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How to Write a Nonfiction Book When It Hurts

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This year, our focus is to find 117 Solutions to our most difficult problems, an effort we call 117 Solutions in 2017. I’m encouraged by the response we’ve had, but I also feel humbled when I’m asked how to write an inspirational nonfiction book when it hurts. Not all stories are pretty, especially those about child abuse.

Sean Carney is one of my heroes. He’s a big, burly man, tough in a kind-hearted way, and he has the kind of laugh that would get you in trouble at church. Deeply generous, Sean lives large, and he shares his blessings inspirational nonfictionwith everyone around him. He should have died when he was 20.

Inspirational Nonfiction; A Painful Story

Sean wasn’t sick, but he grew up in a sick environment that was punctuated by regular incidents of the worst kind of child abuse, inflicted on him by his uncle. The son of a violent father and a depressed-to-the-point-of-being-disabled mother, he had to take the family reins when he was just twelve years old, getting his brothers up for school and cooking their dinner at night. It’s no wonder he became angry and violent, and at 13 he started using drugs: pot, PCP, crystal meth, alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. At 17 he became a father. By the time he was twenty, he was on the needle. Even though he drank and drugged, he could not escape the PTSD from the sexual abuse.

Sometimes you can’t tell when children are in trouble. Sean’s family looked like the richest people in town. He was an All-Star in Little League and hockey, he played army, went to the beach and played in the woods, and he was even a track star. He looked like the run of the mill mid-western kid, but Sean had a secret that burned a hole inside him. His rage was always just under the surface, and it frequently exploded.

 

A business owner since he was 17, by the time he was 20, despite his drug use, Sean’s strong work ethic made him a phenomenal success. But inside his head, the abuse still tormented him. He was full of self-loathing and felt he was never good enough. Angry to the point of planning his uncle’s murder, he was a loose cannon. How could he feel any different? Look what happened to him.

But that’s not the end of the story. Sean turned his life around, and he is writing an inspirational nonfiction book that will encourage other down-and-outers and show them that they can turn their lives around, too.

What’s the Purpose?

The purpose of Sean’s book is to show people who have lost faith in themselves and feel hopeless about their future, that no matter what’s happened to them or what they’ve done, that they don’t have to be defined by their past but can be prepared by it to live out their unique purpose and become the person they were truly meant to be.

There are over 27,000 reported cases of child abuse every year, but how many more don’t get reported? Hundreds of thousands of adults carry those scars, and I’m grateful that Sean Carney  stepped up to tell his story and offer hope and help to others. Living with the after-effects of child abuse is a problem, and Sean offers a solution. His inspirational nonfiction book may be painful to write, but it will be the voice of hope and help to those who have suffered similar situations.

117 Solutions in 2017

How about you? What do you know, what have you been through, what have you discovered or developed that can help others? What inspirational nonfiction book could you write that will bring hope to others? Please join us in our effort to find 117 Solutions in 2017!

The purpose of 117 Solutions in 2017 is:

  • To create a groundswell of solutions to problems that have, until now, seemed too big or impossible to resolve
  • To unleash the answers that are trapped inside of people
  • To change lives, save lives, and transform society
  • To use your life and your gifts and your resources to MAKE THINGS BETTER. Not because you must, but because YOU CAN!

 


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autobiography vs memoir book coach which should i write

Autobiography or Memoir: Which should you write?

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autobiography vs memoir book coach which should i writeThe words “autobiography” and “memoir” are often used interchangeably in social situations – (and even on Amazon.com categories!) but the two terms represent vastly different types of work.

What is a memoir?

A memoir is a written story that typically covers a portion of someone’s life. This type of book is often written by “normal” people like you and me, and can start at any point within an author’s life. Historically, autobiographies tend to be dryer material – more factually researched and historical than memoirs, which can have a more emotional edge and a moral to the story.

Should I write my memoir?

As I often say, you are the only one who can tell your story! Here are some questions you need to ask yourself before you embark on the journey of writing your book:

  1. Do you have a story worth telling? If you have a story that others would be interested in – experiences you’ve had, circumstances that you’ve overcome, major accomplishments and the road to achievement – then there may be interest in your story. Oftentimes, the authors whose autobiographies perform best have been told by family, friends, and colleagues, “you should write a book,” for a number of years. Has this happened for you?
  2. Do you have a story that could help others?  I’m a firm believer that if your story has the potential to help others who face similar circumstances to yours, by bettering their lives or personal experiences, that you have a duty to share your story.
  3. Can your story be told with total honesty (absolutely no embellishment!) and how the readers’ attention? Often times, you’ll find that all of the little stories that make up the big story of your life can be interesting enough without added embellishment. You simply need to look at the language you use to impart your experiences.

What is an autobiography?

An autobiography typically covers the events of a writer’s entire life from birth to present. An autobiographical book typically focused on the total trajectory of an individual’s life and highlights many experiences from a personal point of view in chronological order. Authors typically highlight formative instances from childhood, adolescence, and their adult years. Autobiographies are typically written by celebrities, experts and people of significance, and contain highly researched and verifiable information.

Should I write my autobiography?

