Personal Brand Strategist

All Posts by Dale Darley

Nonfiction writers: How to find your ideal reader via market segmentation

How do you compete with all of the other nonfiction writers in your genre to make sure your ideal reader, buys and reads your book? It’s possibly a question that you have mulled over, but not thought much about before you start to write your book.

If you carefully define your ideal reader before you start to write, you will have a better book and chances are you will be hanging out with them and demonstrating that you are the right person to be writing this book as you write. Marketing your book starts before you even start to write it.

This weekend I have been staying with my mum. Her TV habits are very different to mine, I’m a NetFlix chica and after that, I have ‘stuff’ on in the background, for the dogs, as I write. I normally like silence to write in, but in the evenings I like to feel like I have company. Ok don’t judge me, I am a slave to the furry ones and if they want TV on…

Mum wanted to watch a film with Melissa McCarthy in. As luck would have it she stumbled across one just starting. Identity Thief was very silly and quite touching, I’ll admit to thoroughly enjoying it and laughing loads – just what the doctor ordered. We were the perfect audience for this film.

As it was a commercial station we had to endure the ad breaks. I was tantalised by adverts for vaginal pessaries, a lube to create awesome orgasms, and aftershave with a sexy man which mum drooled over. There were others and all with sex as the vibe. I can’t say that I normally notice adverts but these stuck out and got me thinking more about ideal readers and how to define one.

It could have been an anomaly and mum at 80 and I single (for the moment) were not the intended audience for these advertising slots. But someone somewhere sat down with the viewing figures and decided that at this time of the evening women over 55 who needed a little oomph in their lives would be watching a funny movie.

One of the ways that TV advertisers will work out who their perfect audience (your ideal reader), is through data analysis.

Yeah ok, mop that fevered brow finding your ideal reader through data analysis is that that bad – really!!!

A question for you – how well you know the ideal reader for your book. People buy books because of some sort of outcome, solution or result that it gives them. Go grab a journal and write what comes up for you. Then ask, is that really your ideal reader?

Who is your ideal reader?

How well do you know the wants and needs of your ideal reader? When you write you are looking to connect to one reader. A single reader. Why?

  • Much easier to write because we are speaking to that person
  • It will make a better book, one which creates a connection
  • It is more likely to be read and enjoyed. If we write for one reader he/she will implement what we are teaching, will hear or enjoy what we have to say.
  • When you adjust your voice to your reader, it becomes just as if you were talking face to face
  • It is more likely to sell. There is a place for a book as a personal journey for ourselves, but the reality is that most of us want our books to sell and to be read

It may not seem like a ‘nice’ idea to see your reader as a self-centred creature only out for what they can get, but the reality is that our reader wants to know WIIFM – what’s in it for me? Unless it is a present for someone else, they are not going to buy your book on “better health for menopausal women if they are a young twenty-something. Menopause is far away and is what their granny has.

Although I have to say I wish I had never laughed at my mum as she hot flushed her way through ‘those’ year.

It is easier to write and sell books when you know who they are for.

For clarity, a target market is made up of buyers and readers:-

  • Buyers – people we attract to buy (these will be the reader and anyone who buys for others)
  • Readers – these are the ones we want to connect to and communicate with emotionally
  • Readers and buyers = your audience

Knowing who your buyers and readers are, where they hang out and why you are writing for them, will also help you clarify what to write about

What does the data say about your ideal reader?

You may have heard the term market segmentation?

The objective of segmentation is to identify unique markets with similar attributes and then find segments that are profitable. Common market segment dimensions: –

Demographic and Geographic location – These affect the size of the market and reader’s needs, desires, and usage

  • Demographic – E.g. age, sex, income, education, the size of household, homeownership, etc.
  • Geographic – Where they are located, both physical and virtual

Behavioural needs, attitudes, and buying patterns – These affect the product and promotion variables

  • Behavioural – The processes your reader uses to select, buy, use, and dispose of your books. Or how they think, feel, reason, and choose between different books and authors

Psychological – Urgency of needs satisfaction. These affect the place and price variables

  • Psychological – This gives us insight into who is most likely motivated to buy. We are looking for psychological attitudes such as aspirations, interests, attitudes, opinions, lifestyle, etc. These factors enable us to identify similar groups of people. E.g., businessmen and women aged 35 – 55. After which we will look at defining which groups of people to target. E.g. Female entrepreneurs 45+

Take each of these areas and start to try and identify who your ideal reader might be.

Invest in identifying your ideal reader

How committed are you to act on the information that you uncover? Will you amend your outline, chapter content, the outcome for your book or even the title of the book? What about the marketing messages? If you are not prepared to undertake this work and there is no plan to take advantage of this research, then don’t look at segmentation.

However, if you do undertake market segmentation, you will have a much better book.

When I started writing Healing Osteoporosis Naturally it was a healing book for me. I needed to write to heal, but when I decided to segment the market properly the nature of the book changed. It has (in my mind) a clearly defined place on the osteoporosis bookshelf.

My book is for the postmenopausal women, who have been newly diagnosed, is in fear and needs a map to heal herself and good resources.

Create your action plan for your ideal reader

Once you have defined who your ideal reader is by undertaking a market segmentation review, create a plan for writing and marketing. Test your theories by blogging your book. You will get valuable feedback on your content and you will be able to review your book plan before you start to write or at least early on.

What is driving your decision?

This is an interesting question. Are you trying to make your content fit an ideal profile reader for a particular reason? Sometimes it becomes rather overwhelming to have to think about things like segmentation when all you want to do is write and help others.

Step back from your emotional connection to the content, undertake your segmentation, reflect on it. It does not have to be perfect, just perfect for now. You will probably find as you write that it will become clearer.

Recalibrate your ideal reader often

Things change. Markets change. People’s desires and wants – yes they change too. As you write and undertake further research you will find yourself going off on tangents. Check to make sure they are relevant and if so refine your ideal profile reader.

You will find that when you hang out where your ideal readers are they will ask questions that you may never have considered. If lots of people are asking the same question it’s got to be worth a review – right?

What to do next?

Grab a big sheet of paper and some coloured pens and draw your ideal reader with the four segments that we have discussed. Leave a space and write questions my ideal reader asks. Keep mind mapping and musing.

Things to try

  • Try segmenting around problems and questions
  • Shrink the market and then expand it – which offers you the greatest benefits?
  • Do a not perfect ideal reader profile – what does that tell you?
  1. If writing a book is on your do now list…

    For private coaching I offer the following if you are unsure which you want and need, please connect with me.

How to write a book in WordPress

Do you really want to write a book in WordPress? Ok, let’s rephrase that and ask why would you write a book in WordPress? (Other content management systems are available.)

We know that blogging your book is a great way to build your brand, gain clarity, get feedback and be able to write your book (first or second draft) quickly.

That’s why you would write your book in WordPress.

When I write a blog which is essentially what you are doing when you write a piece of content for your book, I write it in WORD. You could, of course, use Google Docs, Scrivener or Pages on your Mac. As they say, other word processors are available.

Get organised before you write a book

The point of this is, always write your content in a computer-based system and make sure you have it saved in something like DropBox (your file system in the sky).  This gives you a backup and peace of mind.

I’ve talked in previous articles about how to blog your book and write a book, I’ve talked about

Now it’s looking at WordPress and thinking about how you would set that up. But before we go there I am assuming that on your computer based filing system you are already organised?

By that I mean you have a folder for your book.

E.g. My books – name of book – plan – chapters – cover – marketing plan – images – diagrams

I always write each chapter separately and then when it’s time to get a proof I put all of the content (obviously) into one document.

I was once asked if I was a Virgo (they are very organised alledgedly) because I was so organised, the trouble is I have in the past over organised my content and then lost it, so whatever you do make it simple and work for you.

The same applies when you want to write a book in WordPress.

I’m going to make lots of assumptions here.

  • You are already using WordPress and know that you write your articles in posts
  • You are using categories. E.g. Brand, Business, Write a book
  • You use tags when you write an article. E.g how to blog a book, write a book, writing a book
  • That you are blogging your book, for the reasons above rather than writing a book on WordPress, which is your book in readable form on WordPress (and I’ll cover this another day).

First things first you need a content plan

When you have your book outline, you need to plan your content. I am not going to teach my grandmother to suck eggs, get yourself a proper content planner such as this one from Kevin and Sarah Arrow. It will save you hours of work.

If not, create a spreadsheet with the relevant columns and track it that way.

Categories and tags

Once upon a time, when I was a young girl there was only categories in WordPress and to get tags I had to use a plugin. Now both are available, but before you jump in let’s think about this.

Categories and tags are the two main ways to categorise content. Categories are general and tags let us get down to the detail. Both are useful to the site structure, search engines and your book.

