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How a business coach turned “creative chaos” into a 5-star non-fiction book

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A Compelling Turn-Around Story

Beth Standlee is the Founder, CEO, and President of TrainerTainment. She’s also a sought-after speaker, coach, and writer. Through her million-dollar company, she teaches people how to sell with confidence.

Beth believes the ability to sell can turn a life around. She understands this truth intimately. A career in sales turned her life around.

When Beth was only nineteen, she unexpectedly became pregnant. Forced to drop out of college, she said, “Instead of getting my bachelor’s degree, I got my M.R.S. degree—then my M.O.M.!”

She believes she could have gotten stuck, unable to reach for the life of her dreams. She discovered sales—a career path that allowed her to fit work around her family’s schedule.

Beth says she was lucky. Blessed with a “wonderful groom,” she had the flexibility to grow as a professional. In 2004, she fulfilled another deferred dream and earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Texas.

However, Beth realizes many women aren’t as fortunate as she’s been. Increasingly, she wanted to write a book so others—especially women—could change their life through sales, too.

Her belief in the power of books spurred her on: “I wanted to write a book of my own because I’m a big reader. Books have certainly influenced my life and helped me grow.”

Then she laughed and said, “If this hillbilly from Arkansas can build a business through sales, anybody can!”

Turning Experience into a Compelling Book

As someone with an English degree, Beth is no stranger to the writing process. She writes the blog for TrainerTainment and, since 2006, a monthly column for RePlay Magazine called “The Party Professor.” She thought that writing a book would comfortably fall inside her skill set without much outside help.

So, at the beginning of 2018, she decided to collect her stories and wisdom into a book. She unplugged from work and set aside two weeks to churn out as much as possible. By day two, she realized she needed help.

She bought the book Stop Stalling and Start Writing: Kick the Excuses and Jumpstart Your Nonfiction Book by Nancy Erickson, The Book Professor®. She found Nancy’s structured approach to organizing ideas through BookMAPs™ especially useful.

Beth worked on a draft of her BookMAP but decided to reach out to Nancy for help. When she recalled their first conversation, she remembered saying, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I need your process for helping folks.”

Nancy asked Beth when they would need to publish. It was February 2018 at the time. Beth had a big trade show coming up in June and hoped she could to release it then. Much to Beth’s surprise, Nancy told her five months wouldn’t be enough to finish a book. “Quality takes time,” Nancy said.

Disappointed, Beth said, “At first I thought, ‘What kind of coach are you?’ But then I realized, as a coach myself, how hard it is being on the buyer’s side of coaching. I didn’t like the things Nancy was saying at first. But just like I understand sales, Nancy understood her process. It made me think, ‘So this is how those salespeople feel when a coach comes to help them!”

Partnership with a Book-Writing Coach

Beth felt comfortable with Nancy almost immediately. “It was very collaborative. Nancy helped me focus my story through an extremely efficient process. I came to her with ‘creative chaos,’ and she helped me organize it.”

First, they created a purpose statement. Beth wanted the book to show people—especially women—that a professional career in sales could change someone’s life both professionally and personally.

Soon after, Beth and Nancy structured the book’s problem/solution sets, an innovative part of the BookMAP process. Beth said, “From a speaker’s point of view, I really understood Nancy’s system. Make a point, then drive that point home. It was the same process: First problem. Then solution. Then here’s a story that’s going to help you remember that solution.”

Because Beth worked with Nancy one-to-one, she had the freedom to customize the writing process to her creative style. After some initial back and forth, Beth decided to complete the first draft in one large chunk, then send it to Nancy for feedback.

The notes Nancy gave Beth were insightful. They were also actionable. Beth was able to incorporate the edits during a difficult time—her husband was in the hospital, diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She finished her book as she cared for her husband (who’s now doing much better).

As they approached the final stages of editing, she relied heavily on Nancy’s consistent feedback, especially during such a difficult period.

A Five-Star Book on Amazon!

Beth’s partnership with Nancy gave her the ability to write and organize something as long and complicated as a book. She said, “I’m not a process-driven person, so I really connected with Nancy and her method.”

The Book Professor’s system helped Beth get the book to market as well. She said, “I wouldn’t have kept going if I had been responsible for editing, registering, coming up with the cover, and everything. I could do it, but I’m too busy!”

By May 2019, Beth released her book, People Buy from People. As of the publication of this article, all thirteen customer ratings on Amazon are five out of five stars.

She’s been able to accomplish all of her goals, even donating the book to several women-in-need organizations. Beth said, “When I write my next book, Nancy will be involved!”

To learn more about Beth Standlee’s book, People Buy from People, or to buy a copy, click here.

Are you ready to write your non-fiction book?

At The Book Professor®, we believe nearly anyone can write a quality book. But if you’re a busy professional, you may not feel like you have the time to create something that will truly make you feel proud.

Though many people begin writing books, few of them finish. Those who do rarely end up with a product they feel is worthy of the marketplace.

At TheBookProfessor.com, we help people from all walks of life get from a concept to a high-quality finished book. If you have a story that you need help writing, contact Nancy Erickson here.


