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The Successful People I Know Are Voracious Readers

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The Successful People I Know Are Voracious Readers

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This article originally appeared on bookbaby.com

Reading — in addition to being plain fun — can make you a better (smarter, more informed, satisfied) person. In my experience successful people are often voracious readers.

All successful people I know have one thing in common: they never stop learning.

That’s why so many CEOs, thought leaders, and politicians read so frequently. There’s a limit to how much time, money, and effort people are able to dedicate to formal education, which is why reading voraciously, as part of a dedicated personal routine, is one keystone of lifelong personal development.

I call it personal development because a big part of what you learn from reading is about yourself. I’m a student of writing and of words — reading helps me understand who I am, how I should approach my writing, and what I want to focus my attention on outside of my literary ambitions.

But that, of course, is not the only benefit of reading.

Reading keeps your mind balanced and sharp

The most successful people are both scientists and artists — they utilize both the left and right brain. As such, they consciously nurture both sides of the coin, often through reading.

One approach is to actively read both fiction and nonfiction. This is advice I give regularly: immerse yourself in the worlds and adventures of books like James Clavell’s Shogun: The Epic Novel of Japan, and educate yourself with biographies and intelligent opinions — such as Dwight Eisenhower’s account of World War II, Crusade in Europe, which I’m reading now.

Reading instills discipline

Reading doesn’t just strengthen or nurture both parts of our brain — it strengthens more intangible skills, too. For one, reading can make you more disciplined and foster an appreciation for learning and growth.

How, exactly? Well, people who make the decision to read everyday are actively deciding to engage, improve, and challenge their brains instead of doing more passive activities, like surfing YouTube videos or binge-watching Netflix.

That’s why some of our most effective presidents, for example, have made reading a personal priority. When President Obama was in office, he talked about how books were a sustaining source of ideas and inspiration during his terms. Books helped focus him amidst the maelstrom of world crises and 24-hour cable news analysis. Books also gave him a renewed appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.

That’s precisely what reading does. It’s why we see so many leaders in so many different verticals of human activity devote time to reading.

Reading benefits your business

There’s one last benefit that most people don’t associate with reading, and that’s the manner in which it can actively benefit your professional life.

For one thing, reading encourages curiosity. And people who are curious are, more often than not, high achievers. Understanding this, you yourself can use reading to feed your curiosity and acquire more knowledge.

But you can also apply this awareness to elements of your business life, like honing your hiring practices. At BookBaby, when we’re hiring a potential candidate, I always ask, “What are you reading right now?” or “What have you read in the last six months?” I know reading behavior can be a barometer in measuring a person’s level of curiosity, discipline, and zeal for learning — and curious, disciplined people who are hungry to learn are the sort I want in my company.

I don’t particularly care what these candidates are reading. I just want to see that they are reading.

It’s also true that reading helps people improve as communicators. As a student of writing, I appreciate great communication, and as the CEO of a publishing company, I see it as something of a requirement. A writer who communicates effectively with his or her audience can help readers do the same in their own lives.

At the end of the day, reading provides a variety of tangible and intangible benefits — for both the mind and the soul — and the simple awareness of this fact is the most obvious reason successful people prioritize it as a means of professional and personal development.


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It’s Friday the 13th-Push Past the Fear and Live

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Today is Friday, the 13th. Doom, doom, doom. If you’re like most Americans, you might consider this day bad luck. I’m not sure how this day became stigmatized with doom, horror movies, and just plain old fear, but most people like to avoid making any major life changes on this day. 

Just like walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat, or breaking a mirror, many people hold fast to the belief that Friday the 13th brings bad luck. Though it’s uncertain exactly when this particular tradition began, negative superstitions have swirled around the number 13 for centuries (Source)

But do you know what I say to fear and this supposed “day of doom?Vámanos! I’m not sure about you, but I’ve lived long enough and can recall seasons of my life where I’ve felt paralyzed by fear. I mean debilitating fear that, if I wasn’t careful, could have stopped me from living a life on purpose and fulfilling my dream of being an international book coachIt was torment. I don’t want to minimize the feelings of anxiety and fear that millions of people across this country deal with every day, but as someone who has learned to work through it, I want to share some important truths about fear to keep things in perspective.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

                                                                                                             -Susan Jeffers

Five Tips on Working Through Fear

Best selling author Dr. Susan Jeffers is a leading pioneer in helping millions of people work through fear. In her classic best-selling book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, she shares the five following truths about fear that help put the lies it tells us into perspective. 

