Would you spend a career writing leadership books? And if so what would that look like?
Glenn Parker has written and published over a dozen books in this genre. He’s also co-author of Positive Influence: The Leader Who Helps People Become Their Best Self with his son Michael.
This book demonstrates the various ways leaders have positively influenced the lives and careers of many successful people.
In this interview, Glenn explains:
- The four primary types of leaders… and how to identify your preferred style
- His ideal writing routine
- How he built and sustained a career writing leadership books
- Where he finds leadership book ideas
- His non-fiction writing research process
And lots more.
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Bryan: Write what you love to read. The other day, I was reflecting on that piece of writing advice that I got from the story instructor, Robert McKee. I was reflecting on the different types of books I've read over the years and the different writing genres I've tried. And if you're new at writing, you're probably wondering what type of genre should you specialize in? What type of writing should you spend your time on?
When I was getting started writing back when I was a teenager, I always wanted to write fiction and I was inspired by books like the BFG by Roald Dahl. And I spent a lot of time studying how to tell short stories and later on in my 20s, how to write literary fiction. I wasn't particularly good at writing literary fiction and it's a really hard type of writing to break into. In other words, it wasn't helping me pay the bills. After I completed a degree in journalism, I got into technology journalism, where I wrote for a couple of different publications in Ireland, magazines and websites. And I covered things like the Apple iPhone launch and the latest news about big tech companies and who they were hiring or firing at the time because it was back in 2007, 2008, during the great recession.
And although technology journalism was interesting. I found it a little bit dry and state and I still wanted to write something literary. I started getting into nonfiction and that's when I took a series of writing classes in the Irish Writers Center in Dublin. And from writing literary nonfiction, I eventually moved into learning copywriting. That's writing words that sell and also blogging, which is what I do and become a writer today.
And then I moved into instructional writing, whereby you talk about a topic or you write about a topic and explain how readers can put what you've learned into practice. And then I moved into business self-help articles, which I write a lot for Forbes, whereby I interview people, ask them about problems in their business and how they overcame them.
I'd like to move more into the genre of memoir and also to get back into more colorful writing. And the way to do that, is to read books from those genres. And that brings me to the piece of advice that I got from the writing instructor, Robert McKee because when I met him at a conference, he told me afterwards, "You should write what you love to read."
If you're wondering what type of genre you should try, I'd encourage you to look at your bookshelf, pick up a couple of books that you've finished recently and that you enjoyed and ask yourself, "Are these thrillers? Are these self-help? Are these business books? Or what type of books are they?"
You could also look at the articles that you've been reading on your phone or on the go. I use the [inaudible 00:03:09] pocket for this. And you can look to all the articles that you shared recently or that you've enjoyed and ask yourself, "Are they blog posts?"
If they are blog posts, what type of niche are they about? Or what's the chosen topic? Or are they longer form articles? Are they personal pieces? Are they business pieces? And so on because if they're gravitating towards one type of genre in a book or a particular type of articles, you're learning through osmosis and this will help you find a springboard into your writing. And of course, the other takeaway that I've gotten from this, is that if you want to change your writing style, then you also need to change what you're reading. There was a time when I figured I needed to write thriller books. And I tried to write a few thriller stories and they weren't very good. A few people told me. And at first, I couldn't quite figure out what I was doing wrong but then I realized what the problem was. I wasn't spending any time reading thriller books because it wasn't a genre I was particularly interested in. I want to enjoy thriller films and dramas. I don't spend a lot of time reading James Patterson and so on.
And I know James Patterson has many fans and I'm not criticizing James Patterson but the takeaway for me from that experience, was that I was wasting my time trying to write in genres that don't really interest me as a reader. I'm always grateful for that takeaway from the story instructor, Robert McKee. And I mentioned that I actually met him at a conference in the West of Ireland a few years ago. And he spoke quite well about the importance of storytelling in fiction or nonfiction. If you're not familiar with Robert McKee, he is a leader within the writing genre.
And I would say he is a particular type of leader. He's a teacher. And that brings me up to this week's interview. No, I'm not interviewing Robert McKee. Although he is somebody I would love to get on the Become a Writer Today show. I'm interviewing Glenn Parker from positiveinfluenceleader.com. And he's about to publish his new book, Positive Influence: