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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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Be the Solution: Change the World With Your Book 2

Write Your Book and Be Part of The Solution This Fall

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Looking for a little motivation to write your book this Fall? 

Do you ever feel like the world has gone mad? When you turn on the nightly news it’s easy to become overwhelmed. We have so many problems, and they are so complicated that it’s hard to even define them anymore, much less solve them. We know that top-down, organizational approaches rarely fix anything and, in some cases, they make matters worse or spawn bigger problems. You may be tempted to think there are no answers.

write-your-inspirational-nonfiction-book

That’s not what I think. I firmly believe that the answers are trapped inside of people like you. You know what you’ve been through, what you’ve overcome, and what you’ve learned, but you may not realize how valuable that is. You may not know that you have an inspirational book inside of you that needs to be written.

A great inspirational book will offer real hope and real help

There are two things that people cannot live without: hope and help. But what we need is real hope and real help, not false platitudes that say, “This, too, shall pass” or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” When you open up and share your story—what you’ve been through, what you endured, what you discovered, what you survived, what you’ve developed, what you’ve learned—you offer real hope and real help to people who are looking for and longing for your answers. You impart real hope to the reader who sees you walk through adversity and come out on the other side. You offer real help as you show them the steps you took to make it through.

My job is to give everyday people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction inspirational book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society. Everything I do in my life and work is based on what I believe is my God-given purpose, which is to connect people who have solutions with people who, in some cases, are literally dying while waiting for that solution. On one hand, there are people like you who have solid solutions to the problems you’ve overcome. On the other hand are people who need your help and are seeking that solution. I’m simply the hallway that connects you.

You probably have a book inside of you but think, “I’m not a writer. I can’t do this.” Here’s what I’ve discovered: People who write nonfiction aren’t writers. They’re livers. They’ve lived through something; they’ve been through something, learned something, discovered something, developed something, and they’re busy living productive lives. They’re not writers because they’re doers, and they’re out accomplishing things. It’s time to put what you have accomplished and learned into an inspirational book that can help others be livers and doers as well.

Your legacy is about the lives you touch and the change you create. When you share what you know, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve overcome, you can make a lasting impact that extends far beyond yourself. You can change the world, one reader at a time, simply by telling your story.

write an inspirational book

Be the solution

If you or someone you know is ready to be part of the solution this Fall, please contact me today about joining our writing classes there’s still space left!


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How to Become an Author: Time Block 2

Nonfiction Writing Technique: Learn To Time Block

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Congratulations! You’re going to write your book and are ready to start. But how will you find the time? The rest of your life hasn’t changed, and your schedule was already full.

You’ve heard about The Law of Attraction, haven’t you? The Law of Attractions says that what you think about is what you attract into your life. Your dominant thoughts will find a way to manifest. When you change your thoughts, you change your life.

So what will you think about—that you’ll never get your book written or that you don’t have enough money to pursue it? Of course not!! When that nagging voice in your head says, “you’re not good enough, you’re too busy, this is too hard,” you have to knock it down. You know what I do when that voice attacks me? I stand up and shout out loud, “ STOP LYING TO ME!”

You didn’t wake up one day and say, “Oh, I think I’ll write a book now.” No—something put that seed inside you. And it’s been growing over time. This desire came from something bigger than you, and its effect will be bigger than you, too. Your message can change the world, and that’s exactly how we change the world … one reader at a time.

Life is busy, and time is precious. You’ve got work, the kids, vacation, responsibilities, blah, blah, blah. That little voice that whispers sweet defeat in your ear even before you even get started needs to be put in its place. Tell it you ARE going to do this and you DO have enough time. This is a challenge, but you’re up to it.

Time Block and Finish Your Goals

So how do you find the time to write your book? I use a method for organizing my time called Time Blocking, and it can work for you, too. When you Time Block, you divide your time into blocks so that you can use it wisely and be productive. Of course, you have to be efficient when you carve out the time for writing, which means that you take a look at EVERYTHING you do, evaluate all your responsibilities, and organize the tasks into specific blocks of time. That’s how you get everything done.

Become an author by having a time block plan

Time Blocking also means that when your calendar is set, you HONOR the calendar, that you ENFORCE the calendar, and LIVE BY the calendar. It takes discipline, but it’s very effective once you get the hang of it.

When I was first introduced to the idea of time blocking, I thought Good Grief! I’m going to have to get up at 5:00 am in order to get everything done. I’m not suggesting that your days be as long as mine are, but on the other hand, if you need to pack more in for the short term in order to can get your book written, then so be it.