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Overcoming Writer’s Block Part 3: The “Just Start Writing” Myth

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First Drafts: Cracking the Code

Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself, “I can do that! I have something to say, and it doesn’t look that difficult.”

If this sounds like you, that’s wonderful! I firmly believe you have a book inside you. And though writing one isn’t easy, it’s something just about anyone can do if they have the will to work hard.

However, most people begin the process with a fatal flaw: They go straight from a flash of inspiration to typing their first draft. They think back to a schoolteacher, a friend, or a creativity guru who said:

  • “If you finish a page a day, you’ll have a 365-page book at the end of the year.”
  • “Your book will write itself if you just let it flow out of you.”
  • “Just turn off your internal editor and write.” (This is good advice for later — but not yet!)

Writing a book isn’t like reading one. Though there are a few experienced writers who are the exception, most cannot start with page one and end when the material runs out.

This is what usually happens to someone who proceeds this way. Though the words flow easily at first, things get messy. Without a clear purpose, audience, or structure, the writer has no clue:

  • How to order their ideas
  • What stories to tell
  • What style to employ
  • How to market the finished product — if they get that far!

As The Book Professor®, I have a process that helps writers work with clarity and precision. My clients create nonfiction books that hit home with readers, solve real problems, and create opportunities beyond their publication.

Recently, and independently from each other, two former clients used the same metaphor to describe what my process was like for them.

So, if you can, think back to 1999.

It’s like The Matrix

Do you remember the movie The Matrix? It’s about a character named Neo (Keanu Reeves) who realizes he and his fellow humans have been living their lives inside a computer program, convinced it was real life. Now, outside of the program, he’s able to see the computer code that defined his existence.

In one scene, he watches Cypher (Joe Pantoliano) look at screens where the code they know as The Matrix streams past. Unlike Neo, Cypher can read the symbols.

Neo says, “Do you always look at it encoded?”

Cypher says, “[…] There’s way too much information to decode the Matrix. You get used to it. I don’t even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, redhead.”

In other words, where Neo sees a jumbled mess, Cypher sees people. Later in the film, when Neo can finally read the code, a whole new world opens up to him.

This is how it feels to figure out the purpose, audience, and structure of your book. All the jumbled thoughts you’ve had suddenly fall into place. You can see how your ideas, stories, and marketing plan will work together to reach people with your message.

If you follow these three strategies, you’ll crack the “code” that will allow you to sit down and write your nonfiction book freely and coherently.

Nonfiction Writing Strategy 1: Purpose Statement

Good nonfiction books exist to effectively deliver an idea to an audience in a way they can understand. Writers who know this and create a purpose statement have a leg up over writers who don’t.

First, books with a clear purpose keep readers engaged. Confident the book will take them on a coherent journey, people will continue to read, provided the material is relevant to them.

Second, books with a clear purpose are focused. The writer only includes relevant information and anecdotes, which makes their ideas shine more brightly.

Bonus: The writer can save all of his or her other ideas for the next book!

This is what happened for podiatrist and writer Dr. Peter Wishnie. Having finished his first book—one that had an unambiguous purpose statement—he came back to me almost immediately. With plenty of material left over, he’s ready to work on his next book!

Executive Coach Mike Kitko worked very hard to focus his book’s purpose statement, too. Before he had even completed his final draft, he found himself able to structure two more books almost immediately.

That’s the power of a focused purpose statement!

Nonfiction Writing Strategy 2: Audience Definition

Your purpose statement goes hand in hand with the audience you want to reach. Define this group as narrowly as possible. It’s rare to have too narrow a niche for three reasons.

First, audience definition will bring an even more precise focus. You’ll be able to surgically remove information and anecdotes that will be irrelevant to them. If you decide to rewrite the book for a new audience, you can keep the same structure but change the stories!

Second, audience definition will help inform the words you choose. Once again, the narrower, the better! You wouldn’t quote Scripture to atheists, use war metaphors with pacifists, or describe a juicy steak to a vegan. If you know your audience, you’ll be able to speak their unique language.

Third, audience definition will help you market your book. A narrow audience will likely have their own niche blogs, magazines, podcasts, and meetings. Your book will come with a built-in marketing plan and will serve a larger purpose in your life and career.

Nonfiction Writing Strategy 3: Stay tuned!

Next month, we’re going to talk about how to structure your book. This final step in what I call “Module 1” will allow you to write freely and quickly. (More about our modules here.)

As I share this, I want you to feel inspired. I hope you think, “I can do this!” and start tinkering with your purpose statement right away.

But there’s a reason my clients want to work with a coach. They’re busy people who don’t have time to experiment, figure things out on their own, then only maybe end the process with something that will accomplish their goals.

Whether you want to write your book one-on-one with me or in a group of like-minded changemakers, I’d love to talk.

Get in touch so we can begin our conversation!

 


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Author Rich Daniels: Writing a Deeply Personal Story for the Sake of Others

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A Tourist in His Own Life

Rich Daniels was in the midst of a career marked by impressive accomplishments. His resumé included positions in marketing, operations, and strategy for a variety of corporations with an international reach. He traveled worldwide and enjoyed the rewards of his success.

