Tasha Hudson, Author at Write a Nonfiction Book with The Book Professor

Author Archives: Tasha Hudson

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Writing a Book-Time, It’s Not On Our Side

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Writing a Book is Possible-Even With a Busy Life

Time is on my side, yes it is.

Time is on my side, yes it is.

For you music buffs out there, can you name that tune? I’ll give you a hint. It was first recorded by R&B artist Irma Thompson in 1964 and then later that same year, it was re-recorded by one of the most influential rock groups in our culture. If you guessed “Time Is On My Side” by  The Rolling Stones, then you’re right! Whether you prefer the original version by Irma Thompson, or undoubtedly the most popular version by The Rolling Stones, the lyrics are still fantastic and bring back some great memories.

You might be thinking, what does that song have to do with writing a book? More than you might realize. In fact, the excuse of “I don’t have time right now” is one of the biggest objections I hear from people who put their book on hold. In other words, they believe that time is on their side, and they don’t need to write their book right now. They’re too busy with life and will wait till the time is right. What’s the rush?

Yes, there are some seasons in life that can require more from us mentally, physically, and emotionally, but if you’re waiting for your life to be uneventful so you can write your nonfiction book, then it probably won’t ever get written.

You Will Never Be Less Busy

It doesn’t matter if your passion is about a new business process that can save time and dollars. It can be a memoir about overcoming pain and suffering, or how to connect on a soul-level with your dog: if you have a passionate solution, someone else needs it! People don’t buy books; they buy solutions.

Someone is looking for what’s trapped inside of you, but you’re not sure that now is the right time to jump in and write your book. Guess what? You will never be less busy than you are now! This year is going to pass by anyway, and you may as well have something to show for it.

If you were sitting in front of me instead of reading this blog, here’s what I’d say to you:

Time - You will never be less busy

 

If you or someone you know is ready to share your story with the world,  contact us today and we can help you with the next step! For more information on our class offerings, please visit us at www.thebookprofessor.com.


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You Can Succeed in the Marketplace as an Independent Author

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This article originally appeared on Bookbaby.com

You can succeed in today’s marketplace as an independent author. There’s data to back that up. Of course, statistics and sales reports won’t mean a thing if your book has not been professionally edited or if you rushed through the design process.

Hugh Howey is an independent author of 31 self-published books. He’s well known now, as he sold the film rights for his sci-fi series, Wool, to 21st Century Fox in 2012. But in his early days, like many independent authors, he had trouble gaining traction with readers.

He found that after self-publishing his books, there were no resources available to help him track how his book was performing compared to other authors in the marketplace. None of the mainstream tracking services — such as the American Association of Publishing — included self-published books in their reports. He had no way to tell who was buying his books, or books similar to his, and who wasn’t.

That is why Howey and his partner — a numbers-crunching self-published author aptly named the “Data Guy” — started Author Earnings, a resource that compiles all of the data that might be relevant to independent authors. It’s crammed with revealing numbers, including quarterly sales reports for both traditionally and independently-published books, regional-specific reports, and reports detailing eBook and audiobook sales. It then synthesizes that data in such a way that allows writers to make informed decisions about marketing their books.

For independent authors, that makes Author Earnings an invaluable resource. But there are additional insights from Author Earnings that authors need to be paying attention to. Here are a few notable nuggets of wisdom from the site’s latest report.

It’s a level playing field

Independent authors comprise a large portion of the industry’s most regularly-purchased authors, and while it remains that the Dan Browns and John Grishams of the world reside comfortably and consistently near the top of any earnings report, when it comes to independent authors, those spending time at the top are constantly changing. Rising new stars are making serious waves in the industry all the time.

Sure, self-publishing a bestseller requires a little luck. And, yes, the independent authors at the top of Howey’s latest earnings report got there because they positioned themselves for success by way of investing in editing work, cover design, and marketing. But what we can now confirm is that you don’t need to be a household name to publish a best-selling book.

