Transformation Through Authorship
“What I’ve loved about it, coming in, was how we were first invited to draw and really just activate the right side of our brains and get creative and really get out of the editing brain.” – Shayna Hammond
Shayna Hammond sat on her therapist’s couch, considering the task at hand: Coining a term for her community.
She knew it would need to remind her of her own commanding presence and inner power. It would need to possess both masculine and feminine energies. And, immediately, the word “indigo” came to mind.
She would later learn that indigo is a mix between blue and red — typically colors that characterize male and female, respectively — and represents qualities like wisdom, intuition, and guidance, all in alignment with the work she does with Black women.
And so, Shayna decided to call her community “Indigo Women.”
On this week’s episode of “Authors Who Lead,” Shayna joins me for a conversation about her book, “Becoming an Indigo Woman,” the shifts she felt in her business because of it, navigating 2020 as a new author, and her biggest pieces of advice for writing your first book.
Starting Her Book Journey
Shayna knew, intuitively, that she was meant to write a book. She had a message to share, but wasn’t completely clear on what it was yet.
Enter Authors Who Lead.
As she navigated our program, she was simultaneously building a group of Indigo Women. Through the coaching process, both her book and her community transformed — requiring her to be more vulnerable than she had ever planned.
Shayna trusted the process. I watched as she experienced epiphany after epiphany, listening to her intuition while gaining clarity and new ideas in the direction she was heading.
Writing Through 2020
In the past year, our country experienced a pandemic, a controversial election, the Black Lives Matter movement, and more. For Shayna, she lived through them while working in the Authors Who Lead program. I asked her how she was able to continue writing her book while healing personally and watching our communities in turmoil.
She admitted that it was a lot to balance. As a Black woman, she says she tries to narrow her focus on what is in her control — taking breaks from writing as needed to unpack her feelings and collect herself.
“You’re also very much, very aware of your ancestral power,” she said. “You’re very aware of what’s happening for the broader community, and aware on a heart level of mind, body, spirit.”
Finding Your Muse and True Purpose
Shayna starts every morning at an ancestral altar in her home. She feels anchored and inspired by her ancestors, she told me, and the amazing Black women who exude creativity, strength, and guidance for others.
Oftentimes, she feels like a vessel who receives guidance from her ancestors, mentors and, sometimes, even strangers she meets. In fleshing out her vision of the “indigo woman” while writing her book, those inspirations helped clarify her work that leads others to liberation — and she felt a shift in her company’s focus.
While she had always done racial and equality work, mostly in education, she realized her processes could be effective in other sectors, as well.
On Helping Women
Shayna believes that we are all naturally strong beings — incredibly powerful and free — but our white supremacist society has taught a scarcity mindset, where women and minority voices are silenced.
In her work, she helps women return to what’s important to them — to cut out the noise and realize there are conditions outside of ourselves that are not our fault. The solution is bringing in new leadership that will create a better quality of life for marginalized people, she said.
In her Indigo Women program, she deconstructs the “strong Black woman” schema. For far too long, those ideals require women to work hard, be self-sacrificing caregivers, and not show emotion — all embedded in family values. By releasing these expectations, women can become their authentic selves, Shayna said.
“It’s a calling to really create a space, a container where women can come, come back home to themselves,” she said, “and come back to that place of strength and do the work that they need to do to release whatever limiting beliefs they have.”
Shayna’s clients make beautiful shifts in their personal and professional lives, she said, especially after realizing that internalized systemic microaggressions and institutionalized racism have toned them down. In their last session, one woman showed up confident and energetic, with big hair and colorful clothing and accessories. She told Shayna that, because of her work in their group, she realized that she had been muting herself for others — and had pushed forward to become her authentic self.
The Art of Achieving Balance
So much of Shayna’s book is about self-care and mindfulness, encouraging women to remember the importance of these practices in their lives and their businesses. For Shayna, each morning at her ancestral altar, she asks for support and guidance, and she urges women to find a morning practice of their own that grounds and anchors them for the day.
When you work on yourself first, you will find flow and alignment in everything else around you, she said.
“So many things are just lining up, you know, and they’re lining up because I’m in flow,” she said, “and I’m in flow because I’m doing my work on me first.”
Lessons from Shayna
I asked Shayna what advice she would give to others as they start their book writing journey, now that she’s gone through it herself.
Her first tip comes from the early experiences she had in our Authors Who Lead group sessions. Do not outline your book immediately, she said. Instead, draw it out. It may seem weird initially, but by approaching the journey in a playful, visual way, your creativity and inspiration show up. I like to tell authors that words just get in the way of a great book.
Second, find out how you write the best, even if it’s breaking the “rules,” explained Shayna, who learned that she is a batch writer.
When life gets in our way, we can struggle with a daily writing schedule. So, as Shayna discovered, the busy mom and entrepreneur would need to tap what inspired her most and remove herself from her familiar surroundings — opting to book a few days at a hotel to immerse herself in the writing process.
Sometimes, when a book comes, it’s there to transform you more than anyone else. As you’re inspired to write your book, remember these greatest takeaways from my interview with Shayna:
- Writing a book doesn’t have to be hard if you honor your own process. Don’t think you have to follow the process that you’ve been told will work. Find your own inspiration and creativity.
- Trust that this process is the way you’ll discover the topic of your book. You don’t have to have all the answers when you start. It’s more of a journey than an event.
- Your transformation is the most important part of the process when you’re writing.
What was your biggest takeaway from this episode? Have you been inspired or called to write a book? Your message matters more than you know. Share in the comments below!
That’s all for this week. Let the process guide you to write the book you were meant to write!