Yesterday afternoon I gave my final presentation in a series of "talks" to local library branches. The topic was about finding the adventure in our lives and I usually based it around my own adventure of hiking the West Coast Trail which has been well received by the participants. Part of my talk over the past 8 weeks has been to encourage people to write their own stories and memories and yesterday I decided to spend a little more time devoted to that part of the discussion. In fact, I created a short exercise to help the audience organize and recognize the important facets of their own stories and bring them out in the telling.

At one point I made the statement that none of us was present on the planet to live an ordinary life and that regardless of spiritual beliefs, we are here to fulfill a larger purpose than mere existence itself.  I was a little taken aback by the person who disagreed with that concept and insisted that most inhabitants were, at best, ordinary. Fortunately, that opinion seemed to be a solitary one and I sensed that the balance of people took to heart the idea that they had something of value to share with their world.

So, here's a list of a few things that I learned about relating stories:
  • it's not about the grammar, punctuation or spelling
  • it's not even about how you got from here to there (or there to here)
  • it is about your experiences and your memory of them
  • the reader or listener will connect with how the event/story made you feel
  • answering the news reporter's who, what, when and where is a good story outline
  • supplying the what and how creates interest and flow
  • it is a good idea to supply your opinion or thoughts on the matter (this is why they are reading your account)
  • there is something to learn in everyone's story
  • if you don't tell your stories, who will?
  • each of us eventually wants to know where and who we came from
I really enjoyed sharing some thoughts and ideas with the group and provided a written outline to get them started. if you would like a copy of the outline, send me an email and i will send it to you
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  • even though the next generation may not be interested today, they will be eventually
  • relating all the historical details is not the same as relating a story



The purpose for writing a book can be as varied as their are writers, but it is important to spend a few moments looking at this before attempting to create your manuscript. This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, roughly titled "Write Your Book in 48 Days."

A writer’s purpose can start with just wanting to tell a story based on your own experience, like a recent trip or perhaps something that happened on your way to work that caused you to think twice because it was funny or tragic or unique. It might be something more strategic like wanting to become recognized in your field of endeavor or to be looked at as a spokesperson in your industry, confer expert status or simply give you more credibility. You might have some specialized knowledge about a subject that is important to share with others, a unique perspective about an event that you played a role in. You may feel compelled to write a book in order to change people’s minds, inspire action, explain a concept or point of view or to simply leave a legacy to your family, friends and other people who know you.

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Writing a book and painting a house have certain striking similarities. I spent the past week helping my son paint the interior of his new abode and was struck by how the process of writing a successful non-fiction book is very much the same as successfully painting a house. Defining success in house painting means no paint on the ceiling or floor and a smooth finish with color only in the spots you want to have it. To do this requires a combination of elements including experience, organization, the right tools, a proven process, patience and a willingness to take some risks.

I would like to think that it has always been easy to teach my son new skills but whether it is normal for fathers and sons to disagree, or I didn't exercise enough patience, or perhaps he was not willing to learn from me, I'm not sure - that was the past -  but we both decided to approach this opportunity from a new perspective. He was entirely open to being coached and consider the value of receiving help from a knowledgeable source. I was determined to make this an enjoyable experience and realized that there is nothing wrong with repeating instructions and demonstrating something until the pupil understands. In the long run, it was easier and more efficient to repeat myself than to be impatient.

Painting a house and teaching someone else how to do it is like coaching a client through the process of writing a book. We start with having an organized approach, gather the information and layout a plan for its execution, choose the most important tasks to undertake, reveal the insider knowledge that allows success to enter the picture, and start with the end result in mind. Knowing where we want to end up and keeping the big picture in front of us helps us get through the challenges and difficulties that always crop up when we are creating something important.

The sense of satisfaction and joy that we both experienced in making his home a place of pride is much the same as creating a wonderful book that will entertain and inspire all who come into contact with it.

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