I respect your privacy and will not rent, share or sell your personal information.

The Truth About Your Writing That You Must Face

One of my clients thanked me recently for saying something that freed her.

What was that I asked,”Your first draft is not going to be that great. a C+ at best.”

This one statement enabled her to stop worrying about perfection and crank out her first draft without trying to edit along the way. Only then could she get to the ever important task of editing.

My words to her were a lot more genteel than Hemingway’s words in this letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald:

For Christ sake write and don’t worry about what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece nor what. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket. You feel you have to publish crap to make money to live and let live. All write [sic] but if you write enough and as well as you can there will be the same amount of masterpiece material (as we say at Yale). You can’t think well enough to sit down and write a deliberate masterpiece and if you could get rid of Seldes and those guys that nearly ruined you and turn them out as well as you can and let the spectators yell when it is good and hoot when it is not you would be all right


How Are You Doing with Your 2012 Writing Resolutions?

Writers made resolutions at the start of the year like everyone else, only more literary. It’s likely you were among them.

A Los Angeles Times blog asked 25 writers to disclose their resolutions. They mostly fell into two groups: doing more of something or less of something else. While most New Year’s resolution-makers resolve to cut out eating junk food, several writers vowed to cut out the Internet, watching TV and watching porn. Get the gory details here.

While one writer wished for the demise of ebooks, another vowed not worry about the dismal state of publishing. Some resolved to read more. Most vowed to write  more.

If you vowed to write more, what will you write?

Will you write your memoir this year?

In my blog post on writing memoirs, I announced that this is the year of the memoir and shared some tips, idea starters and reality checks.

Or perhaps you will write a project book this year.

Writing coach, Rochelle Melander, explains the project book and gives great tips on how to begin your own in the following post from her blog. [Learn more about Rochelle below the post.]


The Project Book

by Rochelle Melander

In 2002, when Julie Powell began her Julie and
Julia blog project, cooking 524 of Julia Child’s
recipes in a single year, the project book was a
fairly new idea. The Julie and Julia book was
published in 2005, and Sony pictures made it into
a movie in 2009. Today, the market is flooded with
project books that cover a huge variety of topics.
Just this morning I happened upon two that I’d
never heard of before: The Toaster Project: Or a
Heroic Attempt to Build a Whole Electric Appliance
from Scratch by Thomas Thwaites and The Feast
Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and
found my way by keeping chickens, foraging,
preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on
$40 a week) by Robin Mather. As a reader, I love
project books. They give me the chance to live
vicariously through another writer’s experiences.

What is The Project Book? The project book is a
written record of a writer’s attempt to conquer a project.
The project book can fit into a number of genres: memoir,
essay collection, how-to, or self-help. In My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir, Noelle Hancock tells the story of her year trying
to live out Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, “Do
one thing every day that scares you.” Throughout
the course of the year, Hancock tackles a bunch of
her fears and chronicles the most interesting
including diving with sharks, doing stand-up
comedy, and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. In
cookbook/memoir/essay collection, Make the Bread,
Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook
from Scratch—Over 120 Recipes for the Best
Homemade Foods, Jennifer Reese wrote about testing
the value and wisdom of cooking a variety of
popular foods at home (like hot dog buns and
Worcester sauce). Reese evaluated each food item
based on three questions: *Should you make it or
buy it? *How much of a hassle is making it? *How
much does each option cost?

How Writers Create Project Books. Many writers
who do project books begin their venture solely
for their own well-being. Some writers create
their books after the project is done. Other
writers work on the project in public, via a blog
or video diary. For some of those writers, the
blog gets enough attention to attract a book deal.
Late last year, the Penguin Group sent me a review
copy of River Jordan’s book Praying For Strangers:
An Adventure of the Human Spirit. Jordan began her
project with a New Year’s resolution: to pray for
a different stranger every day for a year. At the
beginning, she had no intent to write a book. In
Praying for Strangers, Jordan recounts what
happened when she started living out her
resolution. Some of the stories give the reader a
vivid glimpse into the lives of the people Jordan
prayed for. Others share the challenging events in
her life or tackle a topic like “the shape of
prayer.” In the last chapter of Praying for
Strangers, Jordan shares her hesitation to write a
book on this experience: “And the most personal,
private part of my life, forever and ever and
truly, is my private relationship with God and my
prayer life. And here I am baring my soul on paper
and revealing what I consider to be most intimate
part of my creation.” (pp. 317-18)

On the other side of the spectrum, Gretchen
Rubin’s The Happiness Project book began as a blog
about her quest to find more joy in life by using
the happiness interventions recommended by experts
in positive psychology. Cami Walker’s book 29
Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life
also began as a blog. Cami, who has multiple
sclerosis, tried the spiritual practice of giving
a gift every day for 29 days. Both the blog and
the book include stories from readers who have
also been changed by the 29 Gifts project.

Are you Ready to Tackle a Project Book? Here are
some questions to ask yourself before you start
working on your project book.