I am not a super-duper SEO expert, I am learning as I go along and things keep changing (how very dare they). If you find planning your content a struggle please talk to an expert and use the content planner – it will be far easier in the longer term.

When I was writing Plan your non-fiction book, I used a category structure name of the book and then each chapter. It was not my most sensible decision, because it became very messy. Additionally, it made it difficult to hide these categories on my blog. The solution was to first use a hierarchical structure. E.g.

  • Category – Write a book
  • Subcategory – Plan your non-fiction book
  • Sub subcategory – PYNFB Ch 1
Categories

But… there is always a but, the display in the sidebar did not conform for some bizarre reason and it looked messy.

The next step (I use Thrive Themes) was to create a menu of the categories I did want to show and place this in my side bar.

There are probably lots of other solutions – this worked for me.

Recap

  • Create a sensible structure (you will see a drop-down box with parent category in
  • Create a custom menu with just the categories you want to display
  • Add your custom menu to the sidebar

Tags

When you have outlined your book you will have sub headings and keywords that are meaningful to both the book and the search engines. This takes some work but will be worth it. Think – what is my ideal reader looking for? What would they type into the search engine?

Great we have a plan, outline, chapter framework, categories and tags, what else?

Write a book as a blog

We write blogs differently to how we would write the content for a book and that’s ok. You are using your blog to get your book written fast, to test your ideal readers reaction, to get feedback and clarity.

You write blogs for your book all the way to the final draft (if you wanted to), but remember it must never be identical content to what you publish. When the book is published you can repurpose again.

With your blogs you have the opportunity to create videos, infographics, memes, quotes and all kinds of fun things that would not look right in a book, but which would be attractive to your blog reader.

Which also gives you lots of opportunities for promotion across your social media platforms.

How I blog a book

Without nagging you, have a plan, knowledge map, outline and chapter framework. Then you must very clearly identify your ideal reader and what questions they are asking. What do they search for to get the support that they need? You will find out this by hanging out with your ideal readers and researching your subject very carefully.

Ideal reader

If I use HealingOsteoporosis Naturally, as an example. My book is aimed at the newly diagnosed – just as I was. I started a brand new journal so I knew what questions I was asking, but I was also able to see what other questions were being asked time and time again, but with no clear answer or process. If I found it confusing, I am sure others did too.

My ideal reader is someone who wants to explore their life to find out how they got here and rebalance all aspects which leads to healthy bones, mind and body. And they are prepared to put in the work – just as I did.

Many people (not all) just want a quick fix, are in fear or are not prepared to sort out their lives at a deeper level. Deeper means digging for dirt and cleaning up your life and that is not for the faint-hearted.

So I am not for everyone and I don’t want to be. The research was fascinating but also upsetting as so many lives are ruined by mis-diagnosis, not being listened to and having inappropriate drugs pushed at them. I cried a lot.

Book process and outcome

Then it was about the process of finding the root cause and process for healing naturally. As a subject matter expert (writing, energy healing and nutrition not a bone doctor) we often want to share too much, we have to come back to basics and remember to not overwhelm the reader.  This applies both in your book and on the blog.

What is the journey you are taking the reader on for this book and what outcome do you want for them. It’s about them not you.

Search engines – what are people really looking for?

With your ideal reader, questions, a clear process and outcome – how healing osteoporosis naturally – you can then tackle the search engines and working out what is asked there – that was a bit harder and I am still working on it. I have a tendency to write quirky headlines and have to come back to common sense.

Write and use your feedback wisely

It’s easier to join a blogging challenge and write for 30 days. When you have a challenge and a team rooting for you it’s easier. But more importantly you have a body of work to edit.

I found that by blogging I could see where the gaps were and when I got asked questions I was able to tighten up the outline and my content.

Reflect

Blogging your book is a fast(er) process, but like all quality books, you need to take time out to reflect. I wrote thousands of words for the blog and book and then unpublished most of them, because my plan was to publish the book much later and tie the book launch into National Osteoporosis Month.

With the book in edit and loads of blogs prepared I can when ready start that launch process properly and I have already saved myself lots of time.

Sure I will need to edit the blogs, but that’s easier than writing them all from scratch.

Make this work for you

My process will not be yours.

I like to take my time when it comes to producing a book, especially a healing book that I am living as I am writing. I enjoy the challenge of getting lots of content out and then taking time out to reflect. In that reflection time, I can heal some more, undertake more experiments and have more experiences to share. And I can watch how the market place for these types of books plays out. It’s all fascinating stuff.

Write a book in WordPress – Recap

  • Plan the book (Plan your non-fiction book and online course will help you)
  • Create an outline and chapter framework
  • Do a knowledge audit
  • Do a content gap analysis
  • Set up your WordPress categories and tags (get help if this confuses you)
  • Get a content planner
  • Write (think about how to optimise for the search engines)
  • Promote
  • Reflect
  • Execute the next part of the plan

I do hope that you enjoy the process, I know that I do.

PS: you can still get my course Plan your non-fiction book via the Navigate bundle for £99 – along with 18 other great products and courses.

Being prepared to blog your book, the right way

Having a blog is a wonderful way to build your brand, show off your knowledge, skills and experience and write a book. But before you jump in pen first let’s think about a few ways to be prepared.

You have an idea that one-day you’d like to write a book. You have heard that blogging is a cool way to share your content and find out what your readers really want and you will get feedback from the comments made.

So far, so good.

I’ve talked about doing a knowledge audit to find out what you have, where to find it and where the gaps may be.

But what if after doing that you find that the book you want to write is not covered sufficiently well from your existing blogs? Well, that’s ok, create a plan and think about some of these points. In fact think about these even if you think you have the ‘right’ content.

Focus on what you want to be known for

Now is the time to review who you are and what you want to be known for so that the book you write or blog is focused on that. It takes time to be seen as an expert. So this is the perfect time to get clear before you write or repurpose 1000’s of words.

Focus on the content that you want to share

When you have an outline and chapter framework you will be able to make a list of potential blogs that you want to write or may already have. Next, consider how you want to make the blogs flow – in order of the chapters or more randomly but within a framework so that no one guesses that you are blogging your book. Consider other things you want to link to or events that perhaps you want to speak at. Always blog with a purpose.

For example, when I blogged Healing Osteoporosis Naturally, I did the 30 day blogging challenge. My purpose was to get lots of content out for the book and to test so that it made sense to me and my ideal reader. I also did it in what was the order of the chapters. However, during the editing stage, lots has changed, which is great because I now have other content to blog when I approach launch.

Making blogging and writing a habit

One way to do this is to kick it off is with a blogging challenge. You can join me using this link and coupon code MG2018BBC – you’ll save £1. But don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s only one pound. The content you get is brilliant and worth much more in terms of supporting your blogging habit.

Once you have done 30 straight days, you’ll have approx. 30,000 words. That’s a lot of content ready for you to edit. Plus you will be used to writing each day, which is vital if you are going to get this book published. Later you can consider blogging perhaps three times a week.

Write don’t edit

Focus and write, get your blogs out and consider the feedback that you will get, it will help you to shape the final outline and content.

Blogging your book is a fast way to lots of content while building your brand, but the magic is always in the editing.

As Sarah, who has blogged many books says “the blog is the perfect place to create first and second drafts, but the final draft is what becomes the book and that’s not what’s on the blog”

Work out what your writing process is

After I have outlined my book, I start by mapping out what I think I want to write about using a ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘what if’ framework (more on that in another blog). I look at keywords, key messages and concepts, calls to action and I consider how it fits together and flows. Then its write, write, write! Followed by periods of editing and more writing. Followed by remapping and reflecting.

I am not linear in the way that I work and I have to force myself to keep coming back to my plan and refocusing. I am extremely good at writing too much and equally good at being brutal in the editing stage.

I very much like fresh new and exciting and have to find ways to bring that into my writing process, otherwise I will go off-piste and not focus on what I want to achieve.

Look at your process: –

  • What works?
  • What doesn’t?
  • What can be adapted?
  • In a perfect world, how would you write or blog your book?
  • What is your process?
  • How can you make your writing process work for you?

Deliver value

If the book you are writing comes with worksheets, then by all means give them away with your blogs in return for a share on social media, or ask your reader to sign up to get them.  

Better still create a small e-book or quiz that helps your reader to get an idea of what it would be like to work with you. I always create an e-book as it helps me with the book flow – sort of like a book synopsis. (You will find an ebook at the bottom of this blog and a 7 day plan your book challenge at the top)

Answer questions, share how-tos and engage at every opportunity.

In case you are worried about giving things away, remember that you are not giving your IP away you are delivering extra value and your readers will love getting to know you through these. You can see how well these work for your ideal reader. Plus you will get much needed clarity.

