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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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You Don’t Need Anyone’s Permission to Tell Your Story

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Family secrets. Truths not told. Sensitive feelings. Things swept under the rug. These can be big barriers to writing a book. Big risks.

Some of us have stories that we’ve had to bury out of respect—or fear—of others. All our lives, we’ve pretended that things are okay, and we’ve hidden truths that have hurt us in order to protect someone else. We’ve lived under the shadow of other people’s choices, and we want to finally be set free. Except we’re afraid. Really afraid.

Perhaps you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse, or you grew up in a violent family, or you suffered under the lash of a parent’s alcoholism or other addiction. Maybe your husband is a closet homosexual or your child is struggling desperately with his or her gender identity. You know your story can literally save or change someone else’s life, but you’re afraid to tell the truth because it could hurt other people. Some of our stories are built from shame. I understand because my story comes from that same place too. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell it. I promise, someone else is going through the same thing and your story could be the hope and help they desperately need to walk through the darkness.

Keep the End in Mind

It might be best to stop obsessing over the people you might hurt and focus on the people you can help. The problem with dirty little secrets is that they get stashed away, and when you find yourself in the middle of one of them, you’re convinced that you’re completely alone because people don’t talk about this stuff.

Woman staring at treesWhen you were smack in the middle of your pain, chances are you felt totally alone. There was no one to talk to and no one who understood. This type of isolation is deadly. You have to bury the pain, and you eventually have to split off from yourself to survive. You maintain a public façade that you protect with all your energy, and in doing so, you lose touch with yourself because you’re living a lie.

What if you’d had a book to be your friend? What if you’d connected with a fellow sufferer—the book’s author—and felt the compassion of someone who’d been through the same thing but was now on the other side of it? Would you want to know how things got better for that individual, to see a path out of darkness for yourself?

What if you could be that author?

Human beings are resilient, but there are two things we can’t live without: hope and help. When you tell your story—what you’ve been through, what you’ve endured, and what you’ve overcome—you can be the lifeline for someone who is sinking. You can be that voice of hope and help.

If you or someone you know is ready to tell their real story, reach out to us and we can help you take the next step!

 


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Book Coach Advice: Drop the Mic

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Have you ever heard the term “drop the mic” or “mic drop?” If you’re a professional coach or speaker or keep up with pop culture, chances are you have. If you haven’t, then maybe you remember seeing former President Barack Obama’s infamous “mic drop” at the end of his final correspondents dinner address. It caused quite the stir and cemented his place in history as the only President to purposely drop his mic after a speech.

Webster defines mic drop as the act of intentionally dropping one’s microphone at the end of a speech or performance; displaying a bold confidence that has been very impressive or cannot be topped. I love that definition and can relate. Remember the last time you gave a speech or presentation that took untold hours to write and prepare, and then after you presented, immediately knew you nailed it?  You owned the stage, felt prepared, and exuded confidence because you knew you were an expert on your subject? Most importantly, your audience knew you were an expert. I love that feeling.

As a book coach, I’ve given countless presentations in my life, but it’s the ones where I could have dropped the mic at the end that give me the most satisfaction. But you can only drop the mic if you’re prepared, have established credibility so your audience will believe you, and are an expert in your field. If you’re not the perceived expert in your field and don’t have credibility,  keep reading.

Write a Book and Finally Drop the Mic!

As a coach or public speaker, you’re a different kind of entrepreneur. You have the expertise and solutions that can help others. You know how to tell a story, and you have testimonials. You’re talented and what you have to say matters. But do other people know how credible you are? Do they know you’re an expert in your field? If not, you can increase your credibility and attract a following by writing your book, but without a book, you’re just another self-proclaimed expert.

Man giving presentationIf you want to know how to become an author, you’ll want to work with an Executive Book Coach. When you have a book, it establishes you as an expert, increases your credibility, and helps you attract a following. As a speaker or coach, you’ve already developed a lot of material that will be rich content for your book. The challenge is to organize that material to deliver it in book format, and wrap it in a sustainable story format that will keep your readers engaged.

