Whatever Your Past, You Can Write A New Ending To Your Story

Rewrite Your Story

I remember her sitting on the couch, telling her story. My mom was listening, nodding her head and taking it in. This woman had a tough life and she recounted stories of abuse, of hurt, of neglect. My presence barely registered as she poured out her pain. Only a few, carefully chosen questions, that was all it took from mom. Like a skilled surgeon piercing infected skin, she used a question like a scalpel, surgically timed and designed to alleviate pain.

 

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” -Shakespeare

 

It’s funny how I can recall the room so clearly now: the curtains and wallpaper in the room, the sofas, the layout, the piano nestled in the corner. It’s all etched in my memory. Also etched in my memory is the story. It was different from others, sure, but in so many ways it was the same.

My family took people in; mostly people in trouble; people in need; people with histories, pain, and shame. Though we were not the wealthiest in the world, there was always room for one more at the table. Some came for a single meal while others would stay for years.

As I listened to the particulars of this woman’s story, I felt for her. You couldn’t help but be affected as you heard the details.

I learned some lessons:

  • Pain can be used as a powerful force for good.
  • We don’t have to keep re-reading that chapter.
  • We can turn the page.
  • We can welcome new characters, new narratives, and new opportunities.
  • We can write the ending.
  • We can create a story worth living, one that can inspire others.

 

“Your life’s best chapters are ahead of you. Turn the page with great expectation.” -Skip Prichard

 

You say, “Skip, I didn’t have that kind of life. I didn’t have abuse or pain. Life was normal.”

How to Get Through Your Writing Faster

This is a guest post by Laura Brown, PhD, author of How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide. It is a terrific guide full of everything from writing apologies, thank you notes, and even fighting parking tickets. Dr. Brown has taught composition at Columbia University and has more than 25 years experience coaching business writing. More info.

 

Fact: we spend 28% of our time at work reading and writing email.

 

According to a 2012 study from the McKinsey Global Institute, we now spend an average of 28% of our time at work reading and writing e-mails.  That’s a total of 81 days a year spent on e-mail alone.  Another study, from the Radicati Group, found that the average corporate worker processes an average of 105 e-mails every day.  Any way you look at it, that’s an extraordinary investment of time and brainpower, and these numbers cover only e-mail, not the other kinds of writing we do at work.  What would it be like to get some of that time and energy back to devote to other projects, or just to take a deep breath once in a while?

Writing is likely to remain an important part of the average workday, but there are ways to streamline your writing process so that you can get through your writing tasks in less time. These tips can help.

 

Discover Your Process

In my consulting practice, I find many people think they’re doing writing “wrong.”  They have some notion from a high school or college writing class — or from business writing training at some point — that there is a “correct” way to approach a writing task, and they’re sure they’re doing it wrong.  The fact is that there are many different successful ways to get your writing done.  One of the keys to success in writing, and to accelerating your writing process, is to discover the process that works best for you.

Writing is typically taught as a linear process: first you consider your purpose and your reader, then you brainstorm content, then you create an outline, then you write a draft, and finally you revise that draft.  There’s nothing wrong with that process, unless it doesn’t work for you.  Many people find that a less linear approach feels more natural.  You can start to discover your own best process by simply observing how you typically start a writing project.  Do you like to have an outline before you start?  Do you jump right in and write a draft?  Do you consider your objectives before you start to write?  These are all potentially excellent ways to get started on a writing task.

Once you understand the writing process that works best for you, run with it.  Stop beating yourself up about doing it “wrong,” and find ways to work with your own approach. Becoming more conscious of your writing habits and embracing your own preferred style will accelerate your writing, no matter the task at hand.

 

To Speed Up, Slow Down

One of the best ways to speed up your writing is often to slow down a little.  Taking a minute to think before you write can save you a lot of time over the long run.  This trick can be especially useful with e-mail.  Before you compose an e-mail, ask yourself these two questions: “What am I trying to achieve with this message?” and “Who is my reader and what do they expect from me?”  This simple, time-saving matrix will force you to isolate and refine your message before you even start writing it.  Your e-mail will be more concise, and you’ll be less likely to omit important content (and less likely to have to follow up because of it).  You can use the same kind of matrix when you read and reply to e-mails: ask yourself “What is the purpose of this message?” and “What is my reader asking of me?”  Slowing down just long enough to ask and answer these questions will speed up your e-mail processing overall.

The Creative Processes of 4 Best-Selling Thriller Writers

A few months ago at Book Expo America, I had the opportunity to interview four of the premier thriller writers today:

Brad Meltzer (The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, The Tenth Justice)

Michael Connelly (The Lincoln Lawyer, The Poet, Blood Work)

Michael Koryta (The Prophet, The Ridge, The Cypress House)

Nelson DeMille (The Gold Coast, Plumb Island, The General’s Daughter)

They have each sold millions of books and regularly top the bestseller lists.

We talked about a number of topics including: