Deadline for Feb. 1 application — Jan. 23
Writers and academics:
Have you been dragging your heels for days weeks months years struggling with your book or thesis?
Writing isn’t as difficult as performing neurosurgery or designing a skyscraper, but the job can seem positively overwhelming. Most books require 60,000 to 80,000 words, and most theses need somewhere between 40,000 and 150,000 words. (I know that’s a super-wide range. I don’t make up the rules! The length depends on your area of study. Most Science theses are at the shorter end. History and Education theses tend to be at the longer end of the range.)
Some people are smart enough to get the help they need right away. Others delay and procrastinate and wait until the deadline becomes a crisis.
The 5 reasons book and thesis writers often fail
Finishing a book or a thesis doesn’t happen to people who have the best ideas. Or to people who work the hardest. The prize — holding your finished product in your hands — goes to people who manage their time and their emotions the best.
Figuring that hard work alone will do the trick
Do you recognize that finishing a book or a thesis is a marathon, not a sprint? And do you have the know-how to motivate yourself to write even on days when you really, really, really don’t feel like sitting in your chair?
But writing isn’t all about the work. It’s about self-management. It’s about knowing what to do when you hit a brick wall. It’s about the hundred and one steps you can take to get around the predictable problems and challenges facing ALL writers.
Many other people have written successful books and theses. Isn’t it time to learn their tricks and techniques? You can work smart rather than hard.
Our society loves individualists. We admire the quirkiness of Richard Branson. The strength of Angela Merkel. The smarts of Warren Buffett. The determination of Arianna Huffington. But we forget that each of these people has a sea of supporters behind them.
Failing to get an accountability partner
As a writer, you need supporters too. It’s tempting to approach writing as a lonely, solitary task, with you leaning over your laptop in a garret or garage. But if you aren’t accountable to an outside person, it’s way too easy to let deadlines slip by.
Deadlines for books and theses are measured in months or years, not hours or days. "Phew!" you say. "Then it’s not such a big deal if I miss a day or two here or there." Wrong. It IS a big deal. Because successful writers know that it’s the slow, daily accumulation of words that allows them to meet their long-range goals.
How do they stick to their writing plans? They have an accountability partner. Just as you might go for a regular run with a friend or have a gym buddy, a writing accountability partner helps make sure you deliver.
Many people swear they don’t multitask. If you think that describes you, consider the following questions:
- Do you turn off your cellphone when you’re writing?
- Do you collect your email manually, only after you’ve finished writing
- Do you refuse to check the spelling of names or other details when you’re writing?
Becoming derailed by distractions (a.k.a. multitasking)
If you answered no to any of these questions, you are multi-tasking while you write. While our society used to lavish praise on multitaskers, we now recognize they were misleading themselves. Studies have shown that multitasking lowers performance on many levels. One 2010 experiment by American researcher Laura Bowman and colleagues found that study participants who were multitasking — by checking text messages — took 22 to 59% longer to read a passage than participants who didn’t have to check texts.
Writing is a job that requires intense concentration — no multi-tasking allowed. If you don’t know how to turn off the other tasks and FOCUS, it’s highly likely you’ll never finish your book or your thesis.
Most people have an inborn preference about the writing process — either they like writing or they prefer editing. (Probably 80% of the people in this program tend to prefer editing. But I can help both types of people.)
Editing while you write
Editing is an important job, of course, but you shouldn't do it WHILE you write. Writing and editing are two completely different tasks, using different parts of your brain. If you try to do both these jobs at the same time, you're going to make the work a whole lot slower and more painful.
Editing while you write is a hard habit to break (I know, because I did it myself!) and I have lots of tricks to share with you. As soon as I learned to write and edit separately, I more than doubled my own writing speed. I can teach you to do the same.
Some people like to go looking for divine guidance. They figure that if only they have inspiration, then the words will flow easily and they’ll be able to finish their book or thesis that way. Professionals are more inclined to agree with the words of the late writer Peter De Vries:
Depending too much on inspiration
I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning.”
Ideas may come to us in the occasional flash of inspiration, but it’s what we do with those ideas — writing them down and editing them — that makes the difference. Writer Anthony Burgess summarized it well when he said:
Or they might prefer the sentiment of writer Jack London:
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
“I leave the myth of inspiration and agonized creative inaction to the amateurs. The practice of a profession entails discipline, which for me meant the production of two thousand words of fair copy every day, weekends included.”
Accountability is golden
I had had a book idea in mind for several years, but couldn’t seem to get started — I thought I needed big chunks of time to open up in my calendar. Daphne and the Get It Done program helped me see that small chunks of time and a regular writing habit produce results. Now I look back and think, Wow, this works! I published The Email Warrior in January 2017.
One of the best things about the program is that you have to submit your daily word count. That accountability is golden. Now writing is part of my daily habit, no matter what.
President, Clear Concept Inc,
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Finishing your book or thesis is not rocket science…
Nor is it a reflection of your intelligence or competence. You are not stupid! Here’s what’s gone wrong: No one has taught you how to write a book or a thesis. Sure, you may have had someone who corrected your spelling and grammar — or forced you to do outlines. But otherwise, you were likely thrown into the deep end of the pool and just expected to write. A lucky few managed not to drown. How? Perhaps they had extra support at home. Maybe they were naturally gifted at writing. Maybe they were just lucky. Whatever the reason, they developed their own structure or system for writing and figured out how to apply it to their project. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed that you couldn’t do that. If anything, be embarrassed for the education system, which failed to support you.
Believe it or not, the end to your struggles is just around the corner!