You can publish a successful book whenever you want… almost

Author Earnings’ recent data illuminates that eBook sales are pretty consistent throughout the year. Print books sell better in August (for beach season) and December (for the holidays), but for independent authors, there is no bad time to release your book. That means there is no built-in advantage to releasing your book on September 1st versus February 1st.

The one exception here is actually December, which is something we’ve learned over the years: The hardest time for a self-published author to be discovered is the holidays. Readers simply don’t have the time during the holiday season to discover new authors. When they’re purchasing books as gifts, they’re looking for something they know the recipient will like and aren’t usually apt to taking risks.

You can use discounting to your advantage

There are those out there who will tell you, “If you don’t think your book is worth a dollar, neither will readers.” Those people haven’t looked at the data.

What the latest Author Earnings report also shows is that it’s not a “bad” thing for independent authors to give their books away for free or sell them for 99¢. Evidence shows that people are purchasing/accessing plenty of free and 99-cent books, which means selling your book at a cheap/discounted price is a potentially valuable route for independent – and especially new – authors to explore in the quest to find readers and create momentum.

For new authors, creating momentum is paramount. You want to build a readership, you want to get more reviews, and one great way to do that is to make your first offering easier to buy.

It is a bad business decision to limit yourself to one format

Here are a few important stats authors should know:

  • 30% of potential book buyers only buy printed books
  • 30% of potential book buyers only buy eBooks
  • 40% of potential book buyers vacillate between the two options

In other words, independent authors who choose not to publish print books are severely limiting their potential sales because they’re willfully neglecting 30 percent of the market. Same thing with eBooks, especially given the report’s emphasis on self-published authors’ success in the eBook market.

The self-publishing industry is thriving

Author Earnings confirms that independent authors are seeing real financial success when self-publishing books, and while there are fewer independent authors earning triple-digit numbers, the industry is rife with opportunity.

Of course, independent authors always need to ensure that they’ve spent the time creating a quality product before publishing. Seasonality and sales insights won’t mean a thing if your book has not been professionally edited or if you rushed through the design process.

Still, what independent authors should internalize is this: You can succeed in the marketplace. The data backs it up.

Join Steven and a host of great presenters, speakers, and exhibitors at BookBaby’s 2018 Independent Authors Conference, November 2-4 at The Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia! The Independent Authors Conference is the only writing conference dedicated to helping independent authors publish successfully. Register now! Don’t miss this opportunity to listen and learn from some of today’s leading self-publishing experts!

 


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How To Write A Book Step By Step-Make the Time

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How many times a day do you say, “I don’t have time for that?” Maybe it seems impossible to make time to write or to even make time for anything outside of your normal schedule. The people I meet want to learn how to write a book step by step, but their lives are filled with so much: things they want to do, things they need to do. And a lot of things they don’t really want to do, but must. There’s always that race against the clock, which leaves them feeling scattered and torn, like a scarecrow with his stuffing pulled out. At the end of the day, there isn’t much left.

If that’s you, I understand.  But, I’m a firm believer that if something’s important to you, no matter how busy you are, you’ll make time to do it.

Learn How to Write A Book Step By Step

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate to waste time, and the biggest time waster for me is when I have to do something over. I hate doing things twice.

I like to follow a time-tested, straight path that gets me from where I am now to where I want to be while expending the least amount of energy possible to produce an excellent result.

The good news is that there’s a step-by-step process you can follow to become an author. You don’t have time for do-overs. And you certainly don’t have time for an inefficient methodology.

If the shortest path from one point to another is a straight line, you’d better be sure you know that the path you are on will take you where you want to go! The only thing you need to get started is an idea. That’s it. Just an idea. Then, week by week, step by step, you plan the contents of your book and adding to the writing until you have a rough draft, then a finished manuscript. Yes, it takes time, but it doesn’t take forever.

But you don’t want a manuscript, do you? Of course not. You want a book. You need to go beyond the writing and have a clear path to packaging, publishing, and promoting your book. Be sure that’s the path you’re on, a path that takes you all the way from your initial idea to the finished product.

When you write a book, you establish yourself as an expert in your field, increase your credibility, and can attract a followingwith one caveat. It better be a good book. Rushing through it can be catastrophic.