If you are unsure about whether or not you should write a memoir, I’d recommend that you ask yourself all of the same questions listed above and that you add one more:

Is your life so significant that someone would be captivated by the entire experience – from the beginning until now? 

Additionally, you should consider if the public’s interest in your story is more emotional or historical. Autobiography is clearly the more historical of the two types of non-fiction life writing.

Are you ready to write?

If, after you’ve considered all of the questions above, you believe you have a story that needs to be told, I’m ready to help you start writing and publishing your book. The success of your book – and how relatable it is to your audience depends on how well you tell it. As your personal book coach, I can help you craft your story and work with you when you to write a book that is beyond compare. Don’t let fear of writing keep you from sharing your story with the world!

If you need help to write your book, consider working with me as you write your first book. Details below!

 

 


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Creating the best story structure for your non-fiction book

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Creating-a-story-nonfiction-book-writing-book-coach-how-to-write-a-bookWhen it comes to crafting your personal exceptional story, it can be difficult to know where and how to begin. I’m here to help you design your story so you can start writing and get your story out into the world. As a book coach, my life is spent working with individuals who have a story to tell, and helping them share that story in a way that moves people to action. 

What is your story?

All of us have our own story, and people are truly interested in hearing it. Every day, each of us are asked questions such as:

  • What do you do?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • Do you have kids?

You see, even if people are not directly asking about your story, these types of questions are all indirect ways to try to learn more about you and the story you have to tell.  

Physiologically, humans are wired to enjoy and relate to stories. Stories have been a part of the human fabric since the beginning of time. People like to listen to stories, relate to them, and remember them. Find your story and give people what they crave!

It’s important to understand the difference between telling your story and presenting your resume. You cannot tell your exceptional story by reciting a list of your accomplishments or delivering an elevator pitch. You need to dig deeper. Your story will communicate who you are, so you need to figure out exactly who that is and how to showcase that person.

Start with the foundation of your story

Before you start writing your story, you need to answer two questions:

  1. What is the purpose of your story?
  2. Who is the audience?

Stories can help you cross racial, social-economical, political, and religious, boundaries; they are that powerful. I believe there are two key things all people need: hope and help. Your story has the power to offer hope and help to others. Your story can change lives and have an impact on society, but you need to decide just what kind of impact you want to make. What do you want your story to communicate? What change do you want to invoke in the reader? How will your story help people?

Knowing your audience is essential. Your target audience will determine what you tell them and why. Cater your story to grab the interest of your audience, so that you can deliver a helpful and memorable story. Take a look at my blog post, How to Define an Audience for Your Book, for a more in-depth explanation of how to tackle this important task.

Outline the three parts of your story to lay the plan for your nonfiction book

Obviously, all stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but the three parts I suggest you consider are these:

  1. What it used to be like
  2. What happened
  3. What it’s like now

Start with what life was like before the change happened.  Were you happy? Overworked? Unfulfilled? Paint a picture of your “before” and set your audience up for the change.

The “what happened” section is the turning point in your story. It’s your pivotal moment, the bridge that connects the before and after. Something happened that caused a change in your life, and that’s what you’ll share with your audience. Some changes are internal, such as an “aha!” moment that directed you to take action or make a change, but some people need more of a push. External changes are things that force us into change, such as the death of a family member, birth of a child, a divorce, loss of a job, or some other life-altering occurrence. What happened to you? How did it force you to change and why?

Create closure in your story

Next, tell your audience what it’s like now. Where are you in your life? How are things different?

If you’re struggling with how to wrap up the impact of your life or a specific chapter in your story, consider these six areas of your life and how they have been impacted by the events you shared in your memoir or business book:

  • Spiritual
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Emotional
  • Professional, 
  • Financial

How have these areas of your life been affected?

If you take these three aspects–What it Used to be Like, What Happened and What It’s Like Now–put them together, and seal them with a solid purpose statement that clearly communicates the purpose of your story, you will have a solid design in place.  

You have a story to tell, and people are ready to hear it, but whether or not they will relate to it and remember it depends on how well you tell it. How you tell your story is just as important as the story itself. I can help you craft your story and work with you when you have trouble writing. Don’t let fear of writing keep you from sharing your story with the world!

If you need help to write your book, consider working with me as you write your first book. Details below!


 

nancy erickson book coach book coaches How to Become an Author: Module One 1About Nonfiction Book Writing & Publishing Expert Nancy Erickson

Nancy Erickson is better known as “The Book Professor,” a writing and publishing consultant who specializes in helping aspiring nonfiction authors bring their book ideas to market. Nancy works as a book coach assisting authors that write self-help books, biographies, business books, and other nonfiction books through online courses and book coaching. Contact Nancy with questions or to have her speak at your upcoming event by clicking here.

 


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a simple formula for telling your story non-fiction book consultant how to write a book learn how to write a book

A Simple Formula For Telling Your Story

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a simple formula for telling your story non-fiction book consultant how to write a book learn how to write a bookSo, what’s your story? Has anybody ever asked you that?  It kind of sounds like a pick-up line, doesn’t it?