FEAR TRUTH #1

Fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow!

Every time you take a step into the unknown, you experience fear. There’s no point in saying, “When I’m no longer afraid, then I’ll do it.” You’ll be waiting for a long time. The fear is part of the package.

FEAR TRUTH #2

The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and…do it!

When you do it often enough, you’ll no longer be afraid in that particular situation. You will have faced the unknown, and you will have handled it. Then new challenges await you, which certainly add to the excitement in living.

FEAR TRUTH #3

The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and…do it!

With each little step you take into unknown territory, a pattern of strength develops. You begin feeling stronger and stronger and stronger.

FEAR TRUTH #4

Not only are you afraid when facing the unknown, so is everyone else!

This should be a relief. You’re not the only one who is afraid. Everyone feels fear when taking a step into the unknown. Yes, all those people who have succeeded in doing what they’ve wanted to do in life have felt the fear – and did it anyway. So can you!

FEAR TRUTH #5

Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness!

This is the one truth that some people have difficulty understanding. When you push through the fear, you will feel such a sense of relief as your feeling of helplessness subsides. You’ll wonder why you didn’t take action sooner. You’ll become more and more aware that you can truly handle anything that life hands you. (Source)

As a book coach with over 25 years of experience, I’ve met hundreds of people that decided to stop writing their story out of fear. If that’s you and you’d like to start again, I’d be honored to walk this journey with you. Regardless of what specific fears you’re overcoming, life is too short to sit on the sidelines! In the words of Susan Jeffers, learn to feel the fear and do it anyway! You’ll be proud of yourself once you do.

 


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Nonfiction Writing Technique: Show Them the Real You

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Nonfiction writing requires that we be authentic. Webster’s dictionary defines authentic as “not false or imitation” and “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” Webster makes it sound so simple. But if you’re like me, it took a long time to become the person I was created to be, to truly embrace my authentic self.

As a child, did you feel pressure to become the person an authority figure thought you should be? Did you feel accepted when you behaved and acted in ways that they approved? As an adult, did you realize that the person you present to the world wasn’t really you at all, but because of an underlying need to be accepted by others, you kept up the facade anyway? For a long time, that’s what I did. Living an authentic life was something I had to learn.

Your Audience Deserves the Real You

As a nonfiction book coach, I have the opportunity to work with people from all over the world. Whether their nonfiction writing is about a new method of cooking or how they overcame a painful childhood trauma, I always tell them the same thing: your audience deserves to know the real you.

Your personal story is one of the most important parts of your book. Some writers, particularly if they’re writing a business book, want to leave out this part and simply share their knowledge or instruct the audience. That would be a mistake.

Before you can tell your readers anything, you must earn the right to be heard. Nobody likes to be told what to do, especially if they don’t know anything about you. What makes you an authority on this subject? Why should they listen to you? Those are the questions you answer when you share your own story.

And your readers don’t want the whitewashed version of you. Share your high points and the deep canyons, the wins and the demoralizing losses, the beautiful and the ugly. You must be real and transparent. When you’re open and honest, you give the reader permission to be open and honest, too.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It takes a lot of courage to be this vulnerable. We all want to put our best foot forward to make a good impression. We like to hide the messes we’ve made, but sometimes the mess has become your message.

That’s what’s so effective about my Executive Group Coaching classes. You get to share your failures and foibles in a safe place, test out your message with others in the class, and gain strength from doing so—before you bare your skin to the world.

What about you? Are you ready to show people who you really are?  If you or someone you know wants to learn to how to write a nonfiction book, please contact us today!

 


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comfort books

National Read a Book Day-Find Your Comfort Book

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In honor of today’s National Read a Book Day, I hope you take some time to honor this holiday by curling up with your favorite book. Books provide comfort in so many ways. But what exactly makes a book a “comfort book?” The truth is, it depends on the person and their current circumstances or mood. A comfort book could be something that allows you to escape into a new world for a little while or a book that makes you laugh. For some people, comfort books are novels that whisk them away into a fictional world, while others prefer to delve into a memoir for real-life inspiration. If you are unsure of what book to grab for your next comfort read or today’s National Read a Book Day, consider a few of these options.