You can learn how to become an author. The first step is to prioritize your material. You must also know your audience and your market. Identifying your audience will help shape your book throughout the writing process and ensure better sales when it comes time to market and promote your nonfiction book. If you think your book is for everyone, you are setting yourself up for failure. No matter how great your message, it simply cannot appeal to every person! It’s no different when you’re giving a speech. What you have to say matters-but everyone is not your audience.

Are you tired of giving lackluster presentations that seem to fall on deaf ears because your audience doesn’t believe you? If you’re ready to establish yourself as an expert, increase your credibility, attract a following, and finally deliver that mic dropping performance that your audience can believe, reach out to us and we can help you take the next step!

 

 


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Voices Silenced: 12 Authors Who Died in 2017

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This article originally appeared on Bookbaby.com

The list of notable authors, writers, publishers, and contributors to the written word who passed last year is far longer than anything we could include in one blog post, but let’s take a moment to recognize 12 authors who died in 2017. Please, populate the comments with tributes to those who meant the most to you.

 

Michael Bond, 91
authors who died in 2017 PaddingtonBorn: January 13, 1926, Newbury, UK
Died: June 27, 2017, London, UK

“If you really want something in this world, you’ll never get it by sitting down and waiting. But if you go out and do things there’s no knowing where you’ll end up.” —The Tales of Olga Da Polga

The creator of the Paddington Bear series of books, which were published from 1958-2018 (a new title is due on May 31st of the year), Thomas Michael Bond also created the Olga da Polga (guinea pig) and Monsieur Pamplemousse book series. Bond’s Reflection on the Passing of the Years, written after his 90th birthday, was read in 2016 at a service commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.

Image via Shutterstock (editorial use).


Richard Adams, 96
authors who died in 2017 Watership DownBorn: May 9, 1920 in Wash Common, Newbury, Berkshire, England
Died: December 24, 2016 in Oxford, England

“The thinker dies, but his thoughts are beyond the reach of destruction. Men are mortal; but ideas are immortal.”

Richard Adams‘ first and most enduring work is Watership Down, published in 1972, which earned him a Carnegie Medal in 1972 and a Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 1973. Other novels by Adams include Shardik, The Plague Dogs, The Girl in a Swing, Maia, and Traveller.

Image by AndrewRH (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons


Kate Millet, 82
authors who died in 2017 Sexual PoliticsBorn: September 14, 1934, Saint Paul, MN
Died: September 6, 2017, Paris, France

“A sexual revolution begins with the emancipation of women, who are the chief victims of patriarchy, and also with the ending of homosexual oppression.”

A social activist, educator, and feminist author, Kate Millet is best known for her PhD dissertation-turned radical feminist text, Sexual Politics, published in 1970. Millet was also an artist and filmmaker, who authored 10 books between 1970 and 2001. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

Image by Linda Wolf (Contact us/Photo submission) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Robert M. Pirsig, 88
authors who died in 2017 Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceBorn: September 6, 1928 in Minneapolis, MN
Died: April 24, 2017 in South Berwick, ME

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”

A precocious student, Robert Pirsig suffered a nervous breakdown a decade before the 1974 publication of his literary touchstone, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values. Upon its publication, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, which propelled him to write Lila: An Inquiry into Morals, which was published nearly two decades later.

Image by Ian Glendinning, [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY 2.5, CC BY 2.0 or CC BY 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons


William Peter Blatty, 89
authors who died in 2017 The ExorcistBorn: January 7, 1928 in New York City, NY
Died: January 12, 2017 in Bethesda, MD

“Would you like to hear a nice definition of jealousy? It’s the feeling that you get when someone you absolutely detest is having a wonderful time without you.”

A writer and filmmaker, William Peter Blatty is famous for writing the book and screenplay for The Exorcist, published in 1971. He also wrote Legion, a follow-up to The Exorcist, and The Ninth Configuration (also known as Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane). Legion was adapted to film as the Exorcist III, which Blatty directed.

Image by jtblatty (Own work) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


John Ashbery, 90
authors who died in 2017 some treesBorn: July 28, 1927, Rochester, NY
Died: September 3, 2017, Hudson, NY

“I write with experiences in mind, but I don’t write about them, I write out of them.”