One of the reasons people who read your blog will buy your book is because they want your wisdom and content neatly packaged in a way that they can easily consume – that is valuable.

Share you content widely so that people are prepared for your book

Marketing your book can never start too soon. Make sure you share your content and ask others to comment and share, so that you start to build a reputation, as you are blogging. Also worth pointing out is making it easy for others to share. There are lots of tools, try them and see what works for you.

Writing a book or even blogging a book is about being prepared, have a plan, create the outline, chapter framework, write, share, edit and edit some more. Make sure you think about what you want to be known for and start marketing straight away.

Be prepared to enjoy blogging your book

This is an important part. Enjoy the process. When I do 30 straight days I usually grab my computer first thing in the morning, connect to my muse and write. After walking the doggies I come back to edit, add in videos or worksheets. Then I switch to posting and sharing across different platforms. Plus I love reading other bloggers work who are taking part in the challenge.

Being a part of a team all committing to a blog a day is very fulfilling.

Fancy blogging your book? 

Join the Soul Writer’s Academy – all course bundle membership for €47 per month. Use coupon code LEAPINTO2019 for 20% off.

PS: I’d love a comment and a share. Thank you.

Organising and repurposing your blog into a book #1

Organising and repurposing your blog into a book and then an online course, is a great way to efficiently use content that you already have. Often we forget that we have this vast well of ‘stuff’. I bet if you start to look at your blog content you will be amazed at what you can repurpose.

However, before you rush off to copy and paste 20 to 30 of your blogs into a WORD document, give them a little edit and call them a book, please have a think.

How aligned is the content you want to repurpose, with the core message of your business, brand and proposed book?

Don’t copy and paste your blog into a book and here’s why

  • We write blogs differently to the way we would write for a book, you still have a big edit to do
  • It is likely that you haven’t outlined this book and nor do you have a chapter framework
  • It seems like a good idea, but in reality it is a lot of work, unless you plan it first

Ok, only three reasons, but they are big reasons and they are important. Why write a book that doesn’t have a clear purpose and plan? Yes, ok you can write a book, just because you want to – I do too.

Here’s some thoughts about what you can do instead. I’ll look at how to blog a book from scratch in another article.

Outline your book first

  • Create an outline
  • Understand what your ideal reader will get from this process
  • What is the core message of your business?
  • What is the core message of your book?
  • What are the key messages of each chapter?
  • What kind of content will go into the chapter framework?

Now go and work out what you have and where it is. 

The knowledge challenge

We all know a lot, however, knowing what we know can be a challenge.  Plus some of what we know is already articulated on our blog and some remains in our heads, its stuff that we just know and do on an unconscious level and for the purpose of our book needs documenting.

In a ‘knowledge management’ environment the things that have been articulated are called explicit knowledge and those that are in our heads are called tacit knowledge.

For your book (and course), you may be thinking of leveraging existing articulated content, your blog for example (explicit), existing unarticulated content (tacit) and formulating new content from your thinking and research.

Your blog is explicit, it exists and you can lick it…

The knowledge formula

To make sense of our knowledge we need to locate it and create a map of where it is and how to access it. To do that we start with the knowledge formula.

Knowledge = Knowledge (explicit) + Knowledge (tacit)

Explicit = you can touch and feel it because it has already been expressed – you can lick it.

Tacit = it’s in your head, it is your unconscious competence (you just do it without thinking).

To make the formula work we need to gather together what we know we have, along with the stuff we know but don’t always know that we know, or even know how to articulate to others and therein lies the knowledge challenge. Confusing isn’t it?

The knowledge challenge and the unconscious competence model

The learning model unconscious competence explains what stages we go through to acquire new knowledge.

Unconscious Competence Model

One way to understand how this works is this.

Stop and think about how you might make a cup of tea.  Now write all of the steps down and then teach someone else what you do.  Easy?  Now find a subject that you are an expert in, try it again.  Still easy?

Think it through, walk it through, break it down into chunks, map it out and test. Keep refining and changing your processes until they work for you.

Understanding this model will also help you when it comes to outlining your book and establishing flow and trying to get your points across.

Keeping a track of your knowledge for your repurposing your blog and other content strategy

If you haven’t already done so, create a master spreadsheet of your knowledge / content – create columns, such as:-

  • Category (chapter or Book and chapter)
  • What it is (blog, report, video, presentation)
  • Type (facts, concepts, procedures, know how)
  • Where it is?
  • Explicit or tacit?
  • How you will use it?
  • What questions will this answer – think key chapter questions?
  • Research needed?

There are two ways that you can do this:-

  • Make a list of everything you have and then categorise it
  • Outline your book or books and the work out what content where

Discovering your knowledge with a knowledge audit

Go and find your content in your blog or otherwise and list it in your spreadsheet. Where are the gaps? After you have made your list the next step is to pull it together in some kind of a system, be that something electronic like a file folder or Evernote or by putting it into a document folder or a combination.

Your tacit column will tell you what you have to find a way to articulate it, and possibly undertake some research. This could be new blog content or you will write it specifically for this book and blog it later.

Organising your content with a knowledge Map

A knowledge map is useful for organising related information in a structured manner that facilitates comprehension by showing the connections between the information pieces. In your spreadsheet this is the category, how you will (re)use it and what questions does it answer?.

E.g. think of your book outline, you could organise your ‘stuff’ by chapter and in doing so you can see a logical flow and know how it will address your readers needs.

When you know what you have, you can plan how you will use it.

What is re-purposed content?

In simple terms, it is taking what you have and reusing it in a way that fits the new purpose. E.g. The content you have pulled together from blogs and articles can be reused as part of your book and vice versa what you write for your book can be reused for blogs, videos, tweets etc.

If you are a regular blogger you will probably have enough material on your blog to write many books.  I did this with Plan your non-fiction book.

When you are collecting your knowledge and content think of all the ways, not just as a book you can use it. Identify your reuse purpose in your spreadsheet.

Being critical about your content

Undertaking the organisation of your knowledge and content is a brilliant way to keep on top of the content for a book, but it is really important that you also know how that content fits with your core message and what need it fulfils for your reader. In other words, don’t reuse it if it doesn’t fit, hence the category and what questions does this answer. And be tough!

Make sure everything is aligned – your book, brand and business

Do not throw anything away

Keep it all, even if it doesn’t seem to be useful right now, you never know!

Which book can you blog

Once you have all of your knowledge and content mapped out, you will be able to see if you have one or many books. Please do map it out, yes it takes time, but it will be worth it and when it comes to repurposing your blogs into a book it will be so much easier.

Now that you have mapped out your blogs do you have a feeling or knowing about which is the right book, right now?

If writing a book to build your brand and business is

  1. Something you think you want to do, and then consider this 7-day plan your book challenge.
  2. A burning desire and you know you need support, then please message me – a chat costs nothing, and we can check out if we are a good working fit
  3. Definitely on the table, and you’d like to work in a group, then get on the waiting list for write a book, create a business you love
  4. You can grab a copy of my book Plan your non-fiction book in a weekend on Amazon

Journaling, making memories and writing memoir

Journaling has saved my life many times as I poured my heart and soul onto blank pages and shared a whole range of stories, memories and emotions. These have become memoir. More specifically healing memoir.

I haven’t always published because just the act of writing a book can heal the trauma that surfaces through journaling. These healing memoirs are just as powerful as the memoirs that you write for actual publication where you seek to inspire and impact others.

Make no mistake whichever kindof memoir you write, it will change your life forever.

Memories can be healing, revealing, scary, upsetting, fun and a whole lot of emotions in-between. Every experience creates a memory in the library of your heart and soul. When you come to write a memoir and walk into that vast room, you may not know where or how to start – but you know you just have to start.

Personally, I think that when you start the journey into memoir the most important thing is that you allow.

What I mean by that is you allow yourself to wander through the library and enjoy the process of connecting your memories with new eyes. Also allowing whatever needs to arise in the moment.

Often I am confronted with something that triggers a memory, it seems at first disconnected to the memoir, personal story, book or blog that I am writing. And then just like that, it starts to make sense.

In that sense making process, I believe that we can create a sense of freedom.

Everything starts from within. Our beliefs about ‘things’ seem so deeply ingrained, yet when we explore with new eyes and open our hearts to the message that lies beneath we start to liberate ourselves from self-imposed tyranny.

Now I am not saying you will be jumping for joy when you are reminded of events. You may be happy and equally, you may cry. The important thing is that you allow, acknowledge, accept and then take some small action.

Let me give you an example.

A few weeks ago I went to a birthday meal celebration and after we headed back to the birthday house for music and chat.

They had an Alexa and while you may think it odd that I was rather fascinated with it, I loved that I could change the music at the drop of a hat and indulge myself.

