Writing

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I’m always teaching that you don’t have to start from square one to create the content for your book – you can and should start from within your own materials to create the book.

What I hear from a lot of people is using transcripts to write their book.

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Great idea!

Except…

Have you ever actually READ a transcript? Like a word-for-word transcription of a lecture or interview?

It’s NOT easy reading! I have a client who leaves me audio recordings to use as the materials for her articles – and she’s used to “writing” this way and they’re STILL hard to read as a word-for-word transcription.

Which means that a transcription is a great place to start at for materials for your book, but it isn’t a book.

Let me say that again: don’t think you can just slap a cover on a transcription and call it a book!

Here’s a word-for-word transcription from this client:

All of that sounds nice on the outside and like I said I’m not going to waste either of our time and energy talking about whether or not it should or should not be that way but here’s the important thing to remember, regardless of the criteria and regardless of the regulations, promotions really come down to a couple of things and most of us already know that at the end of the day promotions have very little to do with job performance.

Wow! And that’s just ONE sentence of a transcription!

  • Is it easy to read? – No.
  • Is the point she’s driving at immediately clear? – Nope.
  • Is there really juicy stuff in there? – Yes!
  • Is it easy to pick out and put into practice in your life? – Not so much.

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We’ve all had those writing projects – the ones that seemed so straight forward. And then…

It’s okay when you get overwhelmed in your writing project! It doesn’t mean that you need to give up but it does mean that you might need a different approach! Here are 5 steps to cut through the overwhelm!

1. Determine exactly what is causing your stress
It’s my experience that it’s one of three things:

  1. Deadline
  2. Lack of a plan
  3. Lousy idea

Some deadlines can be moved and some can’t! If you’re writing for somebody else, reach out and share that you’re having challenges and see if there’s any flexibility.

And speaking as somebody who writes for a living: sometimes the deadline is what it is. It only takes one (okay, maybe two) crunch assignments when you KNOW you didn’t give yourself enough time to complete it to your usual standards that you either plan better or negotiate the deadline earlier!

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The lack of a plan can be two-fold: the timeline plan or the writing plan, aka, an outline. This isn’t necessarily a quick-fix solution to fix a missing or incomplete plan! But if you’re writing for someone else (client, publisher, partner, etc) reach out for clarification.

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I’m pulling this article from the archives! It was really well received last year AND has a lot of great information for you.

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Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month and every November, participants from around the world begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. The “rules” state that you can plan, outline, think, and research as much as you want in October, but on November 1, you start a brand-new novel with no words already written.

Writing a book is a great exercise in discipline, refining your thought processes, and creativity. Even if you have no desire to write a novel, November is a great month to do the writing you are interested in. Or the writing that you know you’ve been needing to do for your business but just haven’t had time for.

Here are five steps to get you going:

1. Have a “plan”
You most likely have an idea about what book you want to write for your business. Start there! Unlike a novel which needs characters, plot, setting, mood, theme, etc. the book you need for your business has basic sections that are unique to the information you specialize in.

As you create this plan, jot down all your ideas for chapters, topics, and sub-topics. After you have a page of ideas, you’ll organize them into sections. Don’t think too much! Just get all your ideas down. This will become the “plan” for your book.

(This isn’t an outline! It’s a writing plan. I’ll explain more in step 4.)

And a great resource for you is the Book Idea Workbook.

2. Get it all out
My writing instructors used to call this “writing to silence the critic.” It’s when you just keep writing even if you know that you’re not making sense, contradicting yourself, missing steps, and most importantly, writing like crap!

Write anyway.

NaNoWriMo isn’t a slow and steady marathon! It’s a sprint to write an insane amount of words in just thirty days.

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It happens to the best of us, myself included. You go to get a drink at the Idea Fountain only to find somebody didn’t pay the water bill!

Drat!

Or the fountain is still running but instead of clean, crisp water brimming with wonderful ideas it’s a stagnant trickle filled with bug legs and only provides mediocre ideas.

BOTH happened to me recently.

The second happened in the title of my teleseminar. Everything else was clear and easy: all the benefits, snappy sales copy, email strings, pain points that had ME shivering.

But the title: uninspiring at best. NOT awesome for somebody who is teaching an entire module about how to craft killer titles. I didn’t have any choice except to run with what I had but, ewww, it was bad.