Re-reading

Re-reading an old favorite is a great place to start. Since you have already read the book, you’ll be familiar with thecomfort books characters and the plot, and familiarity is always a good thing to look for when you are in need of comfort. Re-reading also gives you a chance to experience the book in a new way, and makes it possible for a book that you didn’t previously consider a “comfort book” to become one. This BBC article points out that there is actually a science behind the comfort of re-reading:

Scientists have weighed in, too, citing the mental health benefits of re-reading. Research conducted with readers in the US and New Zealand found that on our first reading, we are preoccupied by the ‘what?’ and the ‘why?’. Second time round, we’re able to better savour the emotions that the plot continues to ignite. As researcher Cristel Russell of the American University explained of re-readers in an article published in the Journal of Consumer Research, returning to a book “brings new or renewed appreciation of both the object of consumption and their self.”

Allow yourself to get reacquainted with characters you love or a page-turner you tore through the first time. Try re-reading a series like Harry Potter or revisiting a classic such as Little Women. You can even head back to your childhood with favorites such as A Wrinkle in Time or Matilda.

Inspirational nonfiction books

Inspirational reads make great comfort books. Many people find that reading nonfiction helps them take a step back from their own life to see the world through someone else’s experiences and struggles. Stories of overcoming obstacles and survival could give you a new perspective on your current struggles. Self-help books and stories of big life changes can bring you a sense of calm and motivate you to improve your own life. Inspirational books become comfort books when the reader finds a story they need to hear.

Emotional rollercoaster fiction

Books that focus on tragedy, stressful situations, or dark topics may not seem like obvious choices for comfort books, but for many people, the gritty, dark stories are exactly what they need, especially when the books are fictional. Author Kameron Hurley discussed why when she feels overwhelmed by real-life problems, she turns to fictional books full of stressful, anxiety-inducing issues,

“But a fictional problem?

Somebody else is dealing with that. You’re just along for the ride.

It means you get to spend the whole ride actually feeling things, instead of buttoning it all back up so you can live.”

She goes onto say,

“Reading tragedies, I realized, connecting with characters who persevered in the face of grim odds, and certain ends – were actually comfort reading for me. They put me into high-stress situations with no personal stakes, so I could actually feel the fear and discomfort and rage and horror without having any skin in the game.”

Many people feel the same way as Hurley. For many, knowing that the book is fictional and will have to have some form of resolve is incredibly comforting. Escaping through a fictional tragedy can bring a strong sense of comfort and calm.

Find your comfort books

There is no set definition for a comfort book. It is simply a book that works for you at a particular time when you read it. When on the hunt for a good comfort read, consider what you want to get out of the book and what sort of story might be helpful for you in the moment. Let yourself get lost in a great book today and celebrate this wonderful holiday!


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It’s Labor Day-Enjoy These Nonfiction Books About America’s Labor Movement

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As someone who teaches people how to write a nonfiction book, I—like everyone—need a day off every now and then. But before you venture out for that last trip to the pool this weekend or enjoy some barbeque before back to school really kicks into gear, have you ever thought about the real meaning behind Labor Day? 

Labor Day was created because workers felt they were spending too much time on the job. In the 1830’s, a time when manufacturing ruled, workers averaged 70-hour work weeks! Yikes! They were overly exhausted and had no free time to spend with their family. These long working hours caused many union organizers to focus on winning a shorter eight-hour workday. They also focused on getting workers more days off, such as the Labor Day holiday, and reducing the workweek to just six days. (Source)

 So while you’re enjoying your well deserved day off today, take a moment to curl up with these nonfiction books to learn more about America’s Labor movement. I promise you’ll appreciate this holiday even more!

Great Nonfiction Reads About America’s Labor Movement

  1.  The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon, by William M. Adler

One of the most beloved and controversial figures in labor history, Hill was a Swedish immigrant, songwriter, and Industrial Workers of the World activist who was executed in 1915 for double murder. Adler’s biography of Hill posits what many of Hill’s admirers have said for a long time — that the activist was innocent of the slayings.

  1. There Is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America, by Philip Dray

Dray’s history of the American labor union is certainly comprehensive — it’s more than 800 pages long, covering two centuries of labor history. He examines the importance of unions to the nation and looks at notable figures in the movement such as Mary Harris (“Mother”) Jones, Samuel Gompers, and Karen Silkwood.

