Sarah’s & Cynde’s Blog

How do I Organize my Chapters in Nonfiction and Memoir?

writing coach cynde christie

First, you have a great idea for a nonfiction book or memoir. You’ve done the research, compiled the notes, or lived the life you want to share with your readers. Now what? Your chapters are in rough draft form, (hopefully you have been working with an editor so they are not too rough), but how do you know the best way to present this information to a reader so that they will get the most out of what you are trying to impart? How do you make the story or non fiction study flow? Do you start at the beginning …

Continue Reading

7 Secrets that Boost Your Writing Productivity

productive writer

You want to boost your writing productivity–so how to do that with ease? It’s no secret that productive writers share some simple habits that help them organize, focus, and stay on track and accountable to their project goals. Organize, sort and prioritize to boost your writing productivity. These days most writers are juggling projects, which may including revising one book, developing another book, posting regularly on blogs, writing content for newsletters, promotional material and reviews and…the list goes on. Organizing doesn’t need to be fancy. In fact, don’t let yourself get lost in perfectionism because that leads to procrastination. Keep …

Continue Reading

How do I make the information in my book flow in an understandable way?

Information in the Nonfiction World When you decide to write a nonfiction book, you generally have some information to impart. Whether your book is about teaching the reader how to build a better mouse trap or understand their deepest feelings, nonfiction books by their very nature, are about information. They are filled with facts of some kind. After all, if it was all made up, it would be fiction! The exception to this rule is narrative nonfiction, or creative nonfiction. This genre includes memoir and historical fiction based on factual events and people. While the book is based on fact, …

Continue Reading

You have your data, now what? A lesson on Data Organization

Data Organization You want to write a nonfiction book. You have selected your topic and you have done your research. Now you have lots of data, but what exactly do you do with it? How do you turn information into a book? Well, first you have to decide on what your data tells you. What is the conclusion you have drawn from your research? And how does that translate into a usable message to your reader? The Three Steps Remember the first three steps in preparing to write a nonfiction book are message, target audience and voice. So, your next …

Continue Reading

Sometimes You Gotta Kill the Witch: Break Through Extreme Resistance

mask day of the dead

My last post contained an array of tips for breaking through writer’s block, and they can be very effective for normal resistance, but sometimes you gotta kill the witch to break through extreme resistance! Get along with the voices inside of my head I can relate to Eminem’s song, The Monster, and after decades of writing, I’m pretty familiar with the myriad voices inside of my head. I know plenty of Creatives who count “The Monster” as their theme song. At least on darker days. Friends with the monster that’s under my bed  And most of the time, those voices and I work well …

Continue Reading

Break Through Writer’s Block: 13 Tips to Get You Flowing Again

break through writer's block

Break through writer’s block using these helpful techniques:

1) Break through writer’s block and breathe!  Slowly, deeply, it’s all okay and normal and you will be fine, truly. Keep on breathing…you can’t write when you’ve passed out and you’re blue in the face.Break through writer's block breathe

2) When you struggle with resistance tell yourself, “I’m not alone.” Because you’re not. Most writers will tell you that all writers have an internal voice that constantly lobbies to stop them from writing. That voice might be saying, “No way you’re going to put your stories into the world because you will get effin’ killed!  No one will care, or everyone will hate you, or you will be judged worthless! So stop writing this minute! So step away from the page! And I’ll keep nagging you until you go crazy because I’m the only voice of sanity around here!”

3) That said, if you are determined to write (and I hope you are!) you will want to find worthy supporters. Don’t ask your mom, your sig. other, your best friend to read a story and know what to say. They don’t. If you put them on the spot, they will try to help-or they may actually try to sabotage you because they don’t like that you’re actually doing what they only want to do. Find a teacher, mentor, editor who can give you honest and constructive feedback.

4) When you feel overwhelmed by rules, put the story structure info away—in a drawer, in a trash can, in a virtual trash can—and don’t look at it again. When it causes anxiety it is no longer useful. Shred any piece of paper that tells you there are rules for writing a novel. There are techniques (and you should learn them before you ignore them) but there are no absolute rules.

5) Know that finishing is difficult for your creative self (and mine and everyone’s!). When we near the end of our draft, resistance can swell a bit. Let’s be honest, it can loom as large as a friggin’ tsunami!

6) Know that beginning can be a bear, too. Blank pages may daunt so dive in with some free writes. Try this prompt: “This story is about…” Let your pen move quickly, don’t make your prose pretty, write the forbidden.

