The Writer's Connection, SM
a publication of The Virtual Writing Coach SM
"The Creative Process of Writing is a Liberating and Therapeutic Experience"
In This Issue:
2. Publisher's Note
3. "How To" Books in the New Year
4. Getting into Action
The Writer's Connection explores the creative process of writing and the interplay between thoughts, feelings, and actions. We are an interactive community of authors and readers who share ideas to enhance our knowledge, skills, and experiences in writing fiction in any genre, but our emphasis remains mystery and suspense thrillers.
Published monthly, the Newsletter offers writing tips for authors, coaching suggestions, editing, and marketing information.
Topics are presented from the perspective of Keith Barton and represent only his ideas on producing your first manuscript, and are provided to the general public. Because we are an interactive community of writers, other viewpoints are welcomed and may be printed in future monthly newsletters with permission from Keith Barton.
2. Publisher's Note
Dear Writer's Connection SM Subscriber,
This month features information about "How To" books.
3. "How To" Books and the New Year
January is a time of resolutions and new beginnings. The two most sought after personal goals are to quit smoking and lose weight. Billions of dollars have been spent and lots of "How To" books have been written to entice us to that holy grail of personal commitment and life changes. The coaching profession is well suited to work with those who need an accountability partner to help them achieve what has been impossible in the past. From Tom Peters' bestselling book in 1988, In Search of Excellence, to Joel Olsteen's book in 2004, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living Your Full Potential, people have been buying "how to" books to provide that kernel of truth and power of persuasion that has heretofore been unsuccessful in losing weight, quitting smoking, finding a better job, planning for your retirement, and myriad other personal success stories. What these books share in common is absolute honesty and core values that lead to change. This month I want to introduce you to a book by Larry Johnson and Bob Phillips, Absolute Honesty, published by Amacom in 2003.
As is typical in self-help books points, steps, lessons, attributes, habits, changes, etc. are introduced to guide the reader towards reprogramming their life for healthier living. Johnson and Phillip's treatise is that most self-help books suffer from the Kumbaya Syndrome that embraces all decisions no matter how stupid or unethical. Their book is about ethics on a corporate level, but equally applies to individuals. Instead of steps they espouse six laws that if followed will promote lasting change because the change is tied to one's core values and beliefs.
Law #1: Tell the Truth. Too often, "telling it like it is" amounts to professional suicide. However, there is no better way to earn trust than to be truthful with yourself that you do indeed want to lose that weight, give up alcohol, or quit smoking. Telling the truth thus creates trust, models doing the right thing, helps us to deal with pain rather than paying the higher price for lying. Instead of flow charts, calendars, and "to do" lists, keep it simple and do as Nike suggests.
Law #2: Tackle the Problem. When the prevailing attitude is to cooperate instead of confronting, change is impossible. The solution is constructive confrontation which is achieved through doing your homework, opening your ears, mouth, and mind to focus on your objective.
Law #3: Disagree and Commit. Who hasn't been to a meeting or started a change program where everyone agrees and then runs back to their cubicles or homes and maintains the status quo. Programs like Curves and Weight Watchers are noted for their accountability to others as well as ourselves, and explain why they are two of the more successful weight reduction programs. The authors suggest that candor, asking tough questions and restraining your own brilliance and rationalizations are key to change.
Law #4: Welcome the Truth. Defensiveness is the enemy of honesty and change. Psychologists have identified nine defense mechanisms that replace the hunter mentality of our ancestors. These are: verbal aggression, sarcasm, rationalization, compensation, regression, avoidance, repression, apathy, and displacement. Be aware of the words that incite defensiveness like: must, should, always, never. Recognize the negative self-talk in our heads that precludes us from achieving greater success over our goals.
Law #5: Reward the Messenger. Speaking out against the status quo usually brings retribution. The authors contend that instead of a payback you payout. During the 1980s many companies introduced quality improvement programs under such names as: quality circles, process improvement, and TQM. The idea was to improve efficiency and productivity by empowering employees to analyze processes and make recommendations for improvement. By the mid-1990s many of these programs failed because people simply lost interest and the recommendations were never acted upon. It's nice to have a calorie counter and personal trainer but there's only one participant in this equation and that's YOU.
Law #6: Build a Platform of Integrity. Ray Kroc, the founder of MacDonald's, had five basic rules for building trust and integrity: clarity of vision based on values, passion for the vision, an ability to communicate the vision, leading by example, and standing up for what's important. Next time you commit to a New Year's resolution ask yourself if you exemplify these traits when working towards a change in your life.
4. Getting into Action
"Getting in to Action" is a monthly feature of The Writer's Connection SM. In this section of our Newsletter, we will discuss action steps the writer can take to improved his/her knowledge base in writing novels.
This month's recommendations:
1. Commit to a specific goal this month and follow the six laws formulated by Johnson and Phillips in their book, Absolute Honesty.
2. Before you decide on making a change in your life, ask yourself if you're being honest with yourself.
3. Seek a partner or coach to hold you accountable to the changes you want to make.
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About Keith Barton, Ph.D.
Dr. Barton received his Ph.D. in 1972 from the University of Texas at Austin and has been a practicing therapist for over thirty years. He is currently enrolled in MentorCoach and is accepting new clients. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina, consultant to Fortune 500 companies in executive development, founded and managed Texas Community Living Ventures, Inc., in 1986 for providing group home services to persons with mental retardation, and has been running a clinical practice in Northwest Houston since 1990. He writes part-time with the goal of completing one novel a year. His desire to coach others derives from his passionate interest in helping others become attuned to their creative powers of storytelling.
Dr. Barton has training in coaching, cognitive and family therapy and health psychology. He has published articles, made presentations and conducted workshops about:
Anxiety and achievement
The relationship between psychology and spirituality