While everyone was in the garden chatting I asked Alexa to find Nirvana for me. Songs like this take me back to another time when I would have been on the dance floor all night.

In January my spine fracture and stuff like dancing hurts and so to protect myself I don’t. But then a very curious thing happened.

I let myself relax into the words and let the music flow through me. Music and parties were a big part of my childhood. My parents, like many of their generation had regular house parties. They made a huge table of food, there was lots of noisy adults, masses of booze and music.

As the music played and I danced alone, many memories came back to me. I wasn’t at this party, I was back as a child twisting and laughing to John, I’m only dancing. In another memory, I was driving away from a company having just been made redundant – that was Nirvana and very loud. In yet another, I was at a Bowie concert lying on the floor staring at the sun. I was everywhere.

A friend of mine used to be called the phantom DJ because she would constantly change CD’s and stop songs part way through as her excitement for what was to come grew. It was confusing, but funny. I was teetering on the edge of taking her title when the hostess told me enough and to just let Alexa play.

One last song I begged and then I’m going to bed. ‘Alexa play Jolene.’ We all sang and danced to one last track. What a wonderful song to finish a lovely evening.

I haven’t been able to dance all year. This I thought is a memory that will go into my memoir – Healing Osteoporosis Naturally. It’s personal story with how to – a version of memoir. This party and dancing is part of my healing story. I was able to dance and I have come so far.

It’s been a crazy book to write.

The story has been an emotional roller coaster, as I wrote in my journal I changed. Every pen stroke was a piece for healing, something for reflection, an action, and part of the story that I would tell.

It’s been a hard book because of all of the technical research that I have had to do. Although I have trained in nutrition, it was like going to medical school and nutrition school all rolled into one. I must have read over 30 books and countless articles to understand how all of the systems of the body can become unbalanced and impact the bones.

My brain exploded as I made connections and made sense. And then it didn’t and then it did…

I wrote it as I worked out what my root cause was and experimented with nutrition. My life was all about osteoporosis and finding balance in this crazy world.

I was scared. I was certainly pig headed. No specialist doctor was going to shove poison in my body and ignore my questions. Who did they think they were anyway? 

Crying and endless senseless fear invaded the nights when I couldn’t sleep.

But I knew that I had to keep writing. I journaled through the terror and the research. At night when I wanted to get off this planet and for the pain to go away I journaled, reflected and made sense.

I found my root cause and a brilliant doctor, whom I amused with the books and research that I took in. He helped me with tests and bouncing ideas around and his faith in my ability to know how to heal me restored my faith in some of the medical profession.

If I hadn’t started a brand new journal just for this journey, I couldn’t have healed as quickly and I have been able to refer to it to help me stay true to my memories and write my book.

Take your time to write your memoir

Books like this (memoir and personal story) are not quick writes. You need to take time out and I have done just that. While I was immersed in my healing I wrote, researched and reflected. I also set up a website and a support group so that I could help others – that felt good and kept me grounded. My launch and marketing plan have been outlined. I am almost ready to unleash this book and now I am in the right frame of mind.

I’ve left this book for three months so far and will come back to edit ready for the launch soon. The time away has been equally healing. I wanted some time to be me, enjoy life and not be a nutrition, physiology and osteoporosis ‘expert’ (as much as a lay person can be). 

When I come back to this memoir, I am reminded that when I edit I must look beneath the stories and memories that make this memoir and to let whatever arises. There will be another call from my soul to release more.

You may think you are just writing a memoir, but in effect as you work on your book you are creating a pathway to inner freedom.

For you to ponder…

What is the core message of your memoir?

We always come back to the core message. A memoir is not just a story, there is a learning point or points in every chapter, which comes back to the core message.

In Healing Osteoporosis Naturally, I’m supporting people with a process to find their root cause and how to use natural healing to find balance in their lives, heal their bones and their hearts. They are then invited to designed a unique healing plan. Not dissimilar to planning and writing a book…

I’ve used techniques from my coaching in this healing memoir. For example I use a timeline exercise to help writers find the stories and content for their book. When we look at business the timeline enables you to find knowledge, skills and experiences and what you really love and are good at. In a memoir we discover memories. In journaling it’s about memories and making sense – finding the root cause of trauma.

In healing yourself and knowing how you got to this point is a big part of healing – so timelines is an invaluable process, which links to the core message of the book.

I’ve written this book because it helped me to heal and it taught me some valuable lessons for use in my book and business coaching.

However, the bigger message for me is to inspire you to have the courage to write your book, so that you can inspire others to heal and grow.

Do you have a powerful memoir or personal story to write and wondering where to start and if you could turn this into a business? Maybe you want to pivot what you do or add credibility to your existing business. Perhaps you just need to write it.

Start a new journal today, who knows where you will go with it. I’ve been scribbling in mine this morning with a cuppa and feel better for letting my words flow.

If writing a book to build your brand and business is

  1. Something you think you want to do, and then consider this 7-day plan your book challengeYou will know at the end if writing a book is really for you.
  2. A burning desire and you know you need support, then please message me – a chat costs nothing, and we can check out if we are a good working fit
  3. Definitely on the table, and you’d like to work in a group, then get on the waiting list for write a book, create a business you loveOver 12 months we will write a book, blog, build your brand and create a business that you love.
  4. Something you are curious about, you can grab a copy of my book Plan your non-fiction book in a weekend on AmazonYour lowest cost entry into planning and writing the right book.

PS: Start a new journal today. You will see you life change in many ways, just from daily writing.

What kind of book should I write and why?

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

You are pondering ‘what kind of book should I write and more importantly – why?’ When someone says ‘write a book.’

People say that a lot don’t they? You have so much knowledge, so many skills and what about all of your amazing experiences – they say.

You, delighted that someone might think you worthy of such a role inwardly beam. But in reality, you freak. It can seem like a mammoth task unless there is a more than ‘it’s a nice idea’ to write. Planning and writing a book takes time and resources and so it needs to be justified in some way. You need to know your why. And you want to know how you can use a book to be more than ‘just’ a book.

Exploring why is a good place to start, but something often overlooked is what kind of book one should contemplate writing. It’s worth noting that you can write many kinds of books, you do not ever need to stick to one style or genre (no you don’t!!!).

I believe that there are books that want to be written for different stages of your life.

Here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing.

The how-to manual

The how-to manual book is the kind of book that you would write if let’s say you taught or coached a technical subject, sold software or a product – like a camera. In the early days of my training career in IT I wrote many a how-to book, we called them training manuals. They are extremely valuable. Naturally many people head over to YouTube to find out how to do something which gives you an opportunity to extend the reach of your book.

Think about some of the books you own in this genre. I have one on how to use my camera and some on painting and drawing. In these, there are no stories or case studies they simply show you have to do a particular task.

Take a look at some that you might own and ask is this something you would like to do and is this something that would prove useful to your clients? If you are a trainer, for example, giving a client a how-to book (manual) as part of a training course looks far more professional than a manual in a folder. In addition, because of print on demand either from a printer or Amazon, you can easily keep these up to date. Plus you have opportunities to sell extra workbooks and planners.

A recipe book

I don’t know about you, but I love recipe books, especially those that have stories to go with the recipes. Someone told me that they had read that recipe books sell well but are rarely used. That’s not true in my house as I love to experiment and find inspiration in another’s idea of the perfect dish.

One of the problems with recipe books is that they sometimes are missing parts of the process or the weights are not correct, or horror of horrors the writers fail to tell the readers that their oven or loving hand may produce different results.

While holidaying with my parents, I received a frantic call from a now ex. He’d rung to say his cake had sunk. While I knew that there could have been many reasons why, being so far and not being able to witness how this catastrophe had occurred I was at a loss.

When I arrived home, I invited him to show me the process in action. His job was to prepare the ingredients and then read to me each step as he did it. We got to the eggs; I said for him to wait, he impatient and knowing better, cracked the eggs and shoved them into the waiting ingredients. The recipe had omitted a vital part (whisk the eggs and add them slowly), and his cake mixture was now curdled. Luckily I knew how to ‘uncurdle’ a cake and the day was saved.

This kind of book would suit you if you love to cook, have a story or two, want to either be known for this, are doing it preserve yours or families recipes and you want a fun project.

You may also want to be able to support people who a) might cock it up or b) want to swap ingredients for health reasons and c) are meticulous to detail.

Self-help non-fiction book

In this category it can be any kind of self-help book, be that one on personal branding, how to write a book, healing trauma, training dogs, renovating furniture and a multitude of other subjects. I’ve clubbed them together, whereas on Amazon they would be classified by genre, e.g. business or mind, body, spirit.

The essence is the same that they support the reader on a journey. They differ from a manual which is more about giving instructions.

