Grammar 101: Plurals and Possessives

What is it about that harmless little apostrophe that trips up so many people? People ask me often about issues regarding plurals and possessives (and especially the dreaded combo of a plural possessive!). The basic definitions are simple enough, right?

Plural signifies more than one.
Possessive signifies ownership and belonging.

Yet this is one of those often-confused aspects of English, so this week we’re going old school — as in, elementary (middle?) school English class for a quick grammar lesson. Ready?

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Creating a Writing Habit

Let’s call a spade, a spade: A book is A LOT of words. Even if you, say, blog a couple times a week, a couple thousand words at a time, you're producing 5,000 or so words a week. A book, on the other hand, is tens of thousands of words. In other words, it’s a lot more words than you’re used to writing. That said, you’re producing 5K words per week (good for you!), so you’re in good shape to build a daily writing habit. It doesn’t matter WHAT you’re writing. It just matters that you ARE writing.

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The Writing Process

Sometimes you’ll see the writing process as having four steps: writing, revising, editing, and publishing. In that scenario, prewriting is included in the writing phase. Prewriting is a separate step from writing. I cannot over-emphasize that point! If you sit down to write 50,000 (or more words) with a topic and a few key points, but nothing else, you’re in trouble. Prewriting is the legwork and preparation to make the actual writing easier and faster. So really, the writing process has 5 steps:

  1. Prewriting
  2. Drafting
  3. Revising
  4. Editing
  5. Publishing
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Shifting Your Mindset from Business Owner to Author

Almost without fail during Book Brainstorm Sessions (my version of discovery calls) and even in initial conversations with new clients, I hear this sentence: “But I’m not a writer.” That’s the point where I smile and take a breath, and we have a chat about mindset. I bet if you’re reading this blog post, you’ve had that same thought (or even said it out loud). Simply put, if you’re going to write a book, you must shift your mindset from that of a business owner writing a book to that of a writer. When you’re done writing, you can switch hats back to business owner — promise.

 

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Plan Now to Write a Book in 2017

We’ve all planned launches, right? We know that launches don’t just magically happen; they require a heck of a lot of legwork and hustle during the preparation phase, during the launch phase, and even after (along with a service or product that people want). Launching a book is often treated the same as other launches, but WRITING a book often is not. Let me tell you why it can — and should — be likened to the launching process we’re familiar with:

  • You plan for it, AKA writing calendar and research (pre-launch, writing email sequences, etc.).
  • You do the work, AKA writing (cart open).
  • You are exhausted from all that work and take a break, AKA the book is edited/designed (cart close).
We’ve all planned launches, right? We know that launches don’t just magically happen; they require a heck of a lot of legwork and hustle during the preparation phase, during the launch phase, and even after (along with a service or product that people want). Launching a book is often treated the same as other launches, but WRITING a book often is not. | Jodi Brandon Editorital

If you missed last week’s Facebook Live, I reviewed the process of reviewing your calendar to figure out when a book launch would be possible for you, based on when book planning and writing would be possible. Basically, you need to consider what else you have planned this year to make sure you have the appropriate amount of time to devote to the process. If you don’t, well, have you ever launched when you weren’t quite ready? How did that go? On the flip side, have you ever had a launch go even better than anticipated, all because you did the legwork during the pre-launch phase and were READY when it was “go time”?

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Preparation Is Key

How much time do you really need to write a book? If you enjoy writing and write regularly now, you can likely push out a 50,000-word book in a couple months (assuming your schedule is fairly open for those two writing months). If you don’t enjoy writing as much and/or don’t write regularly, it might take you a bit longer to get into a groove to consistently produce large word counts. The key, in my mind, is to plan before you sit down to write. This is the process my coaching clients successfully use (and is the process I used to write my book last year). This process includes figuring out a research plan as well as seeing what you have already that can be repurposed. (We’ll be talking more about these in the coming week, so stay tuned for that.) If all of your research is out of the way and you have even a rough outline, and all you need to do is write new text, the writing process generally goes smoothly. (That’s not to say you’ll be immune to writer’s block or have less-than-productive days, of course. But with a plan all things are manageable.)

Written ≠ Finished

Unlike a course or new service, which can be released once you’re finished, a book is different. Once the writing is done, there’s still much to be done: revising, editing, formatting, publishing, marketing. This is why planning ahead is so critical.

