Why therapists are Perfectly Positioned to write a Novel or Memoir with Mary Adkins | POP 973

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How are therapists uniquely well-positioned to write fiction and novels that could serve the world? Do you have book ideas that you’re hoping someone else will write? If you have a creative burn in you to write, will you let it grow and warm you to the idea? 

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about why therapists are perfectly positioned to write a novel or memoir with Mary Adkins. 

Podcast Sponsor: Therapy Notes

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Meet Mary Adkins

A photo of Mary Adkins is captured. She is a writing coach and founder of The Book Incubator, a 12-month program to write, revise, and pitch your novel or memoir. Mary is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Mary Adkins is a writing coach and founder of The Book Incubator, a 12-month program to write, revise, and pitch your novel or memoir. She is author of the novels When You Read This (Indie Next Pick, “Best Book of 2019” by Good Housekeeping and Real Simple), Privilege (Today(dot)com) “Best Summer Read,” New York Post “Best Book of the Week”), and Palm Beach (recently named one of the New York Post’s “Best Books of 2021”). Her books have been published in 13 countries, and her essays and reporting have appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, and more.

As graduate of Yale Law School and Duke University, she helps aspiring authors finish their fiction books and memoirs with joy and clarity. She is also the host of The First Draft Club podcast. Her new memoir, about her own fertility journey is due to come out in early 2024. Visit Mary’s website and The Book Incubator. Connect on Instagram and listen to her podcast.

In this Podcast

  • What are you curious about? 
  • Why therapists are positioned to write great and necessary fiction 
  • What you can do to help your book get picked up 
  • Mary’s advice to private practitioners

What are you curious about?

I think the kinds of books that stick with me over time are the ones where I see characters facing choices that, in real life, would be hard for me. They are facing ethical quandaries that are genuinely tough, and I think there’s so much value in that … Just in terms of navigating the world and trying to figure out who you want to be … I think good storytelling grapples with those kinds of questions. (Mary Adkins) 

Mary works with people who write novels and memoirs, and the first thing that she has them do is identify the big question at the heart of the story that they want to tell.  Furthermore, this big question should be something that’s human, difficult, ethical, and even existential and they are curious about themselves. 

It shouldn’t necessarily be something didactical – it should be something that they are curious about to write many words over to explore and uncover. 

Why therapists are positioned to write great and necessary fiction 

They are so well-positioned to write novels and memoirs! … I guess I never really thought about this until I wound up working with a number of therapists, and realizing that they have already done the legwork … They’ve laid the groundwork for exploring these kinds of things through storytelling, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. (Mary Adkins)

Therapists work with people who are already asking these big, thorny, human, existential questions, which are also at the heart of novels and memoirs. 

They are familiar with this landscape, the nuances of asking these questions, and where asking them takes you.  Additionally, dialogue is a big part of writing a novel, and therapists are well-versed in what people are avoiding saying (either unintentionally or intentionally) because therapists are good at knowing which questions to ask. 

Furthermore, therapists are aware of how human beings deal with trauma, and how people sometimes need to leap to change how they perceive themselves and life because of a difficult event that they lived through. 

How trauma lives in our bodies, how it ripples through our lives … This is really important when it comes to storytelling because storytelling is rooted in conflict [because] a story is a conflict, and how a character’s perception changes as a result. (Mary Adkins) 

What you can do to help your book get picked up 

For fiction or a novel, just focus on writing the best one that you can at this stage.  If you want to write a memoir, it’s a little more complicated. 

Publishers like to see that you have some kind of audience, but it can still be published without it. Put some effort into gathering an audience that you can market it to. 

Either way, put your efforts into writing a good book. 

Mary’s advice to private practitioners 

If you have a creative burn, allow it to grow, because it means you can! The desire means you can. So give it a try, and make it fun, and write the book that you would love to read. 

Sponsors Mentioned in this episode:

Books mentioned in this episode:

Mary Adkins – When You Read This: A Novel

Mary Adkins – Palm Beach: A Summer Beach Read

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

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Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners who are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

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