This is where I believe that you would want to ensure that your book, brand and business are aligned, and you pay attention to what this book will bring you. It has to be the right book for right now. If it takes the average writer a year to ‘knock out’ a book while running a business and juggling life, then this book needs to be focused on what you want to be known for.

For example, with three other coaching colleagues, we wrote a book on Executive Leadership, at the time it was relevant for all of us. Then my life changed, and although I am extremely proud of it, it’s not currently as relevant for me as it is the other authors.

By comparison, I have a book on how to plan and write a non-fiction book and this many years later is still very relevant for me. I have run writing retreats, workshops, have a coaching program and online courses based on it.

What do you love doing, what are you good at, what does the world need and what can you be paid for? What do you want to be known for which is sustainable in let’s say two years time?

What is your right book for right now?

Memoir

A memoir is a slice of your life. Memoirs are written for many reasons, most notably to leave a legacy. Every person has a story or two to tell, but whether they want to tell is another story. It requires is a theme (the slice) and a purpose. If you are writing about another member of the family or another person, then that is a biography.

Again memoirs fall into many categories, trauma, finding yourself, adventure or maybe a dedication to a cause.

These kind of books tend to be written by people who use them to support their speaking careers or to raise awareness of an important issue, but equally to contribute to their business in some other way.

Imagine if you have been on an incredible adventure and what you coach or teach is the skills you used to prepare and get you through that adventure. That would be worth writing about – right?

Biography

A biography is a story about someone else or something else. Perhaps you are a fan of a particular band, a family member was held in a prisoner of war camp, someone made a heroic journey, a person you want to write about suffered adversity, cured an illness, or went on a remarkable adventure.

I see these books about preserving the history surrounding the event and possibly not something that would support your business, but would none the less be extremely rewarding.

Personal story

I’ve separated this from memoir, as I see this as a combination of self-help book and memoir that you would use for your brand and business.

Your book would chart a period of your life (a period of awakening, transition and change), tell a story, offer research, practical experience and advice.

Most importantly it would inspire others personal growth and to know that there is a way.

This could be a cause-related book where you write it to support others and to raise awareness, but which you may not want to build a business around. Alternatively, this book might be a business book, and it could be your business pivot book – it gets you out of what you are doing now and into what speaks to your heart.

If you have experienced something which is life-changing and now want to coach and consult in this area, a book that is written like this is a) very rewarding to write and b) adds credibility to your brand, c) is something you can build products and services around and d) will inspire others to change.

Healing non-fiction

This is a book, which may never see the light of day. Imagine if you have been through a crisis of some kind and you want to move on. While there are many therapies that you could choose, writing is known to support healing. You could argue that journaling would serve the same purpose, and it might. However, with this book, you are following the flow of planning and writing a ‘normal’ non-fiction book, but instead of writing to publish, you are writing to heal.

Typically you would work with a coach who would guide you through the process, each week you would meet to discuss the chapter, and you would pour yourself into your book.

The very act of talking and writing with purpose enables you to explore your story, gain perspective and heal.

I have worked with many people in this way. The book never gets published, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences in the field of writing to heal I know.

Healing fiction

Like the healing non-fiction, this is what I call creative life writing. You would take an aspect of your life and write it from a purely fictional perspective, being very careful to protect the innocent and litigious.

Practically all fiction will contain some of the author’s life experiences or experiences that they have heard of or witnessed. This style of book will allow you to go on your journey while you have the pleasure of fictionalising and being creative in your expression of the tale. You could use some of the planning tools available for non-fiction books and then let the rest flow.

Using an event like NaNoWriMo, which is an annual write-a-thon is a perfect way to get 50,000 words out, and your mind cleared in a more artistic way. Imagine if you took some aspect of your life and wrote it in what I call a wicked way, where you get to be the master or mistress of your over-fertile imagination, anything could happen. In this way, you will see life from a new perspective.

I’m currently doing this and while I had a plan, what is flowing out of me is about betrayal, forgiveness, trust and finding love again. Who knew I needed to learn this…?

Fiction

Unlike healing fiction, the purpose of this is to entertain. Your purpose is very much that you want to write stories around a theme or for a particular genre, think 50 Shades, Harry Potter, Confessions of (now that is showing my age), The Tudors, murder mystery, thriller, psychological, children, teens, romantic comedy or historical. The list is endless.

You might do this because you want to build a career as a fiction writer, you love to write, or it’s your retirement dream.

Whichever you choose, remember it will only get written if it speaks to your heart. Where writing is concerned nothing gets done if it feels like you have been airlifted into purgatory. Check out the first 10 steps to your book – you may feel inspired.

Have a think and let me know what you are thinking of writing and why. Drop me a line and let’s chat about your book project.

Schedule Appointment

PS: If you are thinking of writing a book then here’s a run through of my online course Plan your non-fiction book

You can get it as part of the Navigate Bundle which depending on when you click this link you will get for £27 or £99 – bargain!

How To Get The Best From Collaboration With Business Colleagues

Collaboration – alone we can only do so much, together we can do so much more

What does collaboration bring up for you? Until recently I would have steered clear of a joint venture. This is not because I am against joint ventures it’s more that I have had my fingers burned over the years.

But recently things changed which have filled my heart and rebuilt my faith in the word team.

In January, a personal catastrophe occurred – my spine fractured. It meant that I had to take time out and work part-time for most of the year as I healed. To be honest there were points where I wanted to give up on everything. I, however, made a few conscious decisions. One was to remain in group run by the Arrows (Kevin and Sarah). The other was to heal my body as naturally as possible and to give myself time to do this – no matter how impatient I felt.

I remained in the Arrows group because of their leadership and the members. There were many days when I couldn’t participate and some days when I didn’t know if it was day or night. What I needed was to be inspired and motivated by what each team member was doing and to feel as if I was still in the ‘real’ world.

There were many days, indeed weeks when I would watch what they – as a team – were up to and cried because I couldn’t take part. I didn’t go quite as far as licking the screen to get a taste of their fun and excitement, but I wanted to.

A few months ago an opportunity for a group collaboration (The Navigate Bundle) appeared. I was still in a healing mindset rather than focused on my business, but I was intrigued. What if the collaboration on the table could ease me back?

Then I started to wonder ease me back to what? Did I still want to do what I did before my spine fractured? I thought I did but I was unsure.

In the collaboration (Navigate), we each needed to contribute a product. Ok, I thought I knew what that might be, but what if I no longer wanted to deliver that content? You can imagine what was going through my mind.

Without a moment’s hesitation I said yes and then set about working out what and how.

When you have had to take time out of your business it is only natural that you will be unsure of what you want to do ‘when you grow up.’

My intended contribution was Plan your non-fiction book online course. But first I needed to ensure that this was still my thing. Determined to make sure, I dug out an old workshop (create a business you love), brought it up to date, and took my own course while I turned it into a new online course. Yep – it was confirmed I still loved what I did – phew.

Here’s a run though of what you get in my course – Plan your non-fiction book

As the team became excited about how we would support each other, I found myself wanting to make sure I wasn’t going to let anyone down. I needed to contribute something that they would be proud to support as I would be of their offerings.

After completing my first new course in a long while – create a business you love – I had my vision. Next, I re-edited my book (Plan your non-fiction book in a weekend) and gave it a new cover, with that came a new workbook and business planner. Next, I updated and refreshed the course I was contributing and did the same with another course.

Now I felt like a valuable contributor and I was getting clarity around the vision I had created.

These are some of the things that I witnessed as we worked together and what I consider contributed towards a successful collaboration.

How to get the best from collaboration with business partners

Have a common cause

By having a common cause all of the team were able to understand what role they would play in the mission of the bundle. That is to support others to be able to navigate their businesses to success. Hence the name – Navigate.

As a group, we found that as we needed support and direction all we had to do was ask and the group rallied around to offer valuable guidance.

Set expectations

It is easy to get carried away with the excitement around the event, and having clear expectations meant that we had agreed on parameters to work to. Expectations included we want your best product valued at least £xxx so that our customers will be delighted with the value that they get. They must be able to access it easily and feel that they have made a purchase which they will love.

Leverage team strengths

As the bundle was put together and rolled out different members of the team stepped up to provide support in their area of expertise. Let’s face it why have a team of experts and not utilise their skills?

Foster inclusion

We were asked questions and polls to find out what the team thought about ways to for example launch or market the product. That way everyone got a chance to say what they wanted, to discuss and jointly decide on a way forward. Although when you are working with marketing experts, they usually have pretty hot ideas based on their incredible experience.

Willingness to help and be helped

It is never easy to ask for help when you think you are strong and capable. But when you are with a team who show up and support you no matter what, you want to do the same for them.

