5 Ways to Strength Your Author’s Foundation (guest post)

(I immediately related to the message in this article.  It doesn’t matter what sort of writing you or I do, whether it is copywriting, self-help books, a novel, children’s books or even an essay for class — this post has valuable information for us all . . . . Helena)

Written April 18, 2011 by Lynne Klippel

Have you ever tried to work on your book while sitting at your kitchen table surrounded by dirty breakfast dishes and a crying toddler, while you worry about getting everyone out of the door to an appointment in thirty minutes?

What about the day when your to-do list is three pages long, you are anticipating an overdraft notice from your bank, and you just had a fight with your spouse?

Just reading these scenarios makes you feel stressed doesn’t it?

Writing is hard work at times. It requires concentration, creativity, and focus. When your brain is so rushed, frustrated, and worried, it is almost impossible to enjoy the process of writing your book AND write something that makes you proud.

So to succeed as a writer, you need a strong foundation, a supportive structure for your life, your business, your health, and your spirit. When you are supported by a strong
foundation, you are more at peace. A peaceful mind is more creative and clever.

Building that strong foundation takes time. These steps will help you strengthen your Author’s Foundation so that you can write more effectively:

1. Determine what you need in your environment to do your best writing. Do you need silence, a busy coffee shop, a candle burning, or soft jazz playing?

Your environment impacts your level of peace and ability to write well. Notice which environments support your best writing and then do your best to write in that supportive environment regularly.

2. Find your best time of day to write. Some authors do their best work first
thing in the morning. Others write late at night when the family is asleep. I find that I do my best writing from 10-3 each day, after I’ve handled any pressing business needs.

Discover your best time to write and schedule that time in your calendar. Treat that time as sacred and keep your writing appointments just as you would honor an appointment with your biggest client.

3. Reduce your stress. Stress can constipate your creativity. Find ways that help you reduce stress so that ideas can flow. Consider meditation, exercise, reading a good novel or mystery book, an art activity, or a long shower.

The important thing is to build a variety of stress reducing activities into your life on a daily basis. Unfortunately, you can’t go get a massage and eliminate all your stress forever. However, you can regularly spend time in nature, meditate or pray, dance, enjoy a great book, journal, and laugh so that you feel as peaceful as possible most of the time.

4. Look at your biggest problem and do something to fix it. What’s really getting to you? Is it your finances, your health, your schedule, your clients, your future, your past, or your relationships?

You have a lot on your plate, especially when you are writing a book. Examine the area that is bugging you the most and take a concrete action to improve it. Continue to take action steps until that situation is resolved, or at least it is not keeping you up at night. Action reduces stress. Once you start taking some proactive steps toward solving your biggest problem, you’ll have more bandwidth to devote to your writing.

5. Keep your passion high for your book. Because writing is a solitary activity,
you may forget that real people are waiting for your book to help them transform their lives. Take every opportunity to connect with people and share some of the wisdom in your book whether that is in a casual conversation, a workshop, Teleclass, or while networking at the Chamber of Commerce.

The most powerful books are written to serve the reader.By engaging with others and seeing their enthusiasm for your book, you will create a solid belief in the worth of your book and the importance of your message. That belief will support you all through the writing, publishing, and marketing of your book.

What’s your best tip for strengthening your Author’s Foundation? Share it below so that others can give it a try.

(Lynne Klippel is a best-selling author, publisher, and book coach who specializes in helping non-fiction authors write books that build their business and transform the world. For a f.r.e.e. assessment that will help you see your author strengths and opportunities, visit http://www.BusinessBuildingBooks.com)

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It’s, its

Two words often misspelled or used interchangeably are: it’s and its.  I know they sound the same when you’re speaking, but each has its (ha, ha!) own unique meaning when you are writing.

It’s is a contraction, short for “it is”.  The best way I know to test to see if this is the spelling you want is to read your sentence out loud and substitute “it is” for “it’s” or “its”.

For example, “it’s time for lunch.”  “It is time for lunch” makes sense, so “it’s” is correct in this sentence, not “its”.

