Best Practices to Inspire Your Writing

We find that many of our coaches are called to write books; and many others within our community as well.  Yet, we can sometimes get overwhelmed in bringing that book to fruition.

We are excited to have Brad Stauffer share with you some insights on moving through the process and offers great tips.  For those of you who don’t know, Brad played a key role in the branding of Source Point Training and in the production of our training materials.  He is a great resource!

Warmest wishes, Barbara

Best Practices to Inspire Your Writing

by Brad Stauffer

The world of publishing has changed forever. Newspapers are few. Most non-newsstand magazines are either extinct or online. Many books are now digital and available on download demand. While many of us are saddened by the loss of our favorite bookstores; the good news is that the technology transformation in publishing has opened outstanding opportunities for all of us who have ever considered getting published. If you have goals including writing and getting published, there is no better time than now to jumpstart your book.

After 25+ years in the magazine publishing industry, I worked with writers and editors every day, yet I never thought about writing a book. As an entrepreneur over the last ten years, I coached and helped clients create and produce e-books, printed books and launch other creative projects. And all the time I wondered, “Why don’t I write my own book?” Well, my doubter voices loved that question, as they bombarded me with all the reasons why I wasn’t capable, didn’t have time, and just wasn’t good enough. Well enough is enough, I declared one sunny, Southern California day a few years ago.

After spending too many months writing and rewriting my book outline and purpose statement, declaring my intention to my coach and coach friends, and reorganizing my research and data umpteen times, I’ve come to better understand my avoid-tactics. My personal tricks and methods of procrastinating are now fully exposed. I’ve learned what to truly avoid, how to stay inspired, and what works to support myself to actually write and finish my book.

Here are my best practices to stay on track.

Best Practice #1: Stand strong knowing you are a writer.

I haven’t always felt like a writer, and was very critical of anything I wrote. However, as an introvert, I eventually learned that I could use writing to express my feels and thoughts better than I could in conversation. Journaling really helped. Eventually I wrote newsletter and magazine articles; and expressed myself online and in social media. As a result, I became more confident in both my writing and conversations.

You are a writer. If you can have a conversation, talk on the phone, or express your passions and points of view verbally, you can write. If you can write a letter or email, have an opinion about a movie, PBS program or a comedy show, you can write. If you speak, present or provide training, you can write. And most of all, if you have a dream, mission, purpose or passion, then you can absolutely write. If you haven’t started to write yet, just give it a chance.

Best Practice #2: Clarify your purpose and objectives for writing a book.

To help keep me grounded and focused while writing my book, I created my purpose, desired outcomes and a brief plan (very similar to the 3P’s). On this same document, I also maintain a document of my book title ideas, market statement and the core outline. Overall, it’s a “book plan” that leads with my purpose. Below is an excerpt:

My book title is: Make Your Mark: The Power of Being Your Brand. 7 Keys to Authentic Personal Branding forMakeYourMark Solo-Entrepreneurs

My book purpose is: To inspire and educate solo-entrepreneurs, so they can make their mark in the world.

My audience is: Coaches, speakers, authors/writers, trainers, facilitators, personal trainers, graphic designers and other professionals working solo.

Writing a book is a commitment, and sometimes you may get uninspired, stuck or stalled. This is the time to pull out your purpose statement and remind yourself why you are writing the book in the first place. Who will you be serving? How will you feel when it is complete? What will you have accomplished for yourself when it is in your hands? Set yourself up to win by being clear on your purpose.

Best Practice #3: Create a working book title and cover design.

I am inspired by visuals. Having images or words posted close to me keep me focused and inspired. So I had a designer create initial book covers. I keep them posted in my writing areas, and keep digital versions on my phone and computer. Keep a handy list of your book title ideas, and some sort of cover mock-up. It’s a good visual to keep you inspired.

Best Practice #4: Create a writing structure with accountability.

Create a realistic writing structure. Here are my tricks:

a)  Set writing quantity goals: When you have a writing session, know what works best for you: time, word count or page count. I like to set word count goals. That creates the most measurable results for me.

b)  Create a writing ritual: My personal writing practice starts early Sunday mornings at a particular Starbucks here in Los Angeles. I set my word count goal and usually plan on staying 3-4 hours, including at least 45 minutes to navigate a table, get my “Venti Skinny Hot Chocolate,” put on my headphones, answer a few emails and piddle around on my computer before I get down to business. Then I begin to write. My goal is to just let my heart and fingers connect, and let the message flow. I avoid overthinking too much. (Go for quantity first. Resist going back to previous sentences to edit first time around. You will have plenty of time to rewrite and edit, after your first draft is done.)

c)  Establish outside accountability: Having a writing buddy or writing coach provides great support, as well as feedback. Create goals and accountability with someone that knows your games, excuses and potential. I’ve also set up a remote writing session with friends. We declare our writing goal and schedule a follow-up call three hours later. Then do it again. Another trick I use is to declare my current writing goal to friends and family: “I’m going to write 3,000 words this weekend!”

Best Practice #5: Be kind to yourself.

For me, writing a book is probably the biggest and most challenging dream I have ever had. So it’s easy to judge and doubt myself and be extra critical every time I miss my writing commitment. So be kind to yourself without letting yourself off the hook. Honor yourself for creating this huge goal and for your progress to date. Lastly, know what works for you. I have learned over and over again, that I exhaust my creativity and focus after 2-3 hours. It is just more information to set yourself up for success.

Bonus Best Practices!

Keep it simple. When I’m in the groove, writing flows quickly, and I can easily go down a path that is different than my original goal. My coach encouraged me to save some content for my next book. We don’t have to give away everything we know in one book! So I have learned to capture my new ideas, while sticking to the point of each chapter. Know that you have more in you than you think. Once you write one book, there’s probably another one too!