At the same time, he got to live a dream when he became a co-owner of Amigos Cantina, a popular and highly-rated St. Louis area restaurant and co-founder of Yurbuds sport headphones.

Rich is also a husband and father of three. But his home life wasn’t what he hoped it would be. As someone who worked and traveled incessantly, he felt out of step with his wife, Megan, and his three kids (Grace, Luc, and Zoey).

Megan ran their home like a well-oiled machine. When Rich would come home, he’d feel like a disruption to what she’d created. Though he loved his children, he didn’t have a deep relationship with them and was unable to communicate that he knew, valued, and loved each of them individually.

Rich realized he was little more than a “tourist in his own life.”

He spoke with his pastor, acknowledged his problem, then said he wanted to join the men’s group. He hoped to spend time with dads like himself and was curious if any of them had figured out how to live the kind of life he desired—one that struck a balance between work and home.

The church didn’t have a group like that, so the pastor asked Rich to help him put one together. The group would meet in the Daniels family basement. Rich agreed but was so busy that he didn’t make the first two meetings. When he made it to the third, he realized that all of the other men in his group faced the same problem.

It took awhile, but with the support of both his wife and his men’s group, Rich began to rebuild his home life. He slowed down at work. He and Megan decided how they wanted to parent as a couple. Rich became a vital member of his home and community. His life began to improve.

Then, a chance encounter made Rich realize that men outside his current circle needed what he’d discovered.

The Drive to Write a Non-Fiction Book

As Rich made changes to his life, a chance encounter unsettled him. He attended a networking meeting where he chatted with a man who seemed happy and successful.

Six months later, Rich learned that the man took his own life. Rich was shocked. He said, “I grew up with brothers, so I always had someone to lean on when I needed to.”

Rich wanted to reach out to highly-driven men like this one and share the wisdom he’d gained through experience and his men’s group. He wanted to tell them there was a better way to live, and that they didn’t have to go it alone.

Rich decided it was time to write a book. Unfortunately, he had no idea how to start. He shared his thoughts with a friend, who told Rich about The Book Professor®, Nancy Erickson.

Rich visited thebookprofessor.com and took the Self-Directed Book Writing Program. Soon, he decided he wanted to finish his book with Nancy’s help. He hired her as his Personal Book-Writing Coach.

A Legacy to Leave and an Idea to Communicate

Rich entered the book-writing process with a concept designed to reach Christian men. His working title, Creating Gravity, was about “creating gravity that would draw guys to Christ.”

In conversations about his book, Nancy challenged the premise. She envisioned a larger audience for his ideas. Rich thought about it. He said, “Nancy has this saying: ‘While you’re working on your book, your book is working on you.’”

And that’s what happened. The audience expanded in Rich’s mind. His message began to solidify, and he started to codify the ideas he and Megan practiced at home. He could break it down into three main concepts—that every member of the Daniels family would:

  • Feel known. Rich and Megan learned and engaged with his kids’ interests, tastes, and experiences more deeply. They wanted their kids to feel like they were “part of the team”—members of the family, not just someone familiar to be ordered around.
  • Feel valued. In his new family paradigm, Rich began to listen more closely to each person’s words, thoughts, and feelings. Every person now had a chance to be heard.
  • Feel loved. Rich believes every person experiences love differently. He said, “With my wife, it’s when I do chores for her around the house. My daughter Grace, on the other hand, needs words of praise and affirmation.”

Nancy pointed out these three concepts as possible sections for Rich’s book. He hadn’t seen it before that moment. For Rich, Nancy’s perspective made all the difference. It allowed him to write his book quickly and with a sense of purpose.

Authors and “Expert Status”

Though Rich creates effective business strategies for a living, he didn’t have a comprehensive marketing plan for his book. He created a few videos and did a little social marketing, but stopped there.

All he wanted was to have a book to give to guys going through a hard time, like the man he met at the networking meeting.

But the title of “author” continues to afford him extraordinary opportunities.

From time to time, he’s able to bring his message as a guest speaker to groups of men. He said, “My book was more a collection of shortcomings and lessons that I felt were worth me sharing. I wanted to encourage other men to be more engaged at home. But when you publish a book, people see you as an expert.”

Rich shares the message of the book often. He gets to tell others, “As guys, we want the adventure. And with any journey or adventure, we are presented with adversity which we must overcome. It requires the help of God and others. Find a men’s group at your local church or in your community. Get connected with other guys on the journey.”

Rich Daniels’s touching book, A Tourist in My Own Life, is available on Amazon.

The Power of Your Story

Many of us have a compelling story to tell, but don’t have a way to “get it out.” And when we start, it’s easy to get stuck on what we think the book should be rather than what it wants to be —and what would potentially reach the greatest number of people.

If the book you want to write feels like a code you can’t crack, we at The Book Professor® can help. We guide writers and non-writers alike from concept to published book. It’s not easy, but our process has worked for many others—and, if you’re willing, it can work for you too.