Honour ideas and requests

When the team put forward ideas and requests these wherever possible were honoured. Which meant that our team felt that we were valued. The net result was that we pulled together to deliver the kind of value that we believed our combined customers would expects. Which means that all of our businesses grow and our relationships deepen.

Share ideas

Imagine having a team of super brains all willing you on to success? Good ideas can come from anywhere and what makes this work is that everyone wants to give the rest of the team great solutions to things that are niggling them.

Recognise, reward and celebrate

We have all worked hard to share and sell the Navigate bundle supporting the teams marketing efforts. As a team, we have celebrated and recognised each person’s hard work in getting this in front of as many people as possible and even if we aren’t at the top of the leaderboard we have all celebrated together.

Trust each other

You cannot have collaboration without trust. The Arrows are great leaders who I know we all trust (and love). Because of their direction, there is no question that we all trust each other and that means that we support each other without fear.

Finally, I have worked in many organisations and have been saddened by the amount of politics, ego, lack of trust and single-minded ambition which has contributed to the detriment of the overall organisation. This has not happened here. What a breath of fresh air.

Collaboration is a powerful way of working for entrepreneurs regardless of the industry or type of business they are in. Forming connections in a trusted environment means that you have access to years of experience to ensure that you can take your business to new levels.

The bottom line is that without this team led by the Arrows, the wonderful team members and this initiative for collaboration I could well have still be wondering how do I get back on track.

When in the future you see a team of people putting together a collaborative webinar or bundle consider what each of the entrepreneur’s stories is and how this collaboration might mean more than money.

This experience has restored my faith in collaboration, has helped me to heal and get back on track and that is invaluable.

Getting into a coaching mindset

A lot has been written about coaching.  To the uninitiated, it can take on the appearance of ‘smoke and mirrors’ – just another initiative thatrepackages old management and other weird theories and sells them under a new banner.  This could not be further from the truth.

I confess (don’t tell a soul) that until I enrolled in the Institute of Leadership and Management executive coaching certificate (2009), I thought pretty much the same. I even hated the word coach, because it seemed so inauthentic. Once I was on the program expertly led by the very wonderful and amusing Dave Tee, I changed my mind and I changed my mindset.

As I put in my coaching hours and saw how my clients changed I was excited by the possibilities. I witnessed mindset changes in them and me. This spurred me on and as I moved from Executive coaching into business, brand and book coaching, I came to appreciate the fundamentals that I had been taught.

Coaching when embraced has a powerful impact on the individual, the organisation (your business or the one you work in) and across the whole supply chain. When someone suddenly realises the possibilities for personal growth, for achieving their aspirations, they will ‘happily’ step out of their comfort zone and take the first steps towards releasing their potential and impacting positively upon what they want.

A coaching mindset

To be a coach you need a coaching mindset just as much as the person you are coaching. To be coached you need a coachee mindset. Otherwise what is the point?

Coaching is a personal development process designed to enhance a person’s success in achieving her or his objectives within the context an expressed outcome.

But what does that mean?

It means, for example, that despite it being focused on the individual, it is important that everyone understands that within an ‘organizational’ context the ultimate goal is to improve effectiveness and efficiency, e.g. profitability.

It means in the context of writing a book, for example, that the aspiring writer understands what needs to be achieved by when so that they can become a published author.

For me some of the keys are:-

  • Good questions
  • Great listening

…and the understanding that we already have all of the resources to achieve many of our goals (desires or intentions) within us!  Sometimes, we just need some help in liberating them.

We all have 100% control over our mindsets.

What can you expect from someone with a coaching mindset?

Self-belief – you believe in your ability to coach and if you are being coached, you are open to being coached and believe that you can make the required or desired changes.

Driven – you are motivated by something deep within that means that you will get what you want.

Vision – you have a vision and will happily share it, empowering others to connect to their goals, desires and intentions.  You put ideas into action which take you towards your vision.

Lifelong learner –you believe in the power of continual learning. It is never too late to learn anything and put that learning into practice.

Accountability – as a coach you gently hold others accountable and as a coachee you enjoy the inspiration and motivation you get from being held accountable.

Co-creators –you share personal experience, learning and wisdom freely with others; you want others to grow as you grow. 

Brand ambassadors –you believe in aligning your values and vision with your core message. You understand and demonstrate the concept of know, like and respect, which builds trust.

See potential – you see the unrealised potential in others and help them to see it for themselves through coaching – both formal and informal.

Possibilities – you encourage others to envision possibilities. To go to the boundary of what is possible and to step across the line.

Active listener – you focus on the person speaking and do not wander off thinking about how to form the next question or what you are having for dinner.

Logical and intuitive –you understand logic, however, you are equally comfortable with intuition and imagination, and use all of these to improve communications, reduce conflict and improve consensus.

Challenge gently – you know how to, and can challenge others without making them feel criticised– you are passionate about helping others succeed. 

Sets goals, desires or intentions – you know that to get what you want, you set goals, desires or intentions. You regularly check that these are still meaningful and take action to reach them.

Choose win-win – you know that no one wins when anyone you work with feels like they are a loser.  You coach and mentor others to improve performance and to help them to develop continually.

Someone with a coaching mindset looks for win-win outcomes at every opportunity. You do not look to thrive on the ‘failure’ of others – you look to thrive on the ‘success’ of others – with others!

What makes a good coach?

Looking at the list above, you can easily identify key attributes.  You may want to add some things to the list. Mary Connor and Julia Pakora, in Coaching & Mentoring at work, suggest that there might be some other skills and behaviours worth considering[i]:-

Attribute

  1. Supportive
  2. Sounding board
  3. Challenging
  4. Networker
  5. Respected
  6. Assertive
  7. Open
  8. Transparent
  9. Creative
  10. Visible
  11. Interpersonally skilled
  12. Strategic
  13. Kind
  14. Genuine
  15. Just

Look at yourself, (business or organization) and ask “what behaviours do I see” and “what behaviours do I want to see?” Then consider how to implement the behaviours you want to see.

What makes a good coachee?

To be honest I used to hate being the coachee, until I lowered my barriers and pulled myself willingly out of a zone where I felt discomfort. I had after all parted with my cash and did claim to want to change. Here’s what I considered.

Being prepared

I never just turned up flustered and unprepared with my brain still be focused on the last activity that I was doing and thinking on the next thing I had to do. I went through my notes and reminded myself what I committed to do.

Considering the issues that I faced

By fully understanding where I found myself and thinking about how I could explain my issues to your coach saved time and I gained much more insight.

Setting outcomes

Start with the end in mind and thinking about what I wanted to get out of the session and the whole process. 

Asking what I wanted to change

I reminded myself that a good coachee knows that coaching is about change and knowing what it is that needs to change and why. I also was open minded to what might come up that I hadn’t thought of.

Being a good listener

Not only does the coach need to be a good listener, so does the coachee. As a good coachee I found that actively listening to the questions gave me time to think and meant that we got to the heart of the ‘problem’ quicker.

Asking good questions

I made sure that if I didn’t understand that I would ask good questions of my coach for clarity.

Understanding the art of reflection

Too often, we jump in and agree actions. It is acceptable to ask for time to reflect and I did that. By that, I do not mean days and days, but a few minutes to mull things over works a treat. I kept a pen and journal handy to scribble as I reflected.

Showing emotions

Coaching is not a test, it is a supportive sounding board, and letting ‘stuff out’ can really help to get to the heart of an issue. Just remember that your coach is not a counsellor.  They will provide the questions…..and I knew that I had to provide my own answers no matter how hard this seemed at times!

Being honest

I often had to dig deep to find the courage to admit that sometimes I felt like a failure or was frustrated or angry. Your coach will ask you good questions to get to the root cause. I trusted that from there I would get clarity and find a resolution.

Being grateful for this fantastic opportunity

Although I made the investment in myself, I have always been grateful that I have invested in me.

Knowing that if it is possible in the world, it is possible for me

When you look around at the incredible things that others do for themselves and others, you know that things are possible. It’s important to know that even if you don’t know what’s going to come out of a session that ‘something’ will be possible.

Conclusion

People (businesses and organisations) that embrace a coaching mindset will ultimately reap the rewards and impact their bottom line. The coaching process is designed to bring out the best in people, with a focus on results. These results create people, like you and I, who will be able to:-

  • Be more effective and efficient
  • Have a higher day to day morale
  • Work better with others – setting good boundaries for improved relationships
  • Set goals, desires and intentions that are meaningful to us and our measure of success

What are your actions?

Now that you have read through the coaching mindset piece ask yourself:-

  • Do I have a coaching mindset?
  • What of these skills or strengths do I possess and which do I still need to work on?
  • What actions will I take?

