Because my work may be new to you, I’ve put together this page of frequently asked questions. I hope I’ve thought of everything you want to know.
Here are answers to some fun questions I get about myself, my work, and more.
How did you get into writing and your work?
I always wanted to be a writer! Well, after I wanted to be a veterinarian (which would have been a terrible job for me because I would have taken every animal home). I never really knew though what I would write about. I wrote poetry when I was younger, then wrote for a newspaper in my early 20s, and finally went into marketing (and wrote lots of cool copy for Harley-Davidson where I was a marketing director).
It wasn’t until I became chronically ill in my mid 20s that I started writing about health; which led me to eventually publish four books on the topic. But since I’ve recovered fully over a decade ago, I’ve written and shared about all kinds of things including about travel, relationships, and more.
When and where do you write?
Anywhere and everywhere. I love my office where everything is super strategically organized (hello Virgo tendencies). But I also love to work outside, in coffee shops, and anywhere in New York City, where I live. Most of all though, I love to work in hotels. Also, I just love hotels.
What are your favorite books?
I used to read only self-help books. Then I would read only memoirs. Now, I read almost exclusively fiction. So while what I like is always changing, here are some recents I’ve loved (or re-read so re-love):
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson
I admit I’m not a huge podcast person but there’s a few I’ve been totally hooked on:
- Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic podcast
- The Thing About Pam
- The Shrink Next Door
- Serial (first season)
- Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete
- Zibby Owens’s Moms Don’t Have Time To Read Books
How long does it take to write a book?
It takes as long as I have. If I have six months, I do it in that time. If my publisher gives me a year? Well, then I’m still working up until midnight on my deadline date. I don’t like to procrastinate but deadlines definitely motivate me.
What are your favorite things?
I love hanging out with my wife and family. I love relaxing. You won’t meet anyone else who can stay home as long as me without any need to leave the house (just give me a pile of books and lots of snacks … preferably pretzels). On the flipside, I also love to travel. I have intense wanderlust and I follow it every chance I get. I’m also a serious foodie. My wife and I have conquered most of the dumplings in New York. I love to work and can be a workaholic if I don’t keep myself in check. My major obsession in life though is my three nephews and a niece. They are all perfect and can do no wrong.
What are you most afraid of?
If you ask my wife this, she’ll say I’m afraid of being stuck in a museum too long (but don’t judge me, I got it from my mom). Next to that, I’d say I’m most afraid of losing people I love. I am also afraid of monkeys after living in India. They are so cute, but I don’t like them anywhere near me.
What are the most important things you’ve ever learned?
I get so many emails with great questions about the healing journey. And so many of the answers can be found right here. Yay.
Where can I learn about your story and healing work?
Which book of yours should I get?
If you want to:
- Read about my personal story and how I healed, I recommend my part-travel, part-healing memoir, This Is How I Save My Life.
- Learn about healing physical symptoms, I recommend How To Heal Yourself When No One Else Can.
- Learn about healing anxiety, I recommend How To Heal Yourself From Anxiety When No One Else Can.
- Learn about healing depression, I recommend How To Heal Yourself From Depression When No One Else Can (newest book!)
My books are available wherever books are sold, at the library, and on audiobook. They’ve also been translated into sixteen languages with more on the way!
How did you heal from chronic Lyme disease and your other challenges?
The short story: I used mind-body-spirit healing, which is the process of addressing your whole self for complete wellness—mind (mental patterns), body (physical self, including energetic patterns that affect the physical body), and spirit (the energy of who you really are at the core). In my own experience, and after almost a decade of ‘incurable’ illnesses, it wasn’t until I addressed all of these aspects of myself that I got and remained completely well.
The longer story: You can read my whole story here. But grab a cup of coffee because it takes awhile. If you still want more, read my healing memoir, This Is How I Save My Life. For that, you need chai tea (you’ll see why).
What’s your advice for people who are dealing with chronic illness?
Oh my gosh, so much to say. First, I’m sorry. It’s so so hard. But it can be used for good too (sometimes finding purpose is easier than making sense of it). I’ve poured so much advice into my books, but in a nutshell, here are 8 important things I want everyone to know. You can also find tons more advice below and on my blog.