If you’re ready to get your book out of your head and into a final, professional, and published form, let’s start a conversation.

 

 


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Dismantling Writer’s Block Part 2: The “I Can’t Write” Myth

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From Non-Writer to Non-Fiction Author

Kids are natural storytellers. They draw pictures with a clear narrative—even if it’s silly. Then they staple those pictures together and create books for fun.

If you stand still long enough, the little kids in your life will tell you all about their friends, family, and hobbies in surprising (and sometimes exhausting) detail.

Which means that whoever you are, you were born with the ability to create and tell stories. But for many of us, someone or something made us feel like we didn’t have the talent to write a book. We lost the joy. We lost confidence in ourselves.

Perhaps you:

  • Could never figure out how to diagram a sentence
  • Didn’t understand the five-paragraph essay
  • Grew up around people who didn’t use proper grammar
  • Went into a “non-creative” field like accounting, medicine, or (in my case) computer programming
  • Heard someone say your writing “lacked promise”

Whatever the cause, too many of us call ourselves “non-writers” for all the wrong reasons.

But if you’re reading this, you’ve probably thought: “I’ve gained some life experience. If I knew how to write it down, people would want to read it.”

As The Book Professor®, I believe almost anyone can write a compelling book with a little help. My team and I help non-writers create high-quality non-fiction books all the time! All you need is:

  • A message to communicate
  • The willingness to follow our process from beginning to end

It’s not easy, but if you’re a non-writer who wants to be an author, it’s worth it.

Your Idea Is the Key (Not the Grammar!)

A great non-fiction book is more than a collection of well-ordered paragraphs. It’s the story of someone who has lived life, encountered a problem, and figured out how to solve it. It’s valuable to readers who have similar problems themselves.

This “big idea” compels readers to turn pages. That’s why the first book-writing stage — “PLAN” — is crucial. In it, as your coach, I help pull the idea out of you.

During the PLAN phase, we create your BookMAP™. This isn’t an outline. It’s the process by which we figure out what the book is going to be. During this time, we determine the book’s purpose, audience, and content. (More about BookMAPs™ here and here).

When it’s finished, you’ll have everything you need to craft your first draft. And guess what? You don’t have to be a “writer” to get this far!

First Drafts & The Crucial Ingredient

Once you have a BookMAP™, you’ll know exactly what you’re going to write. Now it’s time to get it out. This stage in the process, called “PRODUCE,” requires a lot of hard work.

But here’s the good news: We’ll fix any mistakes or other issues later. The goal of the first draft is to get your story and wisdom down on paper. And do you know what the crucial ingredient to a well-written first draft is?

You!

Readers won’t be satisfied if you keep them at arm’s length. They want to get to know the real you and see all along the way.

As a coach, I work with our authors weekly. During the PRODUCE stage, I give them tools and tips to infuse their first draft with individuality.

For example, one tip I share is this: Be honest. Let the real you shine through on the page. We can always remove some of it later if you feel like you’ve gone too far, but you’ll be surprised how much you will keep.

I also teach this technique: Use sensory language. Tell us what you see, smell, hear, feel, and taste. Do it as concisely as possible, but don’t hold back. If we need to, we can cut some of it later, but we can’t shape your final draft until you have a first draft.

The “Secret” of the Professional Writer

The next time you’re near your bookshelf, grab your favorite book and find the “acknowledgments” page. As you read it, you’ll discover the secret of every professional writer.

Nobody writes a book alone. Coaches and editors pulled your favorite book out of the author. They made suggestions, changes, and fixes throughout the process. This “great writer” even had a team who fixed grammatical errors, punctuation problems, and mistakes of all kinds.

During the third book-writing stage — “POLISH AND PERFECT” — you will go through a series of exercises to edit your first draft. This is where the magic happens! You will see your ideas, expressions, and experiences come to life and will be astonished at what you accomplished—as a non-writer!

You and your team at TheBookProfessor.com work through your manuscript. Together, we make sure it will stand shoulder to shoulder with anything in the marketplace.

But too often, beginning authors are afraid their first draft will lose its authenticity.

Nothing could be further from the truth. You keep “you,” but the prose becomes tighter, more precise, and more powerful as you go through draft after draft after draft. Then, your coach (me) and a copyeditor provide that extra bit of expertise you’ll need to cross the finish line.

But you are in charge the whole time.

For example, one client of mine, Terry Lammers, wrote a brilliant book that Forbes called one of the “best books to help entrepreneurs grow a business.”

He’s a business expert—not a grammar expert. He worked with me and our copy editors to make his prose grammatically correct.

However, that didn’t mean he abdicated his role as the author. He knows his subject better than anyone. If an edit didn’t resonate with him, he had the power to reject it. (And he did. Often!)

Another client, Beth Standlee (People Buy from People), was born and raised in Texas. When she saw an editor changed the word “daddy” to “father,” she changed it right back! She said, “I’ve never once called my daddy ‘father!’”

I want to help every one of my clients create a book that meets the highest possible standards. A bunch of us work together to get it there. But the author, in the end, is always in charge. What he or she says goes!

