What Is It Like To Co-Write a Book With James Altucher When He Is Your Husband?

Wait - Is he kidding? What is he even saying?

I was listening to James talk to Hay House. They were asking him if he had any new book ideas. I don't even think he blinked and he said, "How about we do "The Power of NO" - it would be exactly like the 'Power of NOW" only without the "W". "

Then he laughed. But they loved it. They wanted to do the book. And he asked me if I wanted to co-write it. Because he knows I can't say "No" to him.

But the more we thought about it the more it made sense. Saying “no” is really difficult.

We are not gentle enough with ourselves to recognize the places where we need boundaries. We all need a bit more “no” in our short lives. "No" literally creates time. Literally creates calm in our lives. Creates the space I need and crave.

Saying yes to James’s invitation into “The Power of No” was easy. Writing it with James, my spouse, as a co-author, was maybe not so easy.

The book tells my origin tale and I am a bit embarrassed of it because my claim to fame is that I come from one of the most dysfunctional families of South America. They had wiped out my ability to say "No" from an early age. But the reality is, I think that's true for many families.

I bled on the page. It was very painful to me and often I wasn't sure if I could write this.

My fears, my angers, my forgiveness, the horror that I had faced in my childhood, my NOs, is how I turned my story from mere words on a page into LIFE.

This is the wrestling of what I learned as I swam those treacherous waters of writing a book with my husband, meeting new faces of his and my personality, and living to tell the tale

1.- Wow! I Get to Free Ride On His Success.

That was the first thought. And I was sure this is what everyone else would think. You know? As in: how lucky for her to write a book with a best-seller author.

Did you catch that?

Not the first line, but the second, the one where I was sure of what everyone else would think.

Who the heck cares what everyone else thinks? Seems I do from time to time.

I didn't want to be thought of as "the wife?"

I had a choice:

I could ignore this and forge ahead, meaning just play as if I totally can do it, Orr, play small and go behind the scenes.

I chose the first one.

And I stood up for things I wanted, for example I wanted the: "|" symbol separating our names in the cover.

I didn’t want to have it read: James Altucher “and” Claudia Azula Altucher. No, I wanted:

James Altucher | Claudia Azula Altucher

I have no idea why that small gesture had anything to do with my creative process, but it worked.

And suddenly we were on the same page. 
2.- The Writing Retreat

Books seem to be due pretty much as soon as you sign a contract so we went to Pennsylvania for a retreat, morning solitude, and hoping to churn those words out.

James gives me a draft of something he wrote. We are looking at the differences between can’t, shouldn’t and wouldn’t.

It is clear to me that: “can’t” is a limitation. Can’t wants to narrow things down, make it all black or white.

“Won’t”, on the other hand, is a decision. As in: I know what is happening and I am choosing not to do that. “I won’t believe every thought my mind spits”. Won’t has power in it.

Shouldn’t, on the third hand, is awful, it means someone else does not approve and I am buying into pre-packaged story telling. “I shouldn’t have dessert” because I fear some thought someone put in my head.

But James sees it differently and I don’t even remember how it was that he saw it differently.

“Clearly you did not work on what I told you to work on!” I say.

I can’t believe I just said that.

He is hurt. Who wouldn’t? I am sorry.

What took over me? Why not give constructive criticism, why not start with the positives (he HAD written after all).

I apologize.

Now I am embarrassed and upset and we have no writing.

But then we wrote. And wrote more. And rewrote. And we started to exchange pages and laughter until his words blended into mind and mine blended into his and suddenly we had a book. Our very own book.

3.- The Fear

Will my family read this? Will they hate it? Where does someone else’s story end and mine begin?

Writing is a curious thing. It shuffles the people in your life throwing some out and attracting new people in, and in the end it lands you a whole new tribe.

I have family members that do not speak to me anymore.

I miss them.

A writer is never palatable for a family. And I will have to live with that.

4.- I Let Go
The manuscript goes to the editors and we have a month off. The winter is brutal.

I want to die.

But I survive.

5.- The Manuscript Comes Back

Gosh! 50,000 words is a lot of words and we need to turn it back in 48 hours.

We settle on taking out the chapter on Won’t Can’t and Shouldn’t. It’s not working for the book and it is not working for us.

I freak out because one of the chapters is not fitting in with the stories. James says we could break it into two No’s. It makes sense and so we do.

I flesh out a chapter on the day I met Thich Nhat Hanh. James edits a few other parts and suddenly it all looks better. 

It now feels like a book.

Now we are in the same room. We take turns to sit on the computer and edit details. He adds two paragraphs to the fourth No. I clean up the fifth No.

We are collaborating.

I love this man.

6.- The Freak Out

The final edits are back in. Now is just “cosmetics” we are told. No major changes, only touches.

I fear a chapter missing and adrenaline sparks in my system. Perhaps I had too much coffee this morning. I am frantic and looking through track-changes in different versions.

Nothing is missing; the desperation just took over BECAUSE IT COULD.

7.- The AudioBook

We are in the city to record the audio version. It is early spring and I feel like I can breathe again. I hate winter.

I read the first line.

The engineer interrupts me and asks me to sound less fake.

Great start.

He is sweet and is trying to help. He just has no idea how low my self-esteem can go around “accent” issues and speaking out loud in a language that’s not my native tongue.

In a moment I need to gather all the strength I have just not to cry. Then I start speaking again, from a more truthful place, I guess. It sounds good.

Then suddenly James spoke perfect Spanish as he was reading the book. I couldn't believe it.

But no, that was just in my imagination. James is never going to learn Spanish.

8.- The Podcast

James invites me to his ultra famous podcast. It’s like one of the most downloaded things in I-Tunes and it feels intimidating.

Surprisingly it just flows like a good old conversation on any given Sunday morning.

We talk about the process, suicide, stalking men, being broken and putting the pieces together. We talk about the daily practice and how it changes both our lives every six months.

I got a lot of feedback on the podcast and people trying to help me too. I am appreciative of this, forgiving and letting go are not easy for me.

9.- My Own Radio Show

If you’d told me three years ago that I would have my own HayHouse Radio show I would have doubted it. I always wanted something like that but I probably would have not been able to see the “how” that would happen.

“How” is always the enemy.

We always want to know how things will happen. At least in my case I want to know exactly how I will get to do everything, step by step, leaving nothing to chance.

But how is the enemy because it blocks the possibilities that open up when we are willing to not know.

And not know I did.

When you don't know about tomorrow, all you can do is focus on doing your best today.

And here I am, co-hosting a radio show on Hay House every Wednesday at 1:00 PM EST.

10.- Showtime

Showtime is next Tuesday. We have a pre-order page where you can get 3 gifts if you buy the book now, before the 15th. I hope you do. We put a lot of work into the free gifts. Get them here.


  1. Hmm, I wonder if it's a coincidence that I just posted "10 Ways to Conquer Anger".

  2. thanks for this article -- some really gentle and great reminders of the empowering things i had forgotten.
    anyway, thank you both of you. it takes guts to do what you do. i always wonder whether you will run out of stories and then i realise that is stupid

  3. haha i feel so much better in many ways

    thank you

  4. Claudia! Congratulations on your new book. I'm so happy and proud of (for) you. Blessings to you. :)

  5. This might be one of my favorite posts, Claudia! I confess you've done far better than us at working together. I fired myself from my own business long ago (one of my first "no's"). It's going to be a great show, congratulations!

  6. I've finished the Power of No, and your parts of the book are awesome - I can't believe it's your first book. Well done.


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