Challenging the Writer Inside

I’m a very big fan of a great writer named Richard Webster, who is well known for his 2000 words a day story.  In short, he visited the home of a famous author many years ago, and read on a plaque that this author was himself famous for a discipline of writing a minimum of 1000 words per day.    However, Richard mis-read the plaque and thought it was 2000 per day and so committed himself to that level of output then and has maintained that ever since.   With more than 150 books in his catalog so far, that’s a process that has certainly worked well for him.

I’ve been fortunate to have met and talked with Richard Website on many occasions and have been inspired by his books often.    But I am also greatly inspired by this commitment to being a writer and try to always work in 2000 word sessions.   However, having last month committed to the NaNoWriMo challenges (National November Writing Month which is actually International these days)  I learned a few hard truths about my own writing ability – mostly that:

  1. I can write to a deadline – even really big ones like 50,000 words in one month.
  2. If I write to such a deadline I can encourage my writing muscles to grow and grow…
  3. There’s no such thing as Writer’s Block when you just write – regardless of what you write at times.
  4. Starting and finishing a whole novel in 30 days is an extraordinary thing to do – and I know my writing in general improved from the exercise.

Your writing gets better the more you write.   The more you work with Editors, the better your own style and technical skills improve.  And the ability to trust the words to flow is great – for works of Fiction – but that Non-Fiction is a totally different thing.

Non-Fiction requires more structure, planning, and yet just as much research, editing and polishing goes into both.

I had tried a ‘write 3000 words every day for a month back in March and certainly got a lot out of that too,   And sometimes, as a ghost writer I get to exercise my abilities to write in other voices, increase my interview and research skills, and learn about new and interesting subjects.

What ever you do, as a writer, if you are able to keep sharpening that saw you owe it to yourself to do so,   Regardless of whether you are a full time writer or someone who writes blogs weekly for yourself or a company you work for.    But what does it really take to do this?

  1. Decide the best time of day for you to write.
  2. Have a list of topics, ideas, and resources you can access easily.
  3. Set your alarm for regular breaks, but always ensure that whatever you say you’re going to do, do it.

If you cheat yourself on that last one you’re going to have to keep making up lost time.   For example, last week I had two days where I had to write 5000 words a day – just to come in at the finish line.   Those were hard days in many ways.  Nothing much else got done – and I was mentally tired.  BUT, I did it.   And – I was able to therefore fully appreciate the need to write my 2000 word chunks every time I sat to write.    And those chunks flowed so much more easily.

Next year, what are your goals, deadlines, and personal challenges as an author.  One book or three?   When are you starting, and when are you launching?   Why not post your objectives for the year in our FaceBook Group and let us all in this community help you remain accountable to yourself.

If you’re not yet part of our FB Group – check out the group here.   And if you need any other guidance and help for your book projects in 2019, don’t wait until then to start – talk to me know if you need some encouragement, mentoring, or hands on guidance.

 

NaNo-2018-Winner-Certificate

How Does Reading Help Improve Imagination?

Apart from gaining a lot of enjoyment, readers know how fulfilling it is to be transported into the imaginary world between the pages of a good work of fiction. Also, educators and brain scientists are aware of the importance of reading in the development of the brain and the imagination. In a study, neuroscientists in the US (at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia) found that reading fiction improves brain function and connectivity(1).

Reading also improves a reader’s imagination in a way that’s like ‘muscle memory’ in physical activity such as dancing and sport (when a muscle movement is practised over time, it creates a long-term muscle memory, allowing the task to be performed without conscious effort). The scientists also found that while totally focused on reading a novel, readers could forget mundane problems and let their imaginations soar. Brain networks can be reconfigured for days and this may help shape a child’s brain.

Why is Imagination So Important?

Famous physicist Albert Einstein thought imagination was more important than knowledge because someone with a good imagination had the ability to find new discoveries and to create. Scientists and educationists now know that reading can broaden the imagination by stimulating the right side of the brain, literally opening up a person’s mind to new ideas and possibilities. Reading also helps us to analyse and experience the world through the lives of others, whether they’re fictional characters or ‘real’ (some would argue that even real-life stories are fictional but it’s too deep a subject for this article).

