One benefit of working as a ghostwriter and author coach is that I get to spend time with intelligent people who have deep knowledge of their subject. Of course, they’re all different. They vary in age, professional background, and writing experience. Some have toddlers at home while others have grown children. Some work for a large organization and some work for themselves.
My challenge is to tailor my coaching and advice to their situation. Each one is unique. But there’s some advice that seems to work for all my clients. Not only that, it’s advice that surprises them, delights them, and helps them. Here are five bits of advice my clients love.
Read your writing aloud
The great writing coach William Zinsser reminded us that writing is really for the ear. That’s one reason to evaluate your writing by reading it aloud.
Another reason is that your mouth will discover things that your eyes miss. When you read aloud, it’s easier to catch awkward phrasing, poor word choice, and too many uses of the same great word or phrase.
Write to a single person
Most new authors think of their readers as an audience. They write as if their book was a broadcast. But only one person reads a book at a time. Reading is more like a conversation than it is like listening to a speech or television broadcast.
Forget those demographic descriptions. Identify one person who is exactly the sort of person you want to profit from your book. Then write to that person alone.
Always know what’s next
It takes a long time to write a good book. It’s easy to lose momentum. Maintain momentum by always quitting when you know what you’re going to start writing in your next writing session. When you do that, it’s easy to maintain momentum. You start a writing session and you get right to work. There’s no wondering about what you’re going to write about. If you know, you can start writing.
Keep writing time sacred
Most of my clients are mid-career professionals. When they come to me, they’re already leading a chock-full life. They’ve got commitments at work, at home, and in the community that suck up time. Their big challenge is setting aside time to write consistently.
Schedule your writing sessions. Try to have the same time and place for every session. Put the time on your calendar. Then, hold it sacred.
Your stories and examples make your book yours
Stories are an amazing part of human life. We’ve told stories to share information and insights since we first crawled out of caves.
If you want your book to be fresh, you have to use stories and examples that no one else is using. That means going back to your personal experience and mining it for story treasure.
Read your writing aloud.
Write to a single, real person.
Always know what’s next.
Keep writing time sacred.
Use your personal stories and examples to set your book apart.