 


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Six Months Into 2018: What Have You Done With Your Time? Book Writing Classes For Everyone

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Book Writing Classes That Fit Into Any Schedule

Can you believe half of the year is already over? If you’re like most people busy with work, family, or school, it might be hard to believe that we’re already six months into 2018. My Operations Manager had her second baby last fall, and I’ve heard her say many times that  “it feels like these last several months have been a blur!” Well, if you’re not busy with work or adjusting to new babies, you might be wondering, What have I done with my time these last six months? 

Have you achieved any of those goals you wrote for the new year? What about work—did that promotion you worked hard for last year come to pass?

As a creator of several book writing classes, I know firsthand the importance of time. Many of the clients I work with are busy executives and career professionals. Not only are they juggling the demands of work, but many of them have families with several children. So how does a busy professional with a family have time to write a book in less than a year? The answer: prioritize.

“You actually have the time to do the things you want to do—if you make those things a priority.”                                                                             

      -Nancy Erickson

Prioritize Your Time

When I started graduate school at the age of 48, I had to change my attitude. Graduate school was for a season of my life, not its entirety. To achieve my goal and earn my degree, I knew I had to cut out everything I could to get the work done. After all, it was only two years. That time is going to pass anyway. I might as well have something to show for it.  

Writing your book is a lot like going to school. You have this major project that you work and work and work on, and you think you’ll never get finished, you’ll never get out of school. Then one day—voilà! It’s over! You have your book in hand, and you can start doing the other things you love again. The year it takes to write your book is going to pass anyway. You might as well have something to show for it.  

Choose a Book Writing Class That Fits Your Schedule

At The Book Professor, we offer book writing classes for every lifestyle and budget.

Are you ready to have something to show for the last six months of 2018?

If you or someone you know is ready to share your story with the world,  contact us today and we can help you with the next step! For more information on our class offerings, please visit us at www.thebookprofessor.com.


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Let Go And Write A Book Online

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As a nonfiction book coach, I get to show people how to write a book online.  I have written books, developed curricula, published other people’s books, and taught university classes. There hasn’t been a part of my life that didn’t include writing. It’s always been easy for me just to let go and write no matter how I’m feeling. My journal has been a part of my life as a child and to this very day. Of course, it’s not the same journal I used a child, but the practice of letting go and writing through every pain, tear, joy, and fear is one key to my emotional well-being and a daily sense of peace.

So when I meet prospective writers that don’t think they have a story to tell or are unsure of how to write a book online, I ask them what have you been through? Immediately, their face softens. All of us have gone through something and has a story that could change lives, save lives or transform society. But sometimes, we need a little help to get it out of us and onto paper. This is where I can help.

Why Write a Book Online?

Life is busy and it can be difficult to not only sign up for classes, but it also take the time to commute to class. When you work with a book coach online, you can access instructional videos, lessons, and handouts at any time, day or night. Your study time is whenever you want it to be. My Group Writing & Publishing Program includes homework assignments that will ensure that you are making progress on your book, as well as one-on-one coaching sessions. Halfway through each of the 3 modules, you will have a 45-minute one-on-one coaching session where you can go over your work in greater detail, discuss any issues or challenges you are facing, and receive valuable feedback. At the end of each module, you will have another 45-minute one-on-one session to discuss your overall progress in depth.

Why Work With a Group?

The Group Writing & Publishing Program is perfect for people who want constant motivation and feedback. Without structure, it’s easy to put off writing your book. The Group classes force you to carve out time to work on your book. Each 16-week module includes weekly Group Coaching calls that allow you to discuss your progress and get feedback from other members. In short, it’s your own Book Mastermind! The lessons are available online all the time, and the weekly Group Coaching calls are scheduled on the same day and time each week. Flexibility for solo study is great, but the regular meetings with your fellow writers ensure that you receive your weekly dose of motivation. They give you the chance to share what you have been working on, receive feedback, and workshop with other authors, while providing accountability and guidance, every step of the way.

So are you ready to let go and write a book online? If you or someone you know is ready to share your story with the world,  contact us today and we can help you with the next step!


