PubCoach Top 10: November 2019

Each week I go through a Halloween grab bag of more than 100 blogs about writing, publishing and psychology, pulling out the Crunchie bars and Smarties I especially like. Here’s my take on the 10 most interesting pieces I’ve read or seen during the last month (each headline is linked to the piece I’ve highlighted):

Consider your office sacred

Stephen Pressfield, author of The War of Art, has a delightful post on making your office a sacred space. When I rub the sleep from my eyes and climb the stairs to my loft at 6 am each morning, I usually waste at least five minutes wishing I could spend more time in bed. Since reading Pressfield’s piece, I’ve given myself a big attitude adjustment. Thanks to Melissa Weber for forwarding this link to me.

Get help from your mentors 

Autodidact Derek Sivers made a name for himself (and a whole pile of money) when he created then sold the music-distribution site CD baby. I like his way-outside-of-the-box suggestion for getting great mentors to help you, without having to trouble them with a phone call or an email.

Do a better job of engaging with your readers 

Writer Jesse van  de Hulsbeek started his working life as a high school teacher. I love the way he takes the principles he learned in the classroom and turns them into logical, engaging and practical steps for bloggers and writers.

Learn about deckle edges 

I’m usually more interested in words than the paper they’re printed on but something about deckles — the rough, feathery edges on handmade (and some industry-produced) paper has always intrigued me. Perhaps this dates back to when I bought a paper-making kit and had so much fun making paper with my kids. This detailed post, with lots of terrific pics, will introduce you to the paper-making process. Fascinating!

Don’t make dumb press release mistakes! 

Like me, Joan Stewart is a former newspaper editor. Unlike me, she’s an expert on PR and  marketing for books. If you’re preparing a press release for your latest book, check out her exceptionally helpful tip sheet, first, so you don’t embarrass yourself — and annoy editors — with unnecessary errors.

Stop believing unwanted automatic thoughts

Do you keep telling yourself that you’ll never be a decent writer? Or that writing will always be a painful and horrible task for you? Psychologist Steven Hayes has some life-changing advice for you! The 1982 developer of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) spells out his suggestions for how to change the reel that’s playing in your own brain. You can read the text or watch his 19-minute TED talk, which is linked at the end. (If he hadn’t studied to be a psychologist, the guy could have become an actor!)

Start using SMART goals

If you have the habit of giving yourself vague and hazy goals (e.g. ‘I want to become a better writer’) acquaint yourself with the power of SMART. That’s an acronym of course, standing for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. I’ve read a lot about SMART goals over the last 20 years but this relatively short and easy-to-read piece has one of the best summaries I’ve ever seen. 

Educate yourself on the pros and cons of self publishing 

Most people know the publishing world has turned upside down in the last 10 years, largely as a result of Amazon. But they may not have thought through all the pros and cons of self-publishing. Yes, it takes some money upfront. And, no, it won’t give you an advance. But it’s so difficult to get a traditional publishing deal these days that self-publishing has become the only reasonable option for many people. If you’re considering self-publishing, check out this very wise Writer’s Digest post, first.

Write like Harold Bloom. Or don’t. 

I based my blog post last week on a comment from literary scholar Harold Bloom, who died Oct. 14. As part of my research, I enjoyed reading this New York Times story by Dwight Garner about the extra-prolific Bloom beginning with the following delightful anecdote: “[Bloom] published more than 40 books. Sometimes two squeezed through one’s door at the same instant. A story used to go around about him back in the 1990s. A graduate student had telephoned him at home. Bloom’s wife answered and said, “I’m sorry, he’s writing a book.” The student replied: “That’s all right. I’ll wait.” 

Be more aware of figurative language

I blog five days every week. On Thursdays, I always post on figurative language I’ve uncovered in my own (admittedly obsessive) reading. Last month, I discovered a terrific New York Times piece by Dwight Garner, in which he reviewed two books of literary history. His writing is not just sophisticated, it’s also hysterically funny.

I’ll be posting this list once a month from now on. If you have something you’d like me to consider, please send me a quick email with the words Top Ten in the subject line.


If you want some help developing a writing routine, consider applying to my Get It Done program. I’ll be holding a no-charge intro webinar on Friday, Nov. 15 and all you need to do is email me to hold a spot. If you already know you want to apply, go here, scroll to the very end and select the bright green “click here to apply now” button.


My video podcast last week addressed the issue of how to write for skimmers. Or, see the transcript, and consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. If you have a question about writing you’d like me to address, be sure to send it to me by email,  Twitter or Skype and I’ll try to answer it in the podcast.


What’s your favourite blog to read? We can all learn from each other so, please, share your thoughts with my readers and me in the “comments” section of my blog. And congratulations to Traci Browne, the winner of this month’s book prize, for an Oct. 22/19 comment on my blog. (Traci, please email me  to collect your prize.) Anyone who comments on today’s post (or any others) by Nov. 30/19 will be put in a draw for a copy of my first book, 8 1/2 Steps to Writing Faster, Better. To leave your own comment, please, scroll down to the section, directly underneath the “related posts” links, below. Note that you don’t have to join the commenting software to post. See here to learn how to post as a guest. It’s easy!

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