  1. The Crusades of César Chávez: A Biography,  by Miriam Pawel

Former Times reporter Pawel won a California Book Award for her look at the life of Chávez, the labor activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers. Her book is honest about Chávez’s dark side—he ruled his union with an iron fist and alienated a long string of friends and supporters—as well as his numerous accomplishments, bringing fieldworkers together against fierce opposition. (Source)

Enjoy this Labor Day holiday and celebrate your much deserved time off! And when your break is over,  join us for our next Group Coaching Class!


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Back To School Isn’t Just for the Kids

As a creator of book writing classes and the mother of two daughters, I can remember the bittersweet “back to school” season very well. I was secretly excited to return them to a structured routine, but I also missed having them with me. Time with my children was priceless. Both daughters are now grown with children of their own who are going back to school, and I imagine they’re feeling the same way too. There’s something about the “back to school” time that not only gets kids back to their school routine and learning, but it’s also a time for parents to think about their own “work” outside of their family. By work, I’m referring to your personal goals, dreams, and aspirations. Have you thought about your goals lately? If not, now’s the time.

Writing Your Book is Like Going to School

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. I assume that you’re a busy professional and you’re not looking for extra things to do. Life is busy enough with work, but when you layer on the more important things like faith and family, there’s no wiggle room, no gaps where you can sneak in a major project like taking a book writing class to learn how to write your book. And yet it’s something you want to do. You want to make a difference.

You Have the Time

You actually have the time to do the things you want to do—if you make those things a priority You just have to change your attitude. It would be ridiculous, of course, to think that you’re going to drop everything or possibly even quit your job take a book writing class to write your book. That wouldn’t be healthy or wise. But it’s not unreasonable to expect you to shift your schedule for the next year to make the project a priority.

You can’t create time, but you can capture pockets of it and repurpose its use. Don’t get me wrong. Your life is going to be busy, perhaps busier than you like. But if you simply get up an hour earlier each day, or commit your lunch hour to your book, or give up a TV show to write, you can absolutely accomplish this, step by step by step. Just like there’s a season for going to school, there’s a season for writing your book. But it’s only a season. You must adopt this mindset.

What are you waiting for?  The kids are back to school so now it’s time for you to get back to writing your book.  Contact us today and we can help you take the next step!


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Nonfiction Writing Technique: Point of View

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Point of View refers to the perspective from which a story is being told. It answers the question: Who is telling the story?

This is important because who is telling the story has a lot to do with what gets told. Let’s take a look at the three different points of view and how you might use them in your writing.  They are first-person, second-person, and third person.

First Person Point of View

This is similar to a toddler’s vocabulary – I, me, mine, me, me, me, me ME!

When you tell a story using the pronouns I or we, you’re using first-person point of view. Some think that this is the most intimate perspective and is the friendliest towards the reader. When a story is told in the first person, the reader can feel like you’re their friend and that you’re confiding in them.

That’s what we aspire to, isn’t it?

 We certainly strive for intimacy with the reader, but using first-person point-of-view can give rise to a couple of problems:

1.  You talk about yourself so much that you sound like a narcissist

2.  You fall prey to telling the reader everything instead of showing them

For example: “ I did this and then I did that, and then I went here, and then I bought that, and now it’s mine, and this was my problem… blah, blah, blah. Whopoint of view wants to hear that?

 Well, I don’t and neither do your readers. Your readers want to hear your story, but if you take that approach, you’ll lose them for sure. Your job is to deliver your audience to the purpose of your book, and if they get sick of you halfway through, you’ll never accomplish that. 

 It’s actually simple to fix that. You don’t tell the reader what happened or what you did, you show them! Write your story in scenes where the reader sees what you saw, hears what you heard, smells what you smelled, and then feels what you felt. The reader experiences your emotion and becomes bonded to you through that shared experience.

Second Person Point of View

This POV uses the pronouns you, your, and yours.

The second person point of view addresses the reader and makes direct comments to them. This point of view is rare, but when it’s used, the reader snaps to attention because the writer is speaking directly to them.

Here’s an example: “If you are planning a low-budget wedding, then use paper products at the reception.”

OR

 “If you’re like me and are tired of struggling to make ends meet, then sell everything you haven’t used in the past year and pocket the cash.”