Are you a non-writer with a non-fiction book inside you?

Do you want to write a non-fiction book, but you’re:

  • Not sure how to start
  • Stuck on your first draft
  • Afraid you don’t have the discipline to finish
  • Unskilled as a writer

Would you like to get help from someone who can encourage, instruct, and guide you through a time-tested process that results in a marketable book?

If so, you can create a book that stands shoulder to shoulder with the best on the market.

If you’re ready to get your book out of your head and onto the page, let’s start a conversation today.

 


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How one “non-writer” became a Forbes-recommended business author

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Developing a One-of-a-Kind Perspective

Terry Lammers grew up working in his parent’s wholesale fuel and lubricant business. Based in Pierron, Illinois—a town of about 600 people—Terry stocked shelves and drove trucks while still in high school.

He studied accounting in college and gained some early business experience, then went back to work for his parents’ company. He says in his book, “It was just me, my mom, my dad, and two trucks.” When he came on board, their year-to-date sales were about $750,000, and his parents couldn’t afford to pay him a salary.

He used what he learned in college and business to help the company turn things around. They acquired a competitor, Bone Oil Company, and rebranded the business TriCounty Petroleum.

After that, Terry said, “We were off to the races.”

Under his leadership, TriCounty acquired several more fuel companies. Terry trademarked his own brand of lubricants and eventually grew the conglomerate to over $42 million in sales. With three young kids, he and his wife were able to retire early—a dream come true!

Soon, however, Terry grew bored. “After I sold the company,” he said, “I had no idea what I was going to do next! You can only hunt and fish so much.”

Eventually, he went to work for Regions Bank and learned how lending institutions value companies, assess balance sheets and cash flow, and determine risk.

After three and a half years, he and partner Steve Denny launched Innovative Business Advisors. Their firm specializes in business valuation, acquisitions, and consulting. In his work with clients, he’s developed a unique communications style that resonates with others.

Terry said, “Business owners have told me they do what I tell them because I’m honest, clear, and not arrogant.”

With a lifetime worth of experience, he wanted to find a way to package his advice—along with his unique voice—in a book. But there was a problem.

Terry had no writing experience at all.

Writing for a Non-Writer

“In the back of my mind,” Terry said, “writing a book was a bucket-list item,” but he didn’t know how to get started. He got some unexpected advice while speaking with a plumber he met at a networking event.

The man said, “You just have to sit down and write about eight chapters and you’re done!”

Terry decided to sit down and to write his book about mergers and acquisitions, and he started with page one, just the way the plumber had said. Before he knew it, he was lost. He Googled the phrase, “book coach” and found Nancy Erickson, The Book Professor®.

Terry signed up for The Book Professor’s® Executive Group Mastermind and Publishing Program. But when he learned it would be a year-long process, he said, “I didn’t like that!”

He soon came to appreciate that time. As a non-writer who had failed in his first attempt at writing a book, he was now making real headway.

Capturing a Unique Voice

As Terry worked through the structure of his book, he could see that the process made sense. “I think it’s brilliant,” he said. “We started with our BookMAP™. You map the whole thing out, then bullet-point how you want each chapter to flow.”

The next phase of the process is called Write without Ruts, and Terry wrote the entire first draft of his book in about three months.

“Every Sunday evening,” he said, “I’d write two chapters. But every day I had my BookMAP™ in front of me. Since everything I was going to write about was all mapped out, I would think about the book all week long. When it came time to write my chapters, it really was like ‘getting it out.’”

Although Terry had no experience writing, he found himself with a first draft that actually worked.

But then he found himself in the midst of the Polish and Perfect stage, and that put his patience to the test.

Terry said, “Polish and Perfect is the painful part. I had to read the book several times. I had to read it out loud. It was like getting tased!”

He worked with both Nancy and the team’s copy editors, and Terry found he had a challenge to balance his unconventional manner of speaking and grammar with what would make for an interesting and readable book.

“One of the things Nancy teaches is to be very direct in your writing. Don’t say too much. Get it tight. I tried to be funny and conversational, but sometimes that just meant too many extra words. The editors whacked the hell out of it!”

Still, he felt like he was in control. As an expert in finance, he needed to educate the team’s editors on some of the terms and phrases he used. But if he was concerned that the editing process would strip away his unique voice, his friends and family responded differently.

“People tell me all the time, ‘I can hear you talking in the book.’ The editors didn’t take out the quizmacal [sic] things I say.”

In particular, he has a chapter called “Your Bankability.” Although “bankability” is a real word, Terry hadn’t heard it used in his circles. It had a great ring to it, and when his business partner Steve Dean read the book, he said they should name one of their key offerings “The Bankability Method.”

A Finished Book

For Terry, the book is part of building his brand as an expert in acquisitions. It was important to finish in a timely manner, and he credits The Book Professor’s Executive Group Mastermind with keeping him accountable.

 

He said, “While I was writing, I met a lot of people who said they were writing a book too. And you know what? They’re still writing their book, but I have a finished book.”

