J.K. Rowling famously thought up a school of witchcraft and wizardry while on a delayed train. Of course, as it often is when the muse decides to strike, she was penless (and, she admits, too shy to ask for one).
Rowling, of course, was eventually able to find a pen, and 400 million copies later, Harry Potter and his world of magic has become one of the most beloved stories of our time. But, as Rowling wrote each book, that world got bigger and bigger until not even a delayed train ride could help her organize it.
Instead, Rowling took to organizing on paper, creating a massiv... keep reading
“Industry analyst Mike Shatzkin said that authors have long been recognized as the consumer-facing brand that most matters (to publishers and readers), and that today every author can build some kind of digital presence. However, he said, while a few authors do that very well, most do it badly.” This is publishing expert Jane Friedman, who recently shared an keep reading
Who is your book aimed at? Too many new authors feel the answer should be “everyone”–but that really amounts to “no one”. As with archery, failing to take aim with a book pretty much guarantees you won’t be hitting any bullseyes. Here’s the truth: As tempting as it might be to believe your book is for everyone, that’s almost never the case. In fact, the more successful a book is, the more likely it was written for a niche audience. These books aren’t afraid to go narrow and deep in their message, which means they appeal to... keep reading
I was working with an author last week who was struggling to find his way with his manuscript. “When I talk about these ideas, I’m succinct, relaxed, sometimes even funny. But when I sit down to write, the words come out all formal and stiff. Why can’t I be myself in my writing?”
Sure enough, his chapter draft was dry, stuffed with extraneous details, and weighed down by industry jargon. I knew him to be a lively, quick-witted person of passion and deep empat... keep reading
Books take us to new worlds–but when we’re writing them without a clear plan in place, it’s easy to overshoot the intended destination and get lost somewhere between Polaris and Ursa Major. To properly navigate the writing of our book, we need a solid outline–in essence, the itinerary for our writing voyage. And what better way to plot out an itinerary than by using a mind map.
Simply put, a mind map is a tool to capture and organize ideas, often in the form of a spider diagram. You might remember making them in elementary school, when they probably looked... keep reading
Your book contains some of your best ideas. But do those ideas add up to a streamlined, compelling manuscript… or a pile of disorganized thoughts? When you’re outlining your nonfiction book, it’s easy to get so caught up in the content that you neglect to plan the book’s overarching structure. This can be a real problem because many readers will give up in frustration when faced with a book that forces them to work too hard to understand it.
So how should you structure your book? Of course you could always just move through your material chapter by chapter, begin... keep reading
“Enthusiastically agree? Respectfully beg to differ? Have your say here.”
So says the comment box under every TED video. As a place for nurturing ideas, TED wholeheartedly supports discussion, and their content shows it. Whether it’s a divisive talk on religion or an inspiring talk on finding yourself, TED’s comment boards are full of TED-heads sharing their own opinions on the latest controversy or their stories of personal empowerment.
But with the average TED talk running to just 18 minutes, it can be difficult to prepare yourself for the conversati... keep reading
What does it mean to be a prolific writer? Well, by the book it means to “write in large quantities or with great frequency”. The prolific writers are the ones who’ve figured out all the secrets of the productivity game. And while there are a number of notable writers in this vein–say, Isaac Asimov with his 506 published works, or Alexandre Dumas who churned out hundreds back when paper was a luxury–there is one who has not just mastered the rules of w... keep reading
I don’t believe in writers’ block, any more than I believe in washing-dishes-block, or dealing-with your-taxes-block, or confronting-a-scary-problem-block. I’m not saying that writing will always come easily, or that you won’t sometimes stop and find it hard to start again. Of course you will. What I’m saying is that the reasons for halting your work are perfectly logical, therefore so are their remedies.
When your productivity dries up (and it will), do not deceive yourself that you’re the victim of some kind of creativity flu, or a passive vessel waiting to be filled wi... keep reading
What’s your word count today? Go ahead, take a look. Is it as high as you were hoping? If not, these graphics will guide you to more productive writing sessions–meaning more words, more books, and more time as an author. Happy writing!
Okay, maybe skip the bacon, eggs, and sausage, but countless sources state that eating a healthy breakfast can keep your energy up and your concentration steadfast. And don’t rule out dinner-time foods–fish and leafy vegetables are a great wa... keep reading