Maybe nobody has asked you that exact question, but they have asked that question in other forms. They say things like:

  • What do you do?
  • What line of work are you in?
  • Where are you from?
  • Do you have any children?
  • What does your company do?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • What do you sell?
  • How do you differentiate your product / service / self?

How you tell your story is just as important as the story itself.

How To Craft Your Exceptional Story

You can apply what I’m about to teach you to any story you tell, whether it’s about you, your company, your product, or your family.

The first step is to build its foundation, and you can do that by answering these two questions:

What’s the purpose? AND Who’s the audience?

  1. What’s the purpose?

You probably have a general idea of what you want to tell, but I challenge you distill it down to a single Purpose Statement before you start. Your Purpose Statement should say, “The purpose of my story is to ___________________. 

Complete that sentence. Bear in mind that it’s one sentence, not a paragraph.

Let me give you an example using my own purpose statement: The purpose of my story is to give people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

  1. Who’s the Audience?

If you don’t know your audience, it’s like playing spin-the-bottle in the dark. Don’t you want to know who you’re going kiss before you pucker up? Likewise, you need to envision your audience. Who do you interact with? What’s their age, demographic, marital status? Are they male or female, conservative or liberal? How do they identify themselves? Complete this sentence: The audience for my story is __________________.

Example: The audience for my story is everyday people.

  1. Pull it all together.

Now pull these components together to craft a single statement.

Example: The purpose of my story is to give everyday people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

Now that you have your Purpose Statement, you’ll want to write your story from your audience’s perspective, not yours. What do they want to know? What information are they seeking? What new message or perspective can you deliver? Compelling content always meets the need, and your job is to deliver what your audience is seeking.

Three Elements Of Your Story

Now I’d like to teach you the three elements of telling your story – and, no, it’s not beginning, middle, and end!

Stories are powerful, but only if they have a point. Your challenge is to think about your audience and convey what would be meaningful to them. Resist the temptation to tell them everything – you’ll bore them to death! Pare your story down to your purpose, and leave the rest behind.

Here’s a simple formula that you can use to tell your story:

Part 1. What it used to be like

Before you were where you are now, your life/work/health was a certain way. What was it like?

  • Was it pleasant and peaceful? 
  • Was it stressful and harrowing?
  • Were you broke and despondent?
  • Was there something missing in?
  • Something frustrating?
  • Was it seemingly perfect?

Example: I was trapped in a high-paying high-tech job that I hated but couldn’t leave because I was too afraid.

Part 2. What happened?What it used to be like

This brings us to the pivotal point in YOUR story. The pivotal point is the “what happened” of your story.

Change usually takes place due to one of two things. Perhaps you had an aha! moment and were internally motivated to try something new or move in a new direction. You realized something and made some changes. Those changes were internally motivated.

However, for a lot of us, change is forced upon us by external factors such as an illness, death, divorce, a marriage, new baby, or a lost job. What happened in your life that caused you to seek a new direction and put you on a different path?

This is the turning point in your story. It’s the event/circumstance/situation that bridges the before and after. What happened that changed everything? What was your pivotal moment?

Example: My dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor and I shut everything down and traveled back and forth to Florida to be with my parents. After he died, I had the opportunity to start over, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I always loved to write, so I went back to school to get my Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing. After I graduated I joined the faculty to teach writing, then started a small press to publish nonfiction books. I realized that most of the powerful stories were not being told, they were trapped inside of people, so I took what I knew as a university professor and a publisher and created a step-by-step methodology to turn people who aren’t writers into authors.    

Part 3. What it’s like now

This is the “After” portion. What is your life like now? How are you different now?  What are you doing to add value to your world?

Example: Now the people I work with have become the voices of hope and help. They are reaching out and changing people’s lives, simply by telling their stories.

When you write your story using this formula—what it used to be like, what happened, and what it’s like now, then seal it with your Purpose – then you have crafted your exceptional story.

Let’s take a look at all the elements pulled together.

I was trapped in a high-paying high-tech job that I hated but couldn’t leave because I was too afraid. But then my dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumo,r and I shut everything down and traveled back and forth to Florida to be with my parents.

After he died, I had the opportunity to start over, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I always loved to write, so I went back to school to get my Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing. After I graduated I joined the faculty to teach writing, then started a small press to publish nonfiction books. I realized that most of the powerful stories were not being told because they were trapped inside of people, so I took what I knew as a university professor and a publisher and created a step-by-step methodology to turn people who aren’t writers into authors.    

Now the people I work with have become the voices of hope and help. They are reaching out and changing people’s lives, simply by telling their stories. The reason I do this is to give everyday people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

That’s MY story and I’m sticking to it!

What about your story? You’re the only one who can do it.

If you would like support, consider one of my nonfiction book coaching programs:

 


author-coaching-book-coach-online-writing-class-get-my-book-outAbout Nancy Erickson

Nancy Erickson is better known as “The Book Professor,” a writing and publishing consultant who specializes in helping aspiring nonfiction authors bring their book ideas to market. Nancy works as a book coach assisting authors that write self-help books, biographies, business books, and other nonfiction books through online courses and book coaching. Contact Nancy with questions or to have her speak at your upcoming event by clicking here.

 


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