When it comes to writing everyone has their own ideas on the rules of the trade, and today we’re going to throw our most important rule for a first-time author. For everyone involved in a writing industry there are inherent customs, rules, etiquette, etc. which must be followed. Some writers, especially reporters, use the AP style guide in their writing. Other writers believe in using fewer adverbs, i.e. Stephen King. Still others have written detailed books, reports, and studies on the most effective writing rules. Other’s have written blogs detailing their advice, like this Michael Hyatt blog. Let’s be clear, most of these rules are useful and will only help your writing but many of these rules are too specific and do not cover the most important rule for first-time writers: Show, don’t tell!
Share Your Experiences
As a business owner and an aspiring author you are unique in the world. You have an amazing story to tell. Your readers want to know about you, your successes, your failures, and your journey, so show them!
Coming from business you’re already familiar with writing daily. You create presentations, write emails, draft sponsorship letters, and more. Compared to other first-time authors you have a head start on the writing side of things. However, one of the biggest pitfalls we see with first-time business authors is the way in which they share their story.
You want to connect with your audience and as mentioned above, the most important idea to remember is to show, not tell. What does this mean though?
First, let’s look at what it means to tell. First-time authors, especially business-minded individuals, are likely to tell their readers what to do, how to act, what to think, etc. It’s natural as we spend every day telling our clients, contractors, and employees what to do. Daily emails consist of sayings like, “The project deadline is August 31,” or “Please schedule a time to talk with our sales manager.”
Imagine writing a book with this type of writing; it would be pretty dry wouldn’t it? That is why it is all too crucial to write by using your experiences to craft a story which engages and connect with your reader. Let’s take a look at an example.
Show and Tell
Tell: You must create a marketing plan every year or you run the risk of losing clients or missing them all together.
Show: In the closing weeks of 2018, we sat down to create a marketing plan for the following year and thank goodness we did! In today’s marketing world there are many changes, both externally and internally which influence your marketing success, or lack thereof. One such change happened in March when Colleen made the decision to have a needed rotator cuff surgery. Without a clear marketing plan in place I would not have been able to keep our marketing on track. During Colleen’s time off, we were able to bring on two new clients thanks to our continued marketing strategy.
Do you see the difference? Not only is the show example more detailed but it also uses our personal experiences. We know who our ideal reader is and so we can share the stories which will relate most closely with them. Sharing personal and professional stories allows you and your reader to connect with each other because they have shared your experience or they can put themselves in your shoes.
Crafting Your Story As A First-Time Author
Anyway you put it, crafting your story can be a bit challenging. However, as a first-time author you are still crafting your own writing style. This gives you an advantage because you do not have to break any bad habits. One of the best ways to begin to build the habit of sharing your experiences is to write every day. Even if you don’t write part of your book, it’s important for you to write each and every day. Write about what you did during your workday or the fun weekend you had. It doesn’t matter what you write, just take the time to do it and be consistent on a daily basis.
Every good writer knows you need to have an editor who will not only work with you to hone your story, but who will also be there to support you through your journey. When you begin to craft your story and throughout your writing journey it is crucial you work with an editor. An editor will help you focus your story so you can show, not tell your story and share your experiences, lessons, and challenges, in a way which will connect with your audience.