In sports, players rely on a coach to organize the team, motivate them, understand which members are the better players, and inspire them to perform to their best ability.
Today, the field of coaching has exploded. There are life coaches, business coaches, executive coaches, career coaches, financial coaches, personal coaches, health coaches, dating coaches, and, of course, writing coaches. And the list goes on. Despite the field, coaching facilitates psychological, emotional, or mental growth. In other words, you go to a coach to improve something: personal relationships, weight loss, financial status, business growth, how you write.
Coaching helps you utilize your skills and talents and hone them, refine them, improve them so you can reach your goals. Think of Cinderella with her fairy godmother. After hours of directing mice and birds and other animals to stitch a new dress and gather vegetables (aka coaching), she waved her magic wand and Cinderella had a new gown, slippers, footmen, and a beautiful coach (the grand result).
Coaches use their own magic to inspire you with the task at hand. They do this through a combination of tools and techniques. For example, you can probably open a bank account on your own. But you might need a coach to plan your financial retirement goals. Or you may not have any trouble writing a short story. But expanding that short story into a book may feel so intimidating you don’t even try.
Coaches are experts in their particular fields. Imagine your favorite teacher combined with your favorite relative. You want someone who will stretch your boundaries and push you to do your best. Someone who’s supportive and encouraging, who knows how to praise you for a job well done and make you believe in yourself when you feel like a failure.
Don’t settle for just an okay coach. Visualize this person in living Technicolor. What is her personality? Is she soft-spoken or authoritative? Does she sit on the sidelines or is she right there with you, helping you over the rough spots? When you know what you want you’ll be able to attract that kind of person to you. One who not only matches your writing needs, but someone who’s also a match for your heart. How does it work?
Coaching teaches you the tools to tackle the problem. If you have trouble with noun-verb agreement, understand the basics with exercises. If your descriptions crawl instead of gallop, explore words that give your story energy and enthusiasm. If your characters are too weak, use a GMC chart (goal, motivation, and conflict) to create more tension.
When I first started taking writing classes, I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work. Go through my entire manuscript and look for scenes that don’t work? You’ve got to be kidding. Search for all the times I used the word “smile” and rewrite or rephrase those sentences to avoid repetition? I think I’ll pass.
I rarely did the work in my early classes, preferring to skim over the parts I felt were unnecessary. And my writing showed it. When I finally learned that work = lessons learned, my writing improved. Dramatically.
As with any skill, the key is practice. Even professional writers take classes and improve over time. Writing is about sharing yourself—the deep inner you—with the world. When you use those skills to write from the heart, you inspire others.
Words are my passion and I love helping people excel. Like the fairy godmother that delighted in assisting Cinderella, it’s extremely rewarding for me to see the joy on my clients’ faces when they hold their finished books. Schedule
a complimentary consultation to find out how my coaching services can help you.
Who's writing your story? You or your characters? Author Kim Boykin's characters have minds of their own.
Read more here.
From the beginning of time, storytellers have enthralled audiences with tales of adventure, romance, courage, and triumph. People love stories. They’re curious about each other. Your friends want to know how you found Mr. Right.
Your business associates want to learn your secret to success. Your family wants to help you over your heartache and heartbreak and celebrate the good times.
Everybody has a story. Have you struggled to find work and finally landed the job of your dreams? That’s a story. Were you stuck in bad relationships for years before you learned how to attract the right person? That’s a story. Did you always want to write a book but lacked confidence until you found someone who inspired you to take action? That’s a story.
The power of stories is their ability to teach and inspire. Heroes inspire others with their courage. Think of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Mahatma Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr. They believed in the power of dreams and helped make our world a better place. Or William Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll. Their writing has shaped the minds of students for years and inspired many to become authors.
Stories share common themes. You’re not alone in the world. You’re not the only one who searches for a dream career. You’re not the only one who desperately wants the love of your life. And you’re certainly not the only one who wants to make a million dollars. Everyone wants to love and be loved. Good relationships are a common goal. So are having a comfortable life and making a difference.
If your story talks about one or all of those things then you have something in common with other people. People reading your story feel a connection to you, to the things you’ve experienced. Your story has universal appeal. With universal appeal your story can reach hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. But how do you put that in your book, especially if you’re writing nonfiction?
Spicing It Up
Nonfiction books can seem dry. Too technical. Just page after page of detail. It’s important to share information with your readers. And there’s a way to make that information more interesting.
You do it with personal stories.
Suzy had a great idea for a book to help people with relationship problems. She’d been in and out of bad relationships for over 10 years and finally found the man of her dreams. But she didn’t know how to start writing. Every time she tried to write she froze. She’d start a sentence then erase it. Start again and write a couple lines and decide to change direction. After fifteen minutes of this she wanted to tear up the paper and she’d done this for several days. She was in tears when we met and ready to give up hope.