A surrealist poet who often stretched the bounds of the movement, John Ashbery was a prominent, controversial, and influential figure throughout his life. He earned 20 (or so) notable awards and fellowships, including a Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1976 for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. He published over 30 collections of poems between 1953-2016, including Some Trees, in 1956.

Image by David Shankbone [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Judith Jones, 93
authors who died in 2017 The Tenth MuseBorn: March 10, 1924, Vermont
Died: August 2, 2017, Walden, VT

“Cooking demands attention, patience, and, above all, a respect for the gifts of the earth. It is a form of worship, a way of giving thanks.”

While an author herself, Judith Jones is perhaps most widely recognized for pulling two pivotal (and wildly disparate) books from slush piles of previously rejected works: The Diary of Anne Frank and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Jones’ later work was focused mostly on editing and writing cookbooks.

Image sourced from the cover of The Tenth Muse.


Janusz Glowacki, 78
authors who died in 2017 CindersBorn: September 13, 1938, Poznań, Poland
Died: August 19, 2017, while vacationing in Egypt

A playwright and screenwriter, Polish-born Janusz Glowacki(pronounced YAH-noosh gwo-VATZ-key) turned a trip to London in 1981 into an eight-year exile, which found him relocating to New York City, where he maintained a residence until his death. His list of accolades and awards is lengthy, with Cinders, Hunting Cockroaches, The Fourth Sister, and Antigone in New York considered his most prominent works.

Image by Kontrola (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Brian Aldiss, 92
authors who died in 2017 Supertoys Last All Summer LongBorn: August 18, 1925, Dereham, UK
Died: August 19, 2017, Oxford, UK

“It is comparatively easy to become a writer; staying a writer, resisting formulaic work, generating one’s own creativity – that’s a much tougher matter.”

Recognized mostly for his science-fiction writing, Brian Aldiss authored more than 80 books, 300 short stories, and many volumes of poetry in addition to being recognized as an accomplished visual artist. His short story, “Supertoys Last All Summer Long,” published in 1969, was the basis for 2001’s Kubrick/Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Image: Brian Aldiss at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, August 2005. Picture taken by Szymon Sokół.


Amy Krouse Rosenthal, 51
authors who died in 2017 ordinary lifeBorn: April 29, 1965, Chicago, IL
Died: March 13, 2017, Chicago, IL

“It often feels like I’m not so much living for the present as I am busy making memories for the future.” ― The Book of Eleven

The author of more than 30 children’s books, including several that were New York Times best sellers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal also authored Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, a memoir fashioned in the style of an encyclopedia. In addition to that, Rosenthal made short films, worked with WBEZ (NPR Chicago), and was a contributor to the TEDActive conference. She also published essays, including “You May Want to Marry My Husband” in the New York Times 10 days before her untimely death from ovarian cancer.

Image sourced from Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s YouTube page.


Richard Wilbur, 96
authors who died in 2017 Beautiful ChangesBorn: March 1, 1921, New York City, NY
Died: October 14, 2017, Belmont, MA

“Writing poetry is talking to oneself; yet it is a mode of talking to oneself in which the self disappears; and the product’s something that, though it may not be for everybody, is about everybody.”

A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (for poetry in 1957 and 1989), Richard Purdy Wilbur was appointed as the second United States Poet Laureate in 1987 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1994, among a long list of awards and achievements. 1947’s The Beautiful Changes, and Other Poems was his first published collection of his poetry, and he published 10 other books of poetry, the last being Anterooms in 2010.

Image sourced from the cover of Let Us Watch by Robert and Mary Bagg


Sue Grafton, 77
authors who died in 2017 A is For AlibiBorn: April 24, 1940, Louisville, KY
Died: December 28, 2017, Santa Barbara, CA

“Thinking is hard work, which is why you don’t see many people doing it.”

Sue Grafton, best known for her “alphabet mysteries,” died one letter short of completing the book series. The first of the series, A Is For Alibiwas published in 1982; the latest, Y Is For Yesterday, was published August 2017, and continued the quest of the series’ female protagonist, private investigator Kinsey Millhone. Grafton got her start in Hollywood, writing screenplays and television scripts. According to her husband, Grafton knew (for years) that the final book in the series would be titled Z Is For Zero, but her battle with cancer prevented her from beginning it.

