The book, “The Sunny Side Up! Celebrating Happiness,” was published on April 25 and is available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com in a physical or e-book copy.
Mojo caught up with Lauren to talk a bit about her book and writing process before the book signing tonight at Chi Omega.
What inspired you to start your blog and later write the book?
I’ve always loved to write and read other blogs and I decided I wanted to start a project of my own. I remember looking at Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project,” and thinking, I want to write a book about happiness. I just went through the whole book, highlighting it and emailed Gretchen about writing a teen edition. She didn’t really want to create a teen version, but it inspired me to write my own book.
What tips can you give bloggers and writers hoping to make a name for themselves?
My main tip is to be consistent because it doesn’t happen overnight. I wrote every single day for the first two years, but now it’s become more of a weekly thing. If you don’t have something new for your readers, then they are going to get bored and they are not going to want to come back. You have to be very self-motivated and nitpicky and be aware of how you want to brand yourself.
Could you expand on your writing process?
I really wanted to focus on the opinions of our generation. I interviewed people at UCLA, people from my old high school, anyone I could connect with. Facebook was a huge tool for me to get in contact with people all over the country. I asked them, “What makes you happy?” and I offered them 12 different topics, such as friendships, spirituality, etc., and they got to me and were really honest and I really appreciate that.
What was the publishing process like?
I decided to self-publish because you have so much more creative control and the product comes out much more quickly. I looked into some different self-publishing companies and signed a contract. I hired my own editor. I thought about getting a literary agent, but the process takes so long and I wanted to have it published by graduation.
What sets your book apart from other how-to books?
My book is different because I’m coming from a peer approach. I really wanted this book to feel real and honest and not like some 50-year-old on their soapbox wrote it. The book features quotes from real people, so it helps the reader feel they aren’t alone. My book also focuses on how we can be happy now, instead of wishing our life away saying, “I’ll be happy when …”
Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?
Julie Andrews because when she lost her singing voice she found a new voice through writing children’s books with her daughter.
What’s your best piece of advice for students with regards to staying positive and finding happiness?
I call it the three G’s. The first is gratitude. I recommend finding five things you are thankful for, even if it’s as simple as a nice walk at UCLA. The second is goal-setting. Writing down your goals, no matter how outrageous, is really helpful. The third is giving back, and I love that about the Bruin community – we recognize how important and beneficial it is to volunteer and give back.
What tips would you suggest for self-promotion, marketing and branding?
Be consistent, know who you are and know which image you want to promote. For instance, when I do a speaking event, I always wear yellow. Even my book features bright, happy colors.
What do you do to make yourself feel happy?
Music is huge for me. Listening to music in my car is a chance for me to have my me time and sing even if no one is listening. Spending time with my family and friends. Humans are social creatures, and while it’s good to spend time alone, you need to be around people who make you laugh and feel happy.
What role do you think outside factors, such as health, have on happiness?
Health seems so elementary, but it is so important to get those core basics of enough sleep, healthy food and exercise in order to be happy. I also talk about success and not comparing yourself to other people. It’s about finding happiness in your goals and staying on your path. The book talks about finding a happy medium in dating relationships and not being head over heels in love or devastated when it’s over, but finding a balance. It talks about how to be happy when you’re single or dating and how to get out of unhealthy relationships.
How has going to UCLA benefited you in this process?
A big part of the college experience at UCLA is learning self-motivation. No one is telling you to get this internship or go to class. I really love the entrepreneurial nature of UCLA. It taught me that you can create your own brand and self-promote, through blogging or writing your own book. You really can do it on your own. The only person who needs to say yes to you is yourself.
What are your future plans?
I’m probably going to get my master’s in marriage and family therapy, but my ultimate dream is to write books, do motivational speaking and just help people. My goal is to really help our generation find their way to a bigger, brighter future.
How do you stay happy? What dreams are you chasing? Tweet us @dbmojo or comment below.