I had her take several deep breaths to calm her down then I asked her to tell me how she met her current husband. Her eyes brightened, her slumped shoulders straightened, and her whole body radiated purpose. She was relaxed, passionate, and on a mission. When she finished her story, I told her, “Start with what you know. Start with the story of how you met your husband.”
The last two paragraphs are a personal story. They’re not about details or technicalities. They don’t tell you about sentence structure or character development. They talk about a personal struggle and how a shift or victory was reached. Suzy was inspired when she left her coaching session and she was able to go home and write. You want your stories to inspire people, to show them a way out of their struggle, to let them know someone has been successful and they can be too.
The next time you write, include a personal story. What happened to you? What struggle did you
overcome? What personal stories can you share?
What do you do with all the thoughts that run through your mind? Do you shrug them off? Or do you write them down? Anita Paul, founder of The Write Image, believes journaling can be an important tool for book writing. Read what she has to say.
Journaling has been in existence since ancient times. Perhaps the ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Chinese scribes didn’t call it journaling, but that’s what they were doing. They were recording the thoughts, emotions, and events of the time and reporting on how those things affected individuals and the group as a whole. Those talented "journalers" wrote what has become the history of their civilizations. They told of the episodes of their daily lives. Sometimes, they even jotted down the ramblings of a prophet or two who foretold the future of their societies.
Fast forward to the present, and here you are, pen in hand, journal at your fingertips, mind completely blank. You live life every day, so why would you need to write down the experiences you have, the thoughts you think, the emotions you feel? It’s all up to you. People journal for a variety of reasons.
Journaling is more than just writing down words. It is a way to express yourself, to connect with your thoughts, to discover your desires, to dream. And for those who have the courage to take it one step further, it is a framework for your book. You have a story that needs to be told, and you should be the one to tell it. Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a writer, but that doesn’t mean your story should be kept on the shelf of your mind, never to be shared with the world. Your memoir, autobiography, or how-to book is a gift to the world.
You know things that others need to know. You’ve experienced things, learned lessons, developed wisdom, and enhanced your knowledge. You’ve gained expertise and implemented ideas. There are millions of people who want and need to know what you know. Use your journal to find your voice, develop your story, and practice the skill of writing.
My first advice to you is to journal with a purpose. Decide what you want to accomplish with your journal and what it will represent to you. Here are some objectives for starting a journal and keeping it going as you evolve, grow, and discover yourself:
• Self-examine, self-reflect, self-project, self-discover
• Identify your strengths
• Address your past and your present and how they impact your future
• Examine your fears, joys, and dreams
• Discover your expertise
• Heal from hurts, abuse, shame, guilt, missed opportunities, mistakes, and embarrassments
• Reveal your loves, desires, and what brings you joy
• Release negative thoughts and feelings
• List your accomplishments
• Affirm yourself
• Get in touch with your feelings
• Realize your daily thoughts
• Describe and create your future
• Create a framework for your memoir, autobiography, or how-to book
Let your journaling flow, but always journal with a purpose ... and most of all, journal with the goal of producing the book of your life that you’ll be proud of.
When was the last time you journaled as an adult?
[Excerpted from the book, Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, by Anita Rochelle.]
Life occurs chronologically. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening. We have regular cycles and seasons. We know what to expect.
But not for author Kate Atkinson. Her characters constantly cycle through death and rebirth, trying to get it right at long last.
Is this a gift? Or a curse? See what she has to say about her book Life After Life
What if there were 3 easy ways to start writing a book? Would you start?
Over 200 million people want to write a book. But only a few million books are published. Maybe you’ve read a great story and you think you could write one too. Maybe you’ve gone through a life-changing experience and you’d like to share this with the world. Having the desire to write is a great place to begin.
So what’s the catch? Why aren’t more people writing?
Famous authors hand out wonderful advice. Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) tells us to keep the pen moving across the page. Don’t put it down. This will keep your thoughts flowing. Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) believes in journaling 3 pages every morning. This overcomes your inner critic and makes writing a habit. Maya Angelou writes even “boring and awful stuff” to convince
her muse to come out of hiding. Other authors approach writing like a job: they write every day for a certain number of hours, as if they were on a time clock at work.
But what if those routines don’t work for you? What if you think you need a really good idea?
I’ve had ideas for great books. I keep a list of them on my computer. Not just little notes in a drawer but actual pages of writing. I’m up to 20 novels. Some of them I finished but my writing skills were poor and those books will never be published. Last year I completed a novel that I’m sending out to agents. And the rest? They’re collecting dust in the library in the sky, that final gathering place for all unused ideas.
