I handed my friend J some of my favorite books on memoir, including Mary Karr's The Art of Memoir and Beth Kephart's Handling the Truth. J was an accomplished writer already: she'd had a YA novel traditionally published and also had placed essays with national publications. But this was her first foray into memoir writing, and I could tell she was struggling.
"It's a memoir about my dad," she said, then listed several angles she was hoping to include in her book. Red flags went off in my head. I'd been down that road before with clients and also in my own writing process. There's a natural temptation to want to throw everything in, which often comes from one of two places: First, the feeling that this is your ONLY chance to share everything you want to say. And/or second, you really don't know what you want to say so you'll say it all!
"What's the one thing you want people to walk away from your story knowing?," I said to J after listening to her for a while...
Finding support is the final step in my 4-Step Solution to Getting Your Nonfiction Book Out of Your Head and Onto the Page.
Writers are better with support, and this is especially true for writers working on a book-length project. Writing a book is a marathon, and writers are more likely to get to Mile 26.2 if they aren't going it alone.
Writers can benefit from various types of support.
Here we are talking about support on the writing itself, ie., feedback on the page.
Family and friends: Just say no! Although it's tempting to ask family or friends to read and comment on your work-in-progress, this is almost always a bad idea. Even if people near and dear to you have experience with critique, it's difficult, if not impossible, for them to be objective.
Writing groups and critique partners: These two options can be effective...
Writing is solitary and it can be lonely. You spend lots of time in your head, perhaps wondering if anyone will even care.
While you are the only person who can put your butt in the chair and get your words on the page, your writing life will improve if you can find your people.
This is Step 3 of The 4-Step Solution to Getting Your Nonfiction Book Out of Your Head and onto the Page: Seeking Out Community.
Here are some ways I have found my people:
Writers Conferences: In-person writers' conferences have been a huge source of writing community for me. Of course, they are mostly on hold now due to COVID-19, but when they return (and they will!), find one that speaks to your writing interests and fits your budget. When I was just starting out as a memoir writer, I attended the Southampton Writers Conference where I workshopped with luminaries such as Mary Karr and Roger Rosenblatt. As awesome as those experiences were, what was even more valuable were the...
Writers are not people who simply talk about writing, dream about writing, think about writing, or plan to write.
A simple concept for sure, but for many aspiring writers, a ridiculously difficult one to execute.
Two weeks ago, I shared "The 4-Step Solution to Getting Your Non-Fiction Book Out of Your Head and Onto the Page," and last week, I dug into Step 1: Narrow Your Focus. I called out lack of clarity about a book's point as the number one reason people don't get their books written.
Truth be told: Step 2: Put Your Butt in the Chair is a strong competitor for that #1 slot.
If you don't put your butt in the chair, it doesn't matter how clear you are about your point. If you don't write, you aren't going to get your book written.
Writing is hard. It's "creation," which means making something new. It's scary. It's vulnerable. It brings out our insecurities, our fears, our doubts.
What if my writing...
Last week I shared "The 4-Step Solution to Getting Your Non-Fiction Book Out of Your Head and Onto the Page." Over the next four weeks, we're going to dig into each of these steps in detail.
Last week, I had a working session with my book coach and mentor Jennie Nash, which turned out to be a humbling, albeit clarifying experience. The reason I had scheduled the time with Jennie was to get clarity on which book I should pitch first: my memoir, which I thought was ready to go, or a self-help book, which was still in the early stages of conception. Another writer colleague had suggested I try to pitch the self-help book first since memoir can be hard to sell if you don't have a track record or aren't a celebrity.
Jennie had asked for my query letter, a synopsis, and the first 25 pages of my memoir. I sent them off to her, proud of my work. Those pages had passed through the hands of several beta readers as well as a...
How many times have you heard someone say they have a book inside them? Somewhere between 80-90 percent of Americans have said they want to write a book “someday.” I’m guessing that number is closer to 90 percent for women between forty and sixty. Women in midlife have wisdom to share with the world. Maybe they’re solopreneurs seeking to become thought leaders in their field. Or business strategists aspiring to amplify their brand. Or therapists who want to impact more lives.
But the truth is most people will never even start writing their book … and for those who do start, very few will finish.
In this post, we’ll discuss the most common reasons people don’t follow through writing their books despite their best intentions, and then we’ll provide a 4-step solution to help you get your non-fiction book out of your head and onto the page.
At mid-life, you’ve lived and learned. You’ve...
Even when you least expect it.
I pulled the red shiny package out of my mailbox late last December and spied the return label. That was sweet of Nicole.
Nicole, as in Nicole Lewis-Keeber, a business therapist and mindset coach, who was leading a coaching program called “Love Your Business School.” The theory of Love Your Business School is that we are in a relationship with our business whether we like it or not, and we get to choose what that relationship looks like.
I opened the shiny red package on Christmas morning. It was a book titled E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout, an author I had never heard of. That was sweet of Nicole, I thought again, but that kind of book is not for me.
I’ll admit it. I’m a book snob. They say you can’t tell a book by its cover, but I could tell by this cover. It...