Notice how I block my time. Everything is color-coded, and you can see that I devote large blocks of time to my tasks– not just fifteen minutes here or there. I organize my time so I can concentrate fully on one thing, then move on to the next.

Every week, I have to schedule a time to plan, write, deliver, and produce my classes, as well as coach my clients, so I calculate how much time I need per week for those tasks, and schedule everything in blocks throughout the week.

If you need more help, contact me for one-on-one coaching or group writer courses or sign up for my newsletter for more information, class announcements, and tips for writers.

 

 


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Nonfiction Writing Technique: Show Them the Real You

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

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

Your Audience Deserves the Real You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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Back to School: You Can Keep Writing

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

Don’t be flexible about your writing time

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

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

How can I find the right writing routine?

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

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

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Make your writing routine a priority

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

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

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

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


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Create a crystallized message 2

Nonfiction Writing Technique: Crystallize

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writing-bookWhen writing nonfiction, there are three steps that come before you actually sit down to write that will strengthen and clarify your message.

1. What’s the Purpose?

An article is not the same as a blog, is not the same as a web page. Each end product has its own purpose, and before you begin writing, you need to know the purpose of the piece.

You probably have a general idea of what you want to write, and I challenge you to distill it down to a Purpose Statement before you start. Your Purpose Statement should say, “The purpose of this (blog/article/book/web copy/marketing message) is to ___________________.

Complete that sentence. Bear in mind that it’s one sentence, not a paragraph.

Example: The purpose of this article is to inspire others to create a larger legacy through their writing.

2. Who’s the Audience?

If you don’t know your audience, it’s like playing spin-the-bottle in the dark. Don’t you want to know who you’re going kiss before you pucker up? Likewise, you need to envision your audience. What you write isn’t for everyone; it’s for a specific slice of readers.

Picture your perfect reader. What are they looking for? What’s their age, demographic, marital status? Are they male or female, conservative or liberal? How do they identify themselves? Complete this sentence: The audience for this piece is ___________________.

Example: The audience for this article is entrepreneurs who want to create a larger legacy.

3. Why the Message?

Writers not only want to be read, they want to be remembered. If your content goes in their mind but doesn’t elicit a response, then you’ve wasted your time. It will be forgotten as quickly as it was read.

You must create some type of change in the reader. How will they be different as a result of what you wrote? What change, as slight as it may be, do you want to invoke in the reader? Do you want to move them to action? Give them hope? Make them smile? Consider the end result and write down how you want your readers to be affected.

Example: This article will inspire entrepreneurs to first crystallize and then expand their message.

Now pull the three components together into a single statement.

Example: The purpose of this article is to inspire entrepreneurs to first crystallize and then expand their message, so they can create a larger legacy.

Ready, set, write.

Now that you know your audience, you can write from their perspective, not yours. What do they want to know? What information are they seeking? What new message or perspective can you deliver? Compelling content always meets the need, and your job is to deliver what the audience is seeking.

To crystallize your message, include specific content that achieves the stated purpose, nothing else. Readers absorb focused content, and everything you write should drive toward that message, that audience, that purpose, and that result.

Go BIGGER!

If you want a bigger audience, you need a bigger platform. With a little tweaking, you can extend your message and deliver it through multiple venues, like writing a book or delivering workshops, speaking engagements, and online courses. This isn’t simply an opportunity for you; it’s a service to others. When you share what you’ve learned, what you’ve developed, and what you’ve overcome, you can change the life or direction of someone else. Someone is looking for what’s hidden inside you. Whether your message is about your business, lessons you’ve learned, or about how to connect on a soul-level with your dog, if you have a passionate solution, someone else needs it!

Your legacy is about the lives you touch and the change you create. When you share what you know, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve overcome, you can make a lasting impact that extends far beyond yourself.

What about you? Are you ready to take the next step and learn how to crystallize your message in your book? Contact us today and we can help you take the next step!


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Learn From Other Successful Nonfiction Authors

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As a nonfiction book coach with over 25 years of experience, I admit that I didn’t get to where I am today on my own. I’ve learned from the best mentors early in my career and am fortunate to have wise teachers in my life still today. As an aspiring author, one of the best things you can do is to learn from other successful nonfiction authors. Their experience, style, successes, and failures are all worth studying as you work on your book.

Meet Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is a nonfiction author who has written books to share his knowledge, experience, and expertise. Gladwell has written 5 books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Outliers: The Story of Success, What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.

