Why Does Reading and Writing Matter?

Behind the Bible and Qur’an, do you know what the top selling non-fiction book is?

“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

Do you know the top selling fiction?

“Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien. It has sold 150 million copies since its release in 1954. J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is close behind with 120 million copies sold.

In fact, when one looks at the Wikipedia list of best-selling books – the pattern that emerges shows us the love we have of fantasy. Fantasy may be the exact reason we read – to get away from our current life, and into a good story where anything is possible and heroes are made.

On the non-fiction side, we find a pattern of self-improvement – our need to satisfy our curiosity about who we are, why we are here, and how we can make the experience better.

As a writer, an author, and a book coach, I find these patterns to be true for me personally as well.

As a Writer, I Use Fantasy

I grew up in inner-city Denver. At elementary school there I learned the value of diversity. I was a shy kid and a white minority, surrounded by African American and Hispanic kids. I felt out of place, so stayed to myself and focused on education. Every semester at the awards ceremony, I found myself with handfuls of ribbons for straight A’s and perfect attendance.

Both my dad and step mom worked, but the bulk of our household income was spent on partying – and the addictions they both had. My biological mom wasn’t in the picture. She, too, was involved in the world of drugs and the crime that so often accompanies it.

I used writing to indulge in fantasy, using my imagination to create stories of flight as a release from the fear I felt at school and at home. My writing was both encouraged and celebrated by my teachers and I created a personal mantra that one day I would be a published author.

As an Author, I’ve Experienced Personal Development

In 2013, I finally published my first novel. The story was about two sisters and their mom who struggled with mental illness. By this time in my life I had gotten married, had two beautiful daughters, and was recently divorced. And, my biological mother had passed away. Achieving my goal was inspiring. In fact, it felt crucial to the time of personal transition I was in – to prove to myself everything was going to be ok.

Personal development had been key, as I searched myself to discover who I was, why I was here, and how I could make it all better. I was an author – a desire given to me at a young age, a talent and gift – and I was going to make ripples.

As a Book Coach, I Leverage Both Fantasy and Personal Development

After the release of my first novel, peers began asking me how I wrote the book and if I could help them with their own dreams of authorship. Writing and coaching became my “side hustle” as I continued to work full time, helping others during off hours.

Working with them became the relief I needed from the stress of my day job. It allowed me to dive into something exciting and refreshing, like jumping into a pool on a hot day.

My creativity and imagination unlocks doors for my clients, helping them to see things in a new way and become heroes as they meet their goals. This new vision feels like a fantasy, where anything is possible.

Coaching others to write their books connects me more deeply to my own skills and talents. Coaching forces me to look at who I am, where I want to go, and identify the gap between the two. I am learning how to run a business and building the mindset for self-discipline and resilience on the days I don’t know how the money will come in. It has been a personal development journey to be an entrepreneur and own my dreams, skills, hours and self-worth.

The Call, Then, to Action

When we think about the top selling books, we feel motivated. Maybe we are motivated to write our own or feel inspired to look at the list and begin to read more. Whether looking for a reality check out or to learn more about a topic of interest, reading helps us grow. And, without writers, we would have nothing to read.

Today, I encourage you to read a little more. Write a little more. Or both. Who knows where it may take you? It certainly has been an important and valuable part of my journey.

The 3 Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make

Mistakes New Writers Make

I find that when I first read sample chapters from a new client, I often come across the same errors. The mistakes new writers make tend to fall primarily into three categories, so I wanted to take a moment to talk briefly about each. Practice and experience with the editing process will help you overcome these, as will increased awareness, and working with a professional writing coach and/or taking writing classes.

Mistakes New Writers Make #1: Point of View

One of the biggest errors first time authors make, whether fiction or non-fiction, is in the area of Point of View (POV). They tend to misunderstand how it works, and therefore make errors in its use.

Point of view refers to the narrator of the story. I like to imagine POV as where the camera sits in filming the story. When used correctly, the reader can easily follow who is narrating, making it easier to understand and connect with. The four primary Points of View are:

First Person – The camera sits in the main character’s head, and only their head. They tell the story using the pronoun “I” and are limited to only what they can sense and believe.

Example: “I love ice cream and it’s my goal to try all 30 flavors.”

Second Person – The camera sits in the head of the reader; however the author takes great liberty with this, telling the reader what they sense and believe.

Example: “You wake up with the sun hitting your face and the smell of lilac and fresh sheets.”

Another use of second person is in instruction, such as in non-fiction.

Example: “You will want to track all of your income and expenses to create a budget.”

