(Video sneak-peek from Courageous Beginnings)

Working on the Courageous Living Guides has been nothing short of epic. At the end of the Fire Starter Sessions, Danielle LaPorte shares about her own 12-week odyssey of creation. During week 9 she writes: “I’ve turned a corner.”

Those are holy words.

So, in case you’re curious–many of you email me sharing about your desires to write e-books, launch e-programs, and run e-courses–I’ll share with you what the process has been like of getting these Guides together.

Words.

First, each Guide (yes, each) is nearly 200 pages. Sometimes people get confused and think that each Guide just makes up one little chunk of some larger whole. Nope, only conceptually. In actual black-and-white pages and copy, these mothas are their own self-contained unit, and each one is bursting with content. Where did I originate all of that content? Well, I started developing it when I was running an e-course . This is, in essence, a year’s worth of heavy duty writing, distilled into themes: Courageous Beginnings, Courageous Commitments, Courageous Passion, Courageous Power.

And how did I get the writing done? At the library. With chai and lattes. Also, I type fast. I don’t have a regular, daily writing schedule. I write when I have time, and when I don’t feel I have a lot of time, I make the time–for me, this has meant practicing saying “no” on a few things that I knew I wanted to be involved in, and working long hours.

I have not earned the Self-Care Award for 2010 this year. Self-care has been a constant reminder, because, as a Sagittarius with three planets in earth signs, when it comes to getting things done, I can be like a machine. Write four e-programs and make the videos in 9 weeks? I will do it.

And P.S., I use Pages to write my content (yes, I am a Mac person) because, as I sadly learned many moons ago, there’s some weird glitch in Microsoft Word for Mac where, once you convert to PDF, your links don’t work. There is no fix for this, as of yet. Pages is awkward if you’ve spent a lifetime with the MS Word setup, but once you figure out a few strings, it’s fine.

Concepts

Everything I needed to know to create an e-course, or these Guides, I learned from lesson planning semesters as an English teacher–first, I would look at the broad concepts of the semester, usually under some kind of a theme, then I’d start writing down questions and topics, like, “What do people need to know about ___?” Then I would start seeing chunks that would come together.

For instance, with Courageous Power it was clear to me that first I needed to start with defining power and getting my reader into the spirit–making space, even for the places where “power” might be viewed through a negative lens. Then I needed to get into where we block ourselves from living powerfully. Then I needed to introduce tools–actual, practical, “do ’em right now” heart-centered yet practical tools–for diving right in. And then, the most powerful section/aspect of all–a section titled “Coming into your own,” which is about trusting your own inner wisdom over mine or anyone else’s.

If you’re sitting down to work on a e-book, e-program, or e-course, this is the place where I believe one needs to have the clearest vision. I know that many of you have some piece of paper, some notebook tucked in a drawer, some place where you were deeply inspired and rushed to write it down before you could forget it–that’s the piece of paper you want to dig out before you take another step. Before I ever wrote my first e-course–before I had ever even heard of an e-course as a concept!–I had had this idea for doing small women’s coaching circles. I wrote down my ideas for what I wanted the circles to cover on a piece of paper that I transferred from box to cabinet to filing system over the course of a few years before I ever acted on it.

Whatever you wrote down was an inspired moment. Why not act?

Videos

These are Guides–not random books. They’re programs. They’re not something one just sits down to read. They’re interactive; you’re challenged to start with the material through prompts, exercises, insights, challenges. Part of that is the video aspect, which I hope to be like a call to action that gets you to go deeper–sort of e-program meets video seminar. The biggest comment former e-course participants made about the videos was that they liked how I set them up as if I were speaking to someone, conversationally, rather than doing a “lecture”. They were the part of my courses that always received praise. So. In the past 6 weeks, I’ve made 60+ new videos–which means recording, transferring to the computer, importing into a video editor, editing, exporting from a video editor, uploading to my server, and creating the page where they’ll be accessed as well as linking them up within each individual Courageous Guide.

I’ve been reformatting other videos, mostly the interviews. I’ve been doing new interviews–I’m really excited to announce that Chris Guillebeau will be interviewed for Courageous Power and Marc Allen, founder of New World Library, will be part of Courageous Passion. I’ve also been setting up more interviews for Courageous Passion–as I was getting deeper into the material on working on being in relationship, I thought of two kick-ass couples counselors to interview,¬†as will a few couples who are in relationships that I would call examples of “conscious partnership,” and I thought they’d be great to interview and share their experiences.

What would you need to make the videos?

Well, I use a standard Canon PowerShot SD870IS that has amazing sound and video quality even though it’s an outdated camera. A few weeks ago, I thought I’d update to the latest PowerShot, thinking that it would be a quality upgrade. The sound was terrible! I returned the camera. I use iMovie ’08 to edit because it’s too much for me to try and upgrade to the latest version while in the midst of creating something, right now. That said? iMovie ’08 sucks. Use the later versions or get yourself a copy of Final Cut Pro. Then I use Vimeo to host my videos, paying a few ducats for the Pro membership so that I can make them password protected.

How do you get the videos onto a website?

Vimeo provides you with the embedding code, so all you need to do is copy/paste. That said, my site is WordPress enabled, and WordPress makes importing code super easy. Other sites might not. If you don’t have WordPress, I’d say it’s worth either taking the time to figure out how to install it on your own server (my host, dreamhost, has it as a free install–tell them yourcourageouslife.com sent you) and there’s tons of info on the internet for how to make themes more unique. Or just pay someone to install for you–WordPress is the gift that keeps on giving. I promise. Or consider signing up for an account with Ning. I was really happy with using them for my e-courses.

What’s really important

What’s really important is that you start, that you try. I even vote that you try throwing some freebies to the wind before you start charging. I know that to some that comment might be sacrilege, but what I mean is that nothing beats having some experience, and you’d probably prefer to get the kinks worked out before you start charging.

Nonetheless, what is important is that you start formulating your ideas, courageously leaning into your edges and flexing those courage muscles. Leaning into that fear (because no one gets a free pass on that) is a bigger gift than the outcome of producing a fully-filled course or bestselling program.