Be sure to backup your writing! If you don’t have a regular and dependable back-up system, then at a minimum, email your writing documents to yourself. Ideally backup your writing multiple times to multiple places.

So are you ready to write? If not, what are you ready to commit to? Remember: there is no better time than now to write your book. In today’s publishing world, you can set up a blog and be seen worldwide within a couple of hours. Over a weekend, you can write and create a PDF e-book, using software already on your computer. Or you can even begin writing your book. What will you do?

Resources:

National Novel Writing Month, http://nanowrimo.org/

National Non-Fiction Writing Month, http://writenonfictionnow.com/about-write-nonfiction-in-november/

Writer’s Digest, http://www.writersdigest.com/

BradStaufferBrad Stauffer is an inspirational speaker, trainer and writer. He is also a Certified Relationship Coach (Source Point Training), Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (Coaches Training Institute), Certified Dream Coach® (Dream University), and has earned his Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential through the International Coach Federation. He is co-founder of Inspired on Demand, a business development program for coaches, and was co-owner and publisher of choice Magazine. Brad is a member of the International Coach Federation, and ICFLA. Brad often presents on personal branding, publishing and small business marketing.

To hear about the release of Brad Stauffer’s new book, Make Your Mark: The Power in Being Your Brand: 7 Keys to Authentic Personal Branding for Solo-Entrepreneurs, visit http://www.bradstauffer.com/make-your-mark-book/.

 

A Glimpse into ICF’s Recent Global Conference in Malmo, Sweden

by Paul N. Larsen, MA, CPPC

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Conferences scare me. Not because of the endless and sometimes pointless speeches punctuated by lukewarm buffets of “chicken surprise,” rather because as a solo coaching practitioner, I am always wondering if the ROI will meet or exceed the time and money I put into attending a conference.

However, that was not the case with my recent participation at the International Coach Federation’s September 2014 Global Conference in Malmo, Sweden. What I invested in my time and my dollars to attend this event, was thankfully returned to me in an enormous windfall of critical professional development, new and valuable connections, and many treasured memories of spirited life discussions with lots of laughter…(which, it turns out is the language everyone understands!)

I committed as a newly Certified Professional Performance Coach to place myself within an environment that would stretch and expand my possibilities. So it made perfect sense that for my first ICF event, I would choose to attend a global conference titled “Courage to Change.”

Although I have been in “coaching” roles for most of my professional life, I had decided, in the Fall of 2013, to focus on deepening my skills as a leadership coach and get certified as a Professional Performance Coach with Source Point Training. Taking that disciplined plunge to becoming a certified coach allowed me to look beyond my current worldview and see the potentials that existed to serve the global communities that I had always enjoyed experiencing when I traveled.

Five ICF Chapters jointly hosted the conference: Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Poland.   Support was provided by team members from several ICF Chapters from across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including Bulgaria, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, United Kingdom and Mexico.   A truly global team!

The conference program was focused on 4 content tracks so that every type of coach should have been able to find content that resonated with their expertise:

“The Body and Beyond”

“The Brain and Beyond”

“The Spirit and Beyond”

“Coaching and Beyond”

From a networking perspective, I committed to nurture 5 new relationships of coaching peers that I could add to my network of experts and respected colleagues. I came home with 5 times that amount…pretty good for an introvert, who’s first inclination is to choose to network only with my cat.

I will not bore you with the details of each of the programs, but suffice to say, I was able to garner key points and nuggets out of each presentation and for the vast majority of the sessions, my learning has continued well past the conference. As you can see, the topics I encountered featured a wide-range of strategic viewpoints while some offered very practical coaching tools:

Developing Innovative Thinking

Coaching with the Emotional Brain

From Contempt to Curiosity – Creating the Conditions for Groups to Collaborate

Change Your Mind about Stress

Profit from the Positive: 4 Tools for the Coach’s Toolkit

Using the Discomfort Zone: How to Coach from Blind Spots to Breakthrough

Coaching Leaders in Turbulent Times: Dealing with Complexity, Chaos, and Constant Change

I have been to many conferences both as a speaker and certainly as a attendee. Since ICF has only been around for 20 raisedhandsyears, they are still relatively young from an association timeline perspective.  So there was an informality and approachability at this conference that I have not consistently experienced before.  People seemed more open (me included).  People seemed more approachable (me included).  People seemed more willing to share their knowledge, mistakes and successes (me included).  Hmmm, maybe my own openness had something to do with that.

There was a lot of mingling and conversations over lunch and dinner that provided for in-depth interactions beyond the superficiality. In fact, on our last evening, 6 of us, including 2 of the speakers, enjoyed a wonderful and intimate dinner at one of Malmo’s lovely restaurants.  We lingered over dessert and coffee to reflect on the conference and our learnings.  That was a nice way to debrief.

Although the speakers were there to serve the audience of coaches, and most of them exceeded our expectations, by far the biggest gift that I received was the diminishing of my “degrees of separation” within the global coaching community. From all of my conversations, I came away with a better, and shared, understanding of the trials and tribulations of the coaching business from my colleagues in Mexico, UK, France, Latvia, Italy, Estonia, Spain, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, and China and of course, from our Scandinavian hosts as well.

Did the conference meet my expectations? It exceeded them!

Would I recommend it to others? If expanding your worldview with a friendly group of coaching globetrotters sounds right up your alley, then, yes, sign-up!

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the ABBA sing-along…we were in Sweden after all! And that’s another story in itself…

Feel free to contact me with any questions or feedback at: [email protected]