Monday, 30 November 2009

How do you write for business - using your senses?

'He'll see you now Eileen.'

The assistant held the door open for me and I walked in hand outstretched, deep breathing to stop the rising panic in my abdoment.

What's in your mind when you read those words? It's an interview? Or maybe a doctor's appointment or is it the dreaded bank manager?

In that case it was the bank manager, back in the days of 'real' bank managers, who weren't your friend who said yes but rather held you to account all the time.

Now if you've ever had any kind of interview where you felt nervous you could conjure up the same feelings as I had on that day. Newbie commercial manager, new company, new role. Out of my comfort zone by a factor of 10.

So in a few words I've made a connection - to a universal event and to a set of emotions which most people in business can share.

When people tell me business is factual, rational and emotionless I want to laugh. Because that's not my experience of being in business... or of how other people in business behave.

Last week I went networking. Small event which I like because it gives you chance to talk to people instead of threshing around trying to shower business cards around the room.

Let me give you 3 examples of emotion and passion I found in those business people.
  1. Manager of very successful local bus company in charge of their flagship route. The energy flying off him could have powered the room.
  2. Owner of a waste recycling company. So inside his subject and how he could help other businesses save money.
  3. Manager for a local business organisation. Passionate about using resources wisely to help sustain small businesses.

None of those fed me facts and figures. Instead they all connected at a level of how they could serve other people.

Yes businesses want to save money. They also want their problems solved.

That means we have look from the inside out as if can see it from their perspective. As if we can hear their moans as yet another problem lands on their desk. And as if we're they're when they go home the end of the day with a stress headache.

So when you write to connect with prospective customers write about how you can give them a good night's sleep because you've solved their most pressing problem. Write about how they can expand their business because you've blitzed an obstacle out of their way. Show them how they can't possibly live without your service.

If you're not passionate, why should they be?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Learning to write books

"It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way." -Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Monday, 23 November 2009

Does reading make you a better writer

Somebody said to me recently that I have a big appetite and I quipped "That's why I eat so much chocolate then."

Chocolate aside, and I should never put chocolate aside (by the way there's some very tempting chocolate in the Delilah shop in Nottingham at the moment in exotic designed tins) having a big appetite is certainly true of my reading.

Sometimes I've hoovered books up at a rate that I couldn't tell you what I've read. However, as a writer do I read in a different way?

The great John Carlton always says that if you like something in a book, you should go back and work out why it appealed to you.

Why did it grab you, rock your world or bring you to tears?

Does that spoil your reading enjoyment? Well I tend to read the book through, then go back and check it out.

Does it mean that you'll end up writing like that person? Most of us are derivative as beginning writers. What's important is that we work through that stage to find our voice. That essential 'us-ness'. How long that take us depends on what we're trying to write and how passionate we are about reaching that individual voice.

I'll never write like someone who comes from a different culture, race or background. I admire those who can do that. Elizabeth George pulls it off in 'What came before'.

All I can aim for is to write from the honest core of me. Reading other people doesn't obstruct that. It makes it easier because the books I connect with all have that honesty.

Read on. Read wide. Read with passion.

Then spin off into space to turbo charge your writing.

What is genius?

Came across this quote from Goethe.

"What is genius but the faculty of seizing and turn to account everything that strikes us?"

Thursday, 19 November 2009

How to win a major book deal

The trouble with us writers is that often all we want to do is write. And these days that's not enough.

Item from Writer's Almanac about Christoper Paolini author of Eragon.

Self published a book it took him 2 years to write. Then he took it out on promotional tour. Not one event, not two, not even ten. No he went to 135 events. Then was offered 2 deals.

Now maybe you're saying well I couldn't do that. But the lessons I take from this story are these:
  1. He didn't sit there waiting for a deal to come to him.
  2. He believed in himself and his book.
  3. He had people round him to support him.

Now we may not be able to do promotion on the scale he did but then we need to think what tools do we have to use.

Social networking and what you can do on the internet has levelled the playing field for creative people.

Digital printing has brought down the cost of self publishing.

The knowledge and influence is no longer in the hands of the few.

If we believe in our writing, if we believe it can entertain, educate or help sustain people, then the tools are there for us.

