Writers and academics:
Have you been dragging your heels for days weeks months years struggling with your book or thesis?
How a PhD student finished her dissertation and learned to make writing and academic life so much easier and more enjoyable
Lyana Patrick not only wanted a degree in community planning, she also had to find time for her job and family. How could she fit it all in?
How a high school science teacher started writing a non-fiction book, stopped editing while he wrote and found an agent
Fred Estes started by writing only when inspiration struck. The Get it Done program helped him work faster and build a reliable daily writing habit.
“How to become a better self-editor”
Friday, June 19
1 pm Pacific
Register here if you’d like to attend the event
Application deadline for the next
Get It Done program is
Thursday Feb. 25th
for the group starting March 1.
DEADLINE for applications for the next Get It Done group, is
Friday, April 24
(Group will begin May 1) Complete application form here
“To begin, begin…”
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 support.
As well, we’ll also meet as a group on the first Monday of every month at 6 pm Pacific. (Day sometimes changes in the event of holidays.) I use GoToMeeting software which makes the call no-charge if you use your internet connection. Some people can’t make it, so I also record the call and distribute it to all members.
Are you ready to get started?
Your next step is to apply for the program. Not everyone is accepted — you don’t need to be a polished writer to participate, but you do need to show that you’re determined to finish your long-term writing project.
The registration form will ask you detailed questions about your project and your current writing habits. In the process of filling out this form, you’ll learn your daily writing goal and you’ll identify which five days of the week you can commit to writing.
Complete the registration form — it’ll take you only 15 minutes.
Remember: writing freedom is just on the other side. Join the Get It Done program risk-free for 60 days.
What would life be like if you don’t do this program?
The planet won’t stop spinning but you’ll miss the opportunity to complete a book or thesis that could change your job, your way of working, your community of peers. What’s more, building the writing habit will be a lifelong advantage to you. While others delay and procrastinate, you’ll be known as the person who writes with ease and meets every deadline thrown your way.
Frequently Asked Questions
The whole idea is to support you in finishing your manuscript. For this reason, it doesn’t matter which type of publishing you want to pursue. You need a manuscript, regardless. That said, along the way, I can provide plenty of advice about the ins and outs of the publishing process. I have successfully self-published my own book and I have edited a number of others for traditional publishers.
People sometimes worry that Get It Done will make writing a full-time job. Or, if not that, it will take vast amounts of time. No way!! In fact, the opposite is true. Participants in the program will be required to spend only 15 to 30 minutes per day writing (or editing) for five days each week. That’s a minimum of no more than an hour and a quarter a week. I bet you spend more time than that watching Netflix (or reading Facebook)! If you’ve never developed the writing habit, then you might even start with only five minutes a day and build up slowly, from there.
If your schedule permits, I always suggest you do your writing in the morning. (If that’s not possible, however, you can identify another time.) You will also need to report into our group website five days a week with your time and your word count. On this site, you’ll also have the chance to interact with other members of the group as well as download some videos and PDFs with information and support.
No problem! If you simply want to develop the writing habit, this program can help you do that too.
Just one difference: The Premium program comes with three 30-minute one-on-one coaching sessions with me. You can schedule these on my calendar, once a month, at a time that works for you.
Yes! Writing and revising/editing are entirely different activities, but both require discipline and support. This program provides support and accountability for whatever stage you’re at.
I used to warn fiction writers away from the group because I’ve never written a word of fiction myself. Then an aspiring novelist persuaded me to make an exception. To my surprise and delight, she told me my techniques worked for her as well. Since then, more than a dozen fiction writers have participated, and all have told me they’ve found the program very helpful.
Absolutely. All of our interactions will use the internet rather than the phone. So far, participants have come from Australia, Singapore, Israel, England, Germany and France.
No problem! Everyone receives a recording of these meetings.
Probably not. Most people cannot write a book or a thesis in three months. But what you can do in this time is develop the writing (or editing) habit. Once you have the habit, you can work on your own, if you wish. Or, after the three months, you can continue with the program on a monthly basis, at a discounted rate.
This program will not do the writing for you. Whether you ultimately finish your book or your thesis depends on your own hard work. That said, if you do the work and find the program doesn’t help you, there’s a generous and detailed refund policy described below.
My specialty is dealing with the psychological challenges faced by writers. I don’t edit books any longer. But for anyone who purchases the Premium program, I’m happy to devote the one-on-one meetings to face-to-face editing for the 30 minutes available. I’m also able to give all participants full contact information for the best and most experienced book editors I know. And I can provide info on printers, graphic artists and others who support self-publishing authors.
A 60-day "Write it. Report it" money-back guarantee
If you’re skeptical about what Get It Done can do for you, let me put your worries to rest: Instead of the typical 30 days, I’m giving you 60 days to participate in the program — including the live meetings — so you can give Get It Done a fair test drive.
I’m more than happy to let you have this time because I’m certain that the program works — provided YOU work. Just understand that this is not a savings and loan situation — you can’t drop off your money today and come back two months later after having done nothing.
That said, when you do the work but it doesn’t pay off, it’s my fault — not yours. I will give refunds to people who have kept up with their daily reporting and shown that they’ve taken the program to heart. And you’ll get your money back right away. Just tell me within 60 days of registering by emailing me here.
What students are saying
A rewarding choice
Having Daphne as my writing coach is one of the most rewarding choices I’ve made. It’s like hiring a personal trainer to help with weight loss and staying healthy. It’s helped me find a new love in my life: writing.
I have been working with Daphne for more than two years now and I’ve learned so much about professionalizing my writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing and have had some success, both academically and in business. Daphne helped me build the habit of daily writing and the value of consistent work — even if I don’t much feel like it.
With her coaching, I was able to break the insidious habit of editing while writing. While it seemed natural, it slowed me down and often got me completely off track. Now, I work on my writing in successive passes, each with a distinct objective, taking each layer individually. It’s like peeling an onion, but with fewer tears. Thanks, Daphne!
San Francisco, California
Quicker, happier, better
I originally approached Daphne because I wanted to make my writing quicker, happier and better. She has thoroughly helped me with all three of these, and at times inadvertently serving as a life coach as well as a writing coach!
What I think has been the most helpful for me has been Daphne’s gentle enforcement of a consistent writing habit and her daily coaching through email. Her tips are often short and simple, or even things I already know but have not been practising. Like a true coach, Daphne constantly reminds me to keep my head down, nose on the ball, legs apart, shoulders straight, etc., to help my writing progress and excel.
Senior Lecturer, Singapore University
Well worth the money
Even though I’m a professional communicator, I’ve always hated writing. Taking Daphne’s program turned this around 180 degrees. I now look forward to writing, and I’m doing it regularly, quickly, and with little-to-no stress. Thank you, Daphne, for everything. Your course was well worth the money.
President, Dragonfly editorial
Tipp City, Ohio
Are you ready to get started?
Program starts the first day of every month.
Application deadline is Feb. 25th for group starting March 1st
|Foundations program||Premium program|
|Access to Get It Done program|
|Ability to email Daphne privately|
|Weekly group meeting, held on Zoom. Members from the group come from around the world so meeting times vary significantly each month. All meetings are recorded.|
|Daily accountability questionnaire|
|Access to a hidden webpage, giving realistic, practical tips about how to make writing easier and more fun|
|Three one-on-one meetings with Daphne (30 minutes each) — addressing topics/questions of your choice|
If you live in and order from Canada, you will be charged in CDN$ + GST. All others will be charged in US$.
P.S. Still have questions about Get It Done? Please email me.