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How to Improve Your Author Website

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This article originally appeared on Bookbaby.com

Your author website is a reflection of you as a writer and of your book as a work of art. It pays to make sure it is as enticing as the story you’ve spent months (or years) laboring over. Here are six ways to improve your author website.

Every author — independent, traditionally published, or otherwise — needs a website. A Facebook page doesn’t count, nor does a Twitter or LinkedIn profile. In today’s dynamic and competitive book market, you need a space that provides a complete picture of what you’re offering. That space needs to feature your writing, your various channels of engagement, and all the intangibles that set you apart. It’s a critical component of your brand.
And while it’s necessary for all authors to have a website, it’s even more important for self-published authors.

Having a comprehensive website (and general web presence) is a way of leveling the playing field and giving your book a chance to compete with the big-name authors and traditionally published books in the market.

But not every author website is created equal: I’ve even seen authors’ sites that have damaged their books’ market potential. Luckily, it’s not difficult to improve your author website to ensure it elevates your book’s potential instead of stifling it.

Tip #1: Identify the primary goal for your site

The first step in building a successful author website is establishing a mission for it. What are you hoping to accomplish? Are you trying to sell more books? Build an author platform? Start conversations with your readers? Whatever your primary goal is, define it, then use it to inform the focus of your site.

If your goal is to sell books, make sure your book is the first thing readers see when they navigate to your site. If your goal is to build your platform, actively prompt readers to subscribe to your various social channels.

By focusing on one goal, you can ensure your site does at least one thing really well. This will give you the foundation needed to start building other features later on.

Tip #2: Give readers three ways to buy your books.

Whatever the primary goal for your site, you need to give visitors a way to buy your books.

You should give your readers no more than three buying options to choose from. One of these will likely be Amazon. Another can be an alternative outlet like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or even Walmart.com. And the final option should link to your own e-commerce page — like the BookShop pages provided to BookBaby authors.

Tip #3: Collect email addresses

Like all savvy marketers, successful independent authors understand that email is an invaluable channel when it comes to connecting with readers. Are you placing an emphasis on your email channel, or are you chasing Twitter followers and Facebook likes?

While building Twitter and Facebook followings are important, they’re not nearly as influential as your email list. My rule of thumb: one email subscriber is equal to 25 likes on social media. Why? Because people are simply more careful about subscribing to something via email than they are about following someone on Twitter. Then, once you have someone’s email contact, you can build a more genuine and direct relationship with them than you can through social media. With a well-crafted email newsletter, you can build fans for life.

Tip #4: Make your website mobile-friendly

One of the most common problems plaguing inadequate websites is they aren’t geared to adjust to mobile devices, which makes the presentation look choppy at best. You want a “responsive” website, meaning it optimizes itself for the device used by the visitor, from laptops to iPhones and every size in between.

You might not think having a responsive website is all that important until you consider how many people use iPads or iPhones to search the web. At BookBaby, we’re seeing that about 35 percent of visitors to our site are using some kind of mobile device.

If your author website is not optimized to ensure these readers have a positive experience when they come to you, you’re severely limiting your reach.

Tip #5: Invest in design

Just as professional design and editing services are essential to ensuring your printed book can compete with traditionally published works, it pays to ensure your author website looks like those used by traditionally published authors.

There are a variety of services you can use for this (e.g. Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, and HostBaby) that make it simple for anyone to create their own website. But these sites will only help you reach a baseline. Authors now compete in an extremely crowded market, and if you really want to take your online profile to another level, it may be worth collaborating with a professional web designer.

Tip #6: Offer enticing incentives

A great way to attract readers’ attention — and entice them to provide you their personal email addresses — is to offer them with something of value. In publishing, the most common lead magnet is some kind of free content: usually chapters from your book, or perhaps even an entire eBook. This is especially common for authors who have written a series. Hook readers by giving them book one, and then contact them by email and get them to buy book two (and three, and four). Giving away content like this helps you engage with readers. It also makes readers more likely to “repay the favor” of receiving free content by buying your book.

Free guides to writing, publishing, blogging, and more!