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Gladwell’s style proves that nonfiction authors can be just as entertaining and riveting as novelists. His well-researched books present information in an easy-to-digest manner so that readers can dive into a topic they may not have explored previously. When asked about his writing process, Gladwell said, “I have two parallel things I’m interested in. One is, I’m interested in collecting interesting stories, and the other is I’m interested in collecting interesting research. What I’m looking for is cases where they overlap” (Source)

Background

Gladwell was born to a Jamaican-born psychotherapist (Joyce Gladwell) and English-born mathematician (Graham Gladwell). He spent his childhood hanging around his father’s office at the University of Waterloo and considers his mother his role model as a writer. However, his early love of reading and books did not lead to a particularly successful college career; his undergraduate grades were not high enough to get him into graduate school. Gladwell has no problem admitting his flaws and failures and talks openly about how his failures have given him the insight and material he needs to write.

Learn from an incredibly successful nonfiction author

It’s always great to see authors helping authors. Gladwell is not shy about discussing his writing methods, how he deals with writer’s block, and how he uses public speaking to promote himself and his books. In this podcast episode he discusses everything from his morning routine to the advice he would give his 30-year-old self. Set aside some time to listen to a bestselling nonfiction author share his wisdom and advice for aspiring authors!

“For every hour I spend writing, I spend three hours thinking about writing.”

 This quote from Gladwell says so much about the writing process. Writing is not just about putting words on paper or a screen, it’s about putting serious thought into what it is you want to say and how you can communicate that message through the art of writing.

Learn from other authors and find the writing process that works for you! Contact us today and we can help you take the next step in writing your book!


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Nonfiction Writing Tip: Use Sensory Language

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Human beings are wired to respond to stories, and we remember things that have an emotional impact on us. Think about it. We can watch an emotionally charged story on the news and remember it for weeks or even months. The same is true when writing a book. When you write your book, there’s a nonfiction writer tool you can use to impact the reader. It affects them on an emotional level, so they will remember what they read.

How do you do that? Well, it’s not so complicated. One way to impact your reader is to bring them in close, to make them feel like they’re right there in the room with you. You do that by creating scenes that use the nonfiction writer tool of sensory language.

Sensory language as a nonfiction writer tool

Sensory language is just what it sounds like – it’s the language of our five senses. When you use sensory language, you describe what you saw, felt, heard, tasted, and smelled. You don’t write, “I was sad when my girlfriend left me.” You write, “When she told me she was leaving, she smiled as she whispered the words, ‘I’m leaving you.’ My throat clamped tight. I blinked hard, so I wouldn’t cry, but one hot tear fell and salted my upper lip.”

In this passage, you find four of the five senses: She told me–hearing; throat clamped tight and hot tear–feeling; she smiled–sight; she whispered–hearing; salted my upper lip–taste. The only sense not included is the sense of smell.

Sensory language punches up your writing and engages the reader. It breaks up the monotony and helps the reader to visualize the scene, so they can experience it.

Before and After

Take a look at the two passages below, and notice how sensory language makes a difference.

1. Becky called me and said that something terrible had just happened. She wanted to talk about it, so I asked her to meet me at the grill on the ground floor of my building. It was almost noon, and I was hungry, so I asked her if she wanted something to eat.

Compare that to:

2. “The police just barged in my house,” Becky said. “It was raining, and their boots tracked bits of grass and mud all over my white carpet. Didn’t even bother to wipe their feet. It’s like they used my carpet as a door mat. There were six of them.”

A piece of red hair – I Love Lucy red hair – escaped from behind her ear, and she slicked it back without taking a breath. My watch beeped twelve o’clock, but she yammered on. The grilling onions made my stomach lurch. I hadn’t eaten breakfast.

“Wow,” I said. “I’m so sorry. Can I get you something to eat? I could use a bite myself, and maybe that would make you feel better.”

Her head banged down on the table, and she hiccuped massive sobs. “What do you think I am, a twelve-year-old?” she sputtered. “It’s not like a snack can make me all better!”

Sensory language is a nonfiction writer tool that is easy to incorporate. All you have to do is describe what you hear, what you smell, what you see, what you feel, and what you taste. Drop those elements in a scene and watch your writing come alive!

What about you? Are you ready to put sensory language to work? 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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Writing A Book: Don’t Make These Mistakes

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I own a professional publishing company and receive numerous submissions each year from writers who want to be published. I strictly work with nonfiction, so the manuscripts are usually from non-professional writers who have experienced or learned something that will either save lives, change lives, or transform society. As founder of The Book Professor, I created a program that takes aspiring authors who have no writing skills all the way to their first book within one year.