Terry published his book, You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Everything You Need to Know to Buy or Sell a Business, in 2017. Recently, it was listed by Forbes writer Rhett Power as one of “The Best Books to Help Entrepreneurs Grow a Business.”

Power’s review of the book echoed what Terry and Nancy had worked so hard to achieve:

“In a straightforward, authentic style, he walks you through the many options you have for your [business]. By the end of You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know, I felt like I had an entertaining, informative workshop.”

You can purchase Terry’s book, You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Everything You Need to Know to Buy or Sell a Business here.

You don’t have to be a “writer” to become an “author”!

Have you dreamed of writing a book but don’t think of yourself as a writer? Or do you have something to say but are stuck and can’t get it out?

The Book Professor® helps people who aren’t writers become authors. Whether writing a book is a life-long dream or something you must do to move your career forward, there’s help for you.

Learn more about how you can work with The Book Professor® and Nancy Erickson, click here.


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Dismantling Writer’s Block Part 1: The Lone Genius Myth

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Book Writers: Do You Think It’s Best to Go It Alone?

Perhaps you’ve seen some variation of this scene in a movie.

A man is sitting at his typewriter (why is it always a guy?), unshaven, half-drunk, and clattering away like mad. There are empty wine bottles and teacups strewn all over the room. Crumpled papers overflow the trash can. In anguish, he stops typing, tears out the sheet of paper, and rips it to shreds.

Sound familiar?

Movies like these have done us a great disservice. They’ve given us the “Lone Genius,” a class of people who spend their days struggling through their book without any help. Though it’s true that authors spend most of their writing time alone with the page, this is only part of the picture.

That’s because books are too long and too complicated to be written without a community of helpers. All authors (including this one) need those who can keep them on track, lend helpful feedback, and even give them a swift kick in the backside when needed.

The myth of the Lone Genius is behind a lot of unnecessary writer’s block.

Authors need a Book Mastermind. Here’s why.

A Book Mastermind Keeps You Accountable

Here’s an unfortunate truth. If you’re the only person holding yourself accountable to write your book, you probably won’t finish it.

It’s not because you have nothing to say, you lack discipline, or that people don’t need what you’ve written. It’s simply this: No one is waiting for you, so it’s easy to put your manuscript off.

The solution? Join a group of like-minded writers.

I put together The Book Professor’s® Executive Group Mastermind and Publishing Program so that every week, writers know they have an online appointment they must prepare for. Everyone will be turning in the same assignment, and if you’re part of that group, you’re highly motivated to come to the call prepared. It’s that simple.

If that were the only reason to take part in a Book Mastermind, that would be reason enough for most of us to reach out for help. But there’s more.

A Book Mastermind Includes People with Complimentary Skills

You have a unique “Zone of Genius:” your training, your giftings, your experiences, and even your tastes. It’s your gift to the world, and it will permeate anything you write.

What’s great about a Book Mastermind, however, is your book benefits from other people’s Zone of Genius as well.

In a recent Book Mastermind, we had a wonderful group of men. They all got excited about each other’s work even though they had very different backgrounds.

One of our writers, a marketing expert for podiatrists named Rem Jackson was stuck on the title for his book. Mike Kitko (read his story HERE) was in that group as well. Mike’s an Executive Coach who knows next to nothing about podiatry. But as Rem was talking about the ideas he was presenting in his book, Mike blurted out something like, “Do you know what would be a good title for your book? Podiatry Prosperity!”

At that moment, it didn’t matter who came up with the idea. The title was perfect. Because Rem Jackson was participating in a group with someone outside of his Zone of Genius, he received exactly what he needed.

A Book Mastermind Gives Generous Feedback

Too many of us have been in writing groups where we received ego-driven, soul-crushing feedback from a teacher, a family member, or a friend. I’m afraid it happens to most of us, and I’m sorry if it happened to you.

However, that’s not the experience we’ve had in The Book Professor® Book Mastermind Groups. They have consistently been positive, encouraging places to write a book.

There’s a reason for that.

If you’re a member of a Book Mastermind with authors who intend to be a source of hope and help for their audience, then they’re generally people who want to be a source of hope and help to everyone — including you. When they offer feedback, it’s in the same spirit that drives them in everything they do.

A Book Mastermind Session Can Be Great Therapy

Every Book Mastermind I’ve been a part of has become, to some degree, a group therapy session.

I’ve worked with a woman whose book told the story of how she survived severe abuse. Another woman wrote about how she made it through her husband’s suicide.

Mike Kitko (the Executive Coach I mentioned earlier) was an alcoholic in a mutually destructive marriage. He had to tell about how he devastated his own life and hit rock bottom.

When people write about experiences like these, they have to relive them. In every Book Mastermind I’ve facilitated, its members surrounded, protected, and validated those writers as they told their truth.

It’s one of the most beautiful parts of the process.

Authors: Do You Believe in Magic?

Recently, one of our Masterminds included an author whose book contained a description of her life in an abusive and alcoholic home. Reading it to the group required extreme vulnerability on her part.

When she finished, I asked the group if they had ever experienced something similar. Everyone in the group had. I could hardly believe it.