Image by Mark Coggins from San Francisco (Sue Grafton Uploaded by tripsspace) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Read “Musicians who died in 2017” on the Disc Makers Blog.

 

The Complete Self-Publishing Package: Literally everything you need to publish your book


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Featured Author: David J.P. Fisher author, become an author, write a book, feature author, self publishing, book coach, nonfiction, non fiction, nonfiction writing, nonfiction book coach

Sought-after speaker publishes business book

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Tips to writing good copy

I am so proud of how far my client, David J.P. Fisher, has come! Not only has he published his book Networking in the 21st Century: Why Your Networking Sucks and What to do About it, he has also been able to author various versions of the book tailored specifically for LinkedIn, millennials, and within your company.

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The Gift of Following Your Dreams from The Book Professor Nonfiction Author Joe Fingerhut author joe fingerhut, the book professor author, writer, published author, how to write, author websites, becoming a better writer, publish a book

The Gift of Following Your Dreams from Author Joe Fingerhut

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The Gift of Following Your Dreams from The Book Professor Nonfiction Author Joe FingerhutPart speaker, part entertainer, part crazy dad, and always fully engaged, author Joe Fingerhut has written a high-impact book that will change lives, save lives, and transform society for teens. He already knew he had special gifts to share with others and took it to a new level when he published his first book!

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Featured Author - Helen Gennari had her book launch party for her first book, From The Heart of An Abandoned Daughter author, become an author, write a book, feature author, self publishing, book coach, nonfiction, non fiction, nonfiction writing, nonfiction book coach, helen gennari, book launch, book launch party, book marketing

Helen Gennari publishes inspirational survival story

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Helen Gennari is this month's Featured Author that recently celebrated with her book launch party for From The Heart of an Abandoned Daughter

Gennari’s autobiography launch party benefitted shelter for battered women

At the end of October my sweet friend and client, Helen Gennari, had a fabulous book launch party for her first book, From the Heart of an Abandoned Daughter: My Personal Journey Through Family Violence and Beyond, which benefitted Woman’s Place in St. Louis, a shelter for battered women. It has been wonderful to see her share her story about growing up with and surviving family violence and her desire to help others that struggle with similar situations.

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Do it NOW!

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So, you like the thought of writing a book, and you have an idea that keeps rolling around in your head, but that’s all your great idea does – it lives in your head. Wouldn’t you like to get that book out?

It’s hard to start a book. You have so much to say, need to organize your thoughts, you have a full-time job that gets in the way and children to care for after work, and by the time you have time to write, you’re too tired to write. Don’t worry! There is a solution.

One of the best ways to write a book is in small time boxes. I recently heard that you can get your daily allotment of physical exercise in ten-minute increments, done several times a day, which sounds a lot more manageable than slogging it out on a treadmill for an hour. Writing is like that, too.

Do you have fifteen minutes? Sure you do. Plant yourself at your computer or on a park bench or in the front seat of your car and WRITE SOMETHING — maybe it’s a childhood memory you want to capture, or the description of the crisp, fall air that will set a scene, or a conversation you overheard that would make great dialogue. Get it down, and do it now!

I normally feel like I need to clear my head before I start writing, and maybe you’re like that, too. Here’s a tip on how I move myself from overactive brain mode to writing mode in under a minute:

1. Sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep breath.
2. Picture an inanimate object that you find simple to describe. It could be a paperclip, your favorite mug, a pen, a shoe, a penny, etc.
3. Now let the words pop that describe that object: shiny, hard, silver, twisted, blue, slick, sharp, and on and on.
4. Once you’ve exhausted your vocabulary, open your eyes and start writing something that will contribute to your book.

You don’t need hours to write, you don’t have to have all your menial tasks finished first, you don’t even need to be at your computer. All you really need is fifteen minutes and the back of a napkin. If you practice this several times a day, you’ll develop a writing habit and will build the bricks of your book that you can be pieced together.


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