Before you get all excited about speaking directly to your readers and capturing their attention, let me offer a word of caution. Whenever you tell someone what to do, it can sound rather preachy, like you know it all and the reader knows nothing. No one likes to be told what to do, and not many appreciate the “you should” approach.

It’s far easier to influence the reader by showing them what you did. When you tell them what to do, it can cause them to resist you and your message. Respect your readers. Every time they turn the page, they make a choice to either continue with you or to drop off the path. Lead them along the path, and they will follow. Force them and they may jump ship.

Third Person Point of View

The third person point-of-view is a he said/she said narrative, and the associated pronouns are he, she, and they. The story is still being told from the perspective of an outsider looking at the action. This point-of-view is for when the story isn’t about you.

If you’re writing a biography about Abraham Lincoln, you might write something like this:

 “When he was twelve years old, Lincoln was growing into what would eventually become his long, lanky frame.”

In third person, you would use the pronoun “he.” If you wrote the same passage in first person, it wouldn’t make any sense. In first-person, it would say “When I was twelve years old, I was growing into what would eventually become my long, lanky frame.”  That wouldn’t make sense if you were writing a biography about Lincoln.

If you’re writing your own story, it doesn’t make any sense to write it in third person. But if you’re telling a story about someone else, then third person is appropriate.

Pick and Stick

The trick is to pick a point of view and stick with it, which is challenging for many new writers. If you’re writing in first person, stick with first person, if you’re writing in second person, stick with second person, etc.

If you shift the point of view, it confuses the reader and dilutes your message, which is a common mistake that new writers make. Learn this technique and you’ll keep your readers engaged!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 21st—National Senior Citizen Day

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Loneliness. If you’ve lived long enough, at some point, you’re likely to have experienced loneliness. In a world driven by social media that promises to make you feel connected, it’s almost unfathomable that more people, especially our seniors, feel more alone and isolated than ever before. Recent studies show that older adults who are isolated are likely to be sicker—and die sooner—than those who feel connected. It’s safe to say that loneliness and isolation are quickly becoming another medical health crisis. 

As a book coach, mother, grandmother, and now the daughter of an aging mother, I want to take a moment to honor National Senior Citizen Day and highlight some ways that you can connect with the senior in your life. 

If you have an older adult in your life, take the time to connect with them today. The wisdom, support, and guidance that our seniors offer are priceless, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the advice of elderly mentors in my life. If you’re unsure how to celebrate  the senior in your life today, try some of these ideas:

Spend Time At a Nursing Home
One of the kindest and most rewarding things one can do is visit a nursing home. Sit and chat with residents. Play games and participate in activities. You can make a difference in someone’s day, week, or even his or her life, and trust me, you’ll find the experience fun and rewarding too.

Reach out to a senior family member
Do you have a senior family member? Perhaps it’s a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle. Visit them and spend some time together. If you can’t see them in person, give them a call and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Have fun!
Are you a senior citizen yourself? Well, today is all about you! Live it up! Treat yourself. Spend time with your favorite people, go shopping, do whatever you want to do! Maybe it could be the day you finally try that one thing you’ve been thinking about or perhaps it’s a day for relaxing at home. Whatever makes you happy, go for it because it’s a day dedicated to you! (Source)

For more information on how to care for the senior in your life, please visit Age Safe America at www.agesafeamerica.com 


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Back to School: You Can Keep Writing

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Whether you’re heading back to classes yourself or shipping your kids back to theirs, your schedule is probably about to change if it hasn’t already. When schedules change, it can be hard to juggle everything and settle into a new routine. All too often, things fall through the cracks, and your personal writing time might get lost in the shuffle. There is room in your schedule for a writing routine, you just have to make sure to prioritize the time in your schedule!

Don’t be flexible about your writing time

As you work in school pick-ups and drop-offs, extra-curricular activities, work meetings, and other responsibilities, it can be easy to sacrifice your writing time. Whenever you feel the need to put your writing on the back burner, remember this advice from J.K. Rowling:

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Many writers love to wake up at dawn and write during the quiet hours of the morning. Others work late into the night while everyone is asleep. Some writers are militant about using their lunch break to write furiously in the break room. These routines are very different, but the result is all the same; these writers write.

How can I find the right writing routine?