Now, you don’t have to be spiritual to take part in Group Coaching. But let me say this.

I do not assemble Book Masterminds by curating people of similar backgrounds. I simply put people together who are available and ready to get started on their books.

But it seems like Something — or Someone — has put each of those groups together. Each one has a synergy I couldn’t have created if I tried. People with similar or complementary backgrounds, temperaments, and experiences end up working together every time.

Are You Ready to Leverage a Book Mastermind to Get Unstuck?

If this sounds like what you need to get yourself out of your writing rut, you may want to join The Book Professor’s® Executive Group Matermind and Publishing Program. Writing a book is a long journey, and this is a great way to have all the benefits of a Book Mastermind gently guided by our time-tested process.

In Module One, we take you “From Concept to Concrete Plan.” This is where, as a group, we learn how to figure out precisely what it is you have to say. Lots of personal revelations surface, and with each others’ support, by the end of sixteen weeks, you have a BookMAPTM to follow as you write. It’s the BookMAPTM that actually allows you to prevent writer’s block.

Module Two is called “Write Without Ruts.” During this part of the process, you get to write the first draft of your book without going back and fixing it up. Every week, you’ll listen to other people share their first drafts while you share your own. It’s intense, revelatory, fun, and exhilarating.

Module Three, “Polish and Perfect,” we get your book to the finish line, making sure that every word is in its place, that every line sings, and that every scene works. We need each other during this part of the process because it can get tedious. Our Book Mastermind is the place where we remind each other how important the work is, how special the book will be, and how great it will feel to share it with the world.

If you want to learn more about The Book Professor’s® Executive Group Mastermind and Publishing Program, or you’re ready to sign up, CLICK HERE.

 

 


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How an Executive Coach Finally Turned His Life Story into a Non-Fiction Book

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A Story Worth Telling

Mike Kitko is a man of intensity, integrity, passion, and energy. He’s a straight talker who doesn’t pull punches. His commitment to truth has earned him a trusted position as an Executive Coach for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and executives at all levels.

He’s also a sought-after speaker, teaching audiences hard-won lessons from his own life. His talks on self-mastery, finances, and business have earned him audiences all over the country. But he wouldn’t be where he is today without the difficult lessons learned through some harsh and heartbreaking times.

Mike, a Marine veteran who spent twenty years as an executive, was addicted to alcohol. He weighed 300 pounds, his marriage was mutually abusive, and his home was chaotic. His poor habits and lack of personal character caught up with him. He lost his job—and nearly lost his family.

Hitting rock bottom, he recognized he was living someone else’s dream — one created for him by his parents and a lifetime worth of TV and movies. He felt like an imposter and got busy turning his life around.

The story of how he got healthy, broke free from codependency, started his own business, and ultimately rebuilt his income and his family was worthy of a book. He wanted to show people they could turn their lives around too.

He also knew that as an Executive Coach, having a high-quality, finished book catapults someone like him into a higher echelon. To move his career forward, he wanted to put the lessons he learned into a book he could share with prospective clients and sell at speaking engagements.

Inspired, Mike sat down and began writing his book.

The Decision to Hire a Book-Writing Coach

Mike understood the power of his life’s journey and wanted to open the book with his childhood, move through his life, and end in the present. After the first few chapters, however, he started to lose his way. Mike wasn’t a quitter, so he decided to dump the first draft and start again from scratch.

But after four or five false starts, he knew he needed help. He had met Nancy Erickson, The Book Professor, and wondered what it would be like to work with her. As a coach himself, he knew the value of an outside perspective. When he and Nancy got together, he presented the idea for his book.

Nancy said something that challenged Mike deeply. In what he calls “a loving, maternal way,” she said: “Do you want two people to read your book, or two million?”

She went on: “If you create a book that’s an autobiography, only people who know you will want to read it. But if you write a book that can help people, connect with the pain and struggle they’re experiencing … to give them tools, help, and hopethen you’ve got something people will want to read. They’ll be thankful for the lessons they’ve learned, and your credibility will go up.”

Mike felt moved. He signed up for The Book Professor’s Group Coaching & Publishing Program, saying, “It’s always fun to go through something with a few more people.” There, he quickly learned why he had failed on his first several attempts to write his book.

Structuring a Non-Fiction Book

Under Nancy’s leadership, Mike said he and his group learned what he believes is the “greatest tool for writing a book”: the Problem/Solution set.

Instead of just telling their life stories from beginning to end, Nancy helped each member of the group discover their message and target audience. Each created and shared their BookMAPTM, a visual representation of the book from beginning to end that identified:

  • Problems the author had faced.
  • Solutions the author had discovered.
  • Stories from the author’s life that illustrated the problem/solution set.

Mike discovered one of the main reasons he couldn’t finish his book before: He never had a plan! This new structure made sense. He imagined his coaching clients and how they could immediately apply lessons he’d learned the hard way.

But Mike was still stuck. For some reason, he couldn’t let go of his original plan for a memoir. He kept trying to force his problem/solution book into the form of an autobiography.

