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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Easy book writing for people who talk

Speakers, if you haven’t written a book yet, you’re cutting yourself off at your financial knees. The tried and true business model for speakers includes writing a book that can be sliced and diced in multiple ways, including CDs and DVDs, eBooks, articles, blog posts, even Apps. But the book lays the foundation. 

Monetary benefits aside…
  • Books extend your influence beyond the podium. You can’t be in multiple places at one time, but your books can.
  • Books market your products and services. How often have you been so captivated by a book that you immediately searched for the author’s website to investigate her other offerings?
  • Books build your credibility as a media expert. When you’ve published a book, people believe you know what you’re talking about. Books serve as your calling card to print journalists and talk show hosts who are always on the lookout for experts on various topics.

As an editor and writing coach who has worked exclusively with speakers over the past few years, I’ve learned that some speakers trap themselves into never ending cycles of frustration when they talk about writing a book rather than actually writing one.

Try forcing the issue by taking a speaker off the stage and putting a blank piece of paper in front of him. He may get what I call “page fright.” Taken out of his comfort zone, he starts remembering his mean English teacher with the red pencil.

Never fear. Writing a book doesn’t have to be as painful as writing a research paper. Yes, it does require a lot of work, but when you use your natural speaking gifts, writing a book can be just as enjoyable as delivering a speech. 

If you’re a good writer and a good speaker, you’re one of those rare beings who was blessed by the communications angels. Most of us have one dominant mode of communication: speaking or writing. If you’re unsure of your writing ability, seek out a writer, editor, or coach. To produce a quality product, this is all-important. Even veteran writers need to be edited and proofed, so a word to the wise: don’t cut corners.

Use your voice to write your book!

1. Record and transcribe. Invest in a good recorder and keep it handy so that you can speak your book while doing solitary activities (like driving). One of my clients works this way. At the end of a few months, he sends me several microcassette tapes. I transcribe them and edit the transcription.

Before you record one word, take the time to plan your book out first. Developing a simple Table of Contents will help focus and organize your thoughts. Jotting down a few notes per chapter will also help. The structure may change in time, but for now, it’s a good way to start. 

2. Take notes. Last year I worked with a pastor who likes to take notes while studying scripture. These notes form the basis of his sermons, and he realized they could also lay the foundation for his first book. He developed his Table of Contents, used that to organize his notes, and then began to write. I edited the manuscript, and he was delighted to finally self-publish his first book after 10 years of talking about it! 

By the way, when you’re writing your first draft, don’t worry about getting every sentence grammatically perfect. This will create page fright and shut down all creativity. Just let the words and ideas flow. You and your editor can fix it later.

3. Transcribe speeches. I include this method with caution. If you are an extemporaneous speaker, your transcribed speeches should serve only as the launching pad for your book, not the actual narrative. That would be too easy! I once tried to transcribe such a speech, but I soon realized that it was an exercise in futility. All those repetitions, colloquialisms, mmm’s, and ahhh’s that are so powerful at the podium fall flat on the page. 

Take the time to plan your speeches for the sole purpose of using them to develop your book. This may go against the grain of extemporaneous speakers, but trust me, planning your speeches, even preparing a script, will help in the book writing process.

Recording, transcribing, and note taking tap into speakers’ natural mode of planning and communicating, and they will definitely help speed up the process of writing a book. Just keep in mind that a transcription is not a book. You'll still have more writing to do. 

“Write like you talk!” my mother, the English teacher, used to tell her students. And I’ll add, it may be tough but stop talking about writing a book and get to writing!

Donna Marie

1 comment:

  1. If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.

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