Enter a mentor:

I was on a VIP coaching call and mentioned the launch. It was going well, I was ecstatic with the signups but… There was something missing. She asked what I was calling it – and started to laugh.

“That’s a TERRIBLE title, Kim!” she said between giggles. “Who helped you?”

Pause. The line crackled.

“I came up with it myself,” I muttered.

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This is an excerpt from my book, “The Book Idea Workbook: 10 Can’t-Fail Steps to a Book Your Prospects Can’t Wait to Read (And You’re Excited to Write!)”

Imagine sitting down at your computer, putting fingers to keys, and being excited to share your passion with the world. Feel the feelings of knowing you’re making a difference in the world with your important message. Imagine how good it feels to share your story with someone who desperately needs to hear it.

Your book needs to be fun for you to write about. It really does need to be a topic you’re excited about. If you’re dreading spending days, weeks, maybe even months delving into your topic

IT’S THE WRONG TOPIC!

You may think, “But Kim, it’s the best topic to prove I’m an expert in my field!” And I’ll say: your lack of excitement will shine through every word and every page. The book will be a chore to write and a bore to read.

Trust me on this one! I’ve experienced it myself and I’ve seen it in my clients. It’s a 1,000% easier to write a book about a topic that excites you. And even if it’s a narrow area of your business, that excitement will help you get your butt in the chair, fingers on keyboard, and words on the page.

Your excitement about the topic and your excitement to get started writing will really help on the days when you just don’t feel like it. Sometimes you’re not going to enjoy the writing process. But if you try to write a book you feel you SHOULD because it proves you’re an expert or you think it will be easy to market and you’re not joyful about the topic, it’ll fall flat.

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I received some excellent questions last week about what types of ghostwriting I offer and how I work. This is a bit different from my normal article style but I wanted to highlight exactly how I work!

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1. I write in YOUR voice and style

Of course it’s not going to be 100% perfect but you’d be surprised at how much like you the writing sounds. This is a skill that I’ve been developing for years.

The writing will sound like you BUT it will also be written using proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. For one of my ghost blogging clients, we are making the transition from a prior ghostwriter who wrote in a choppy, uncomfortable manner. The writing sounded formal, stilted, and a bit like a non-native English-speaker was writing. We are making the transition to convey the “author’s” ideas and thoughts but in a writing style that is professional and conversational.

For me to write in your voice and style, I need to examine your writing. Which means I spend serious hours reading and examining your blog, book, and newsletter – stuff you’ve written in the past. The only time this falls apart is if you DON’T already have samples of your own writing; in that case, I have a great Plan B!

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Let me be really clear – there’s nothing wrong with deciding to hire a ghostwriter. You don’t do everything in your business, right? You are probably already outsourcing the tasks that you are either not good at, don’t like, or don’t have time for. Most people start out with outsourcing their bookkeeping, taxes, or sending out their newsletter.

A ghostwriter is just another person on your team who helps you get it all done!

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Here are some great reasons to hire a ghostwriter:

  • You don’t like writing or feel you’re not good at it. I’m a firm believer that everybody has a story to tell but I 100% get it that not everybody is in love with the written words.
  • Tasks like your blog, book, newsletter, or articles keep getting added to your to do list and then stay there, day after day, week after week.
  • There are other activities that only you can do. Instead of being a money-making activity, these writing activities are taking you away from other things that do make you money.

I want to say this clearly: it’s not a failure AT ALL to bring in a writer! You’re an expert at what you do and people pay you for your knowledge, skills, and passion. Writers are the same and we love to write!

Here’s what you need to do before hiring a ghostwriter:

1. Be realistic about your budget

You might be able to get a writer on the cheap but is the writing of any quality? This writing is representing your business – more than video, podcasts or interviews ever can. You don’t need to pay through the nose, but don’t expect a quality writer to be cheap either.

2. Look at their credentials

Your writer should be a native English speaker or have the writing skills of one. Ideally she should have a degree in writing (Creative Writing or Journalism) or English. If not, then years of experience will also do the trick!

3. Be clear about your expectations

Nobody is going to write EXACTLY like you do but a good ghostwriter should come close. However, understand that there will be a process while your writer gets to learn your voice so there might be more edits in the beginning. You’ve got to be okay with letting go and letting the writer do her job. That being said, if she isn’t matching your voice and style, you might need to look elsewhere.

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