Posted by: silverliningsblog | July 9, 2014

Navigating the writing path from start to finish: I C Publishing summer blog tour

Welcome to the I C Publishing Summer Blog Tour on navigating our writing paths from start to finish! If you would like to learn more about how to write from other avid writers, you’ve come to the right place!

I am honoured to have been invited by Linda Ferguson to join this summer blog tour. Linda is the senior partner at NLP Canada Training, where I took a course in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) last summer. Linda enjoys discovering and teaching best practices from many fields, helping people to see more possibilities, make better choices, and take action! Check out Linda’s post about her writing process, as well as the post by Sheri Andrunyk, who launched the tour.


I am a writer by profession, so I write in a variety of formats for a number of audiences, and use different techniques depending on the task at hand. But since many friends have told me they would like to write a book of their own and wonder about the process for accomplishing such a daunting task, I thought I’d share how I went about writing my recently self-published book, Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out!

How do you start your writing projects?

My writing projects virtually always begin with a question from my own life or from someone I know – how can I solve a problem, do something better, create an exciting career, have a better relationship, be a better parent, attract greater abundance, help others achieve results. (In the case of my book, the main questions were: “How can I connect with my spirit, overcome challenging circumstances, and create a better life for myself?” and “How can I help others do the same?”)

And then, because I am a voracious reader and love to learn, I read. (Some might call this researching, but I’ll call it “exploring the cosmos for ideas”.) I read books on many subjects, almost always non-fiction, and usually have several on the go in every room of my house.

I also love lively discussions with people, so I talk to friends and acquaintances and experts, asking them for their perspective and experiences, generating more ideas.

After considering a new question or subject for a while, a pattern usually emerges, or an idea “pops”. This happens most often when I am walking or running in nature. Being surrounded by the rustle of leaves, smell of petunias, and view of intense greenery is the surest way to spark creative ideas for me.

How do you continue your writing projects?

Once I have an idea, I brainstorm and jot down ideas on whatever form of paper is nearest to me. I usually do this by hand with coloured pens, on everything from sticky notes to napkins.

With my eclectic collection of colourful ideas in hand, I begin to sort and organize, noticing themes and categories. I sketch out the table of contents for my book and outline my chapters in bullet form, playing with words and ideas, letting myself get carried away by the excitement of the new patterns emerging on page.

I know many people set aside an hour or so to write each day, but this approach generally does not work for me. I find I need longer chunks of time, where I can get lost in the flow of my writing. So I schedule blocks of time in my calendar, and turn off distractions (phone, email, text messages) when I write. My creativity is easily diverted by noises and shiny objects, so I set up my environment to allow me to focus on writing, and only writing.

My favourite way to write large chunks of material and push through the uncomfortableness of a large project is to go on a “writing retreat”. You can attend an organized retreat if you like, but I prefer to simply rent a friend’s cottage and go there for a week, so I can focus deeply on my topic and emerge with many pages written. I have done this for a week every summer since my two children were born (my now ex-husband looks after the kids while I’m away). I find I do my best work and get the most accomplished when I’m able to focus for a longer stretch of time, in a beautiful outdoor setting.

My best writing happens when, instead of trying to write about the world, I let the world write through me. In other words, I find that as I let my internal thoughts meander and show me their direction (without trying to control them), my external world transforms, showing me new, more wonderful things. This happens as I relax and “let go of the oars,” letting the words flow through me, carrying the vessel of my life downstream.

Forcing creativity by writing at a set time each day has never worked for me. Going with the flow when I feel inspired does.

How do you finish your project?

I am an ideas/big picture person, so I am typically more excited at the beginning than at the end of a project. So I have to push through to get my project out of my creative womb and into the world.

All said and done, it took eight years to see my book from concept to completion. Part of this was because I gave birth to two children during that period, started a business, ended a marriage, and cared for an ailing parent. But part of it was also because, as a perfectionist, it can be hard to know when to let go.

When I do the bulk of my writing, I am careful to stay in tune with my creative/artistic muse, and keep my internal editor at bay. But an editor is needed in the finishing stages, so I let my inner critic out of her box at the end.

I usually put my completed writing aside for a few days, to let things marinate and allow myself to forget what I wrote, so I can look at it again with fresh eyes. Then I print everything (I still prefer to edit on paper), edit for clarity and meaning, and revise the electronic version. I then print again, edit again (this time for pickier stuff like spelling, grammar, and formatting), and revise again. I often read passages out loud, to hear my own voice and imagine how it would sound to my readers.

And then after a few rounds of editing, sometimes with great resistance, I let go. I hand off my script to the next people in line (my editor(s) and my layout designer), and trust that what I’ve written is good enough, and will resonate with the people who need it most.

Include one challenge or tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from

Tip: For larger projects like a book, break your writing into bite-sized chunks so it doesn’t seem so intimidating. (For example, write one subsection of a chapter in one day.)

Tip: There is no one way to write, no correct process. It really depends on what works for you…what feels right and helps you get the job done, while allowing you to still enjoy the process. So read the various blog posts on this topic, and decide what resonates most with you. (Incidentally, this is a good metaphor for life too…gather ideas from others, but always go with your gut. No one can tell you what is right for you.)

Passing the pen

I am happy to introduce you to the contributor who will be sharing his experiences, challenges, and tips on navigating the writing path from start to finish next week. Watch for his blog post on Wednesday, July 16.

Brandon LeBlanc is a teacher in New Brunswick. He is an aspiring author, currently working on both fiction and non-fiction works. In his blog, The Hole in the Fence, Brandon observes life as it unfolds, however it presents itself. He “writes what he sees”.


Thanks so much for following the I C Publishing Summer Blog Tour. Please feel free to share this post, and join in the conversation below! I would love to know more about your writing tips too!


Karen Strang Allen is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out!She is a professional writer, speaker, and confidence coach, who uses her life to convey the words that touch and inspire others. Karen makes the spiritual practical, organizing inspiring information and ideas in a way that makes them easy for people to use and apply. Karen loves helping women and girls turn their life’s challenges into the best thing that ever happened to them, so they feel empowered to create the life they really want and uplift others.



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