Getting to the heart of your book with a values wall

Your values are the foundation of who you are. You live your life by them and if you stick to them, then writing your book should become just a tad easier.

I don’t remember anything about values in school, all I remember was that awful ‘you have to choose a stream’.  I gave up my beloved art and creative subjects in favour for what I thought I should choose. I did what I though was expected of me and took sciences and languages. I ended up expelled because I wasn’t feeding my soul. I lacked freedom – freedom to choose the subjects my heart desired and the freedom to express my creativity.

I naturally made more ‘mistakes’ and ‘learned many more lessons’, as I lived in conflict with my values.

After much soul searching, a bit of heart ache and a few more years in the bag I am living more in accordance with my values. My heart swells with the love and gratitude I feel for the life I have.

Your book and your values

If you are struggling with a book idea, have too many ideas or just can’t get your act together to write your book, then chances are it does not align with your values. Time to get back to basics and make sure your book is being written in accordance with your values.

When the book you want to write is in accordance with your values, your writing will flow.

How to discover your values?

There are lots of ways to get to your values, however, I would like to invite you try a values wall. I usually suggest that clients create an ideas wall for their book – this is just a variation on a theme.

What you need is for your values wall is:

  • A wall…
  • Post it notes
  • Pictures
  • Anything else that inspires you that can be stuck to the wall (get blue tack)
  • Coloured pens
  • Your imagination

Here’s what you do:-

  • As you go about your day to day life, notice what you enjoy doing, the conversations you have, the way you feel about certain things or people
  • Put notes, pictures and things on your values wall
  • Keep putting stuff on the wall and in seven days do a review
  • Group together like things
  • Start to brainstorm what those things mean to you and your life
  • Decide on one ‘value’ word for each group

Time to get writing about your values

  • Then write about why each of these is a value
  • What these values mean to various parts of your life
  • Add in how you will live your life according to your values
  • Consider how your book will reflect your values

One of my values – exploration

One of my values is exploration. Most days when I walk my dogs I look for a route that I haven’t been on before. I love to wander and discover new paths, plants, smells, sights and sounds. This relates easily back into to my work life. When I work with clients I adore the exploration aspect of helping them to discover the right book. I love finding new ways to do things and to help others do things.

Sometimes the most obvious things elude us, because we simply do not notice. My invitation to you today is to ‘explore’ you, to notice what you notice and to make a values wall.

Please do share what your values are.

Post birthday celebration offer

Get a complimentary 1 hour your book consultation with me.

I would like to support one person to get to the right idea for their book and for one day only I will pick one person at random who signs up for this mini course ‘how to find the right book to write, right now ‘  and makes a comment on this post (and can I be cheeky and ask you to share??).

Sign up here

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PPS: Hangout with me on G+ on 16th December – your book questions answered

Tips to help you become a better writer #1

The first in a series of tips to help you become a better writer

Have a read, pick one at a time and try it out. I believe that as writers we have to find ways that work for us. Until you try a tip you wont know if it will work. Keep an open mind and most of all keep writing.

Writing takes time, effort and belief. Believe that you can and the rest as they say will follow.  Keep a healthy sense of perspective, because although you may believe you can, you may still be in need of some practise, and practise takes effort.

Explore your senses. Take a sense at a time and describe it in many different ways, Find a rich collection of words to provide your reader with a way to connect their senses to your senses.

Use imagery and explore what words come to mind. Humans see the world in pictures and it is true to say that a picture paints a 1000 words, try to find these words.

Close your eyes, go within and ask what do I think? Wait for the answer to come and write whatever comes up for you.

Know that first drafts are always rubbish. Write, leave your writing for a period to reflect. Come back and refine.

Don’t think, just write. Sometimes we over analyse and our creativity freezes. Tell your fingers that they can do what they want and let them roam the keyboard.

Become aware of your overused words. Use the search function to find them and then get out your trust thesaurus and start to use other more descriptive words.

Write first thing in the morning. The job is done and if you fancy coming back to do more you will be ahead of your game.

Write, reflect, edit. Never write and edit in the same session. Writing and editing use different parts of the brain – keep them apart.

Read other writers. You can learn a lot from other writers. Consider what you like or dislike about others work and then ask how you can model what you like and avoid what you don’t.

Keep a notebook and make notes of everything that sparks your imagination. You never know when they will come in handy.

Find your writing process. Writing is personal and you must find a way that works for you.

Plan then write. If you create an outline and chunk your work down it becomes easier to write.

Good luck with your writing.

 

 

How to become a writer

Have you ever wondered how to become a writer? Let me share a secret, it is rather easy, you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write. Ok I am being facetious. Writing is a profession like teaching, or plumbing. You learn a trade and then you get out there, show it off, attract customers and make money. Writing, it seems to me is a passionate trade, one like painting (art not walls), which is driven from your soul.