Its means belonging to.  So when I say, “each has its own unique meaning”, that is correct.  I’m talking about the meaning that belongs to each word.  On the other hand, “Each has it’s own unique meaning” would not be right, because it doesn’t make sense to say, “Each has it is own unique meaning.” 

Bonus tip:  Sometimes “it’s” will be short for “it has”, as in “it’s been snowing” meaning “it has been snowing”.  The simple test above, substituting “it is” for both “it’s” and “its” will usually tell you whether you are using the right spelling or not; but if “it is” does not make sense and you want to be sure you have the correct spelling, then also try substituting “it has,” just in case.

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There, Their, They’re

I often see these three words – there, their, and they’re – misspelled or used interchangeably.  I know they all sound the same when you’re speaking, but each has its own unique use when you are writing.

THEY’RE is the easiest to figure out how to use.  Since it is short for “they are”, read your sentence aloud and substitute “they are” for “they’re, their, or there”.  You’ll quickly figure out if “they’re” is the spelling you need.  

For example, “they’re going to the store” is correct, since you could also write, “they are going to the store”.  On the other hand, “they’re house is the biggest on the block” is not correct.  You would never write or say “they are house“.  Likewise, “they’re is your coffee” is not correct.  To say or write “they are is your coffee” would just not make sense.

THEIR is possessive.  That means it describes something belonging to two or more people.  So the correct way to write our second example is “their house is the biggest on the block“.  If you can substitute a name, the letter S, and an apostrophe for the word, then “their” is the spelling you need.

Let’s go through our three examples again, imagining that we are talking about John and Anne Smith.  “Their going to the store” doesn’t work because we wouldn’t say or write “The Smiths’ going to the store“.  (Yes, you could add the word “are” in here and then the sentence would make sense but if you are adding the word “are”, then “they’re” is the word to choose.  When you are substituting to test your sentence, you only add the word “are” for “they’re”.) 

Their house is the biggest on the block” is right.  The meaning is still clear if you write “The Smiths’ house is the biggest on the block.”  And the last sentence, “their is your coffee” isn’t right.  Why would anyone say “the Smiths’ is your coffee“?!

THERE refers to a place, either as a location or in time.  A good way to think about this use is to remember that “there” is spelled like “where” and answers a “where” type of question.  “Where is my coffee?”  “There is your coffee” or “your coffee is over there“.  Nobody is going to ask you “where house is the biggest on the block?”  or “where is going to the store?”

The main thing to remember, if you want to try the substitute tests to see if you are using these words correctly, is to not add any extra words to your substitution.  Only add “they are” to see if “they’re” is the correct usage.  And only try “the Smiths'” when checking to see if “their” is the word you want.

Bonus tip:  Note that “their” can also be used without specific names so sometimes you might have to substitute a plural noun (a word describing a group).  Example:  “their feed was taken to the barn.”  “The cows’ feed was taken to the barn.”

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Editing and Proofreading

Do you require perfection in your written documents?

Whether you find others pointing out mistakes you missed or you’re simply too busy with your primary duties to carefully pore over lines and lines of text, looking for errors, I am here to help.  Put my 14 years of editing and proofreading experience in the Hansard and Legislative Counsel branches of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, to work for you! To say nothing of my experience in newspapers and book editing!

Do you require your corrections yesterday?

Not only does Hansard have exacting standards, but I am also used to working on tight timelines.  No, I can’t quite promise to deliver your work yesterday, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by my fast turnaround times.

If you have work that you need reviewed by an independent third party,  contact me using the form below or directly via the information at the bottom of the contact me page, https://helenalong.com/contact-me/ .

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 Need help crafting a message that will be heard by your target audience?

After 14 years of transcribing, editing, and proofreading political debates on topics ranging from hospital closures to elk farming, from million dollar budgets to foster care, and from securities legislation to camping and fishing fees, I know at least a little something about most subject areas.

Add to that my law degree, international marketing experience, and “plain language” studies, and you will find I can help you craft a message that will be heard by your target audience. 

If you’re ready to talk about new copy for your website, brochures, videos, and/or other promotional material for your business or product, please enter your details below and I will be happy to give you a call to discuss what I can do for you.

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