Are your ideas collecting dust? Being eaten by moths? Are the waves of time slowly eroding the foundation until you’re left with nothing but a whisper?
Don’t let that happen to you.
Here are three ways to get started writing:
1. Start where you are
2. Don’t worry about how much you write
3. Just start
Start where you are
If you’re worried that you don’t know how your book begins or ends, that’s okay. Start where you are. Whatever idea you have is the perfect place to begin. Some writers, the really organized ones, use outlines and stick to those outlines to create structure and chapters and scenes. These people are called plotters. Other authors write by the seat of their pants. They’re called pantsers. Both ways are acceptable. Both ways work. If outlines help you think more clearly, use an outline. If you’d rather see where your thoughts take you, go with the flow.
So open up your journal or pull up a blank page on your computer, and write.
Don’t worry about how much you write
“But what if I don’t have enough to say?” several clients have asked.
You don’t have to say a lot. In high school I fretted over not being able to fill a blue book. I watched students scribble page after page while I sat there frozen on my first paragraph. I still get stopped by a failure to expound, especially when I compare myself to authors with the gift of gab. But eventually
I realize I’m okay. I write short scenes. Many of my chapters are 3 pages long. And those 3 pages are great.
Write what you have to say. Whatever it is. However long it is. This is about you, not someone else. Joe Vitale published a book called Life’s Missing Instruction Manual: The Guidebook You Should Have Been Given at Birth. It’s all of 176 pages (short) and made up of essays. Some of the essays are a page or more, but many of them are a paragraph. One paragraph. So don’t use other people’s guidelines for your writing.
Procrastination can mean the difference between success and failure. I’m a great procrastinator. My excuse for not writing is that I’m not inspired. And if I’m not inspired, the writing doesn’t flow. Who wants to write uninspired drivel? I don’t. I’m waiting for my muse to kick in, for my angelic writing committee to strike up the heavenly choir and inundate my brain and fingers with rhapsodic, melodic phrases. That’s the way to write.
When I’m not in that space I get sulky, frustrated, lethargic, and blocked. All I see is the blank wall. There’s no way past that. At least, that’s what I believe in the moment. The truth is, there is a way. I “decide” I’m going to write. I sit in front of my computer and I pull up a blank page. I put my fingers on the keyboard. And I start writing.
I just start.
There you are. Three easy ways to get started writing. What are you waiting for?
Growing up I read all kinds of stories and never bothered with point of view. I didn’t care who was telling the story, just as long as the story was well told. When I started writing, when I decided to become an “author,” I used multiple narrators, the same way the authors did in the stories I had read. My critique group frowned on that. A serious mistake. Stick to one point of view, the writers informed me. So I did, with grave concern and earnest effort. And in my zeal, I passed along my newly imparted information to others until I became an expert on point of view, catching all kinds of hints and nuances that suggested omniscient and transforming them into singular viewpoints.
All was well, I thought, until it came time to offer up my own writing to the masses. Before I queried agents I studied newly published authors and what did I find? Horror of horrors, many of them are writing in omniscient point of view. But how can this be? Don’t they know it’s wrong? Has the world turned sideways and backwards and upended on its ear?
The answer (to paraphrase Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing) is:
Sigh some more, ladies, sigh some more;
Authors are deceivers ever;
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
I recently finished reading The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow, a debut novel by Rita Leganski, which combines a unique and imaginative story with lush words and lavish descriptions that will soothe you, excite you, and draw you in from the very first line. And she uses the omniscient point of view. Darn her anyway. But the story was so good I didn’t care.
So what have I learned? Maybe omniscient isn’t so bad after all. Maybe omniscient has a place in writing. Maybe I should be a little less judgmental and a little more accepting.
How do you write? Do you use singular or multiple points of view? Do you care? Would you avoid reading a book because of the author’s choice?
Let me know what you think. All opinions welcome.
Last year, 182 million viewers watched 456.6 million content videos—a number that continues to escalate in 2013.
Take advantage of this video craze by creating a video to promote your book—keeping in mind the short attention span of those who will see your video. The completion rate for watching a 30-second video is close to 90 percent, but it drops to barely more than 50 percent if the video is two minutes.
You’ll only have six or seven frames in a 30-second video. Be sure to feature a specific benefit your book offers and encourage viewers to buy.
Here’s what you need to start:
• Your book cover (graphic files should be jpg or png formats)
• Your author photo
• An interesting visual element from your book— maybe an interior photo or a graphic that is used throughout
• Call to action (where to buy your book)
• Short statement of why someone would read this book
• A descriptive comment or benefit
Next, go to Animoto.com and set up an account. You’ll need an account even if you are using their free service. With the free option, you will get a url link after clicking “produce” to finalize your video. This link can be posted on your website and on your social media networks. NOTE: if you want to download the actual video file to post in your YouTube channel, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the paid service options.