All it takes is the will from us.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Paper-fascinating facts

1715 death of John Bagford, 1st authority in England on paper.Also book mutilator(Yah Boo)

How to write a successful book

I'm always fascinated by the process people use to achieve their goals. And it's no different when I look at writers. Every writer has their own method and as in NLP, adopting successful writing strategies from others might be just what you need.

I found these in an item from the Guardian Review, 14 November 2009 quoting research carried out by the Wall Street Journal.

  • lying in bed, speaking to a laptop computer with voice recognition software
  • taking on the clothes and appearance of a major character to get inside their mind
  • drafting in notebooks, typing drafts then revising, then make a tape recording of reading the book
  • reading books that characters might read
  • writing in longhand and computer
  • taking showers if you get stuck

To paraphase a well known quote,'If we always write in the way we've written, we may well always get the same results.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Enid Blyton - friend or fiend

I watched the BBC play about Enid Blyton last night and found myself saying 'what a vile woman' part way through it.

But you know when I was a child, reading an Enid Blyton books was a major event for me. And often they arrived as the Christmas book so became twice as exciting. Not for me Wind in the Willows. In fact I didn't read many of the children's classics till I was an adult.

I haven't re-read Enid Blyton since childhood so have no idea how they'd strike me now. But whatever her personal life, which may have been as self centred as they showed it in the play, she created worlds outside my own experience when I was a child.

For that at least, I have to thank her.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Amazon versus independent bookshops

It's that time of year again when I'm trying to find the best bargains for Christmas presents. I'm always torn between buying from Amazon for the convenience and if I'm truthful making my money stretch as far as possible or supporting local bookshops.

Just been catching up with some letters in the Guardian about the role of Waterstone's on the High Street and one of the letters came from Lynn Michell and Linen Press books in Edinburgh. She wrote about the economics of publishing and how the giants make it difficult for small publishers to do business via them.

As the publisher of my own books I know that if anyone buys my book via Amazon I'll just about break even. Buy direct from Writer's Little Book website and I make a small profit. The economics are driving me to create digital books for the future though I love and will continue to love 'proper' books.

The librarian is too much in my soul to want to move away from books on shelves but as a business person I have to be sensible.

So my Christmas mission has to be to support locals and small enterprises run by people with passion.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Paper - fascinating facts

1294 Paper money is noted by Marco Polo on his travels.

How to write a business book

Without losing your mind or taking years.

Every time I go to a networking event, I can guarantee at least one person says to me,'I probably should write a book to help market my business.'

My reply is always a resounding YES.

So what stops otherwise intelligent and market focused entrepreneurs from using this strategy?

Fear, procranistination and mental paralysis.

Trainers who wouldn't hesitate to come up with a speech lasting 45 minutes, or a workshop lasting 2, 3 or even 5 hours, freeze at the thought of... a book. What happens in their brains to cause such panic?

Well it's a book isn't it? Yes but we aren't asking you to write War and Peace are we?

What's required, in this instance is a practical book based on your experience doing what you are good at doing.

Which means that if you produce information as part of doing what you do, then you already have the basis for a book. In my experience, most trainers, coaches and mentors already have at least 50% of their book written. And people with businesses based on products or skills have a fund of information and expertise they can use.

It may need editing to fit into a marketable format but I'm sure you'd agree that's nowhere near as scary as starting with a blank page.

So come on - resolve now, not on 1 Jan 2010 but NOW, that you'll not only think about writing your book but TAKE ACTION.

Here's where to start to write a business book.
  1. Look at the construction of any workshops, coaching programmes or mentoring schemes you run. Or jot down 20 questions people always ask about your product or area of expertise.
  2. Write down any headings, segment titles or parts of your workshop or programme.
  3. Re-arrange to form the chapter headings of book
  4. Add Introduction at beginning, summary after each heading and Conclusion at the end of the headings.

Now you have a basic outline of your book.

If that doesn't generate some thoughts about what you can put in your book I'll be stunned.

Simmer it in your unconscious mind for a few days then get moving on collating all the material you need.

Let me finish by asking you a question?

If you could complete a book by focusing all your energy on it for only 7 days, would you do it?

If the answer is no then it's not the right time or activity for you.

If the answer is YES then I'll have something of interest to you in the next couple of weeks. I'll keep you posted.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Being an author - the importance to your business

Yesterday I attended the Nottingham Women of Influence luncheon organised for the 16th year by that remarkable lady Carol Parkinson for the benefit of Macmillan Cancer Care.

