’, so they can be their fullest, freest, most magnificent selves.
Nicola helps women to write the book their Unbound Self is calling them to write, whilst growing a community of soul-family readers and clients. She’s originally from Southampton in the UK, but is now based in upstate New York.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?
I grew up on the south coast of England. I always loved books and that love was sparked by a few different people in my life. Even though finances were a struggle when I was little, my dad always put money aside specifically for books for myself and my sister. My gran loved reading and would share books with me that she enjoyed as a young girl. And one of my infant school teachers, Mrs. Baker, would read to us every day and make stories come alive by giving voice to each of the different characters. I wrote my first ‘book’ when I was about 6, a story called The Wise Owl, which Mrs. Baker typed up for me and made into a book which I illustrated. (I still have it now!)
When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story?
Most of the books I read when I was young were fiction and they definitely inspired my love of words and writing. I didn’t really start to read personal development books until my thirties and one that changed the course of my life was The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte. As I read this book and went through the process of identifying my core desired feelings, I first stumbled across the word ‘unbound’. Freedom was one of the feelings I wanted to experience, but the word just didn’t feel compelling to me. So, I started looking through a thesaurus and there it was — ‘unbound’. One of the definitions was ‘without a cover or binding’ and that resonated with me deep in my bones — the suggestion that something was being freed up that had previously been bound. Finding that word and starting to work with it led to each of my books and starting The Unbound Press.
What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
I guess I always knew that I would write at least one book. When I first started my hypnotherapy and coaching practice back in 2010, I began blogging pretty much immediately. But it was only when I started to unbind myself from any ideas about who and how I should be in the world that my writing started to express my true essence and connect with others more deeply. I started the process of writing a book many times but always got distracted and drifted away from it. Then in 2015 when I was at a turning point in my business, I went for an angel card reading with my friend, Isobel. The first message that came through was, ‘Have you written your book yet? You need to write your book!” That was the divine kick in the butt I needed! I immediately started to write my first book, Heal Your Inner Good Girl and that cleared the way for UNBOUND, which followed fast on its heels.
What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?
To be honest, I don’t feel I had any choice about whether I wrote UNBOUND. The book started calling to me pretty much straight away after releasing Heal Your Inner Good Girl and I feel it had a life of its own! As I was working on UNBOUND, I was going through a deeply transformative time in my life where it felt like everything was being turned upside down, so I wanted to write something that held space for other women who were experiencing something similar. I wanted my reader to know that there is magic, even in the mess. I wanted each person who read it to feel activated to start living their own fully expressed, unbound life.
Did the actual results align with your expectations? Can you explain?
Much more than I expected! Something I talk about in the book is that having rigid expectations can stop us from receiving the magic that life is trying to send our way. UNBOUND has created an impact far beyond what I could have imagined. Not only has it resonated deeply with each person who’s read it, but it led to me starting The Unbound Press, which was completely unplanned, but 100% soul-aligned.
What moment let you know that your book had started a movement? Please share a story.
Even before UNBOUND was released, I knew that it was starting a movement. I wrote an article called The 7 Signs You’re An Unbound Woman, whilst I was working on UNBOUND and I couldn’t believe the response. As soon as it was published I started to get notifications that more and more women were commenting and asking to join my Facebook group. I think I doubled my email list just from the first few days of that article being out there.
What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?
One of the main things I hear from readers is that they finally feel like someone understands them and this has been the case since it was first released. A lot of the women who are attracted to UNBOUND have often felt alone — like they’re the weird one who doesn’t fit in. I get messages saying, ‘Oh my goodness, it feels like you’re in my head!’ and many readers have said they feel like the book has given them permission to start living life in the way they want to and be their true selves.
What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book? Can you share a story?
Starting The Unbound Press and seeing books by different authors being released into the world in a truly unbound way. I never expected to be a writing mentor or have a publishing company, but I get more emotional whenever an Unbound Press book is released than I do about my own! And it’s not just about the books, but the community we’re creating at The Unbound Press and the way we run the company feels very fulfilling for me. We’re creating something that’s non-hierarchical, where each book and each person is part of a greater whole.
Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?
For me, UNBOUND created the most disruption as I was writing it! I experienced a lot of not-knowing and turmoil through the writing process and also found that quite a few people who’d been in my life started to drop away. I feel like this is part of the process of writing a transformational book — we are called to deeper levels of transformation as we’re creating it.
Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?