I do, however, also work with those who have written a book on their own without our program and sometimes agree to review their manuscript for publishing.  Unfortunately, this is where the challenge begins. Here are ten common mistakes that send their work to my recycling bin:

1. They think they have a great idea.

Before you start writing, make sure you have an original idea. How do you do that? Research, research, research! Read other books in the same genre and on the same topic, and if you find that your message has already been delivered, then save yourself the time and aggravation of writing a book. Better yet, find your unique angle and write to that perspective.

2. They love their own writing.

Seasoned authors know the value of outside criticism and will seek it at every opportunity. Amateur writers think that if they scored well in high school English, they’re good writers and don’t need any feedback. That’s a big mistake. You’re probably not as good as you think you are, and neither am I. An overconfident attitude produces the kind of sloppy writing I toss aside.

3. They think writing will be easy.

Writing isn’t easy and it never has been. It’s a hard discipline and very few can hack it. If it were easy, you would have already written your book! No one has ever accidentally written a book, and neither will you. You must create disciplined deadlines and be accountable to them. Write all the time; practice makes perfect. As Agatha Christie said, “Write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.”

4. They don’t know how to start a book.

Think about how you would start any multi-layered project, like building a house. You’d start with a plan wouldn’t you? Your book project should also begin with a plan that you can execute, which will carry you from concept to cover. You must know what you’re trying to accomplish in order to hit the goal. Begin by answering these foundational questions, then write a book that’s targeted to your answers.

  • What purpose will the book serve?
  • How is it different from other books published on this same subject?
  • What is the main theme of your story? Secondary themes?
  • What new information or angle does your story present that hasn’t already been heard?
  • Why will people want to read this story?
  • Who is your audience? Define your primary and secondary markets.
  • How will this work impact that audience?
  • What change do you want to invoke in the reader?
  • Why would others recommend this book to others?
  • Finish the sentence: “The purpose of this book is to ­­­­­­­­___________________.”
  • Who would you like to endorse your book? Another expert in the field? A celebrity? Figure that out, then write the kind of book that person would endorse.

5. They don’t exhaust the language or expand their style.

Readers appreciate a varied vocabulary, but are impatient with the repetition of words, phrases, and sentence structure. Be sure that your writing is interesting, that there’s a mixture of sentence styles, that you’ve employed active language, and that your verbs are sharp and distinctive. Language matters.

6. They don’t understand grammar and punctuation.

You may not understand the rules of grammar and punctuation, but that doesn’t mean that others don’t. They do, and they’ll spot your mistakes in a flash. There are strict rules for both grammar and punctuation, and you better sharpen those skills if you don’t want to be dismissed.

7. They won’t invest.

So maybe you’re not good at grammar and punctuation? Hire an editor. Not sure if there are mistakes in your manuscript? Hire a proofreader. If you want to self-publish, then hire a professional cover designer and interior designer. Just because you can do everything yourself, that doesn’t mean you should. This is a specialized, professional industry, and you should work with professionals.

8. They trust the opinions of their friends.

Friends and family are great, but they have limitations when it comes to offering you objective feedback. When it comes to writing a book, their opinion doesn’t count. They are inexperienced, care too much about your feelings, and may only tell you what you want to hear. Seek an outside opinion from a professional editor who is trained to critique writing. But brace yourself—this could hurt! Be eager to make the necessary changes to meet professional standards.

9. They don’t know how to end the book.

Your opening line is important, but the ending can make or break a book. How and where do you stop? Decide if you want to tie your story in a neat bow or allow it to continue. Write three or four endings, then choose the one that is most satisfying. Moreover, be sure to tie up loose strings on all subplots, and revisit those foundational questions to be sure you’ve accomplished your stated goals.

10. They are in a hurry.

Amateur authors often set unreasonable deadlines, then latch onto them for dear life. Come hell or high water, they’re going to get their book finished by Christmas, or their birthday, or by any other manufactured deadline that has nothing to do with the book itself. Know this: by the time you’re in the home stretch, you’re going to be sick of your book. You may even hate it. But that doesn’t mean that you push it out the door just to get rid of it. Pull back and be thorough with every edit, with every research item, with every jot and tittle. Exercise a firm discipline and slow down, so you can produce a professional and polished manuscript and become an author, not merely a writer.

What about you? Are you ready to submit your manuscript? Or, do you have an idea but aren’t sure how to get started?  No matter where you are in your journey, we can help. Contact us today and we can help you take the next step!


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