Hi, I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, founder of The Publication Coach. For years I suffered from exactly the same problems you face. At college I hated writing. Producing my honours thesis was my worst nightmare. Even when I eventually became a senior editor at a large metropolitan daily newspaper, writing still made me feel stressed and uncomfortable (a feeling I felt obliged to hide). Editing I loved. Writing? Not so much. I usually procrastinated and delayed until every writing assignment became a crisis. I felt inept and miserable and worried I might lose my job if others figured out how incompetent I was.
After leaving the newspaper business (to become a mom to triplets), I spent the next couple of years studying how to make writing both easier and faster. After I more than doubled my own writing speed, people started asking me to coach them to improve their efficiency too. And here’s what happened: Formerly reluctant writers began telling me how much they suddenly enjoyed putting words on paper. People who had procrastinated on books or theses started to hit the 70,000-word mark with no problem.
Encouraged by these results, I turned my approach into a program that allowed me to help more people. That’s what I’m sharing with you today.
Here's something to ask yourself…
When you were in school, did anyone address the psychology and structure of writing?
No need to feel badly if that’s the case. This isn’t your fault. If you want to blame someone, blame your grade 10 social studies teacher or your English 100 prof.
Get it done!
I’ve worked as a writer all my life, but only had the necessary focus to work on stuff I get paid for. I wanted to write my own stuff. I have a 100,000-word novel in a bottom drawer, a half-scribbled memoir and many awkward short story drafts lying around that I’m “gonna finish one day …”
Only Daphne’s Get It Done program could get my butt in that chair long enough to do it. Her advice has smoothed the path time and again. When I start my next project, I’ll sign up for GID before I even begin the mind map. Thank you, Daphne.
Manly, New South Wales, Australia
Here are a number of questions people ask me all the time:
How much time should we spend on research vs writing vs editing? How can we keep ourselves at our desks when we really, really, really don’t feel like writing? How do we know when our work is ready to edit? How do we sustain and motivate ourselves for the many months it’s going to take to complete this project?
You know, what’s stunning is that simple questions like these bring otherwise intelligent and competent people, like you, to a screeching halt.
Well, that’s why I created the Get It Done program. I learned from my experience helping others and the results they were getting that it’s important to share principles and practices that other successful writers have already field-tested.
One of the biggest things that happens in the Get It Done program is that participants produce remarkable results. With far less effort, time and energy, they’ve been able to predictably complete their books and theses with ease, freedom and confidence.
What’s more, they start to enjoy the writing process. Instead of writing being a millstone around their necks, it’s a source of pleasure and joy.
Here’s how works
It separates writing from editing.
Like many other people, you’ve probably developed the habit of editing while you write. This is a hard habit to break (I know, because I’ve broken it myself). Tackling each of these tasks separately is the first step to making writing more fun and a whole lot faster. I will give you the seven tips that worked for me and all my other clients.
It harnesses the value of consistent action.
Remember the old joke “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time! A book or a thesis is just like a pachyderm. It’s big and hard to move. But if you work on it a little bit at a time, you can get it to move in exactly the direction you want. Do a little bit every day instead of trying to do a whole lot at once.
It makes you accountable.
How do you ensure that your elephant moves? Get It Done participants report their progress to the private program website once a day, five days a week. You determine how much time you’re able to spend and how many words you can produce, then you report your progress every day. Since I started this program, just about every participant has told me that this step alone is what’s changed their writing life.
is perfect for you if…
- You have a long-form writing project such as a book or a thesis that you need to complete. (If you’ve already written a rough draft that’s okay too. Editing a book or a thesis is just as challenging and benefits just as much from support.)
- Even though you’ve run into false starts before, you are DETERMINED to finish your book or thesis this time.
- You have the energy and commitment to work for at least 15 minutes a day, five days a week.
- You don’t mind the idea of being accountable to someone else for your writing project. In fact, that would take a big load off your shoulders.
- You welcome the idea of meeting other like-minded individuals who are also working on their own books or theses.
- You’re willing to work hard, try new tricks and techniques, and will enjoy the satisfaction of finally holding your finished work in your hands.
is not for you if…
- You have too many commitments/distractions to allow you to spend at least 15 minutes per day on your writing (and, down the road, a minimum of 30 minutes per day editing, when you get to that stage).
- You expect that if you sign up for this program, someone else will do the writing for you.
- You’re not interested in interacting with others — you think it’s silly or dumb to share your thoughts and achievements with a group of people working to do exactly the same thing.
- You don’t like to follow the rules in a way that goes way beyond writer’s block or resistance — if someone says “black” you say “white” as a matter of principle.
Here’s what you’ll learn in the program
I began Daphne’s writing program with terrible anxiety and fear, never anticipating the positive results I would have with my PhD dissertation. I no longer feel panic or tension every time I sit at my desk to write. Now, I most often feel eager to get my ideas onto paper. So many scholars need to write for publication. It is a crazy cycle of pressure for all of us. But I am so grateful to Daphne for coaching me through very difficult times. She made, and still makes, all the difference to me and my writing practice.
Cathy Ringham, RN BSN PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar, Faculty of Nursing
University of Calgary, Alberta
In case you’re wondering about the nitty-gritty details…
The program opens on the first day of every month, and your enrolment in Get It Done will run for three months after that date. The reason for that time frame? Since I started this program in 2013, I’ve found it takes all writers a minimum of three months to build the habits needed to become confident writers. If you want stick with the program after the first three months are up that’s okay too, and you can continue on a month-to-month basis at a reduced fee.
Once enrolled in the program, you’ll receive access to an account on the special program website. There, you’ll be able to download videos and PDFs and connect with other members of the group. Here’s where you’ll also be expected to report your writing achievements five days each week. I’ll be monitoring the group daily and I’ll be expecting to hear from you! If you run into problems or difficulties with your writing, here’s a safe place where you can ask me, or other members of the group, your toughest questions and make your requests for su