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.

What to Write in a Memoir (Part 2)

what not to write in a memoir
image of open photo album with graphic: what to write in a memoir part 2

 

In my last blog post, What to Write in a Memoir (Part 1), I touched on some of the mistakes memoir writers make, as well as what to include in your life story to make it compelling and valuable.

In this post, I am going to share what to EXCLUDE in a book about your life. After all, there is a lot at risk – your reputation, your relationships, and even your livelihood should you be sued.

What NOT to Write in Your Memoir

The most common mistakes I see in memoir include:

Assumptions

Telling stories about others that the writer may not have permission to share. There is a saying that there are three sides to every story: Person 1’s perspective, Person 2’s perspective, and the truth.

You can only speak for yourself. Don’t assume or read into other people’s thoughts, beliefs, emotions or motivations. Tell the story from your perspective and own it. Share your own feelings, and don’t assume you know what other’s feelings are.

Slander

Talking about people, places, or things in slanderous or inaccurate ways can get you into hot water. State facts and show examples rather than name calling or assuming information. Don’t be sloppy – do your research. Not telling the truth destroys your credibility.

The positive side of doing research and getting facts is that it builds rapport and credibility with your reader, and also helps them understand the setting or scene in a more compelling way. And, you won’t get hit with a slander lawsuit.

Overshare

Sometimes we feel compelled to share more information than we need to. Often this comes in the form of an “information dump” at the beginning of the story. This isn’t needed, nor appropriate. Good story tellers weave this information in and let it be discovered. Sometimes oversharing is a problem when information comes into the story when appropriate context hasn’t been built. Again, don’t be sloppy – build your story rather than dump information.

Oversharing can also include giving the reader too much detail or sharing information that is confusing or unnecessary for moving the story forward.

Undershare

On the flip side of oversharing is the opposite – not giving the reader enough background information or context. Sometimes this involves skipping over huge gaps of time without explanation, or being in a setting or scene that doesn’t make sense. Usually just a few sentences can fix this.

Another way this can show up in your writing is when you leave out how you feel or perceive a situation. Doing this assumes the reader thinks or feels the same way as you do, and that is not always the case. Connect the dots for the reader. Here are two examples to illustrate my point:

She walked into the room wearing red stilettos! I shook my head.

Did you shake your head in dismay or approval? Did you smirk or sigh at her boldness? Explain why you shook your head – there are too many things we can interpret here. Quick fix: …stilettos! I shook my head in disbelief that she’d show up so brass knowing the wrong she had done.

 

“Umm, boiled meat.”

Umm as in yum? Or umm as in disapproval? Share more about the beliefs behind this statement and what it means to you – don’t make assumptions that your reader know or believes the same as you. Quick fix: …meat. She snarled, curling up her vegetarian lips to me as though it was a bunny in the pot and not roast beef.

 

There are some unique techniques and “rules” specific to writing memoir. Knowing them and following the suggested actions makes the difference between a memoir that is compelling and well received, and a memoir that is bashed and trashed.

If you are considering writing a memoir, or a book with memoir components and feel you could use some help, schedule a free session with me to learn more about how I can help.

What to Write in a Memoir (Part 1)

what to write in a memoir

One of the most frequent questions I am asked in regarding to writing a memoir is what to include and what to exclude. I love getting this question, because often when I review a memoir manuscript where this wasn’t asked, I find some serious problems.

These problems include:

  • Telling stories about others that the writer may not have permission to share
  • Talking about people, places, or things in slanderous or inaccurate ways
  • Oversharing information that could cause more harm than good
  • Trying to tell too much that doesn’t move the story forward
  • Giving too much detail when it isn’t needed
  • Not giving enough information or background/context
  • Recounting information factually, rather than telling a compelling story
  • Leaving out feelings, or assuming the reader thinks and feels the same way the writer does

Why do any of these matter? Well, include the wrong thing and you open yourself up to a lot of potential pain: emotionally, if your friends or family are hurt by what you said; legally if you break confidentiality agreements or commit slander; and professionally, if you share something overly vulnerable. Bottom line, I have your backside and won’t let you expose your ass.

What To Write in Your Memoir

Remember than no one can write their entire life story. You likely don’t remember your birth and very early years, and while you can get that information from interviews, it isn’t always needed.

For example, I had one client who became blind during his birth due to an accident. This was critical for the story, so we shared it.

Another client was sharing about her adventures in her adult life, so writing about her birth had really no value. We briefly recapped some highlights of her childhood home life, but otherwise went right into her story.

Overall, consider what you want the reader to learn and walk away with.

 Include:

  • Stories that drive interest and help us understand the journey you are taking us on
  • Stories that show us certain traits or attributes about you as a person that come into play later in the book
  • Stories that introduce us to valuable characters and relevant settings
  • Stories that share your thoughts, feelings, beliefs

Your memoir isn’t just a chronological listing of events in your life. In fact, I often coach my clients to look to their outline for inspiration, but not follow a chronological path.

For most people, following themes makes more sense – but not always. It comes back to your end goal and what you want your audience to leave feeling and knowing after reading your book.