I believe that each book has the potential to be a magical portal to a new way of being — for the author, the reader and the world in general. When you allow yourself to trust your unique process and bring through the truest essence of your voice and what wants to be expressed through you, your book becomes infused with a magical quality. This is what has the power to create movements and true change.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
A key part of the unbound writing process is to write in alignment with your cyclical nature. This means allowing the natural ebbs and flows of your creative cycle, rather than trying to push through them. This was vital for me as I was writing UNBOUND. I couldn’t write it in a linear, ‘just show up and write every day’ kinda way. There were periods of time when I wrote very little or nothing at all, but there was always a lot bubbling away under the surface. Getting to know and work with the cyclical nature of my creativity helped me to gain a deeper level of self-trust and writing in this way is something I now teach to other women.
What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career? Can you share the lesson(s) that you learned?
I felt most challenged when I released my first book, Heal Your Inner Good Girl. I chose to self-publish it and after spending so long working on the book and then going through the publishing process on my own, it all felt like a bit of an anti-climax. It should have been a moment of huge celebration — my first book making its way into the world! But instead, I felt deflated and didn’t have the energy to put into sharing Heal Your Inner Good Girl in the most powerful way.
I learned then that you don’t have to do it alone and, in fact, it’s far more powerful and sustainable when we allow ourselves to be supported and create within a community.
Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers needs to know if they want to spark a movement with a book? (please include a story or example for each)
1) Don’t wait for clarity — write for clarity!
So many writers want and expect to have their whole book mapped out before they even start, but this can lead to procrastination and perfectionism. If you have even the faintest glimmer of an idea, start writing. You will gain clarity as you go and your book will guide you. When I started writing UNBOUND, I had no real idea what it was going to be about or what format the book would take. I simply showed up to the page and asked what wanted to come through. At points, it felt like I writing five different books, but eventually, a structure dropped in and I could see how everything came together as a coherent whole.
2) Be willing to go first
If you want to write a book that activates others and creates real change, you have to be willing to be activated and changed by your writing process. Books that spark movements don’t get written in a neat and tidy way! Know that you will be challenged as you write your book and called to step into your fullest, freest self. This is what will infuse your book with the most powerful energy and inspire your readers to make changes.
3) Everyone has the same fears and doubts about writing a book — bring them to the page
Literally, every single person I work with who is writing a book, or thinking about it, has the same flavor of fears and doubts — ‘Who am I to do this?’ ‘Will anyone wants to read what I have to share?’ ‘Am I a good enough writer?’ Know that this is a completely normal part of the process. Just because you have fears and doubts doesn’t mean you’re not a writer.
When you’re writing a book that sparks a movement, I encourage you to bring your fears and doubts to the page. Share how you’re feeling with your reader, as this creates connection and will let your reader know that if you can take action even when you’re feeling scared and doubtful, they can too!
4) Create community around your writing
One of the key things that helped me to inspire a movement with UNBOUND was that I created a community around the book as I was writing it. There can be this idea that you have to hide yourself away in your office for months or years on end in order to write a book, but the reality is it’s far more powerful to take your readers with you on the journey. Share aspects of your writing as you go, allow your readers behind the scenes of your writing process and invite them to be part of it by asking questions and encouraging engagement. This has the dual effect of building interest in your book long before it’s out in the world and also infusing your writing with a dynamic quality that will make it truly compelling.
5) Write about what lights YOU up
If you have the intention to write a book that sparks a movement, it can be tempting to start focusing on what other people might want to hear from you. When we look outside for the answers, we can get caught up in over-thinking and imagining that there’s a right way to write your book — there’s not. The only rule is that you write about whatever you feel passionate about. This might feel counterintuitive and maybe even a little selfish, but you have to start with YOU. Even if it doesn’t make complete sense or you feel like others might not get what you’re writing about (or even criticize you), trust that if it’s igniting something within you, it will do the same for others.
The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?
I’m ready for a movement around how we do business and create together — it’s part of what we’re doing at The Unbound Press. I know from running my own business for more than ten years that many of the ways we’ve been taught to do it actually foster separation, self-doubt and burnout. Much of this comes from top-down management and the idea that you have to portray an image of having it all together. I want to see more emphasis on co-creation and non-hierarchical structures where everyone gets to bring their own unique magic to the table and there’s space for ideas to breathe and evolve.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me on Instagram at @nicolahumber or on Facebook at @Nicola Humber.
And you can follow The Unbound Press on Instagram at @theunboundpress or Facebook at @The Unbound Press
Thank you so much for these insights. It was a true pleasure to do this with you.