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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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It’s Almost Fall-Refocus On Your Goals And Finish Strong

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As an international book coach, I’ve had the honor to teach many individuals how to write a book. Writing a book not only helps many of my clients professionally, but it also teaches them how to organize their day to accomplish what they want and focus on their goals. Let me explain. When you learn to write a book through our program, you not only learn the mechanics and writing techniques to help you write a high-impact nonfiction book,  but we also teach you how to stay focused on your goals to finish your book. 

With Fall just around the corner, there’s no better time than now to refocus on your goals and refresh your mind with tips to help you finish the year strong. 

practicing gratitudeClear Your Mind and Stay On Task

I recently came across an article in Entrepreneur magazine that caught my attention because it reminded me of some of the lessons I’ve learned to help me stay focused on my goals and clear my mind. Here are some of my favorites the article mentioned: 

1. Stop multitasking

Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work — like checking emails — and then move onto to the harder things, you should try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with a bigger, more creative endeavor first thing.

2. Block out your days

An excellent way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to quieting the noise all around you is to specifically block out time in your day — maybe it’s 30 minutes or an hour — to spend on a given project. Color-code your calendar or set a timer to make sure you are accomplishing the goal at hand.

3. Get your blood pumping

You can’t focus if you’re stuck inside and staring at a screen all day long. Turn off your computer and phone, and go for a 20-minute walk. The fresh air and the movement will clear your head. Also, make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest.

4. Meditate

Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing, so everyone gets some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made Simple, Calm, and Headspace. For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.

5. Help your technology help you

A platform like RescueTime, a software that runs while you work and shows you how you’re spending your day, could help you understand why something is taking longer to complete than it should. Options like Cold Turkey, Freedom and Self Control block out the internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines. (Source)

 

There’s no better time than now to refocus on your goals and finish strong. Whether your goal is to finish writing your book or something else, incorporate these techniques into your day, and you’ll be amazed at what your capable of accomplishing! If one of your goals is writing a book, contact us today and we can help you take the next step!

 

 

 


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August 21st—National Senior Citizen Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

-Dan Millman

Strengthen Your Willpower and Increase Your Chances for Success

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 


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I Started My Book But Got All Tangled Up

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As a nonfiction book coach, we often work with people that have never written a book before. We also get calls from people who’ve already started writing a book but got tangled up along the way. Maybe that’s where you are right now. You were really excited about your project, and you jumped in with both feet and started to write. But it wasn’t long before your writing was all tangled up. You had lots and lots of ideas floating around in your head, but now you can’t make sense of them, and you know they won’t make sense to anyone else.

The first thing you need to do before you do anything else is: cut the cord. Cut yourself free from the jumbled writing and start anew—this time with a concrete plan. You’ll probably be able to salvage some of what you’ve written, but you can’t move forward unless you start afresh.

I’m not really a storyteller myself. I tend to get all tangled up when I try and tell stories.

—Daniel Day-Lewis

Start With A Plan

I remember a conversation I had with my friend George. George, a successful businessman, had been writing a book to help others jumpstart their careers.

“I started writing my book,” he said, “but now I just don’t know what I’m doing. It’s a mess.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself, George. If you’ve never written a book, how would you even know how to get started?”

“That’s it. I didn’t know where to start, so I just started. Now I can’t make heads or tails of any of it.”

“I know exactly what you need to do. But I’m going to ask you to set everything that you’ve written aside and to start from the beginning. We need to build the foundation of your book.”

“What does that mean—build the foundation?”

“We start with some Foundational Questions and distill all your thoughts into a single Purpose Statement. Once we have that Purpose Statement and we’ve defined your audience, we create BookMAPs that are a visual representation of everything that will be in your book. When you have these BookMAPs, you can write in an organized manner with cohesive themes.”

“But what about what I’ve already written? It seems like a waste of the time I’ve already spent to put it aside and start over.”