Anyone writes for their blog is a writer.  Anyone who has written a book is a writer. Journalists are writers.

But what of good and bad writing? I am sure that you will have picked up books and felt an immediate desire to throw them back down again or perhaps use them as kindle for your fire. Which if your book is on Kindle you cannot do. And what of books that you know from the get go, creates a desire in you that makes it impossible to put them down and at the end you feel bereft.

I always have a non fiction and a novel on the go. When I get a novel that is well constructed I am lost. It is fair to say that I rarely get lost in a non fiction book, I am entranced for a while and then I switch off.

How do you go about becoming the writer that you desire to be?

  • You could go on a course or spend a few years at University learning how to write well (according to your teacher)
  • Find a subject that connects you and your soul to the content and write expressing the words that are deep within you
  • Writing is an art and like Picasso, you need to practise. Like any muscle, practise makes perfect
  • Writing is a science, study the construct of writing (or you could write and find a damn fine editor)
  • Make writing a habit and with practise you will get better – I said that already
  • Tell people that you are a writer. I discovered that it was easier to tell my Spanish neighbours that I was a writer rather than a book coach and now they tell others that there is a writer in the village. I almost believe it too
  • Believe you are a writer and you will be
  • Learn to love to read and learn how to write well from your reading
  • Become a witness to life and then write about it
  • Journal daily – it’s writing of the private kind

The snobbery that can surround writing can rob us mere mortals the joy of putting pen to paper. I always applaud anyone who writes, regardless of grammar, spelling or nonseniclasness (it’s not really a word…). What I want you to do is just write, enjoy the process, learn and do it again.

A writer, dear reader is someone who writes.

 

How to publish a book, what to know before you start

My first question to you is ‘why do you want to write a book?’ In knowing where you are heading with your book journey, you will know what publishing options to consider.

Why do you want to write a book?

When you have clarity, you can define where you are heading with your writing. In finding out about yourself, you start to gain clarity of purpose. What you are passionate about, and the purpose of your writing goes hand in hand. Your readers will have expectations. Your role as a writer is to make sure those expectations are met while at the same time, fulfilling the purpose of your writing. Getting clear on your why will help you to gain this clarity.

Today a business book adds an extra dimension to your credibility as an expert.

It allows you to demonstrate your expertise, skills, knowledge, experiences and passion. A business book can support your workshops, help you to develop other products and services and be used as a highly effective marketing tool. The business benefits to you could include a raised profile, more speaking engagements, opportunities to collaborate with others and options for you to productise your book into online programs.

Start here with this exercise

The five whys or the five so whats?

A great way to get deep to the heart of your book is to ask the five whys or the five so what’s? The trick here is to ask why or so what and then ask it again, until you have clarity. Ask your five whys or so what’s

How to publish a book – what makes sense?

When you know your why’s and so what’s you can consider how to publish your book. The options will vary from self-publishing with sites like www.blurb.com, www.createspace.com (Amazon), www.kindledirectpublishing.com (Amazon) to finding an agent and traditional publisher.

Read Publish your own book. How will you publish? to get an overview of different publishing options

 

Book ideas for writers – what book

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung

Help! How do I bring vision, reader, content and strategy together and write the right book?

One of the questions I am often asked is which book should I write.  Unless we are very clear about where we are going relative to the position on the map, your book may end up reaching for the moon, aiming for the stars, or worse still wavering between all points on the compass.

The heart spot for your book is where your vision, the business strategy, the reader you are writing for and the content, which is most relevant, intersect.

What book?

Once you have mapped the four parts out, where they intersect is your heart spot for THIS BOOK.

  • Vision: Where do your personal vision, business vision and your book vision intersect? Your vision will have an impact on how you write, present and market your book
  • Reader: You now know who you are speaking to when you write your book. You know where they live, what they like to read, their hobbies and how their values map to yours
  • Content:  When you have clarity about the other 3 aspects, you can start to think about which content you will use, write or research to fill the gaps
  • Strategy: Once you know the strategy for your business and this book, it will  shape how you write and present your content

Decision time: What book you are going to write NOW?

There is one more test…

Heart, gut, head

Which book idea speaks to your heart, intuitively feels right and which your head tells you makes the most sense to write? Work it through in that order:-

  • Heart
  • Intuition
  • Head

There may be many books which you could write. There will be one, the ONE that is right for you, right now. After all of the discovery and mapping out of your ideas you have to choose. Which ONE is it?

PS: To help you, take this FREE mini course and learn how to pin point the heart spot for your book

 

I have an idea for a book – what next?