The truth is, your writing routine will be different from another writer’s. Every author is motivated or distracted by different things, and your daily responsibilities differ from other author’s. For example, Barbara Kinsgsolver, who started working on her first book the day she had her first child, said, “I used to say that the school bus is my muse. When it pulled out of the driveway and left me without anyone to take care of, that was the moment my writing day began, and it ended when the school bus came back. “ (Source)

Agatha Christie, on the other hand, used chore time to brainstorm.

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Make your writing routine a priority

Wake up every morning and tell yourself, “My writing is a priority.” Say it out loud and really mean it. No one is going to force you to sit down and work on your book, so you have to be the one to set aside the time to put words on the pages. Take a look at your schedule and decide when you can truly dedicate yourself to your book. Be realistic about it. If you absolutely dread mornings, don’t set yourself up for failure by scheduling 4 am wake-up calls. If you know that your Saturdays will be filled with soccer games, make that your day off.

Wake up every morning and tell yourself, “My writing is a priority.”

Your writing time is important. It is not leisure time spent in front of the TV. It is not a hobby. You are telling your story, and your story matters! Make sure you schedule time to write, even if you have to break it up into smaller increments. It’s ok if you can’t dedicate several hours to your book every day, but figure out how much time you need to work on it each week and then stick to that schedule.

You can write your book in one year, but you have to dedicate time to a writing routine! As you settle back into your school or work routines, make sure you schedule plenty of time to work on your book.


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When There’s A Will, There’s a Way: Establish a Routine and Strengthen Your Will

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There’s an old saying that goes: when there’s a will, there’s a way. And after having some life experience on planet Earth, I can attest that it’s true. As a nonfiction book coach and writing professional with over 25 years of experience, I’ve helped many people share their truth by writing a book. But I didn’t get to where I am in my career today because it was easy. The truth is, it was hard, so hard at times that I wasn’t sure whether my dreams would come true. But I was fortunate to learn my purpose in life to provide hope and help to this world and with hard work, determination, and willpower. I’m humbled that many of my dreams, both personally and professionally, have come to fruition.

“Willpower is the key to success. Successful people strive no matter what they feel by applying their will to overcome apathy, doubt, or fear.”

-Dan Millman

Strengthen Your Willpower and Increase Your Chances for Success

With school just around the corner, many families are settling back into their daily routine. But in many homes during the summer, the regular structure that a routine provides is often pushed to the back burner. Don’t get me wrong! If you have kids, it’s fun to do spontaneous things and give them a little less structured time. But it’s also a relief to have a daily schedule in place that provides structure and accountability.

Establishing a routine is not only necessary on the homefront but in business and life. And if you’re looking to have a more successful career and life, it’s time to look at your will power routine. It’s been suggested that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success.” And according to recent studies, it not only predicts academic performance more robustly than IQ, but it reassures individuals with healthy doses of self-esteem and self-confidence. It allows people to design and achieve their best life and become their best version (Source). 

Not sure how to strengthen your will power? Try these early morning routines that other highly successful people use to increase their willpower:

  • Set your alarm clock every day at the same time (this includes weekends and days off). Not only does getting up at the same time every day strengthen your circadian rhythm and reduce your dependence on caffeine while sharpening your mind, but it’s also the best way to start your day with the conscious choice of exercising and strengthening your willpower. Overcoming the temptation to stay in your warm bed is one of the biggest, but little, battles that will ensure that your willpower is fully operational and alert.

 

  • Start the day with a couple of minutes of meditation. There are many physical and psychological benefits of meditation. Devoting your firsts thoughts of the day to understand the world as it is, accepting what you can not change, fighting for what should be improved, and bringing your life into a well-oriented perspective will strengthen your willpower. 

 

  • Establish a morning workout routine. It doesn’t matter if you’re a top business professional or a stay-at-home mom, starting your day with a simple workout will improve your willpower. 

 

  • Devote some time for self-learning. There’s always room for a book in your work bag. Lifelong learning is critical for personal development. Exercise your will to keep learning!

 

  • Say good morning to people on your way to work. It takes effort to choose others before ourselves. Successful people know that there’s more to life than just money, fame, or power. Reach out and make an effort to greet others each morning. 

 

  •  Start your workday by writing a to-do list. Prioritize your day based on the importance of your priorities regardless of whether you want to do these things or not. Exercise your willpower in getting the most important things done, not simply the urgent. 