1. Click the “Create” button on the top right.
2. This takes you to the window where you choose a style for your video. (You can also change your style at any time before you produce your video.)
3. A window will appear with a button that says “Purchase video” and below that is a live link that says “or make a 30-second video for free.” Click on the free video link. This will take you to a new window.
4. On the far left is a vertical bar with links for Change Style, Add Pics & Vids, Add Text.
5. Click “Add Pics” to upload your graphic elements.
6. Click “Add Text” to type in descriptions, blurbs, and the website where your book can be purchased. (With 40 characters available in the title and 50 characters in the subtitle of each text box, you have VERY limited character counts—adjust your wording to fit.)
7. Graphics and text will show as boxes in the horizontal bar to the right as you add them. You can click and drag the boxes to arrange the order of images and text.
8. At the top of the horizontal bar, is a musical note symbol and the name of a song. Click on the song name to choose a different song from the Animoto music library.
9. Once your items are arranged, click the “preview video” in the lower left corner.
10. After watching the preview, click the live link that says “or continue editing” if you want to revise something before you produce. When you are happy with the order and content of your video, click the button that says “Skip & Produce.”
11. After you click the button to produce, a window will appear with links to share your video. You’ll also receive an email with share info as well.
12. Promote your video and ask your contacts to share with their friends.
If you can’t fit your key elements into the 30-second format, the Plus level on Animoto is only $30 for the year which allows you to create longer videos. With this upgrade level, you can also download your completed video files.
If you want to make changes after you have clicked the produce button, you need to go to the “my videos” link at the top of the home page. Click on the gray circle at the bottom right of your video
and choose “edit a copy.” This will give you a duplicate file that can now be edited.
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!
Here is a link to my 30-second trailer for The 28-Day Thought Diet
and one for Publishing as a
. Create your own book video and tag me when you post your video on Facebook or Twitter.http://animoto.com/play/VPadqpZPO5rmoRbIXKPcMghttp://animoto.com/play/YP54GKigt9r4OajH00vTLQVanessa Lowry is a marketing consultant, graphic designer, author, radio host and speaker. She leverages nearly 30 years of design and marketing expertise to support book authors who are self publishing. Her books, including The 28-Day Thought Diet and Publishing as a Marketing Strategy are available at www.connect4leverage.com.
@VanessaLowry or Facebook.com/Vanessa.Lowry
photo by patrimonio designs
How do you push yourself over that large, looming writer's speed bump?
Many of us have trouble with words - find the right ones, making sure they make sense, arranging them in a pleasing and exciting manner. But what if you need to make your piece longer and you don't know how?
Writer Amy Sue Nathan (her debut novel "Glass Wives" comes out in May) describes her experience and how she found the answer. Read her article HERE.
Easter is a time to celebrate rebirth. Rejuve-nation. The possibility of life and growth. Spring is here, according to the calendar (though many of us are still experiencing winter), and bulbs are blossoming, buds are budding, green shoots are shooting (hmm, there’s probably a better word choice). Just think the tender, delicate green of new beginnings.
How are you beginning? Have you laid the groundwork for your new book? Have you explored the possibilities of your idea? Have you started writing?
A woman at a recent networking event asked me how I came up with my story ideas and the question so surprised me my mind stumbled. Everyone has story ideas, I thought. Ideas are easy. Making something out of them is the difficult part. I tried to explain to her that ideas whisper through the air like a gentle breeze and you collect them as you would fireflies. I told her ideas come from life experience, from reading books, from conversation with your friends and family, from television and movies, from magazines, from poetry. Everything has the potential for an idea. It’s the writer’s imagination that makes the connection and turns the words or pictures into something worth telling, something exciting, something moving.
Later I realized that writers have ideas the way engineers dream bridges, accountants plan financial budgets, mathematicians prove theories, pharmacists create medical solutions. People in different occupations reach for different goals, but the creative process lies within us all. Writers charm words the way a chef coaxes food. A little simmering, some tenderizing, sweet words, and a dash of passion, and eventually the work is the way you want it.
As you celebrate Easter tomorrow, open your mind to your idea(s). Let them flow. Give them space to breathe. Nourish them as you would a new plant. Renewal is in the air. Soon your ideas will sprout leaves, then buds, then flower into the maturity of a full-blown tale. Write them down, wherever they take you.
Don’t fall prey to your inner critic. Personalized coaching can help you make the most of your ideas. This is the time of exploration. Gently push aside those negative thoughts and contact firstname.lastname@example.org
for guidance on your path.
Photo credit: Rose Hayes