 

 


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Eliminate the “Shoulds” and Use a Writing Coach Online

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What’s holding you back from getting all that you want out life? Life is short. It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane daily tasks of life and wonder out loud, “is this all there is?”  Today’s parents are overstressed, corporate executives are overworked, and children are simply overscheduled. With a daily calendar filled with “shoulds” and “musts,” it’s no wonder people go through life missing out on their true calling and never doing what they really want to do. When I became a writing coach online, I eliminated the shoulds from my life and the things I simply didn’t want to do anymore. These things had exhausted me, made me irritable, and instead of relaxing at the end of the day, I became anxious when I looked at my calendar filled with all my “shoulds.”

“I’ve met hundreds of people who have been through things, have learned things, have discovered things, and have developed things that could truly change the world—if only the world knew about them.”

-Nancy Erickson

Figure Out What You Don’t Want To Do And…STOP

When my husband Tom and I went to the Grand Canyon, time changed. I cant figure out if it stretched, if it shifted, or if it stopped altogether. But I do know that one day melted into the next, and the pressure of time dissolved. Nothing to do, nowhere to go.

All I had to do was eat, drink, and be. After two weeks of floating from day to day, I felt fundamentally changed. I liked finding the wide-open spaces inside me, and I felt the pressure of time only when our trip was coming to a close. I dreaded going back to the calendar and clock that ruled my life.

Somewhere along the way, and I don’t know when, I made a decision. “I don’t want to do anything that I don’t want to do anymore,” I told Tom.

He stared at me, a quizzical look on his face. “Then don’t,” he said.

Then don’t? Could it be that easy? Figure out what I don’t want to do and just stop?

It took no effort at all to make a list of the things I didn’t want to do anymore. The list wasn’t that long, but when I matched it up to my day-to-day activities, I saw that the “don’t like” stuff ruled my calendar—and, therefore, my life. I was spending most of my time doing things I didn’t like! All I had to do was stop doing these things—and that was the challenge.  Now I’m not talking about not doing things we don’t like to do that still NEED to get done. I’m referring to those “shoulds” we have on our list because other people have told us we “should” be doing this or that.

Get a Coach

What does my trip to the Grand Canyon have to do with writing a book? You have a book-worthy idea inside you and might think, “I’m not a writer; I can’t do this.” That’s not true. You may not be a professional writer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become an author. You can do anything you want to do if you get the right help.

You need a writing coach online who can help you take the idea for your book and crystallize your message, plan the contents, write the manuscript, edit it to perfection, and—finally— publish and distribute your book. You need someone to take you the entire distance, so all you have to do is follow along.  If you or someone you know is ready to share your story with the world,  contact us today so we can help you take the next step!

 


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Book Coach Tip: Decide To Write

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Some people are lifelong learners and love the process of going from not knowing anything in a subject area to becoming proficient. That makes sense to me as a book coach. We all want to be the best we can be at what we do. But along the way, we have to learn a lot of little things that can either make us the best at what we do or, if we choose not to learn them, will keep us in the pack of average Joes.

But here’s the deal with me: I only want to know as much as I need to know to use a tool for my intended purpose. I don’t want to learn every single one of its features and functions or try to discover how to use the tool in new ways that I hadn’t considered. You know why? It’s because I’m not a natural lifelong learner. I don’t like details; as a book coach, I love ideas.  I don’t want to learn how to use something; I just want to use it.

In fact, I detest the learning curve. I generally try to find every possible way around it, so I can get on to the using stage. Learning frustrates me; knowing satisfies me. But that’s, unfortunately, not the way the world works. So to know something, I must go through the pain of learning. And I have to follow a process, but I can’t even do that if I haven’t made the decision to do something new and follow through.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
—Lao-tzu

Make a Decision

You know what the hardest part about writing a book is? It’s making the decision to do it. You’ve probably had the idea for your book for a long time. I bet it’s been percolating in your head, banging against the doors to come out. At times it probably drives you crazy, but books don’t write themselves, and the only way yours is going to get written is if you make the decision to do it. You have to decide to write your book then figure out how to start writing it by getting a book coach. It’s your story. Only you can write it.

