Get Out of Your Own Way and Start Writing

Get Out of Your Own Way and Start Writing

If I had a dime for every time I heard some guru online comment about growth not happening in your comfort zone . . .

And I bet you feel the same way.

But when you want to write a book, sometimes it’s tough to change the habits you need to change to make it happen. And we do get stuck in our comfort zones, especially if you aren’t a “writer” by trade or passion.

That comfort zone can be pretty cozy, especially because, for someone who wants to write a book, it can mean yoga or pajama pants, a bowl of popcorn, and binge watching something on Netflix to unwind or block out the day. Sounds pretty good right now, doesn’t it?

You know what, though? You can take your pajama-clad behind over to your kitchen table or a desk chair and work on your book while eating that popcorn. That’s two out of three! Continue reading

Eliminating the Unnecessary Details

Eliminating the Unnecessary Details

I read a quote on the design software I use that struck a chord this week. I’ve been doing a lot of editing, and this is a major part of what I do: “Great design is eliminating all unnecessary details.” ~ Minh D. Tran

Every word you write is important, especially if you have a word count to meet. But that doesn’t mean that the words are important to take up space.

One of the pieces I’ve been editing started at over 3,000 words. It needs to be no more than 1,300. So how do I make it work? How can I possibly cut the right words and still have it make sense?

This is frequently a place where writers pause. Editing (or killing words that you lovingly cradled in your arms) is a tough job, but the truth is, you can’t be in love with each and every word you write, or somewhere along the way, you’re going to be very upset. Whether you or an editor cuts them, they will be cut. Someone will see a way to tighten them, and it’s best if that someone is you. Why? Because whether you pay an editor by the word or by the hour, you will waste your money if the piece isn’t as tight as you can possibly make it before they get it. Continue reading

How to Develop Goals for Your Book

How to Develop Goals for Your Book

I’m sure that when you first started getting the idea to write a book, you thought that the toughest part would be writing the book. But sometimes, coming up with a plan for what to do with that book is even tougher. There are so many options. Do you want to start a group to discuss your topic? Do you want to use it as part of your business or to start a business? You can do speaking engagements or give it to new clients or potential clients. Really, the possibilities are endless.

However, this may be the most important part of writing the book because it can guide you in your writing. You have to know the purpose of the book before you can write, which means you have to figure out at least one thing you want to do with it first.

Think about what your audience needs and what is available for them as resources. Ask people if they want to learn from you with a talk, one-on-one, retreats, etc. How will the material best be received? Your book is a vital part of that equation so consider if they will have it before, during, or after their interaction with you. Continue reading

Stop This and Start Writing

Stop This and Start Writing

I attended a networking event recently where we were asked to do an activity with a partner. We needed to think of something we should stop doing and something we should start doing in its place to positively affect our businesses.

It was a tough exercise for me, but I did think about owning the role of executive editor of Inspiring Lives Magazine in a bigger way. We are now a national publication, so what had previously felt like just working on a project with some friends had to get bigger in my mind. Basically, shit got real, and I needed to step fully into my role. It’s something I had been thinking about anyway, so my “stop” was to “stop thinking small,” and my “start” was to “start owning my role and my success.”

Let’s apply this same game to writing your book. What do you need to stop doing to start writing? Continue reading

How to Write Your Ah-ha Moment in Nonfiction

How to Write Your Ah-ha Moment in Nonfiction

Recently, I was working with a client who had an amazing story to tell. He was doing an excellent job of it, too. I was amazed by how he had gone from being an excellent, social, broadly talented student in high school to becoming a functional alcoholic during college to finally sobering up and reaching his health goals a decade later. It was absolutely inspiring.

However, when I was reading the part where he explained what made him stop drinking and make a huge change in his life—that “come to Jesus” moment—the narrative fell flat. I was expecting something big like a DUI or a heart attack or a mugging as he stumbled home from the bar too drunk to even know where he was. But really, it seemed like nothing.

What?

This was what he hoped would grab the attention of his readers. This was the part that really tugged at your desire to make a change in your own lives. This was where he reached out and said, “I’ve been there. It’s tough. I hit rock bottom and clawed my way back to the top.”

But in reality, it seemed like he was choosing between a ham sandwich and a turkey sandwich. There wasn’t enough emotion. I couldn’t feel what it was like to be in his shoes at that moment. It wasn’t earth-shattering. Continue reading

What Happens on Page One of Non-fiction

What Happens on Page One of Non-fictionPage one. No pressure, but you know you have to hook your reader right away. Yikes! So how do you start?

I like to tell my clients that it’s more about the reader than about you or the topic. You want to start out letting them know that this book is definitely for them. Think about what would make you want to read the book that you are writing. Are you guiding someone through a difficult time? Do you want them to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe you want to make sure that they know you understand the journey by pointing out exactly where they are now and what drove them to seek help.

Whatever that need is, identify it, and use it to guide you through that first chapter. It will help you connect with your reader better if you know what they are thinking. Continue reading

How Do You Know You’re on the Right Track with Your Book

How Do You Know You’re on the Right Track with Your Book

Writing a book is both fun and challenging! Part of the challenge is that we don’t always know if we are on the right track. Sometimes, as we write personal stories, it feels like we are stuck or we aren’t sure if what we are writing will resonate with the right people.

Here are a few suggestions for how to make sure you are headed in the right direction with your book, for before and during the writing process.

Before

Ask—Curious what people want to know about? Just ask. You can easily use social media to post polls on Facebook or Twitter and gain insight into your topic. Use hashtags or share the post in specific groups to reach a more accurate cross-section of potential readers. Even posting something on your wall should generate some sort of response, and people may tag friends who have ideas or questions about the topic or who could be great resources for you! Continue reading

How to Start Writing a Book When You Think You’re a Horrible Writer

How to Start Writing a Book When You Think You’re a Horrible Writer

Let’s be perfectly honest: not everyone is born a writer. In fact, I would go so far as to say that no one is born a writer. We learn our craft, and when we realize it’s something we love, we work at it. We journal and make notes. We write letters and articles. Some of us even pursue higher education in writing.

So what happens when the opposite scenario occurs? We have a story to share, but we aren’t comfortable with our writing yet.

Some people uncover an urge to share something that happened to us, something we overcame or conquered, something we lived through, something we built.

So how do people in that situation get to the point where they can write an entire book when they might not even feel comfortable writing an email about the topic?

Pretty much the same way. Continue reading

Thinking is Part of the Writing Process

Thinking is Part of the Writing Process

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant or fast food place, then you’ve probably heard, “If you can lean, you can clean.” Hearing that during my first few jobs, while I was young and naïve, drilled this concept into my head. As I got older, I thought that if I was working, I had to be actively working. No pausing to think. No wandering around for ten minutes piecing an idea together.
And working as a government writer for 10 years didn’t help that. If someone saw that I wasn’t beating on my keyboard, they “knew” I wasn’t working. I had bosses ask me if I had enough to do when they saw me staring blankly at the screen or into the air. Geez. Give me a break.

Just this morning, I was considering someone’s book title and spent a few minutes leaning back in my chair staring at the ceiling. I was inserting and removing words, going over the sound in my head. Really thinking about what was going to snag the attention of the audience is important. Pounding out a phrase on the keyboard and hitting send does no one any good. Really! Continue reading