What Other Areas Are Enhanced by Reading?

Along with the relaxation that goes hand-in-hand with getting lost in a good book, reading non-fiction works on subjects that fascinate you can bring immense tranquility, which helps the mind and the body. Tensed up muscles are relaxed and pain can be eased as a result. Successful cognitive skills are made possible by imagination and reading provides food for and improves the imagination. We all have stressors in life, from relationships, work, family, or health problems, but it can all just fade away as you delve into an engaging work of fiction. Reading also provides you with knowledge, which is something nobody can take from you. Continue reading

What Are the Benefits of Free Writing And Its Process?

What Are the Benefits of Free Writing And Its Process?

Here is a scenario every writer is familiar with.

You want to keep working on an established project, or maybe you want to try out a new idea. You’re in your preferred writing spot, and there are no distractions. All you’ve got to do is start writing.

But you just can’t get the words down on the page.

Many people call this condition writer’s block. Others talk about feeling too burned out to come up with anything new. For some writers, the problem comes from anxiety or from becoming overwhelmed.

Whatever the source of the problem, there is an approach that can help. Let’s talk about free writing, and why many non-fiction authors use it regularly.

What Exactly Is Free Writing?

This prewriting method has been popular since the 1970s. It’s well-loved because there is no wrong way to do it.

The idea is to keep writing for a set amount of time, with no regard for quality.

The most important part of free writing is that you’re not allowed to stop. Just write down whatever comes into your head, even if it’s not connected to the rest of your text.

Of course, the resulting material can’t always be used. Many writers will end up with incoherent text that they can’t edit into shape. Your goal with this exercise isn’t to add to your project, but simply to write.

So How Is This Different from Brainstorming?

When you brainstorm, you can write down ideas in the form of bullet points. You may choose to write down a series of words that will inspire you later.

Free writing is more complex than that. Your goal is to write in full sentences and paragraphs.

These don’t have to be grammatically correct. But free writing is supposed to mimic the process of linear writing. Abandoning sentences will make it less effective.

Why Is This Useful?

Here is a handful of ways that free writing can improve the quality of your work. Continue reading

The RIGHT book at the RIGHT time, for the RIGHT readers…

I was talking today with someone about writing a book about a tough subject, but one that could have lasting positive – and maybe a few negative – repercussions.  For her, writing the right book, at the right time for the right readers, means a book that gets attention.  A book that inspires change.   A book that is hard to walk away from.  It’s about writing what needs to be written – and sometimes it’s not always the one you think is burning to be written.

Last week, over brunch on a Sunday morning, I talked this over with another author I’d worked with last year, who mentioned that her business coach discussed this with her, and they both agreed, that her first book was the one that has had the most impact, and means that her next book – the one she originally thought she should start with – will have a lot more impact.

You see, you have to be willing to put it out there as to why what you want to say  what matters.   If you just focus on sharing the wisdom without the story that goes behind your gaining that wisdom, it’s potentially not going to have the same levels of connection for the reader.  Readers like to know that you have the right to share and give advice.

About 20 years ago, I was adviced by a colleague to read Anita Broddicks book about The Body Shop.   He felt that because she was a dynamic woman in business, and he viewed me as having similar potential perhaps, that I’d get a lot out of it.   As I respected him and his views, I brought the book and ploughed slowly through it.  Then decided never to read it again.   She was not a single mother, working like a trojan to raise kids, pay the bills, survive the chaos and loneliness  of an existence that I was enduring at the time.   Her kids had grown, she had a husband, and money to put into her dreams.  All things that were unrelatable for me.   I wanted inspiration from someone that had walked my journey, and could give me hope that I’d survive beyond next month.

If you wish to inspire, provoke, lead changes, become a recognised author-ity in any area, you have to earn the right to the respect of your readers, your fans, to ensure that they get who you are and why they should care about what you’re banging on about.

It really is that simple.

So how do you know if what you want to write is the right book for now, for what you want to achieve?