Break through writer’s block when fear tries to stop you:

7) Do a 5 minute free write using this prompt: “I am afraid to write this book because…” When you are finished, remind yourself that your fear connects you to your characters. If you write, “I am afraid my story will suck and the world will know I cannot write,” ask yourself, “who in my story is terrified of failure?” If you write, “I’m afraid to write this story because I will die or the people who read it will die,” remind yourself that your deep fears are not logical. But that kind of fear may be connected to the fear of using your voice, of being heard, of having power, and, perhaps, of being judged. At its primal nature, your fear is a doorway into your characters and your story.

break through writer's block

8) Harpies, tricksters, and other inner nasties got you down? Write a 5-Minute-Vent using the prompt: “I am allowing my inner gremlins, tricksters, furies and fear-mongers the next five minutes to have their say, here goes…”  Now transcribe what comes through until their time limit is up. Then, close the vent respectfully yet firmly. Skim what you’ve read to be sure you hear their message. Let them know you hear them. Remind your inner voices that you will give them another “hearing” tomorrow if they need to speak.  Also remind them that you (grown up, integrated, whole you) are writing this book and you are the perfect person to write this book. Remind them that they can relax and take time off because you will be okay and their messages are “early” survival alerts and misguided not to mention a drag on energy that you really want to tap for writing your novel!

9) Remember that perfection is the enemy of creativity. Nothing is perfect. Stick a post-it with “shitty first draft” somewhere on your desk so it’s visible when you write. It worked for Anne Lamott. I add “messy, fast, and hot first draft.” I also like, “shitty, shitty, bang, bang-it-out!”

10) Remain ever-curious about your story and your story world and the characters who inhabit the world. Know that you are the perfect person to write your story. It lives in you and it will live through you.

Break through writer’s block with support from other writers:

11) Let me know how this goes. We writers are often good people and we like helping other writers. We understand the courage it takes to put your deepest work out into the world to share with others.

12) Treat yourself to dark chocolate or your version of dark chocolate. Give yourself a pat-gently-on your heart (I’m serious). Have faith, you are a writer, and you are not alone. Everyone faces challenges. It’s how you deal with them that separates the writers from the wannabes.

13) Commit to a creative life and set your sights on building your body of work. Take risks, be kind to yourself and to others.

These are just a few of the tips I share  in my writer’s workshops to help you break through creative resistance. Post a comment and let me know if they help. And share your own tried and true methods to overcome resistance. I’d love to hear from you!

Need more help to break through extreme resistance? Click Here

Continue Reading

Writing & Revising Your Novel or Memoir in 2018: 7 Must-Know Tips

writing & revising

If writing & revising your book tops your 2018 to-do list, here are 7 must-know tips to help you write your best novel or memoir. 1.Write your 1st draft quickly, ideally within 3 to 6 months. Key to this process of drafting is to refrain from editing your 1st draft! Writing draft 1 without editing?! I can hear some of you writers howling with anticipated pain and frustration! But trust me (or at least listen with an open mind) when I say your best novel will probably be born from a quick 1st draft. Note, when I say probably, that’s because there are no rules when it …

Continue Reading

Finding your Non-fiction Voice

  Writing a non-fiction book is a huge undertaking whether you are writing a memoir, a self-help or expository text. Unlike fiction, you do not get to make things up. What you write has to be factually accurate. That is what makes it nonfiction. Unless, of course, you are writing a narrative memoir. While you are aiming for factual accuracy, you can only write your own truth. Depending on what genre you are focusing, you have to determine the non-fiction voice in which you will write your book. The most important element in finding your non-fiction voice is who you …

Continue Reading

Writing a Memoir: Write the Journey

You’ve logged the miles and now it’s time to write the journey. Writing a memoir is your opportunity to share a transformational story or collection of stories from your life’s journey. You’ve logged the miles, and, along the way, you’ve faced challenges, taken risks, failed, given up, risked again; until, finally, you emerged transformed in some way. You’ve reached a crest where you can see 365 degrees around you, and you pick out the faint trail of your passage all the way back to your beginning. You know you have a story to share with others. Where do you begin? Begin at the …

Continue Reading

Choosing Your Target Audience: A Must In The Writing Process

What is a Target Audience? And why do you need one? If you have decided to write a non-fiction book, you have expertise in a subject of broad interest or you have lived through a compelling experience and have come out the other side having learned something of great importance to share with the hopes of improving your reader’s lives. Who do you want to reach with your book? That is your Target Audience. As a non-fiction and memoir coach and editor, I have been blessed to work with some amazing people who became even more amazing writers. Some authors …

Continue Reading