Writing gives birth to ideas, innovations, opens new decision pathways, enables us to tell our stories and connect to our readers (prospects and customers) in a way that goes beyond the boxes of flyers and brochures you have, holding the office door open. By organising your thoughts into a book, you can now examine what you, your business and your brand stand for.

Consider this scenario, you are trying to connect and communicate your ideas and brand to a prospect or customer. You see and hear yourself telling the tale of a customer who had a problem…, which you fixed by… and everyone lived happily ever after. You have a few short minutes to demonstrate innovation, flexibility, customer service levels, credibility, expertise, experience, know-how and whatever it is that the prospect or customer needs to hear that reassures them that you are the right supplier.

Imagine instead that this prospect had visited your website to pre-qualify you and discovered your book. The title and the book cover speak volumes about you and your brand. They are now enticed to explore and discover more.

But you don’t have a book, you know you need a book and you think you have an idea.

How do you turn your idea for a book into reality?

Create a brainstorming book idea wall

Find yourself a blank wall or use the back of a wall and use this to collate any book ideas that you have.

This is where all of your book content ideas and ideas around your book will go. Get your post-it notes, start writing down your book ideas, one per post-it, and start plastering a spare wall, back of the door or onto a piece of flip chart paper. No holds barred.

Then start adding anything that is related to each of the potential book ideas. If you don’t like this approach, use a mind map or make a list.

Work with the wall for a week, at the end of the week reflect and pull the ideas into a concrete outline.

Do this my book idea exercise

My book exercise (download PDF)

Carry your book around with you. Tell others you are writing a book, get their feedback and use their comments to help you flesh out your idea.

Then it’s about deciding to make it a reality. How will you do that?

Non fiction writing and your brand

Branding is not just for big companies. You are your personal brand and to stand out you need something just a tad different.

A book will help you build personal brand success, however, it isn’t just about the book.

Your book is part of your overall inspirational message and marketing tool kit.

Don’t do it backwards and wait until you are published to think about brand – start today.

When your book and your non fiction writing is still a twinkle in your eye – think brand. Whenever I work with anyone on a book, the first thing that we must consider is what you want to be known for in 1-2 years time. Not what you are known for now.

A book will take the best part of 6 months to see the light of day and to write a book that isn’t about you for the future seems a little silly to me. Think vision and visualise where you would like to be and how your book will support you in that journey.

Step one – what do you want to be known for?

Think:-

  • Values
  • Vision
  • Passion
  • Purpose
  • Life and biz strategy
  • What do I get asked about?
  • What bothers my clients?
  • What does my heart want me to write about?
  • What non fiction writing do I do now?
  • What does my gut tell me about what I want to write about?
  • What kind of clients do I want to attract?
  • What else do you want to use your book for?

What stands out? What resonates? Start with your heart, check in with you gut and finally ask your head to confirm what you already know.

Step two – create a brand board

My favourite bit. Cork board and lots of pictures. Logos, tag lines and ‘stuff’.  Write ‘what I want to be known for’ and have fun. Keep it where you can see it so that it permeates your very being.

Step three – take action

Take action every day. Little steps that move you closer to your dreams.

Remember you are your personal brand – you were born to share your inspirational message. I just want to know what you want to be known for this time next year. Answers below.

Writing a book. Simple editing tips

First drafts are, usually, rubbish; the words were after all a download. We write every day, blogs, emails, Twitter and Facebook, and how many people read what they have written before pressing send? Writing is a skill that we get better at, because we pause, reflect and edit before pressing the button. Editing your book is a little like writing and editing lots of emails. Take your time. Take care. And don’t press send unless you have taken the time to pause, read, reflect and amend.

Ruthless self-editing

My writing always without fail is long winded on first write.  I write, leave it and come back and edit like someone was holding a gun to my head. If you don’t need a word, kill it. In fact if you don’t need a whole chapter – ditch it!

Use little words

Use little words that are easy to understand.  Not everyone has a dictionary handy to look up your latest intelligent sounding word. In short never use a long word when a short one will do.

Junk the jargon

I know it’s easy to forget that in your industry you have snazzy little names or letters for stuff that you do, make or sell, but the rest of us, don’t have a clue what it is.  So please do make it easy for us to understand what you are on about.

Look for repeated words

Word processing products have Thesauruses’, use them.  When you review what you have written, look for more suitable simple words.  You may need to restructure your sentences, but it will be worth it. I have a horrible habit of using really and simply – what are your words?

Use headings

I like to read things in small batches.  If there aren’t any headings I have a tendency (as you know) to scan read.  I will and have missed important points.  Please make it easy for me and others to read. Having headings makes it easy to edit as well.

Read and reread

When I think my writing is complete, I change the way in which I read my stuff – on screen, on paper and I get myself a proof book.  In this way my mind perceives it slightly differently.

There are many more, but I will save them for another day. Happy editing.