First, identify what it is that you are really aiming for.  It may not be quite what you think.  For example:  If you’re going to write about leadership, how can you demonstrate that you get the kind of leadership that YOUR readers want to learn about?  Ahh, so who are those readers?  The real first step is to identify them.

I’m currently about to launch ‘That Sex Book’.   It’s a sassy little number about having great relationships, dating, and excellent sex for over 50 year olds.  It’s for predominantly straight single women, aged 50 – 75.  It’s intended to give hope, discuss ideas, and share some of the funny and interesting stories about these three things.   Yes, married people will maybe read it too, and so might some from the LGBT Community.  Some men will also read it, I’m sure of that.   But the people most likely to buy it and read it and share it are those outlined above.  So I’ve ensured that as I’ve written it, I’ve kept Sally, the 55 year old, sassy attractive, single for the last two years, friend in mind.    I’ve also considered that Janet, my married for 40 years, still sexually active friend is also going to enjoy reading it, and might share it with her husband who will laugh and perhaps recommend it to his best mate too.

I’m possibly going to be asked by any interviewers why I have not gone into more detail about some aspects of sexuality for the LGBT Community but quite simply, that’s both not my primary market and also it’s a demographic I have very limited personal experience with sexually.

No one said you have to write a non-fiction book that is only about facts and ideas.   You can write any kind of book you want to write, because it’s YOUR book.   You don’t get to ask a new parent why they decided to have children with blue eyes instead of brown.   It’s just how it worked out.    Write the RIGHT book at the Right time for the Right readers first.  Open them up to who you are and why you care, so they know why they should care too.

 

If you want more on how to develop this skill of the right book, right time, right readers, please check out the details for the Online Idea to Author-ity Course Here

 

Preparing Your Book for the Editing Phase

If you’re selling a car, you are likely to wash it, clear all the junk out of the boot, and wipe down the dashboard, vacum even under the seats, and ensure you’re going to get a good price for it.   If you are selling a house, then you’ll likely fix those irritating little dripping tap and sqeaky floorboards, paint the spare room, and maybe replace the curtains in a couple of rooms, right?

Why do you do this?  It’s not only because you want to present your car or house in it’s best view, but because you know those things need doing, and so you do them, because you know there’s maybe a little more money to be made by doing so.     When it comes to getting your manuscript ready for an editor to go through it, you need to think like you’re selling your house or car.  The things you know are there that need fixing and can be taken care of by you, will translate into two things:

  1. A lower fee charged by your editor for him or her not having to take care of the obvious tasks.
  2. A little more respect from your editor for your having taken the time and made the effort to present your manuscript as ready for them to work their magic.

Why are these both so important?

If you check with your editor and /or publisher before the professional editing phase about things like use of ” or ‘ to show dialogue, UK Evs US English, various spellings of some words, how they like to treat footnotes, indexing, or references etc, you are going to save perhaps hundreds of dollars invested in their time and efforts by their not having to change simple things.   Some things you can even line up on with your editor or publisher from when you start to write.   This will also save you a lot of time to get right at the start.

Your editor needs to be able to focus on the sentence structure, the content that flows, the parts that don’t work, and the things that don’t make sense.   That’s what you use an editor for.   However, every editor I know  – and I’ve worked with quite a few now –  hates having to do simple and obvious corrections all through a manuscript – it slows down the process considerably. And can be frustrating.

Having your editor respect your efforts to get your manuscript ready for them, means they are more likely to love doing your editing, and given how much reading they have to do for a living, having them love your work just makes for a better relationship all round.   And that’s worth having don’t you think?

Your editor should be part of your team – work closely with them and you’ll find your writing improves signifiantly over time too.

 

Happy Writing…

 

 

Writing in English – but what kind of English?

I’ve a personal preference for reading USA English, but grew up in New Zealand, and learned English based on the good old British based Oxford Dictionary.    Some of the forums I am actively visiting online have some interesting perspective going on around this issue as it relates to authors and what we write, and how we publish our work.   Primarily the issue of which version of English to publish in seems to be all around which country you most intend to market your work in.