Does energy work take the place of a doctor?
No way, definitely not, sorry but nope. My work is not a replacement for medical care. However, in my experience, chasing every single virus, bacteria, etc. does not usually create lasting health. It’s important to see the “bigger picture” and focus on supporting your immune system as a whole. Most health experts agree that stress, trauma, and our emotional wellbeing is directly linked to our physical bodies. This is good news as it means that addressing the emotional aspect of illness can support your overall well being. This was my own experience. This approach worked for me, when treating only my physical body did not. And it’s the same for a lot of other people. So don’t ditch everything you’re trying to do energy work. But if you’ve tried everything and nothing else has worked, this just might.
How do I know if there’s an emotional component to my issue?
If you are wondering if there is an emotional component to _____ condition, the answer is probably yes. I’ve found that even with physical issues, there is most often an emotional energy that either contributed or is making it harder to heal. Energy therapy can reduce stress on the immune and nervous systems, which will then allow the body’s natural healing ability to become stronger, no matter what the challenge is.
Can you tell me what emotions might be contributing to my issues?
f you’re looking for insight on how to work with my techniques for your specific emotional or physical challenge, here’s something important to know:
Stress and trauma are common denominators in many conditions.
There is not a standard to-do list for different conditions or issues. For example, what is connected to one person’s anxiety may be totally different than what’s connected to the next person’s. That’s why I wrote the How To Heal Yourself book series – so you can learn exactly what you need to do for your own unique situation; just as I did for my own healing.
All of the books in the series offer an entire encyclopedia section on what specific ailments, body parts, organs, and more are linked to which emotional energies so you can work on releasing them.
If you still need help, a private session with an experienced practitioner can really help. You can learn more here.
Where do I go if I have been diagnosed with Lyme disease or suspect I have it?
If you are experiencing Lyme disease and are looking for help finding a doctor, please go to www.ILADS.org for a list of lyme-literate physicians. It’s important to approach healing by supporting your whole body. I also recommend exploring integrative physicians, traditional Chinese medicine doctors (acupuncturists), naturopaths, or whatever type of practitioners you resonate with.
Some articles on Lyme I’ve written can be found here:
I had all the questions when I started my creative career. Now, I hope I have some answers that will help you along.
I am blocked and stuck. Why?
Being stuck or blocked is the #1 challenge that people come to me with. Here’s the truth: Your ability to create and your ease in creating is directly tied to how you feel. Over the last decade, I have worked with writers, artists, and creatives—from novices to celebrities—who are blocked or can’t find their flow. When we feel stuck, we tend to push harder to try to move forward. But this rarely works. Why?
When we don’t feel good, we can’t be the channel our work requires; which can cut us off from our source of creative energy, inspiration, and joy. In my experience, creative blocks often stem from a depressed creative energy, or rather the literal depression of self—usually, from being buried under the stress and stuff of life.
If you’re interested in doing work with me to free yourself creatively, please consider taking my course: Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: From Depression to Creative Expression — which helps students change their creative mindset and set their artistic expression free … in just a few short lessons.
I want to pursue my writing, drawing, etc. Where do I start?
I know that figuring out what you want to do or how to do it can feel overwhelming. But here’s the thing. Writers, it turns out, often write about everything. Artists create art in so many ways. You get the idea. So start there. If you’re a writer, start by writing snippets of what you care about without boxing yourself into a genre. If you’re a painter, paint in little bits. From there, you may find you are drawn more to one path or another. So you’ll create a little more on that. And so on. But starting small and in snippets is the way to explore your life as an artist.
Any snippet can then be turned into a larger project later. This is how all my books start. I write totally out of order and in little pieces that don’t connect to each other at all. But it’s the way I start, and continue, when I don’t know what’s next.
Already know what you want to write or create? Same advice as above (snippets!)—but also set a timer. Make yourself sit, even if you can only bear to set the timer for 5 minutes at a time. There’s no way to be a writer without writing. No way to be any kind of artist without actually doing it. Promise yourself you’ll do at least a few minutes every day; not in order to create something “good,” but to practice the art of connecting to your work. when you are inconsistent in your creating, you lose your creative flow; and every time you sit down, you start all over again?
