CONFESSION. I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” I think this label is nothing more than a convenient excuse for us to delay our writing dreams.
Before you lock me up in the loony bin, let me peel off the mask by pull back the curtain. I wrote 6 traditionally published books, coached over 60 authors on their book projects, and ghostwrote 3 books for high-profile clients.
But I’ve also:
Justified watching movies to “research” for my next book.
Avoided a deadline because unloading the dishwasher seemed more thrilling.
Hit the disc golf course to find inspiration for my next chapter
Wasted more than a few days satisfying a “Platform Building Fix” on Facebook and Twitter.
Bottom line. All these activities seemed noble at the time. And yet, they merely created space between my current state and my calling.
Maybe you can relate?
You want the world—or at least your niche—to know about your book, but how do you get the message out? Interviews, particularly radio shows and podcasts, can be an extremely effective medium for spreading the word.
I get that. I know that interviews are important, but they also make me a little nervous. As a writer, I’m generally on the other side of the conversation—the side asking the questions. I want to get better at being interviewed, and I know I’m not alone in that desire. That’s why I asked Tim Knox, host of Interviewing Authors, to share his advice on how to give a great interview.
This is supposed to be an article about how to be a focused and intentional writer. It’s supposed to equip busy people with tools and techniques to fit writing into an already full life.
- I could tell you to wake up at 5 a.m. and write for an hour. Do it every day, no matter what.
- I could tell you to write 1,000 words a day before you do anything else.
- I could tell you to write something even if you don’t know what to write.
- I could tell you to “write ugly” and clean it up later.
That’s all good advice and it might work, but it’s never worked for me.
I am a broken writer, yet somehow I’ve managed to complete two books.
“How Stories Help You Connect with Readers”
by Rory Vaden & Erin K. Casey
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Sounds so glamorous. I remember the first time I turned down an invitation to lunch with the words “Oh, I can’t… I’m writing today.”
“Really?” my friend Laurie replied, “what an awesome way to spend the day! I can’t wait to read your book!”
Nodding and smiling, I left her fantasy intact. I knew in my heart a “writing day” wasn’t just creativity flowing but sometimes meant hours of starting at the cursor blinking and trying to string some words together in a semblance of creativity, thought and inspiration. The myriad of other tasks on my to-do list wrestled with my discipline to actually write. It’s a sad state of affairs when cleaning the bathroom looks more enticing than squeezing out another paragraph from a very dry well.
The book was fantastic, but no one was going to read it. Not, at least, in its current state. The author had packed his* manuscript with helpful information and practical advice. The content and his message had real potential to help his audience. But only the most dedicated readers would push past the stale opening line.
Most chapters either dove right into the content with no introduction or started with a statement detailing what the chapter contained. “In this chapter we’re going to learn about….” A line like that makes a great note as you’re planning your writing. In fact, I encourage writers to identify what they’re going to include in each chapter when they outline their books. But when it comes to your hook—the words that will draw readers in and keep their noses in your book—“In this chapter,” isn’t effective; it’s boring.
Other common issues muddied what could have been a great reading experience but, since this is a blog post, let’s stick with one topic at a time. Here are three powerful ways you can get your readers’ attention.
As a two-time self-published author, I tell people writing the book is the easy part. Marketing it, that’s the hard part. There seems to be no right or wrong answer on which route to take.
Before I published my first book, I looked into all kind of expert advice. Some claimed giving away your book for free for a few days was key to success. Then I talked to others who told me not to do give it away but to price it high. Some suggested to price it at 99 cents. Plus, of course, there’s the matter of trying to decide between Amazon KDP Select or just Amazon KDP.
We all want our books to be successful. We want to help and inspire people. And, of course, we want to claim that bestseller spot while making a decent income in the process.
Some people fear public speaking more than death. I guess that makes me the outlier.
I’m a high school Spanish teacher by day. On the weekends and during the summer, I speak at conferences and events. I work with teachers to challenge how they think about education and to encourage them to incorporate technology in their classrooms.
I love seeing teachers get excited about new practices that they can use with their students. It means the ideas from my sessions are spreading farther than I could take them myself. The reach of my conference sessions is limited, though. I wanted to spread the ideas that motivate me to as many teachers as possible. So, I sought advice from a fellow teacher and presenter. His suggestion: write a book.
I love hearing great speakers present a well-crafted message. I especially love presentations when the speaker is an author whose books I’ve read. Even if we’ve never met, it feels as if we have a connection. I’m eager to hear my favorite authors speak because their message has already intrigued, entertained, or inspired me.
So when I learned that Lysa TerKeurst was scheduled to speak at an event about an hour down the road, I knew I would be there. TerKeurst is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the author of three New York Times bestsellers—and 16 others books. Of all 19 of her books, I’ve read one. And I only read that one last fall when Proverbs 31 did an online Bible study using The Best Yes as a study guide. She’d written 19 books in a genre that I enjoy reading and I had never even heard of her until last fall.