If the bulk of your readers are USA based, then definitely write using USA English.  This means change most of your S’s to Z’s, lose most of your U’s, and some of your T’s.   For example:  Favourite, Omelette, and Antagonise become Favorite, Omelet, and Antagonize.   The reason for our language being so different is considered to be based on one Noah Webster’s decision once upon a time to ensure ourdifferences should be political as well as Lexically.   He went on to create the Websters Dictionary, and forced an ongoing divide in how we read and appreciate our language differently.

This means that when it comes to editing, our work as authors is a little less straightforward than we might want it to be.   This is because readers in each country have been known to be quite critical of errors in spelling when faced with too much of it.  A book that is not edited properly will be commented on, and often quite scathingly by readers.   Some will refuse to finish reading something that is too filled with errors – I have personally been known to discard a book half read due to frustration of grammar or spelling.

I believe a bigger issue comes about when one comes from places like Australasia or even other countries where English has been adapted further by locals over a number of decades and some rules apply to one style and some to another.   That’s when you get a complete mishmash of English and for many readers the inconsistency is the real problem.

What can we do about it?

Well for a start, use an editor who understands the rules, and appreciates the differences between each version of written English.  Decide which version you wish to use, and stick to that.

The value of a really good editor can not be underestimated.   While it’s more than ok for a blog to have a few errors of the grammatical variety, a book has to be better than that.   Why?  Simply because it’s going to be read by readers which nuch higher expectations of quality.  A blog is a quick item of information sharing, a book is a ‘book’ for goodness sake!   It has a longer life expectancy, and further reach than a blog.

Take the time to consider where your book is mostly going to be promoted, and decide on which version of English you will publish in based on that.   And then ensure your editor knows your intentions around this and has the skills to deliver on your expectations.

 

The Critical Need for a Marketing Plan

What else are you doing?

So you’re writing regularly, and churning out lots of great material.  BUT  don’t fool yourself into thinking that is all you need to do.   You own your topic, right?  So that means being across multiple platforms.  These include WRITING, SPEAKING, being interviewed for radio, TV, and special online opportunities.   Pod casting, blogging, Webinars, and hangouts online are all part of the business you are in.

Do you know what is missing from your current business model if you don’t have all those things covered?

A marketing plan.

A simple plan that outlines where and what you need to take action on to ensure you GET NOTICED, by your ideal market.

Where you will be, how you will present yourself, and who you will be aiming to turn on with your information.  When this will happen, and why should anyone care.   Afterall, there are hundreds ,or maybe even thousands of experts out there in your space right?  So what makes you so special.

Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Who do you know that might be willing and able to interview you?
  • How many times can you get yourself recorded on other peoples programs this year?
  • Who can you co-create or collaborate with?
  • What else do you need to do to become more highly visible?
  • What makes YOUR particular stance on your subject matter so interesting to your market?

You might also need to consider the evolving style of your brand, and what is changing about your area of expertise every year.

If you don”t yet have a solid marketing plan, with time lines, and action points, please don’t consider going anywhere, or doing anything over the Easter Break without setting aside at least a few hours to think through these key questions.   Your business needs you to maintain regular focus on your marketing, and these areas are of the greatest concern.  And you can’t just create one plan and then hope that will see you through your entire business life.   This keeps changing.  Every year.  In some companies, the marketing plan is updated every 90 days.

Someone mentioned recently that an ideal business and marketing plan that takes a 10 year view, should then be considered as a ‘why can’t we do this in six months’ objective.   Wow!  Imagine that!   Six months to achieve a 10 year goal.   Can it be done in your business? Why?  Why not? Something to ponder for sure.

Here’s the other things to consider as part of your marketing plan:

  • Do you need new tools?
  • Do you want to update your look?  Logo, marketing materials?  If not now, then when?
  • Are you networking with the right people/companies to help advance your business?
  • Are you priced appropriately for what you provide?  Can you increase this now/later?  Why, why not?
  • Are you up to date with all your options regarding technology and how you use it?  Social media?  Is FB or Twitter still as relevant for you as it used to be or has the time come to do more on Linked In or Instagram?
  • Where are your customers hanging out now? Are there new or old platforms you can explore?
  • Can you get yourself onto the speaker list for conventions and training opportunities for your industry?