What’s your best advice for new writers?
The truth is if you don’t care, nobody will. So you just have to write. Today.
I have a dream of writing a book. How do I get published?
So many people dream of writing a book, but the follow-through is what counts. If you have an idea for a book and there are people who would want to read it, you are already on your way. But either way, writing isn’t enough to make you an author. The bottom line is that if you want to be a creative professional, you need more than an idea and the words, you need a plan. You need a structure. You need to know what you’re writing and who is going to read it. You need a framework for your project so you can convince publishers (or even just know for yourself) that you have a solid project.
For writers: Before you write that book, let me share something that most potential authors don’t know. You don’t need the written book to sell a non-fiction book. You need a proposal to sell your non-fiction book.
Whaaa? Always? The simple answer is: almost always, yes. The exception is maybe if you’re super famous of if you plan to self-publish (although as a previously self-published author myself, I will insist every book that begins with a proposal, even if no one but you reads it, has a better chance of success). Proposals are a document that allows you to outline your entire project — from concept to marketing to potential audience — and everything in between. Agents use book proposals to pitch your project to publishers. Many agents require you come to them with a proposal, but some will allow you to work on the proposal once they’ve signed you as a client.
Even though book proposals are a lot of work, they make writing the actual book so much smoother. Once you have a finished book proposal, you essentially have the framework for your entire book. As a bonus, you also have a clear vision of what market you’re writing for, who your competition is, and how to write it in the most engaging way. In my opinion, having a great proposal helps you write a better book than you’d ever write without it.
There is no magic number for how long a proposal should be. But if you have all of the right elements in it, it will be lengthy. Here are the six standard sections you should include: Overview, About the Author, Manuscript (how long it will be and how long it will take to write), Market (audiences), Marketing (how you’ll market the book), Outline (outline of chapters with chapter summaries), and Sample Chapters.
As a reference, all of my book proposals tend to be around 100 pages, which include the sample chapters. But I’ve seen many that are between 50 and 80 as well.
Feel free to contact me for my cheat sheet that will help you write this in the easiest and best way possible!
How large of a platform do I need to get a book deal?
Platform, platform, platform. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of talk about this requirement for a book deal. A platform is essentially the people you can sell your book to when published. Simply put, it’s your audience. Your platform comes from essays you’ve written for large publications, your social media following, any professional or social groups you belong to, and more. Publisher requirements vary greatly for required platform. The smaller presses may require only a small platform; with some of the larger publishers requiring a social media following of thousands to hundred of thousands, and wanting you to have bylines in major publications. During the proposal writing process, I’ll help you describe your current platform in the most complete, robust (but honest) way possible. This will give you more opportunity when going out to sell your book. I will also help you by offering ways in which we can build it so you can add that into the proposal immediately.
When (if at all) should I consider self-publishing?
I’ve had experience with both: self-publishing and traditional publishing. My first book was self-published and later picked up by Simon & Schuster for traditional publication. I always recommend authors try the traditional route first. Even though I was self-published myself and give much credit to those who go it on their own, the industry does not view self-published authors with the same status as they do traditionally published. As a self-published author, I found it difficult to get bookstores to carry my book, secure speaking engagements, and more. In addition, publisher support in terms of cover design, editing, etc. can be priceless. On the flip side, and to be fair, getting your book out into the world is a great thing no matter how it’s done. So if you don’t have or want to build the platform you may need to get a traditional publishing deal, there is no shame in exploring self-publishing. But I still always recommend aiming for the stars and then adjusting your plan if necessary. Even if you decide you want to pursue self-publishing, having a proposal to use as the framework for your book will help you in ways you can’t imagine. I recommend every author put one together regardless of their publishing preference.
What other writing can I do? What will help me build my profile?
I’m so glad you asked! Writing essays or short stories for major publications is one of the best ways to enhance your author profile, get attention, and build your platform, making it easier to get a book deal (if that’s your goal). I learned an indescribable amount of crafting and pitching the perfect personal essay from Susan Shapiro, bestselling author of The Byline Bible and professor at The New School. You can sign up for her free events and classes at www.susanshapiro.net.