In the words of Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Now that you know a better way to increase your willpower, what will you do about it? 

 


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Nonfiction Writing Technique: Psychological Distance

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There’s a concept in writing called psychological distance, and good writers know how to use it.  For those of you who studied psychology, you may remember the construal level theory in social psychology, which classifies your thoughts as either abstract or concrete.

It’s a bit of a slippery concept and not that easy to define. It’s like trying to describe the word “intimacy.” Hard to pin down, but you know it when you feel it, don’t you?  Or better yet, you know it when you DON’T feel it.

If something feels very close to you, you tend to think about it in concrete terms. If something feels far, you usually think about it in a more abstract way. And that’s what we’re talking about here – whether something or someone in your writing feels close or far away.

Your readers must feel close enough to trust you. So how do you bring your readers close, how do you decrease the psychological distance between you and them? You simply make sure that your readers see the person or object in concrete terms.

Take strawberries, for example. If you had a bowl of fresh strawberries in front of you, you’d see their color, size and texture. You’d notice their ruby red flesh psychological distanceimprinted with tiny golden seeds, their bright green crown, and perhaps a stem. You might smell the sweetness of the ripe fruit and start salivating at the thought of eating one.

These are all concrete observations.

On the other hand, if you thought about strawberries in an abstract manner, you might picture a tiny part of the produce section of a massive grocery store, stacked with a few rows of something red in cardboard containers.   

To decrease psychological distance, you pull your reader in, you zoom in on your scene like a photographer would when staging a close-up shot.

Here are some tools you can use to decrease psychological distance:

  • Sensory language – use more than one sense in describing a scene
  • Use common language that doesn’t call attention to itself, mainly short, everyday words, and uncomplicated sentences
  • Showing the viewpoint character’s feelings (SHOW don’t tell)
  • Show the character react in a less-than-perfect, human way
    (eg s/he can get annoyed, feel cranky, act selfish… s/he’s not always a Hero, any more than real heroes are)
  • Use quick paced dialog. Dialog makes you feel part of the conversation and lets you get close enough to participate in the action

 

When you pull the reader in close and let them see the details, you have closed that psychological distance and will hold the reader’s rapt attention. In turn, they will want to keep reading!

 


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Did You Water the Garden This Summer?

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With the summer winding down and the school year around the corner, I always like to take a moment to reflect on my summer before preparing for the Fall. From vacations to the Grand Canyon to just being outside with nature and enjoying its presence, I’ve made fond memories with my family, and I hope you have too. But one thing I didn’t do this summer is go kerplunk. Let me explain. While it’s tempting during the summer to put off doing things that you know will make you successful in life and business, I’ve always advised against this. This summer we’ve talked a lot about enjoying your time off with family, but not ignoring the activities you know need to get done and to make sure you water the garden! Whether your a business leader, coach, speaker, or are working on your book, your business and livelihood depend on your work habits and more importantly, planning.

Get Your Plan For The Fall

As a book coach and public speaker, I know the importance of planning. If I don’t take the time to properly plan the content for my online writing courses, review editing projects, and prepare for my author’s upcoming publishing deadlines, I can assure you not only will these projects turn out sub-par, but I run the risk of hurting my credibility as a professional writing coach. And that is something I will not risk.

You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win. 

-Zig Ziglar

If you’re not sure yet, how to plan for the Fall, check out a few suggestions by author and speaker Brian Tracy from his book Million Dollar Habits

  • Decide exactly what you want in a certain area, and write it down clear­ly, in detail. Make the goal measurable and specific.
  • Set a deadline for achieving the goal. If it’s a large goal, break it down into smaller parts and set sub-deadlines.
  • Make a list of everything you’ll have to do to achieve this goal. As you think of new items, add them to your list until it’s complete.
  • Organize your list of action steps into a plan. A plan is a list of activities organized on the basis of two elements, priority and sequence.

And my personal favorite: 

  • Do at least one thing every day that moves you toward your most important goal. Make a habit of getting up each morning, planning your day and then doing something, anything, that moves you at least one step closer to what’s most important to you. (Source)

If you take these suggestions into your Fall planning session and make time to plan, I’d love to hear about your success! If you or someone you know is ready to prepare for your future by taking the next step to enhance your career by writing a book, I’d be honored to help. Contact us today and we can show you how!


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