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Want to Write a Book? What’s Stopping You?

By on Mar 18, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Just six months ago, CurtisCompany founder Eric Curtis decided he wanted to write a book to support his growing business consulting practice. You can now buy Collecting Dust (8 Reasons Nonprofit Strategic Plans Fail) on Amazon. It would have been easier to put it off. Eric already has a pretty full schedule running his business and keeping up with a young family. So, why now? “It was important enough for me to do it,” Eric said. “I want to focus on consulting, coaching and training.” The book helps define what he does as well as serving as a resource both to clients and potential clients. It may also be a spring board for more speaking gigs. Getting it done in such a short time frame meant sometimes getting up a little earlier and forcing himself to make it a priority, Eric said. He also set goals to keep himself moving along – a rough draft of a chapter every two weeks. He didn’t always make the goal, but it was a good measure to see how he was doing. Some weeks, he didn’t write at all. Other times he’d put in 8 to 15 hours. Once it was done, he talked with people in the traditional publishing industry, but ultimately opted to self-publish so he could maintain control. “It was painful going through the process,” he admits. But, he adds, that looking back it was “pretty easy.” The bottom line is, if you want to write a book, the only way to get it done is to get started. If you want to know more about how to get started, or if you want some help figuring out whether an idea is worth pursuing, give us a...

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Story telling from the story tellers

By on Feb 8, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Certainly story telling is an art and it can’t exactly be boiled down to a basic of set of rules like a paint-by-number painting.  But the folks at Disney’s Pixar have done just that. They’ve come up with to 22 “rules” to write by. Maybe it’s more like the Pirate’s Code: “Dems just guidelines.” But they sum it up pretty well. My favorite is #12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th — get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself. I like #9 too: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN”T happen next. Lots of time the material to get you unstuck will show up. Of course this is geared toward fiction writing, but there are some that could be applied pretty well to business and life planning as well. Photo from Disney’s...

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Time Tracking for Better Writing

By on Feb 1, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There is a great, oft-repeated maxim for becoming a great writer: Butt-in-chair; hands on keyboard. You can’t become great, or even write at all if you don’t adhere to that very simple principle. Recently, I discovered a great tool that can help. It’s called Toggl. It’s a time tracking program designed for consultants and other business types. But it’s so easy and fun to use, that it works well for us writer types who don’t like to be bothered with administrative details. And it’s free! (There is a premium version, but it cost less than a month’s worth of Starbucks tall lattes.) Here’s how it works: you register; you fill in the task and project and hit the “start” button; when you are done, you hit the “stop” button. The program keeps track of how much time you spend on each task for each project over time. Sure you could do this with a stop watch and paper, but with Toggl, there’s no math! There are all sorts of ways to view the data. You can check how much time you have spent on one project, or combine a few. You can see where you have spent your time this week, or look back over the whole month. For me, it’s been interesting to see how I am really spending my time. There are some things that I thought I took very little time but really took hours. There are other times when I’m sure hours have passed, but the timer revealed that I’d barely filled a commercial break. Perhaps most importantly, it’s helped me be more disciplined. I can easily tell if I’ve really met my writing goals or  have been distracted with other tasks (indiscriminately surfing the web?). On the whole writing goal discussion, I will note that there are those who reasonably argue that it should be more about content rather than time. For instance, they suggest setting a word count goal for the day. That’s useful and can be a great way to move along a project, but you may still want to track time so you get a sense of how long things are taking you. By the way, including editing, this post has...

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Rewrite and Rewrite and Rewrite

By on Jan 15, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I was paid a great compliment the other day. Someone said that something I wrote read as if it was easy to write. It wasn’t. In fact, it was a tad agonizing as I fussed over sentences and tried to hammer big concepts into bite sized, readable pieces. The wonderful illusion is that great writing comes easy. When you read a well written article or book, it feels as if the words flowed from the writer’s fingertips like a river over a cliff creating a gorgeous cascading waterfall. So as a writer, it’s easy to think that you are no good if that doesn’t happen for you. Even though I’m a professional writer and should know better, I still feel that way sometimes. I get frustrated when it feels like a struggle to put three words together. This is where many potentially great writers (or at least very good ones) get derailed. They think that because it doesn’t come easy they’re not any good so they give up writing or settle for mediocre. Greatness – or even just goodness – comes in the revision. You may have to rewrite a sentence or a paragraph or even just a phrase three, five, fifteen times until is sounds right. Yes, that takes time. And yes, that can be agonizing. Until you get it right. Then, it’s like having climbed to the top of a mountain or finished a race under your pace goal. So don’t give up if it’s a struggle. Just rest assured that writing if more often than not a slog and just because what you are writing now isn’t good, that doesn’t mean it never will...

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Do you have something to say?

By on Jan 7, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I’m all for getting creative with blogging and social media. Give me any company and I can come up with a list of at least 12 topics to get it started. But even I have to admit that the idea of an electronics manufacturer setting up on Facebook seemed to be a stretch. However, it seems creativity prevails. Eratech Inc., a company based in Ontario, is using social media to boost its reputation within its industry, and it seems to be working. The company promotes itself on several social media channels to make it easier for prospective clients to learn more about them early on in the sales process, according to the Wall Street Journal’s CIO blog. On Facebook, the company has pictures of its products in use. Twitter is used to highlight the posts and send well wishes to customers. There’s even a video highlighting the company’s manufacturing plant. The company says that  the overall result has been to shorten the sales cycle to six to eight weeks from six to eight months. So if an electronics manufacturer can find success on social media, how about you? Who are you trying to reach and how can you do that? What do you have to say that people need to...

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Does it matter?

By on Dec 31, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s New Year’s Eve Day and I am frantically trying to get a bunch of things done so I can get out of the office and enjoy some of the festivities in Boston. There’s a long list of things that I would really like to get done and an equally long list of things that really have to get done. It would be easy to skip the blog today. After all, I haven’t written for awhile any way and who is going to notice. If that’s really how I feel about it, then I am quite probably wasting my time here. If it really doesn’t matter, then why bother? The thing is that I do believe it matters. I decided quite some time ago, as you may have, that a blog is important for the growth of my business. But it’s easy to lose site of how the blog fits into the big picture and why it’s important. And when you don’t have the answer to why it’s important, it’s hard to set it as a priority over all the ” must dos” and “want to dos.” If you find yourself struggling with keeping up with your blog, take some time to think about why you feel it is important in the first place. You will have a hard time blogging successfully for your business if you don’t have a good answer. With that answer leading the way, however, you are well on your way to being able to set up a solid blogging plan that will help you keep it up even when you think you are too busy. If you want some help finding the answer, or making the plan, contact me and find out more about our blog planning services. Have a Happy and Successful New...

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