How much time do you really need to write a book? If you enjoy writing and write regularly now, you can likely push out a 50,000-word book in a couple months (assuming your schedule is fairly open for those two writing months). | Jodi Brandon Editorial

If you want to publish a book in time for spring wedding season, for example, you can’t plan to finish writing in May. Your book needs to be available then to purchasers, and all you have is a manuscript, not a finished book. Instead, you want to wrap up the writing phase closer to February, to allow time for these other tasks. Building out a time line, based on non-negotiables already on your calendar (other launches, family vacations, and the like), allows you to see how your book will actually get written —and then published.

With a plan in place, writing and publishing a book this year is absolutely possible! And if you’re thinking that there’s no way you could do it, I’ve created a list of content you already have that you can repurpose to kickstart your manuscript (or at least get your wheels turning). Snag it here. Let me know what else you have to repurpose; this list is just a starting point!

Is writing a book to help grow your business a part of your 2017 plan? I’d love to talk with you about your project! Schedule a complimentary Book Brainstorm Call today.

The Importance of a Writing Routine

So many of us are creatures of habit. Unless we’re journalists, we’re not used to writing on deadline, so that combined with a book project likely being the largest writing project we’ve ever undertaken, and you can see how it’s daunting. That’s where routine comes in. If we establish a writing routine that is the same for each writing session, we can trick our brain into knowing it’s “go time.”

“Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.” - Ralph Keyes (Tweet)

Here are a few considerations when establishing your routine:

When is your most productive time of day? If you’re a night owl, it doesn’t make sense for you to think that you’ll write every morning from 6 until 8 a.m., when your house is quiet.

What does your life look like outside of this project? Can you add 30 minutes of writing into your daily routine? Or can you block out Saturday mornings for the next three months to write? Be creative, but be mindful that the routine will only work if you’re honest about how much time you have, and when you have it. We all have a life that includes family, work, and volunteer commitments.

What kind of setting makes you feel productive? I can write in my office better than a coffee shop. That’s because I need quiet to write. Others go stir-crazy in silence and need background noise, whether it’s music, people, or just white noise. Experiment and figure out what works for you.

A caution: Even if background noise works for you, make sure your routine includes turning off phone and social media distractions. You don’t need your phone vibrating or beeping with notifications; you don’t need to hear notifications from Facebook on your computer. In fact, I recommend not even being connected to the internet while writing. If I come across something I need to look up, I simply note it in the manuscript, highlight it to find it later, and keep going. It’s hard to get writing momentum; don’t lose it once you’ve found it!

Don't lose the writing momentum! (Tweet)

Part of your routine will be the ritual of it. This signals to your brain that it’s time to write. I play the same music before I sit down to write; others have a more elaborate ritual that includes steeping a particular kind of tea or putting on a particular sweatshirt or scarf. The details are less important than the fact that there is a ritual. The more often you practice this ritual, the more routine it will feel. Speaking of practice, this meshes well with writing itself, because you really need to be writing every single day.

If you’re unsure of just how to establish a strong routine, experiment a bit and track the writing sessions. Keep track, such as in a notebook or a Google doc, the time, the word count, the setting, your feelings (Were you feeling inspired? Did the writing come easy?), and anything else that might have affected the writing session. So an entry might look like this:

7/1/16

  • 10 a.m.
  • 25 min
  • 680 words
  • home office
  • hard to get started but easy after 10 min in
  • neighbor mowing lawn right outside office

The track record will help you see patterns. Maybe you’ll find that there’s too much noise in your neighborhood to write on weekday afternoons in the summer. (I live in a wonderful development full of kids playing outside, riding bikes, and playing basketball across the street, which is fun — except when I’m trying to write since quiet is what works for me.) Maybe you’ll find that Starbucks is not a great spot for you but that the local mom-and-pop coffee house is. Maybe you’ll find that you’re just too tired mentally after a full day of work to use your brain for writing. Track it for a couple weeks (writing every day) and see what helps you be most productive.

Now that I’ve convinced you, I hope, of how important a writing routine is, let me caution you about one more thing: perfect setup syndrome. I have heard clients say, “As soon as my new desk chair comes, I’ll have the perfect writing area in my office and can get started.” Or “After I land one more dream client I’ll be able to pay for childcare for two hours each afternoon and that time will be for writing my book.” Pardon my frankness, but no, it won’t. These are excuses to not write. You don’t need the perfect space, the perfect time of day, or more time (you have to make time, not find it, I’m afraid!). Don’t let these things hold you back.

Be weary of Perfect Setup Syndrome (Tweet)


If there’s a book inside you, let’s get it out there to the world! What does your writing routine look like?