You Do Matter. You Are Important. You Can Help Other People

You may feel that you don’t have anything to offer that’s worthy of writing a book, but I disagree. Take a look at your life, what you’ve learned, what you’ve been through, what you’ve developed, what you’ve gleaned, what you’ve endured. Take a moment to consider your story of personal growth and all you have done to get to where you are now. You may not know everything else in life, but you do know your own life. You know your own patch of ground, and you know it well. What do you know and what have you learned that can change lives, save lives, or transform society?

If you don’t know how to write a book, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. After making a decision—a commitment to share your story—you just need a plan, a process and the help of a book coach.


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Nonfiction Book Coach Life Lessons: Drop the Perfectionism

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Perfectionism—ugh. Before I became a nonfiction book coach, I spent many years trying my best to be the perfect child, perfect teenager, and later on the perfect wife to please those closest to me and gain their approval. I didn’t know that some of the people I was trying to please were emotionally and mentally sick themselves, so trying to please the unpleasable was physically and emotionally exhausting. I felt like I was stuck on a hamster wheel, always striving for, but never attaining, perfection.

That is, until I hit an emotional brick wall when I discovered my first husband had a hidden life that was incompatible with marriage. Everything I thought I knew about the world and how life worked turned out to be a lie. I’d been duped and betrayed by a man I’d been married to for over half my life, and I literally thought I would die from the pain and grief.

Then came the self-sabotage questions. What was wrong with me? Wasn’t I good enough? I was nice, went above and beyond the call of duty in my relationships and tried really, really hard to get people to like me. Yet, why did it seem that just being myself was not enough? It felt like I had spent my entire life trying to be perfect to gain approval from those closest to me, yet it left me feeling emotionally depleted, false, and disconnected from who I really was. I had abandoned myself.

Fortunately, with the help of intense therapy and deep self-examination, I discovered some things about myself and learned some tools that have allowed me to stay far, far away from that wheel of perfectionism. When I returned to my true calling as professional nonfiction book coach, I made it my life’s purpose to be real and authentic with everyone I’ve had the privilege to help write their book. And with everyone else.

Why Am I Telling You This?

I misspent too many years before I became a nonfiction book coach and brought untold grief on myself because I refused to be me. And I’m amazed at how many other people have done the same thing. And once they’ve figured their lives out, are doing what they were meant to do, and are rejoicing in doing it, they don’t seem to step back to consider how powerful their story is and how it could help others.

I guess it’s easy to undervalue what’s inside us because it’s all that we know. So it doesn’t seem special. It doesn’t seem significant. And it doesn’t seem to offer a path that others can learn and grow from. Don’t fall for that way of thinking! Think about what you’ve learned, what you’ve developed, and what you’ve overcome—and be willing to give it to others. Be you! That’s all it takes.

If you or someone you know is ready to make the decision and write a high-impact nonfiction book, please contact us today. We can help you take the next step!


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Nonfiction Book Consultant Advice: It’s Not About You

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I recently came across an article in Forbes that discussed the rise of narcissism in our country—specifically social media narcissism. As a nonfiction book consultant who uses Facebook and Twitter, I had to read more. The author stated that people who are always taking selfies are the ones who want to gain the most admiration. They’re easy to spot on social media because they regularly change their profile pictures.

The same applies to posting regular photos. Narcissists are desperate for more admiration, and a new photo spikes the interest that gets them going (Source). I’ve seen this happen countless times on Facebook and have always wondered how people find the time to post multiple personal photos a day. Ha! I certainly don’t have that kind of time. In other words, these social media junkies are fixated on one thing—themselves.  

It’s interesting. All this talk about narcissism and self-absorption reminds me of what I’ve been saying for years to my writers and any prospective writers I meet.  As a nonfiction book consultant and someone who’s had enough life experience, please listen: It’s not about you! Your story and solutions are about providing hope and help to someone else.

Why Keep Your Story to Yourself?