Fortunately, in a one-on-one session with Nancy, he had a revelation. Through conversation, Mike was able to figure out his purpose for writing the book. He wasn’t writing to tell his story. He was writing to help other people. Realizing this, Mike finally let go of his initial idea — and the book came alive.

Taking the “Lonely” Out of Writing a Book

Working in a group with weekly deadlines, Mike found his manuscript moving along at incredible speed. He enjoyed hearing from others, cheering on their successes, and also finding out that, just like him, they had difficulties. Everyone would fall behind from time to time. Everyone would get a little stuck.

But the difference was that they had each other. Every member of the group seemed to draw out the best in him, and he in them. Well-defined deadlines meant they had concrete assignments to complete weekly, and that worked for Mike.

His Book Mastermind kept him going, even when he felt uninspired. He looked forward to the experience every time. Additionally, he was grateful the Group Coaching option also included one-on-one time with Nancy. Together, they could concentrate on his book without distraction.

A Skill that Goes Beyond the First Book

Mike’s business, among other things, has him creating a lot of content. He found that working on his book actually increased his creative output in all areas. In fact, it led to something astonishing.

While writing his book, Mike created two courses. One morning over breakfast, his wife, Angie, asked if the new courses could also be made into books. Mike was intrigued, so he sent the content to Nancy for her feedback.

She called him back and let him know that he had, almost by accident, written two more books.

He had so internalized the process — and received so much inspiration — instead of having one book, he had a trilogy.

Mike Kitko’s first book, The Imposter in Charge, launchesOctober 22. If you want to read the result of the process, plus derive benefit from Mike’s life experience, you can preorder his finished book here.

Are You Tired of Getting Stuck on Your Book Idea?

Aspiring authors tend to follow the same pattern. They sit down and start writing without a plan, without an audience, and without any structure. But writing is a lonely process, and going it alone is too hard for most of us.

But like Mike, you can get from first draft to published manuscript through The Book Professor’s Group Coaching & Publishing Program. In a group, you can receive:

  • Encouragement from a Mastermind group.
  • Deadlines that keep you moving.
  • Structure to help keep you on course.
  • One-on-one sessions with a certified Book Professor® coach.
  • A process that actually works.

If you’re ready to stop going it alone and want to leverage the power of The Book Professor’s Group Coaching & Publishing Program, you can learn all about it (and sign up!) here.


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Author Feature: Beth Standlee-People Buy From People

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As a salesperson, do you find it challenging to engage in meaningful conversations with clients? In a world driven by social media, email, and the day-to-day demands, it can be hard to make the most of your time when you do have the opportunity to present your product or service face-to-face. It can feel like the culture only wants to connect through social media and stifle real conversation. But it doesn’t have to be. If you’re a salesperson looking for ways to make meaningful conversations that lead to sales and increased profitability, you must remember one thing, no matter how computer savvy your client may be: People will always buy from people.

Meet Beth Standlee, Keynote, Author, CEO/Founder of Trainertainment L.L.C.

At age 19, Beth was pregnant, unwed and dropping out of college. Today, she is the founder and CEO of a successful sales training and sales coaching company. There’s a reason her story ends this way, and it’s the confidence she gained from embarking on a sales career journey that taught her more than she ever dreamed possible.

Someone once said that when Beth talks about sales, it goes from black and white to color. That’s Beth. Her passion to help others never ends. Whether it’s five people or five thousand, she has ’em in her hand. You can’t say no to that passion. And she believes deeply that you can have it, too.

People Buy From People: How To Personally Connect In An Impersonal World

Equal parts smart and sass, Beth Standlee is an energetic and entertaining expert in the art of sales and how the profession elevates women personally, financially, and spiritually. From earning a new car every year in Tupperware sales, to selling high-tech solutions, and eventually leading her own sales and training company, Beth has never stopped selling—because sales have been the gateway to her full and satisfying life.

A 1-to-1 client of mine, I can attest that this is not another “how to” sales book. In the age of internet sales and automated communications, Beth takes us back to the basics and reminds us that People Buy From People! What’s her secret? It’s connecting first to create the kind of meaningful conversations that result in closed sales.  The purpose of this book is to introduce a simple, proven, and personal sales process. Beth’s overarching goal is to help others learn how to sell more and have fun doing it, so they gain more financial and personal freedom to improve their lives.

The book is available now. Click here to get your copy today! You won’t want to miss this one! It has been my privilege and pleasure to work with Beth.

If you or someone you know has always wanted to write a book, reach out to us, and we can help make it happen!


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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 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. If you don’t already have a website, you might want to take a look at some best opencart hosting options that could help you create the website of your dreams.
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. Finding a Source for web hosting is easier than it has ever been before, but is still one of the most important steps in creating a successful 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. Thankfully there are plenty of those on the market, such as a Website Design Toronto company, and you can likely find the whole spectrum of developers are available. From full companies to individual designers, the sky is the limit for options and design variables, if you want to take the time to explore it all. Whilst you do, it may be worth considering looking into the clickfunnels marketplace to view how you can optimise and design your website solely based on your target audience. Basing your website on a sales funnel will help you to convert your traffic to sales.

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.

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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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