I strongly recommend you tackle some of this… every year!  Not every five years, and certainly not every decade.  This is the current stuff you have to keep on top of in your business for it to thrive.

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Book Reviews – Why and How

Guest Post by Jeanne Felfe, Author of the Booklife Prize 2017 Quarterfinalist novel The Art of Healing

After you read a book, do you leave a review in at least one place: Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, B&N, Net Gallery, skywriting, etc? You can usually leave a review anywhere books are sold online, regardless of whether you bought it there. In 2015, I decided to leave at least one review for every book I read. Why? Mostly because I had to honestly ask how I could expect readers to review my books if I wasn’t willing to do the same. I keep track of the books in a simple spreadsheet—title, author, genre, date read, quick thoughts, where reviewed, and how I know the author (in real life (IRL), Facebook, signing, etc.)

Why is it important to write reviews?

Bottom line—reviews help readers decide which books to spend their money and time reading. I always read reviews prior to purchasing, especially if it’s by an author I’ve never read. Reviews provide genuine feedback that helps me allocate limited resources. By reviewing books you’ve read, you can have a direct impact on convincing others to also read it (or not). Word-of-mouth plays Continue reading

Write Your Book in 90 Days – Online Program Launch

Finally, we’re ready to launch the new How to Plan and Write your book in 90 days, using Dixie’s proven formula for authors of Non-Fiction.    This is the program where authors can work through the process I use for one-on-one planning, then writing and developing a manuscript.    Due to demand for my personal time, I just simply can’t clone myself to accommodate the demand for my time do set about last year developing this special program.

Please take  a look at this landing page – where you’ll find information about the contents of this program.

Retailing for three monthly payments of $97.50, it includes a special one-on-one coaching session with Dixie personally, to keep author’s on track.   A one-on-one coaching session is usually $250.00 – that’s a HUGE saving! 

We’ve been testing this program for months now and continually fine tuning the contents and delivery and we’re very confident that the program as a guided DIY option works really well for a fraction of what you’d pay for Dixie to personally work with you on planning, writing, and developing your Non-Fiction book.   There’s also two additional courses in development that will walk participants through the produciton and publishing phases and then the marketing, distribution and promotion phases of becoming an Author-ity Author.

Here’s some early reviews for the program:

This course is absolutely fantastic! I have utilised Dixie’s book coaching services in the past which took me from idea to a published book with excellent results. The 10 week DIY Author-ity Authors Program gives me all the tools and resources I need to take my ebook idea from concept to completion. The best part is, I can work at my own pace, but still have access to Dixie’s expertise whenever I need it. KD Forsman, Freelance Writer writingforcash.com
 
“I was blogged down with too many creative ideas. This made me stop, PLAN and restart with clear focused action. Easy!  Clear direction, planning and accountability – perfect for clearing your writing head-trash!” Sue Lester, Mindset Healer & Coach,

Check out all the details here:

If you have any questions at all about this please contact us - including options for becoming an affiliate and getting paid commission for directing other people to this program.  

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How Authors Can Support Each Other Better

Authors I work with are Non-Fiction specialists, and most of them speak professionaly or do training as part of their regular work.  For them, books are part of their marketing collateral, and in some cases act as an extended business card, and in others, a giveaway or product to sell.   What ever reason anyone has for writing a book, it’s important to know that we as authors can support each other better, and really we must to this.   Because it’s easy for us to help ourselves by helping each other to greater levels of success as authors.

Here’s how we can do this:

  1. If you are part of a mastermind group, or belong to a support group or association, ask the other members to Forward Tweets, FB, and Instagram posts about your book – not just once, but two or three times.
  2. Ask them to be part of your reviewers group.
  3. ASK THEM to share your news about new book releases with their contacts – get the momentum building up.
  4. ASK THEM to please go into your Amazon listings and buy/review/post ratings on your books.

You may have to ask several times, but if we all got into the habit of doing this for each other, we can achieve a lot together.

Those are the basic things we can do for each other, but there’s more. Continue reading

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