Lots of things can deter us from telling our story, and as a nonfiction book consultant, I’ve found that fear is the main thing that holds people back. What will people think? What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t like me? What if I’m criticized? What if I’m ridiculed?

You don’t have to try to think of the “what ifs”; they attack you without effort. It’s scary to put yourself out there for all the world to see.

Maybe you can turn these fearful “what ifs” into something positive: What if you change someone’s life? What if you save someone’s life? What if you help someone who is without hope? What if your pain is the path to another person’s healing? What if writing your book and laying it all out there actually helps to heal yourself?

Here’s the thing I’ve learned as a nonfiction book consultant: most people who write nonfiction aren’t writers. They’re what I call “livers.” You’ve lived through something, been through something, learned something, discovered something, or developed something, and you’re busy living your life. You’re not a writer because you’re a doer. You’re out accomplishing things. You don’t need to learn the publishing industry. You simply need to get your message out of your head and out to the world.

You’re the only one who has your story. You’re the only one who can write it.  If you or someone you know is ready to make the decision and write, contact us today and we can help you with the next step!

 


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A Good Walk May Be the Best Writing Exercise There Is

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 SCOTT MCCORMICK

This article originally appeared on Bookbaby.com

Writing is not the best occupation for your health. For most of us, writing involves a lot of sitting, which is why a good walk may be the best writing exercise there is.

I was struggling writing an article for a blog (not this one, but one for Disc Makers, BookBaby’s sister company) about Brian Wilson’s album Smile, when I decided to take my advice from this article and go for a walk. I was literally around the corner from my house when I became inspired, and all was right with the world. During that same walk, I also figured out how to best approach this article, and even had ideas for two future articles.

Not bad for a 30-minute stroll.

Writing is not the best occupation for your health. For most of us, writing involves a lot of sitting, and there is a growing amount of research on how sitting for long periods is unhealthy. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Too much sitting … seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.” “Too much” sitting, according to the Mayo, is sitting for four or more hours a day. That’s basically every day for me.

Not only is sitting for long periods bad for your health, it’s also bad for your writing. Your brain works best when it’s stimulated. Sitting for long periods of time can make your brain sluggish.

So, in a way, writing is actually kind of bad for your writing. How’s that for a catch-22?

Luckily there is a quick fix to both problems: Walking.

Hemingway, Dickens, Thoreau, Kierkegaard, and J. K. Rowling have all extolled the virtues of walking. Orson Scott Card said, “It’s worth the time to take an hour’s walk before writing. You may write a bit less for the time spent, but you may find that you write better.”

So why walking as opposed to, say, cross-fit? Frankly, any (safe) exercise is better than no exercise. So if you’re into a specific type of exercise, by all means, do it. It will make you healthy, happy, and better able to write. But there are three kinds of exercise that are especially suited to writing: walking, running, and biking. What these three have in common is that they are solitary and monotonous. In short: they are perfect for letting your mind wander.

I love racquetball. It’s fun and it offers an excellent workout, but it’s not great for helping me write. It’s not a solitary activity, and I have to think about the activity at hand. Yes, it’s good for stimulating the heart and the brain, but it doesn’t give my mind time to wander.

In my interview with Josh Funk, he said, “I find that my best ideas come in those moments where my mind is free to wander.” He’s not alone. Henry Miller wrote: “Most writing is done away from the typewriter, away from the desk. I’d say it occurs in the quiet, silent moments, while you’re walking or shaving or playing a game or whatever.”

Stepping away from your house or office to go for a walk (or run, etc.) gets you away from distractions, and lets your mind do its thing. Albert Einstein apparently came up with his Theory of Relativity while riding his bike. (That anecdote came from a rather great article on this very subject from Psychology Today. It’s worth reading if you’re interested in the science of how walking can stimulate the brain.)

How to walk for maximum effect

Your mileage may vary, but I find that to get the most out of walking, I need to walk without listening to music, and I need to bring my cell phone, with a dictation app launched and ready. I use Dragon Dictation, which is free, and which works pretty well. I prefer to walk at a brisk pace to get the maximum health benefit, but maybe your mind works better at a casual stroll so you can appreciate your surroundings.

