Breathe. Write. Breathe. - 18 Energizing practices to spark your writing and free your voice by Lisa Tener

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18 Energizing Practices to Spark Your Writing & Free Your Voice

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Preparing for Harvard Medical School’s CME Publishing Course

harvard medical school publishing course
Sitting around the table at lunch last year, a group of my clients and I refine their book pitches for the pitching panel that afternoon.

As I go over my notes for “Writing for Your Reader: How to Write a Smart, Compelling, Enlightening Page Turner,” a workshop I’ll be delivering Saturday, along with Martha Murphy, as part of Harvard Medical School’s CME Publishing Course, I’m getting excited.

The 3-day course is always filled with exciting book ideas, brilliant physicians and medical professionals, talented agents, publishers and others in the publishing industry. The course Director, Julie Silver, MD, varies the presentations each year–there will certainly be some new perspectives and interesting discourse. I’m looking forward to connecting with colleagues, including Rusty Shelton, whose talented team at Shelton Interactive designed my book coaching website.

dr. victoria dunckley at harvard medical school publishing course
After helping Dr. Victoria Dunckley with her book and book proposal, I encouraged her to come to Harvard where she met her literary agent, Deirdre Mullane

I equally look forward to the book pitches. Serving on the panel that provides feedback to the brave and aspiring authors who pitch their books, I enjoy the challenge of jotting down as much feedback as I can in the 30 or so seconds we have, while also noting the projects that most excite me as a book writing coach and editor.

I often meet with my clients as a group ahead of time to help them hone their pitches–a great opportunity for them to meet each other–and the group as a whole often comes up with some fabulous ideas for each other.  Sometimes, it’s the first time I’ll be meeting a client in person, even if I’ve been working with them by e-mail and phone for many months.

In the evening, participants get detailed feedback on their writing and book ideas in intimate writing workshops. I received several manuscripts already for four very intriguing books.

Most often, the biggest shock for course participants occurs when they find out how important it is to develop their author platform or following. These folks have the best credentials one could ask for. Many of their books apply the latest research to topics of great interest to readers. Why do they have to market themselves?

Digital Media Strategist Rusty Shelton and Book writing coach Lisa Tener
I always look forward to catching up with my colleague Rusty Shelton who has helped many of my clients develop a top notch website and successfully navigate the world of digital media.

The interesting thing is that once they do start to develop their platform, they often enjoy it–blogging, connecting with colleagues on twitter, being interviewed on TV–they realize how satisfying it can be to come out of their smaller world and reach a huge number of people nationally. One book proposal client I first met at the conference a few years ago, has been working on his platform religiously. And it’s paid off. A major publisher approached him before his agent even sent out his book proposal–they just liked what they saw in his blog (and they probably also noticed he’d gained quite a following).

When I think about what people take home from the publishing course at Harvard, it’s this: an understanding of the publishing industry, knowledge about what it takes to write a compelling (and successful) book, feedback on their ideas–so they’re not starting from scratch and they write the “right” book, a sense of community, support, mentors, colleagues.

It’s quite amazing to me really, in these three short days, the kind of powerful connections that take place. Authors find their editors, agents, mentors or even publishers. They meet fellow pilgrims on the path to publishing–and these friendships provide a great deal of support throughout the year as they write books, book proposals and grow their platforms.

And so it is with anticipation that I print out my revised notes, pack my bags and prepare to head to Boston. Perhaps I’ll see you there!

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Christine Ellis says

    Lisa, Hope to see you there. I will be attending Rusty Shelton’s Advanced Workshop on Social Media Saturday afternoon.

  2. Lisal Tener says

    Chris, Keith and Donna, it was so great to see you. Great jobs on your pitches! Chris, I just saw your reply–hence why I was so surprised to see you–what a great surprise. Hope you had fun in Boston afterwards. I told Rusty how much you enjoyed his workshop.

  3. Saira Ahsan says

    Best of luck.Would you allow me a topic of MDR tuberculosis risk to medical students and doctors who are on crash dieting ?
    Dr.Saira Ahsan.

    • Lisa Tener says

      Dear Dr. Ahsan, The course is a great way to learn more about publishing books for a trade audience as well as learning about other publication options to help a broad audience. If you are interested in attending you can go to Rather than a forum for medical topics, it is a place to learn about the publishing industry and how to get your book written/published, as well as articles, etc.

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