The best writing habit is preparation and it starts on day one of your book writing process.

“My best skill was that I was coachable. I was a sponge and aggressive to learn.”

Michael Jordan

A question from a member of my Ink Authors group on Facebook: How do you diplomatically encourage a writer whose work, um, “doesn’t appear to have it”?

The answer to this question is mostly determined by HOW a manuscript arrives on my desk for review.

Two of the ways I help authors write and finish writing their books are my Book Blueprint/Coaching and Editorial Analysis services.

Blueprint/Coaching: Here, I help authors develop and outline their book ideas, and then coach them as they write their books, reviewing and giving feedback on the chapters as they write.

Editorial Analysis: This service is for authors who have already completed their rough draft manuscripts. I will do a line-by-line review, finding all the problem areas, and then offer specific feedback on how to tighten up their manuscript and bring it to the next level (closer to publishing!).  

The difference in the quality of writing in a manuscript is highly influenced by when I get to first lay eyes on it. With Blueprint/Coaching, I get to work with authors and help shape their book from day one. With an Editorial Analysis, the house is pretty much built.

It’s much easier for me to head off potential quality issues from day one than it is after a book has been written. These can include structural problems, problematic writing patterns, flow of ideas or story, consistency of tone and style – and much (much) more.

Think of every book you’ve ever read that you haven’t loved, and the wide variety of specific reasons for that assessment. Label that mental list, “All the things that can potentially go wrong while writing a book.”

It’s much easier to fix a problem in a building still under construction or better yet, at the blueprint stage. 

The Best Writing Habit is Preparation.

But to the question, how do I diplomatically encourage a writer whose work, um, “doesn’t appear to have it”? – and especially to the questioner’s wording about a writer having “it” or not…

This is a pretty broad question when we look at the subjective nature of “it.” I firmly believe there are countless love connections to be made between authors and their ideal readers. Therefore what qualifies as “it” for one reader might be far from “it” for another.

However, if we’re talking about actual writing fundamentals and a mutually agreed upon baseline assessment of quality (i.e. bad writing being bad writing), I like to think I do more than simply “diplomatically encourage” writers.

One of the things that lights me up the most, is taking these passionate storytellers, eager to share their words with the world, and turning them into skilled writers. One of the ways I do this is by coaching writing fundamentals.

It’s admittedly more of a challenge to turn people into writers through the series of line-by-line comments and summary report included in my Editorial Analysis service. But that has never stopped me. I will mark the heck out of any manuscript that comes across my desk.

I have this crazy idea that with the right knowledge, perseverance, writing habits, and dedication to quality, it IS possible for any author to bring their work to the next level.

If an author doesn’t appear to have “it” and they’re not committed to learning how to get “it,” they’re most likely not going to be invested enough in their work to get help from an outside professional in the first place.

For the rest of you, it’s one of my greatest joys and passions in life to teach you how to get IT. Most things in life can be learned, skills can be mastered, and most people are coachable. I believe all three of these things apply to writing a book.

If you want to get IT – it’s there for the taking!

Related Articles:

Demystifying Book Writing Obstacles 

Best Time to Write Your Book?

Key to Developing a Lifelong Writing Habit

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