I have a dog. When I first got her, I was hoping that walking her would give me the same benefit as walking solo, but I have not found that to be the case. So I have to walk her, and then go and walk myself.

Because I like to have my phone ready to record ideas, I prefer walking to biking. If you don’t need to record your every thought, that may not be a concern. But if you come home from your walk to find, like I did today, that your dog has chewed up three pencils and half of your kids’ homework, you run the risk of forgetting all the wonderful ideas you had while you clean up the mess. (Also, I find I have to pay too much attention to things like traffic and maintenance with biking — but again, your mileage may vary.)

Health-wise, you don’t have to walk every day. Doctors say three 40-minute sessions a week is enough. But for your writing, I recommend walking any chance you can get, partially for practical reasons. The weather may not cooperate. Life may get in the way. I’ve learned to grab my walking opportunities whenever I can. Every walk or run or bike ride won’t necessarily produce immediate results. But that’s OK. If you make it a routine to go as often as you can, you’ll find your ideas will come more easily and your writing will be stronger. And there’s also this, from Charles Dickens: “The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.”

 

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Make a Decision and Plan to Write a Nonfiction Book

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Some people are lifelong learners and love the process of going from not knowing anything in a subject area to becoming proficient, like learning to write a nonfiction book. That makes sense. We all want to be the best we can be. But along the way, we have to learn a lot of little things that can either make us the best at what we do or, if we choose not to learn them, will keep us in the pack of average Joes.

But here’s the deal with me: I only want to know as much as I need to know to use a tool for my intended purpose. In fact, I detest the learning curve. I generally try to find every possible way around it, so I can get on to the using stage. Learning frustrates me; knowing satisfies me. But that’s, unfortunately, not the way the world works. So to know something, I must go through the pain of learning. And I have to follow a process, but I can’t even do that if I haven’t made the decision to do something new and follow through.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
—Lao-tzu

Make a Decision

You know what the hardest part about learning to write a nonfiction book is? It’s making the decision to do it. You’ve probably had the idea for your book for some time. I bet it’s been percolating in your head, begging to come out. At times, it probably drives you crazy. But books don’t write themselves, so the only way yours is going to get written is if you make the decision to do it. It’s your story. Only you can write it.

Whenever I travel, it seems I’m seated next to a chatty type, and it’s always fun to get acquainted. On one flight, I sat next to Don, and he and I discussed the usual getting-to-know-you topics. When he asked me what I do for work, I explained that I help people who aren’t writers become authors of high-impact nonfiction books.

“Really?” Don replied. “I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

“Then why don’t you?” I asked.

“I’ve never really looked into it,” he said.

Don’s answer spoke volumes. He’d flirted with the idea of writing a book but had never taken it further than just thatthe idea of writing a book. People tend to glamorize the writer’s life; they don’t realize that it’s a lot of hard work, and it takes a lot of time. Don never made the decision to write his book, so it’s unlikely that he ever will.

Create a Plan

If you don’t know how to write a nonfiction book, how could you know how to get started?

Some people just sit down and start writing. But they soon discover that all the ideas that have been rattling around in their head have no form, no shape. What comes out is like a spaghetti messa bunch of unconnected threads. They have a message, but they don’t know how to get it down on paper. The problem with the “write-first” approach is that it’s like trying to build a house without any plans. You have no blueprint to follow, no foundation poured; and you don’t know what the house will look like when it’s finished. 

I don’t know a lot about building, but I do know that you don’t put up the walls first. The walls have to be attached to something solid. So before you build anything, you pour the foundation. But even before that, you need a comprehensive plan—a blueprint that shows where each room will be and what features it will have. Before you pull out your hammer, you have to have a plan.

The same is true for your book. If you want to save time, energy, money, and frustration, you begin with the end in mind. You take the concept for your book and turn it into a concrete plan.

To do that, we start with the foundation. You may know the topic of your book, but do you know what you want your book to accomplish? If the book doesn’t have a purpose, why write it?

If you don’t know how to write a book, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. After making a decision—a commitment to share your story—you just need a plan and a process.


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