Third Person Limited – The camera sits in the head or heads of your main character(s). She, he, they pronouns are used and you can switch points of view at scene breaks or chapter breaks. Usually the POV swap is only in the heads of primary characters, otherwise it becomes too confusing. Whatever character’s POV you are in for a scene limits the narration to what that specific person senses and believes.

Example: “John was ready to sleep. It had been a long day. He looked forward to the firm mattress, floppy pillow and fresh sheets awaiting him at home.”

Third Person Omnipresent – The camera sits in the hands of “God” in this POV. He, she, they pronouns are used and all characters have the opportunity to have their beliefs and senses revealed through the narrator who knows everything, whether or not the character(s) do.

Example: “John and Kristi were next to be presented The Game that would change their lives. John would take it because he felt inadequate as a provider and the money would give them the nest egg they desired. Kristi would agree for the excitement, something she felt she was lacking after nine years of marriage and endless failed attempts at becoming a mom.”

Third person limited and first person are the most common points of view in fiction books. Non-fiction books often fluctuate between either first or third person, and second.

Mistakes New Writers Make #2: Telling Rather Than Showing

Another common error made by new writers is telling the reader information rather than showing it. The correction to this is called Show Not Tell. Here’s an example of Tell:

John met Kristi at the bank and liked the way she looked. He asked her on a date and they met and had a really good time. They decided then and there to get married.

Here’s an example of Show:

John met Kristi at the bank. He remembered her walking in with the sun behind her, just like how angels appear in renaissance paintings. He knew then he could love her. “You look amazing.”

Kristi laughed, and spun around with a boldness he found sexy. He reached for her, “Would you like to have dinner with me Friday night?”

From here you could write a fun scene about their date if you wanted. Ask yourself if there is a better way to show the information, and if so, choose that.

Mistakes New Writers Make #3: The Mis-Use of Tenses

Another mistake both seasoned and new writers make is using the incorrect tense. This is one of the reasons I always suggest using an editor. This is a habit that will improve with awareness, practice, and self-editing.

Examples:

Kristi bent over and ties her shoes. (INCORRECT)

Kristi bent over and tied her shoe. Her gold and diamond necklace slid from her neck onto the floor. (CORRECT)

Kristi bends over to tie her shoe. Her gold and diamond necklace slides from her neck onto the floor. (CORRECT)

In the last two sentences the verb tenses (action word) are consistent with each other. Be sure to use a consistent tense and determine which one feels best for your story. Practice makes perfect.

 

If you are looking to improve your writing, I invite you to join my community of writers and authors on Facebook. I offering writing tips, writing groups, and peer support as well as one-on-one coaching. Join us and avoid mistakes new writers make.

Book Coach Versus Writing Coach

I am often asked what the difference is between a book coach and a writing coach and what services they each provide. There are several similarities between the two, but they have different outcomes, so I wanted to take a few minutes to explain the features and benefits of both.

What Does a Book Coach Do?

It depends. Overall, coaches work to serve our clients to achieve levels of success in a specific area, that they are not able to do on their own. Book coaches overall, work with clients to help them produce the end product of a book.

This could look like:

  • Manuscript development
  • Brainstorming
  • Create an outline
  • Offering writing sessions
  • Critique groups
  • Group coaching
  • VIP Sessions
  • Workshops
  • Templates
  • Book finalization processes (editing, proofreading, readers, layout, cover
    design, ISBN, printing, publishing)
  • Book marketing services

Some companies will offer only one or a few of these services and yet others will bundle them. Because of this (as well as the coach’s expertise) pricing for services can range greatly.

What Does a Writing Coach Do?

A writing coach can help with a book, but they may not. They assist others with writing, such as assisting with marketing projects like newsletters, press releases, social media posts, blogs, whitepapers, website copy and more. Writing coaches may assist with Search Engine Optimization, Sales Pages, or specialty communication styles.

Additionally, writing coaches can create employee handbooks, training manuals and more. They can create full writing plans and strategies as well including style guides that lay out, usually for third party providers, on how to keep brand consistency in communication.

The end result with a writing coach can include finished written projects and/or plans for such. This could look like:

  • Facilitated writing groups
  • Templates
  • Writing prompts
  • Critique and/or editing
  • Workshops
  • VIP Sessions
  • Project development
  • Ghostwriting
  • Teaching skills/ writing development
  • Writing tips and strategies

Book Coach Versus Writing Coach Summarized

A book coach specifically works to help a client create a book. A writing coach helps with overall writing which may or may not include a book.

As a writing coach, I offer a full range of writing services personally or through my team of professional writers. Skaowl Press helps aspiring authors to bring their book to the world. We offer book coaching as well as writing coaching. To learn more, visit our Your Options page or contact me.