1. Is the project worthy of a book (or would it
be a better article or blog series)? Project books
recount the author’s attempt to master a skill or
practice, sometimes with humorous missteps. But
the best project books do more than chronicle an
adventure. They also cover ideas, themes, and
issues that have universal appeal to readers. For
example, NPR lauded Thomas Thwaites’s The Toaster
Project for collecting “ideas as far-ranging as
medieval metallurgy, sustainability, mass
production, and our ‘throwaway’ consumer culture.”
Use the following questions to determine the worth
of your potential project:

+Who is my ideal reader?

+In what ways will this book appeal to my ideal

+What are 20-30 topics I can cover in the book?

2. What is my plan for completing this project?
Most of my New Year projects crash and burn before
January is over. Last year I vowed to meditate
every morning before getting out of bed. I even
thought I might blog about it. After several weeks
of sleeping through my meditation tapes, I gave
up. Clearly I did not plan well. Before starting
your project, use these questions to create a
project plan:

+How do I plan to do this project? Include
information like: How many days a week will I work
on the project? When will I work on it? What will
I do during each time period?

+What tools, supplies, or support people do I
need to make this project a success? How can I get
what I need to complete the project?

+What potential barriers might prevent me from
completing the project?

+How will I overcome them?

+How will I measure my progress on the project?

+Who can be my accountability partner for this

3. How will I record my experience with my
project? In tackling a project book, it can help
to have some thoughts about how you will want to
write about the project. Use these questions to
determine your plan:

+Will I write about the project in a private
journal or will I blog about it?

+What type of a book can I imagine writing about
this project—self-help, memoir, how-to, essay, or
something else?

+How might my journaling or blogging translate
into a book at the end of a project? (Most books
that begin as journal entries or blog posts need
to be rewritten to fit the book format.)

Next Steps. So are you ready to take on a project
and write about it? If you’re still not quite
sure, read a few project books. Imagine yourself
in the writer’s place—could you do a project like
this one? If not, what project would stir your
imagination? Start taking notes. Who knows—the
project book might be your very next adventure!

Your turn and a chance to win, Praying For Strangers.
What’s your favorite project book? Leave your comment on her blog
at http://www.writenowcoach.com/blog/?p=725
On Thursday, she’ll  hold a drawing and give one of you her copy of
Praying For Strangers by River Jordan.

Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) is the 10th book authored by Melander who teaches professionals how to write  fast, get published, establish credibility and navigate the new world of social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com and sign up to be a member of her Write Now! Mastermind class for professionals at http://www.writenowmastermind.com

Connect with Your Fans If You Want to Sell Books

The following article appeared in Dan Janal’s Irreverent Marketing Memo on 10-17-11

Four young authors are selling lots of books and are inspiring a lot of people at the 21st Century Book Marketing Conference, [including Dan Janal!]

They are selling lots of books and their stories are all different.
Rick German, a coach and author of “Monetize Your Passion” says he networked like mad with other authors in his niche. “No matter what n iche you are in, you can meet the right people.” He did favors for them for two years, always asking, “How can I support you?” When his book came out, he called in the favors and people were happy to help. Now he spends every morning jogging on the beach, taking a dip and meditating – then coaches people on how to live his lifestyle. Sweet.

Kailin Gow has built an empire in the tween market and then the teen market as her readers grew up. She maintains strong ties to her readers by answering their emails (up to 2 hours a day) and responding via Facebook. She has a Facebook page for each book series. “They protect me from people who attack” she said. As to the time commitment she added, “I don’t sleep much.” Her books include the Desire Series, PULSE, Wicked Woods and Frost. A major worldwide game developer is creating games based on each series, she said.

Kevin Hansen collected people&rsq uo;s “regrets” on his website, then self-published a book “Secret Regrets: What If You Had a Second Chance.”  Get this: he contacted the Dr. Phil show and pitched his book – and they said yes, let’s do an entire show around this. That NEVER happens. But it did.

Hannah Dennison has written four books in the Vicky Hill Mysteries series by getting up at 5 a.m. every day and writing for two hours before going to her job.

These young authors serve as an inspiration to all!


Dan Janal helps small businesses get publicity so they can sell more products. My clients get terrific results from my coaching, consulting, done-for-you services and do-it-yourself tools. For info, go to www.prleadsplus.com or call me at 952-380-1554.

Writing a Book is the Rage: Are You a Published Author Yet?

Is it just me or does writing a book seem to be the latest rage?

My email bulges with announcements of teleseminars, conferences, retreats, summits and classes all set on helping aspiring authors and ambitious entrepreneurs write books, and fast. Workshops and packaged courses promise that you can write [Read more…]

Authors Welcome Here

You have found your way here. That tells me something. You are either writing a book, thinking about writing a book, or trying to figure out how to publish the one you wrote.

On this site you’ll find help in many forms. Resources, tips, and announcements of classes and other events for aspiring authors and self-publishers.

Get [Read more…]