As always it was fun to be with so many other competent and effective women. The level of sharing and support is a reminder of how great we are as a group. Sorry guys, there were a few men there and we love you really, but as Carol said, after years of being token people in a male business world we have to cherish these times.

What is pertinent for this site - a home and I hope an increasing refuge for writers, particularly women, is that both the speakers had books to promote.

It interested me that one of the speakers, a coach from the US had published her own book. Now in these days of celebrities heading up the best seller book list it's encouraging to think that an internationally renowned coach has taken the route of self publishing.

It underlines what I believe. That the playing field for us to be authors, be published and be internationally known is as level as it's been in years. With all the new technology, the social media sites and our own networks supporting us we're in a great position to do as good a job or better than traditional publishing companies.

Would I turn down an international publishing contract if someone offered me one tomorrow? Of course not. But and it's a big but - I'd want to know exactly what I was getting in the way of promotional effort from the publisher before I signed up.

Particularly as a writer of non-fiction, having control of your own material, being able to use it to promote your business in the way you want it to do, has to be key for us business people.

So if you still haven't written that book - honestly - what's stoppping you?

Will it be on your New Year to-do list - again?

Just make yourself a promise that you can and will do it. And if I can help you in any way I certainly will.

Being an author is great fun... and is a wonderful conversation creator.

What conversations would you like it to create for you?

Paper - fascinating facts

AD 105 in China the first paper is made by Ts'ai Lun. He is also ordered to correct history documents to fit contemporary thinking.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Following your dream

"In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia and ultimately become enslaved by it.
You have a dream; have you set your goals to make it happen?" Doppelit quote of the week

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Writer's block is?

Great post on www.John-Carlton.com about writer's block.

He's running a quiz (with prizes) but both me and you are too late for the prizes.

But the suggestions about what writer's block is are interesting.

For me writer's block is an excuse not to get on and write. Saying you can't write might make me seem interesting but there are enough different ways of writing and approaching how you write to spark off something.

What you do with the writing afterwards is a different matter.

Monday, 2 November 2009

How to become a writer if you hate to write

How do you learn about anything? We all have our own methods don't we and I was talking to my friend and web strategist Kirsty Farrelly last week about it.

She needs to hone in on a source of information right from the beginning and only when she has the nuts and bolts of a subject in her mind does she move out and read more widely. My method is completely the reverse of that - I start widely then hone in.

What I like about my method is that gives me a range of ideas, thoughts and inspirations that I can use for my work or as in this case pass on to you.

Yesterday I was listening to a speaker named Jean Houston. No I'd never heard of her before but she has been influential in the personal development movement for the past 40 years. Her greatest mentor was Margaret Mead the anthropologist; as a young child she met Eleanor Roosevelt and Helen Keller.

More to the point for us though she's written 26 books. When asked how she did it, her answer was "I hate to write".

Now I'm really interested. Because if you like writing, you will write regardless of any other challenges in your life. But finding ways to help people who don't enjoy writing, is one of my passions.

So I'm all ears. And her method is quite simple and I guess if you've done any NLP or visualisation probably obvious.

Jean Houston loves to cook and is very good at it. Starting as a child in self defence so that she could eat properly, she taught herself to cook, became an expert and it's one of the joys of her life.

When she approaches writing a book, she therefore approaches it as a cook. In her mind she's creating a recipe with ingredients to produce a balanced result.

She includes good solid foundations, a mix to appeal to different parts of the reader's tastebuds and that essential extra of love that all good cooks mix in because onsciously it's what they're passionate about - feeding people and giving them a great experience.

Now the cooking analogy might not work for you. But you're great at something. Might be organising your family, might be painting or being a great friend.

Whatever it is try taking that expertise and passion into your writing and see what difference it makes.

What's my passion? Helping people to make the most of their talents. Love it and whatever I've done in my life I've always thought -"If only one person moves on because of what I've said, written or done I'm satisfied."

This week I'll be finding more out about Jean Houston. She sounds a formidable and unstoppable lady.

Rita Mae Brown

"One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory"

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Emerson

"A vivid thought brings the power to paint it, and in proportion to the depth of its source is the force of its projection."