 

In the next blog, What to Write in a Memoir (Part 2), I will share about what to exclude or not talk about in your memoir, including examples of what I’ve seen in the past and why it is ineffective.

If you are considering writing a memoir, or a book with memoir components, and feel you could use some help, schedule a free session with me to learn more about how I can help.

Featured Author: Susan Frew

Susan Frew, New Author of Pufferfish Effect: Secrets to Crush Your Competition

Susan Frew is a keynote speaker who wanted to have her systems and strategy for marketing captured in a book to sell from stage, as well as have it allow her bigger and better stages. Primarily asked to present at trade industry events, she wanted to broaden her reach. Her book was written with the background of her industry, but with that widened viewpoint that allowed her to cross over into new markets and speaking gigs.

Her non-fiction book walks readers through the steps she took to grow her family business over 400% in a short three years. The insider secrets are part coaching and part school-of-hard-knocks as her knowledge was put to the test, and she learned what worked, and what failed as she innovated her way to the top. Just like a pufferfish makes themselves bigger and stronger, applying the strategies she shares in her part memoir, part business book, allows other small business owners to look larger, and crush their competition, even with a small budget.

Find her book Pufferfish Effect on Amazon, and learn more about her as a speaker at: https://www.susanrobertsfrew.com/

Why I Chose NLP for my Book Coaching Clients

I recently decided to become an NLP Practitioner to better support my book coaching clients get through their fear and other challenges that were preventing them from starting or finishing writing their books. I wanted to take a moment to tell you what the heck NLP is, and why it matters to me.

What is NLP?

You can do a search for this and get a TON of answers. My definition and the understanding I work with of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is: NLP is a set of tools that enable me as a coach to get to the deeply-held beliefs my clients have, either in their subconscious or conscious mind, that keep them in un-resourceful states. These states can look like fear, procrastination, uncertainty, pain, excuses, justifications, unwanted patterns of behavior, and more.

One illustration that has really helped me understand this is that of a river. When a river starts off, it moves fast and quickly cuts into the ground. As it gets older, it slows down and mostly follows the same path of least resistance. It gets lazy – you’ve heard the expression ‘lazy river’, haven’t you? In NLP, these ‘lazy rivers’ are the pathways our brain has created to keep life easy. We take that path of least resistance and say things like:

“I want to finish my book, but I’m scared what my family/friends/co-workers will think”

“I started my book but I can’t find the time to do the research” (aka Analysis Paralysis)

“I’m not really qualified to write a book (so I won’t)”

“I don’t want to look foolish (so I just won’t do it)”

What NLP does is basically re-routes the water (belief) to a new path. The more often this new path is used, the faster the water flows once again. This creates a new habit, that, as it ages and slows down, will once again become ‘lazy.’ But in the meantime, it has still built that new pattern – a more resourceful pattern.

An Example of NLP’s Use in Book Coaching

There are a few NLP processes or tools I can use with a client, which include:

WFO: In this process, the client gets really clear about a goal, makes sure it is aligned with their belief system (making it possible to achieve), and sets it in place for action.

Example: I want to write a book.

Resource Anchoring: In this process, I help the client create a state that supports their goal.

Example: I want more focus when I sit down to write.

Behavior Change: Several processes can be used to change behaviors or beliefs that allow the client to move forward when previously “stuck”.

Example: “On one hand I want to finish this book, but on the other hand, I’m scared to be vulnerable.”

Hypnotic Language: In this process, I communicate with the subconscious mind to empower the client (writer) to have more motivation, relaxation, or whatever state they wish to be in for a better outcome.

Example: Client wants less anxiety when sitting down to write, so I create a sound clip for them to listen to prior to writing in order to facilitate hat. The client isn’t traditionally “hypnotized,” rather, suggestive language is used to speak to the subconscious mind, based on what the client wants or needs to move forward.

Why NLP Matters to Me

I’ve been interested in NLP since I was first exposed to it almost 10 years ago in a business role. I was invited to an event lead by an NLP master and seeing him practice some of the processes, and then applying them to my own life, created some very meaningful change for me. I ended up attending several events lead by this NLP Practitioner and always took something of high value away with me.

When I began to research tools I thought would be helpful for my book coaching clients, NLP felt like the perfect fit because it works very quickly to make a change. I didn’t want my clients to have to stop writing their books to go to therapy to resolve a specific issue that was holding them back. I wanted to be able to quickly motivate them, get them past beliefs that were stopping them, and get them back on track within a day, or even an hour, so they could continue towards their dream of authorship.

NLP is excellent for this purpose because it quickly and easily supports the person through their fear, belief, or block without them having to recall the initial event that caused the problem. It allows us to easily tap into the hidden beliefs in the unconscious mind, to get to the root of the block or belief, and ‘re-route’ it in a way that creates real results.

So, I am very proud to offer these coaching techniques as part of my book coaching, to really help clients not just with the technical components of writing, but also with the mental and emotional challenges that may or may not arise and block their progress.

If you’d like to learn more about how I use NLP specifically with book coaching, if you are afraid to write a book and want to, or have excuses that are holding you back that you want to release, schedule some time with me. As always, there is no obligation to work together beyond the call. I look forward to speaking with you.