“It’s not a loss at all. We’ll figure out where it fits on your BookMAP, and we’ll plug it in at the appropriate spots.”

If you’ve already started writing your book, you may not want to go back to the beginning. I understand that. There’s nothing I despise more than doing something over. When you have a step-by-step process to follow, you have clear direction about how to write a book. It’s like having a recipe to follow when you’re cooking—essentially a set of instructions—to follow when writing a book.

That’s the kind of process I offered George. He enrolled in an Executive Group Coaching class and followed the instructions step after step after step until he’d completed his manuscript.

“I can’t believe how different this is from what I started with,” he said. “There’s no way I could have done this by myself. It was such a mess before, and now it all flows together and makes sense.”

“It’s really a great book,” I assured him, “and you did it all yourself. All you needed was a foundation to build from. After that, you followed the steps.”

It was all about cleaning up what George already had, putting it in the right order, and adding what was necessary to fill the gaps.

 

What about you? If you’ve gotten all tangled up in your writing, don’t fret and don’t put it aside. You can straighten it out and continue in an organized manner. Contact us today and we can show you how!

 


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A Poorly Written Book Can Kill Your Credibility

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As soon as I left the podium at a networking event last fall, a beautifully dressed woman walked up to me with a book in her hand. She explained that she was a public speaker and had written the book to boost her credibility. Then she offered her book to me as a gift.

“Wow! Congratulations,” I said. “Writing a book is a lot of work. Not many people do that. Does it help you get more speaking engagements?”

Her beaming smile disappeared, and she replied, “Not really. I’d hoped it would, but it hasn’t caught on yet.”

“What do you mean?”

“I send it out with my speaking proposals, and I thought it would give me an advantage and result in new business. But so far, I haven’t seen any results.”

Later, I looked through her book. The problem was obvious. The cover was pitiful; it looked like something a child had designed. When I opened it up, things got worse. She’d used an overly large, fourteen-point font for the text, perhaps to make the book longer. The copyright page was not formatted properly, and the margins in the chapters weren’t fully justified.

And then I started reading. The woman might have been a great speaker, but she couldn’t write or punctuate a clear, concise sentence. That’s okay for a draft manuscript, but this was her published book. She obviously hadn’t hired a professional editor to polish her ideas into a marketable product. So it was no surprise that the book hadn’t built her credibility. It had, in fact, killed it.

 

“It takes a lot of effort to win back credibility after having lost it so heavily.”

—Giorgio Napolitano

 

Your Book Should Enhance Your Brand, Not Distract From It

Her story is not uncommon. A lot of people give me their books, and I see these same types of serious flaws all the time. Self-publishing has opened a door, and anyone can now write and publish a book—which is a very good thing. But self-publishing doesn’t mean do-it-yourself publishing. Publishing is an industry—a very old one—and the people who are successful hire professionals who know the conventions and can help them produce high-quality products.  

We’re talking about your reputation. Everything you put in your book is either going to enhance your reputation or detract from it.

You’ve probably spent quite a bit of time and energy in your business, you deliver excellent products or services, and you want that reputation of excellence to be evident in your book. Your book should be an extension of you, an enhancement of your brand. Accept nothing less.

If you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field, increase your credibility, and attract a following, you don’t want to write a book. You want to write a top-quality book. That requires you to follow all the writing, design, and publishing conventions—which is a lot to learn.

The good news is, you don’t have to learn all these conventions. You can work with professionals like me who are deep in the publishing industry. I can walk you through all the steps, from your initial idea to your finished product, and the result will be a professional product that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best on the market.

If you or someone you know is ready to take the next step in writing a high-impact nonfiction book, please contact us today!


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Writing Your Book-The Power of We

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I don’t know if you’re a goal-setter, but I’ve become one—somewhat reluctantly. I don’t like to set goals because I don’t really want to be accountable to them. I don’t want to set a goal and fail, so I prefer just not to do it. And yet, if I don’t set goals, I don’t accomplish anything significant.  It’s the same when you write your book. It all starts with a goal.