And finally… “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” The Empire Strikes Back


[i]Connor M & Pakora J 2007. Coaching & Mentoring at Work. Open UniversityPress, McGraw Hill Education, P47

Productivity tips for the determined writer

Is productivity something you crave for? For me, productivity is about the feeling I get when I am in flow and the stuff on my to-do list is done. Because when it is done, I can reward myself with something that feeds my soul. Naturally, with three dogs that something is often a rejuvenating walk to clear my head, which also increases productivity and is indeed one of my tips.

For writers, bloggers and authors, some of the biggest fears or challenges that comes up is around productivity, or at least I hear are:-

  • Either the book project seems overwhelming, and you keep putting it off – “someday I’ll write a book”…
  • Or you start with enthusiasm, and then it just grows and grows, and because there is no real plan or support it stalls part way through (this is VERY common)
  • Or you “can’t find the time” which is often a symptom of feeling overwhelmed by how much writing there is to do.

Here are some of my top tips for overcoming that feeling of overwhelm. Let’s get your book written – and in a way that doesn’t take over your life and makes the process fast and enjoyable.

A few productivity questions

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to getting things done?

  • What is one thing you could do differently today to become more productive?
  • Describe your current to-do system and how effective is it?
  • What tasks do you outsource and what would you love to outsource?
  • What do you do and how do you feel when you don’t complete all of your to-do’s?
  • What areas of your life that hinder your productivity need more attention (sleep, health etc.)?

Kill perfectionism

“Have no fear of perfection. You will never reach it.” Salvadore Dali

Firstly it’s ok to not reach others ideas of perfect. What is perfect anyway? Think of this, when you create a perfect piece of writing and go off to reflect, what happens? If you are anything like me, you will have discovered more things to add or a different way to say something.

Better done – perfect at the time – than striving for perfect forever (there is no such thing).

Strive to do the best you can know that in the moment that it is perfect and you can come back and smarten up later. At some point, you have to accept done and move on. If not you may procrastinate.

Turn procrastination into productivity

Perfectionism creates procrastination. At least it is one of the things that does create procrastination. Here is a simple productivity tip that works for me – the procrastination list. I make a list of all of my excuses and then reframe them. Then I write one action I can take to move them off the I can’t do list. Try it.

Making time to write – Set boundaries

I hear this a lot – I have no time to write… If you want to create a book, you need to create time to write. It starts with putting boundaries around your writing time so here’s a process you can work through.

  1. Get rid of something. Maybe look at what else you are doing – social media, television? Can you find an hour a day? Can you take a week off work or from the family where you can go away and write?
  2. Decide and commit to your writing process. Create a commitment statement and set an end date on the book – your publication and launch. Something to work towards.
  3. Set very clear boundaries, e.g., 8-10 every day and 8-2 on Saturdays. 6.00 to 6.30am every weekday.
  4. Put these in your diary! Use software like wunderlist, or recurring appointments in your calendar.
  5. Stopping is just as important as starting. So when you reach the end of your writing time – STOP. If you find you can commit more time then re-word your commitment. It’s better to achieve what you set out to achieve and feel great about it than over-commit and feel bad.

Set people boundaries to increase your productivity

As much as you love the people in your life, they may not support your writing and may for whatever reason, hinder your productivity.

You may think I am joking, but let me share a little tale. I once had a partner who would go out of his way to disturb me. Tired of his constant interruptions, I would take him my I am writing note, show it to him and explain the door would be closed, the note up and I would come out when I had finished the task at hand. He would deliberately ignore this. In the end, I put a lock on the door. I also went and worked elsewhere if he was home.

Not everyone will be as determined as him, most of the people in your life will understand your request and a simple system likethe note on the door will work.

Once you have completed what you needed to do, you can spend time with your important people. The most important thing is that you do not lock yourself away and get annoyed, explain, create a system and encourage them to be a part of the after party.

Get rid of distractions

This is sooooooo critical! Get rid of all of your distractions.

  1. Turn off your internet, turn off your phone and anything else that vies for your attention
  2. Createa distraction-free environment. Have a place that is just for you and your writing and really own it (see below)
  3. Tell people around you that it is your writing or quiet time and you don’t want to be disturbed unless the house is burning down – put your poster up (see above)
  4. Start with a clear head before a lot of “reactive” junk has got in there. That’s why I like to write in the mornings before doing anything else. Not always a fit but try it
  5. Write after a morning walk or meditation, again so that you have a clear head

Time yourself for greater productivity

This may sound very rigid, and most creative people will find some resistance to doing this, but I really urge you to give it a try. I find it freeing. It means I am not checking my watch or the clock on the computer, and I have the security of knowing that I will be reminded automatically when the time is up. Plus when you know that you can write let’s say 1000 words in 50 minutes, you will know how long it will take you to get to your first draft.

  1. Pick a time – set your alarm – write for a 50-minute block
  2. Because you have a clear structure (your outline and chapter framework), it’s easier to do this. You don’t have to write in the order of your chapters, go with what inspires you that day
  3. Pick a section of your book – not a whole chapter, but a small section that you know you want to write and it feels good to put pen to paper
  4. Write until you have it down, or as much as you can in the 50-minute block
  5. Don’t edit, don’t stop, don’t “research”. Just write and keep writing until you get to the end of your time block
  6. Takea break, change state (i.e. get up and do something else) and repeat

Create your right environment

Some people can block out their environment, and some people are very affected by what is around them. Either way creating the right environment will help you write more and will set you up in the right frame of mind. I like to write in silence in bed. If I am in the office, I will often wear headphones and listen to Focus@Will.

  1. Make it free of distractions
  2. Choose somewhere that is calming and right for you – in bed, in a cafe, at your desk…
  3. Music or no music? Music to get you into a frame of mind – calming or rocking?
  4. Smells – oils, herbs, flowers…
  5. What are your visual stimuli? A view, light, airy, natural light, flowers, pictures, vision board, your cover, your reader, your book title…
  6. Declutter your desk and space
  7. What is YOUR right environment and what can you do to create that today? (no excuses)

When I am in bed, I am usually joined by my three dogs, who certainly know when they think it’s time for me to get up, but before that, it is quite soothing having them sleeping around me as I write.

Compiling or creating?

Different activity / task if you are compiling or creating. When you’re writing from scratch I suggest you DON’T edit, you just pick a piece and write. But when you are compiling, e.g., from training materials, or a blog then it’s a different process, and you will want to be critical as you go through.

  • Work from your knowledge audit and make the decision (or follow your intuition) about what you will work on that day
  • Mentally prepare yourself for writing in a particular way
  • Use the same process if you are editing – chunk your work and edit in blocks
  • Creativity is personal, BUT the reality is that you just need to get it down and then let it flow

The knowledge audit is a document in chapter order that tells you if you need to write from scratch or what you already have that you can repurpose. We also use it to create a research list for each chapter.

How long is my book?

A very common question! How long does my book have to be? How many pages? How many words? There is no good answer other than “as long as it needs to be”.

Typically a non-fiction book for kindle might be between 10,000 and 20,000 words. For print around 30,000 to 50,000. You have already looked at your timings in your action plan log (if you have one) and will have a good idea of how many words and how long it will take you to write. Now we want to focus on getting them written.

Let’s break this down into words and hours.

How much can you write in an hour – 500? 1,000? TIME YOURSELF! 

So, 500 words per hour, 20,000 words = 40 hours.

If you are writing five hours per week, this is eight weeks. You might need to speed up or allocate more time.

Now imagine if you are writing three hours a day…

Go back to your action plan log (if you have one) and put some concrete dates in. Decide on your weekly “word target.”

By working out how much you can write, knowing how much and what your deadline is you will become more productive.

Outsource

If you really cannot do a particular task and hate it with a vengeance, outsource if you can. Ways to outsource your writing are:-

  • Record your book with Dragon Naturally Speaking (ok you are talking your book)
  • Work with a ghostwriter
  • Transcribe it from other recorded content

Perhaps there are other tasks that get in the way of your writing, make a list and find someone else to do them.

Model other productive people

Modelling is a way of adopting other peoples ‘ways of getting things done’. Make a list with three columns one with people who succeed do this, one with people who fail do this and one with what I will do differently.

Understand how you like to do things

The biggest productivity tip is to understand you and to accept that what got you here may not get you there or maybe it will.

We often forget just how great we are at getting things done and how we have completed tasks in the past. When our lives become cluttered, we tend to compromise. Go back and look at other things you have completed, what were the success ingredients? How can you model you in that state again?

Also when you understand you, you will see common things that you do to avoid jobs you don’t like, perhaps these need to go onto your outsource list?

For example, if you love lists and steps, you may be more of a logical thinker, and if you love brainstorming and creating by the seat of your pants, you may be more creative.

