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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell author of The Father of All Things 

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Finish that Book--How to See Your Book Through to 'The End'
 by Melinda Copp


One of the most common book writing challenges is getting
started--taking action on your book idea and actually sitting
down at the computer to write. This holds more aspiring
authors back than anything else, and I spend a great deal of
my time telling people where to start.

Just last week I was on the phone with a man facing this
exact problem. He didn't know where to start. So I told him
about how I coach all my clients to start by making a list of
everything they want to cover in their book so they can
actually see, in one place, what they're dealing with. He loved
this idea, but what he said next revealed a completely
different book writing challenge to me. He said, "I can do that,
and then the book will reveal itself. That's what I'm going to

"Reveal itself"--wow, I thought, is it really that easy? I wish! I
thought about that conversation for a while after I hung up
the phone, and realized that, number one, some people must
think writing is a sort-of magical process where answers just
reveal themselves. And number two, I'd given this man (and
potentially everyone else I've instructed to do this exercise)
false hope that the secret to writing is book is something so

The thing is: there's nothing magical about writing a book.
Some days it's easy; some days it's really, really hard. But it's
always a process of figuring out and addressing problems--
the biggest of which is how to communicate your message to
your reader in a way that keeps them engaged and leaves
them with the knowledge you intend to leave them with.
Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than a list to solve that.

By all means, make the list. It really is the best place to start.
But don't expect to find all your answers there. Although
getting started is a major obstacle for aspiring authors, it's
only the start. From the list, you have to organize your ideas
into a structure that will work and satisfy your readers. You
have to show up and write every day. You have to write
effective chapters that move your readers forward. You have
to finish the first draft. And then you have to go back in and
edit what you have. You've got a lot to do, and getting
started is just the beginning. You have to keep going.

I talk and write a lot about getting started, and how
important taking that first step is. But for every aspiring
author who never starts writing their book, there's probably
one that's been started and never finished. As a person who
has devoted her entire business to helping people get their
books written, I'm not satisfied with either situation.

So how do you do get beyond that initial step and actually
finish your book? The most important thing you can do is
commit yourself for the long-haul. Recognize that although
sometimes the answers will reveal themselves, not all the
questions that come up during the book writing process will
resolve that easily. Learn what makes books work, so when
questions and problems do arise, you'll know how to solve
them. And don't get discouraged when the going gets tough!

Melinda Copp helps aspiring nonfiction, business, and self-
help authors get clear on their story and book idea, and figure
out how to put it all together so their ideal readers love it.
for a free copy of her "Jumpstart Your Book E-course!" and get
your book started now.  Copyright 2009


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