When I first started the practice of goal-setting, I’d write down my ultimate goals and hope they’d come to fruition. But that wasn’t a realistic approach. I had to break each goal into smaller steps and execute those steps to move forward. There are tons of books on how to set goals and break them into smaller tasks, and that’s all well and good. But these resources weren’t helpful to me until I added the layer of accountability. I have to have someone to answer to.

If you want to write your book, you not only need a step-by-step plan, you also need structure and accountability. It takes a year to write a book, and it isn’t reasonable to expect that you’ll keep going and going week after week, for fifty-two weeks, without a little kick in the pants every now and then.

We’re All In This Together

Human beings are social animals, and many of us stray off the path if we get isolated from a group. We were designed to be known and to know others. The Lone Ranger, the self-made man or self-made woman, the I-did-it-my-way persona are myths. We need each other and function best in community. It’s how our brains are wired.

That’s why my Executive Group Coaching classes are so effective. Limited to ten people, a group functions as your Book Mastermind. Every person in the group starts with only one thing—an idea—and at the end of the journey, you all end up with books. It’s not only a rich experience that you share with others. It’s the power of the group that keeps you going.  

It’s the same approach that made Weight Watchers the most successful approach to long-term weight loss. Their formula is based on weekly meetings and strict accountability to the group and to the scale.

When you write your book with our Executive Group Coaching class, we follow a step-by-step process that provides accountability. It’s a weekly commitment. Each week, you have a new lesson that includes homework to complete. And each week, in a one-hour group conference call, each member reports on the progress he or she made and any roadblocks or challenges encountered. Of course, a lot of scrambling happens on days before our group coaching calls, but that’s to be expected. It’s the jolt that keeps you moving forward, step by step by step and week by week by week.

Why is accountability so effective? For me, it’s an ego thing. I simply don’t want to fail, and I certainly don’t want to fail in front of anyone else. My pride can make me push myself when my will tells me to give up.

There’s something about establishing a regular habit, a regular rhythm, that when coupled with accountability, leads us to achieve our goals. Just like I need the rhythm with my trainer, the rhythm of Executive Group Coaching is the key to finishing your book.

CrowdYou Will Never Be Less Busy

Once this habit of accountability is established, you have to protect it as if your life depends on it. Skip a couple of group coaching calls, and you’re like an ember that’s rolled out of the fire. You may think you’ll keep up with the lessons on your own but then find that there’s never a good time to watch the lessons or do the homework. Soon you’re so far behind that you rationalize that you don’t need to write your book after all—or that you’ll pick it back up again next month, next year, when you aren’t so busy.

Do you really think you’ll ever get less busy?

The members of my Executive Group Coaching classes who don’t finish are the ones who skip our weekly calls. So if you want to write your book at the end of the year, guard the time for our group coaching calls as if your book depends on it—because it does!

The group coaching calls aren’t simply for accountability; they’re fun, too. You get to know other professionals—many from outside your industry—and learn how they’re impacting the world. Some groups are international, so you may get a global perspective on your work. These weekly coaching sessions have spawned quite a number of longstanding friendships among participants.

A Mastermind functions best when all members are invested and engaged, which is why Executive Group Coaching cohorts are limited to ten. After all, you need plenty of time to talk about your writing and get feedback on your work.

The other participants give you that much-needed feedback and are the first test ground for your material. As the group bonds and you function as a Mastermind group, your confidence in your message and as an author grows. By the time your book is published, you’ll have grown your “sea legs,” so to speak, and you’ll be ready for your launch into the public sphere.

Who wouldn’t want a group to cheer you on week after week until you all have your books completed? What about you? Are you ready to write your book with a group and experience the unity, accountability, and long-lasting friendships along with having a book in your hand at the end of a year? You are important and what you have to say matters.  If so, please contact us today and we can help you take the next step!

 


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