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Good Readers Make Good Writers

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Writing is so much more than putting words on paper or typing them onto a screen. If you want to be a truly great writer, you’ll need to work at improving your craft through practice, research, and, of course, reading. You might think an online writing coach would only assign writing exercises as homework, but reading a book could just as easily be a worthwhile assignment.

Online writing coach recommends reading to improve writing

Make time to read

We are all busy and finding time to write can be difficult enough, but that doesn’t mean you should let your reading pile stack up. When you are feeling stressed and crunched for time, reading can actually be the key to re-centering yourself. Studies show that just thirty minutes of dedicated reading time will do more to reduce stress levels than more traditional methods such as going for a walk or having a calming cup of tea. Any online writing coach will tell you that writing while stressed rarely results in quality content. If your writing is starting to feel forced or you find yourself with a bad case of writer’s block, pick up a book and unwind a little.
Set aside 30 minutes of each day to read a good book. It can be during your lunch break, right before bed, or even first thing in the morning. It may seem impossible to squeeze 30 minutes of reading into your busy schedule, but if you want to improve as a writer, you need to make the time to read.

Active readers have more diverse styles and vocabularies

Who needs a thesaurus when you have a good book? When you read a book you are exposed to new words that you either comprehend through context or will perhaps be compelled to investigate further. Whether you make the conscious choice to absorb the words, chances are you will eventually incorporate them into your speech or writing.

Great writers read to see what works and what doesn’t work. A good online writing coach will stress the importance of exposing yourself to different voices and a variety of writing styles. Avid readers are constantly exposed to fresh voices and interesting subject matter that can open their minds up to new ideas which can be implemented in their own writing. A great book can influence your writing style, inspire you to try new things, and kick start your desire to write. If you do not continue to read new material, you will have a hard time improving your own writing skills.

Read outside of your genre

While it’s useful to read books within your own genre to get a sense of what other writers are doing, you should also diversify your reading list. Nonfiction writers do not have to stick to nonfiction books! In fact, reading novels can help cultivate creativity and even stir up memories of personal experiences. It’s very important to read books both for work and for pleasure. In fact, this Stanford study shows that a different area of the brain is activated when you read for leisure than when you read as if studying for an exam.

If you hire me as your online writing coach, I can guarantee you that I will recommend adding designated reading time into your daily schedule. Good readers make great writers, and I’m in the business of helping people become excellent writers!


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Writing a book online: Q&A with Lindsey Jacobs

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Future author Lindsey Jacobs on finally sharing her story

Future author Lindsey Jacobs on finally sharing her story

In recognition of our upcoming Spring/Summer 2016 Group Writing Program kickoff, we wanted to take time to highlight our aspiring authors. Today, we are highlighting Lindsey Jacobs, a blogger and aspiring author who is writing her book, When Opportunity Knocks. Lindsey is a 40-year-old single mother and nursing student. She has completed the Ironman and is now driving for another achievement — to write her first book. Lindsey blogs about her experiences at RamblingRunnerGirl.com.

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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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