You can combine both of these…

  • Create a plan in whatever way works for you – creatively or logicall
  • Pick a chunk to write and write it your way

Knowing your preferences is a big part of becoming a more productive writer.

Don’t fight the process, everything, even chaotic creativity is a process. Celebrate and make it work for you. Flex your style, stop resisting and go with your flow.

That’s it for today; I will be back with more tips another day. Until then happy writing.

If writing a book is

  1. Something you think you want to do, and then consider this 7-day plan your book challenge.
  2. A burning desire and you know you need support, then please message me – a chat costs nothing, and we can check out if we are a good working fit
  3. Definitely on the table, and you’d like to work in a group, then get on the waiting list for write a book, create a business you love
  4. You can grab a copy of my book Plan your non-fiction book in a weekend on Amazon

The ten first steps to writing a book

What is it I wonder that first calls us to this activity called writing a book and then stops us from taking the next step? Many, many people I know have written books, but huge numbers have not stepped into the pleasure of bringing their knowledge, skills and experiences alive in this way.

I can certainly understand why. I recently committed to NaNoWriMo, (Google and sign up for next November – go on…) which is an annual write-a-thon for budding novelists. It’s something I keep putting off because simply there is some fear around writing a book which is not non-fiction. It’s an unknown and a stretch out of my comfort zone.

Non-fiction isn’t easy either. I have a book due for release early in 2019 called Healing Osteoporosis Naturally. It has been the hardest book to write yet. Even harder than doing my MBA dissertation, which at times it has felt like.

The amount of research has been phenomenal, but more so because I have lived my healing journey as I wrote it. This is something most people (not me) do not tell you about when you write. You go through a lot of the experiences again because writing has a habit of triggering memories that need to be explored and addressed.

Having said that writing a book can be and is incredibly healing and cathartic. Please have your journal handy for these moments.

The process of writing this book also helped me to find my root cause, to be able to guide my doctor towards appropriate tests and to then craft a nutrition, supplement, and exercise plan for natural healing. It has been a tough journey, but given what I now know, I for one would not have it any other way.

There are other reasons that writing a book is not easy and they include lack confidence in your message, it’s not the right book, you feel that you are not a writer, and you have not aligned your book, brand and business. However, if writing a book is something you HAVE to do, you will always find a way – wont you?

Let’s explore some steps that I recommend my clients consider when that yearning to write a book calls.

Step one: What is your goal or intention for writing a book?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It might be for healing, fun, a legacy for your family or for your business.

Sometimes books will never be published, people will write them to get ‘stuff’ out of their system. I have worked with many people in this way and it works as a healing process. If this is you then this is a worthy goal, being published is not always the end game.

Writing for fun is a delicious goal as it takes you out of every day life and lets you explore other aspects of you and the world.

The goal should never be to be filthy rich, sailing the Med on a yacht from your royalities, although this might be part of a bigger goal that you have. You would need to be a prolific writer and exceptional marketer to sell enough books. Or perhaps like me you dream that your first novel becomes a film…

A goal or intention like building your credibility or to refine your processes and to inspire others may be more effective.

These all lead to raising awareness and more of the right clients Or maybe to use this in your coaching/teaching/speaking practice as giving your clients a book rather than a workbook does look more impressive.

If this is your first book, perhaps you could keep it short and use it to work out how you write and use this process to work out how you would run writing a book project for the future.

Step two: Who is your ideal reader?

When you know whom you are writing a book for, writing becomes easier. You are answering questions that your reader is asking. You are taking them through a process to reach an outcome. However, more importantly you are connecting emotionally to this reader.

I always have a picture of my ideal reader so that I can keep reminding myself who is the one person I am writing this book for.

Step three: What is the subject area?

Ok, so you know why you want to write a book, now you have to decide which of your many expert subject areas you want to write about. This is where you focus and make conscious decisions. The right book for right now needs to be birthed.

Consider this, if writing a book is going to take you a year; what do you want to be known for in a year?

Which book about what will give you what you want? Which books is in the vision that you created for yourself?

You may have lots of ideas, brainstorm each and reflect on how each feels. Again perhaps a shorter, but a deeper book? After exploring, feeling, envisioning and reflecting you will be able to choose THE book.

Step four: Give it a working title and write a blurb

Do this for no other reason than it says I’m writing a book about x. This first title and blurb (the bit on the back of the book) will change, of course it will. This is your stake in the ground and it will bring it to life.

Perhaps create a mock cover and wrap it around an old book. Place it where you can see it and get used to seeing your book as a finished published article.

Step Five: Create an outline

There are many ways to do this, a list or a mind map are the most popular. In my course Plan Your Non-Fiction book I have a process that gets this out of your head in detail. For now, the easiest thing to do is choose one of your ideas (the right one of course) and start brainstorming.

Start with the outcome you want for your ideal reader and consider the process or journey that they will be going through.

After you have the broad outline of the journey, you can add in subheadings. Remember to take notes while you are doing this. You can come back and flesh this out at any time.

Step six: The chapter synopsis

The synopsis is a short form explanation of what this chapter is about. If you are looking for a publisher, they will expect a synopsis, so have a go at writing one now. It is also a clarifying step.

Step seven: How will you write it?

I write in WORD. I’ve tried Scrivener but this only works for fiction for some reason. Having said that I am tempted to try again as it is many years since I used it for non-fiction. What is important is you use a product that works with you. WORD is a favourite, as I love the ease of the style sheets and navigation pane. Having said that I do not like WORD on my Mac and so I always do the final editing and layout on my Windows version.

This question is not just about technology, because you may like to write long hand first. You may like to write in a linear fashion, or you might like to chop and change chapters.

You must also consider where you like to write. I like silence, writing a book in a busy and noisy coffee shop will never work for me.

Step Eight: Set up a writing schedule and daily word count goals

I get up and write first thing and then it is done (I’m writing this in bed with a cuppa). As soon as I put my fingers on the keyboard I feel inspired, you may not. Knowing how you like to get things done is important here. Can you get up one hour earlier for five days a week? Or could you do that for three and one on the weekend?

The other thing that works for me is to commit to at least 1000 words a day.

This means that I can get a short 30k book written to the first draft in a month. One of the ways I do this is to blog for 30 days.

Remember to celebrate your word count success and have a reward waiting for you when you write THE END.

Step nine: Write do not edit

This is one of the hardest things for me to obey. I’ll write say three chapters, and then I’ll reflect and edit, and the do the next three or four. I like fresh new and exciting, and I like to reflect. When working with my clients, I work out what their writing style is, and we find a way that keeps them motivated so that the book gets written, despite my advice to write and don’t edit.

When you have a first draft, you must take time out, because then the BIG edit starts. This is where the magic happens.

I rather like this stage because I like to sort messes out and make sense of things. I can’t promise to not feel frustrated but there’s something satisfying about bringing it all together. Remember we are often our own worst critic. I bet when you have a first draft, and you review it, you will be amazed at your writing.

Step ten: The Big edit

Have an editing plan and follow it. There are lots of different ways to edit your book, which will support you in getting a great final draft. But this is never the final draft because you will have word blindness and you must hand it over to someone else to review, and you absolutely must have a proofreader.

When I was doing the dissertation for the ILM Executive Coaching course, I sent my draft off to the tutor who said you haven’t answered part two. Confused I almost argued back. What I had done was write a short synopsis, which flowed, and made perfect sense to me, but was just that a short synopsis. I had reading blindness. Thank goodness it was just a feedback session – phew!

When I do developmental work for clients, they will come to me with a book in a mess, and my job is to deconstruct the book and put it back together in a way that makes sense. Seeing a mess come together for both of us is satisfying and motivating.

Other steps

There are many more steps to getting this book ready to be published, and for that to go smoothly(ish), you should have started with a plan. I’ve left this to last because so many people’s books fail because they do not plan, please don’t be one of them.

The plan will keep you on track with much more than we have discussed here.

Another vital step for me is the humble journal and pen. A journal is a deeply reflective tool which will help you to get ‘stuff’ out of your head and a place to record your journey.

An invitation or several invitations

Start here with the my book exercise

If writing a book is

1.   Something you think you want to do, and then consider this 7-day plan your book challenge.

2.   A burning desire and you know you need support, then please message me – a chat costs nothing and we can check out if we are a good working fit

3.   Definitely on the table, and you’d like to work in a group, then get on the waiting list for write a book, create a business you love

Thank you in advance for bringing your wisdom to the world

Whatever you decide to do, in whatever way, I believe that we are keepers of incredible wisdom and all of us can touch others lives in profound ways with our message. Do one thing today and share your wisdom with someone else. You never know where they take that and what that might create in the world. 

Thank you if you got the end and have commented. I’d love to have your feedback.

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