I recently went to a class conducted by writers Amy K. Nichols and Joe Nassise. They talked about writing in the age of distraction (squirrel writing, they called it). It was very helpful, so I'm going to pass on some of the ideas I found most useful.
-Know your triggers. Write down all the things that distract you from writing and be ruthlessly honest as you do it. Internet surfing, e-mail, games, videos, etc tend to be big culprits, especially since you can do them on the same device you're supposed to be writing on. Even legitimate research can be a distraction, especially if you interupt the creativity of your first draft to go down that particular rabbit hole. Being aware of your worst distractions can help you avoid them (more on that below).
On the other side of the coin, know what triggers your creativity and productive writing. Sometimes wearing some item of clothing (a magic writing hat, etc), playing certain music, putting on headphones, or writing at a certain time will get you quickly in the zone. Take advantage of these triggers.
-Get into habits and do things religiously. Set aside certain writing times and treat it like a job. Ask yourself, "Would I get fired right now?" If the answer is yes, get off Facebook or whatever and get back to your job of writing.
-When writing at home, put a sign on the door (doorknob hangers work well) so that family members know you're working and know not to distract you.
-Try a brain focus app, like Brain FM. It sees what focusses you and then plays sounds that help.
-Use the Pomidoro technique (see my last post). This consists of 25-minute working sprints followed by short breaks (5-10 minutes). During your breaks it might work to reward yourself with one of those distractions you wrote down earlier.
-Give yourself deadlines, but make them reasonable and connect with other people who will keep you accountable to those deadlines. After all, if someone expects a certain number of pages from you by Monday, you're more likely to get it done.
-Resist "shiny thing syndrome" where you get excited by shiny new projects and start so many things but never finish. If this starts happening, pick one and finish it.
-Use apps that turn off the internet or black out the rest of your screen except your writing page for a certain amount of time. There are many apps and browser add-ons like this.
-Try something like Write-o-Meter, which tracks word count and keeps a log of productivity over time. It may help also you find when your most productive hours are.
-Take care of yourself mentally and physically, and don't compare yourself to others. Be kind to you.
-Give yourself permission to "be a writer." It will legitimize your work and make your work time seem more valuable.
Thanks, Amy and Joe, for all this valuable advice!
Melinda Brasher's most recent sale is a twist on Rumpelstiltskin, appearing in Timeless Tales. You can also find her fiction in Nous, Electric Spec, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com
Whether you're a freelance writer or an author who wants to write and sell many books, you need to be a productive writer.
That way you can write more, sell more, and make more money.
So here are a few tips to help you get more writing done.
1. Repurpose everything you write.
Try to have at least 3 different ways you can use most of what you write. Blog post, podcast, e-book, e-course, special report, etc.
If you write novels, use excerpts for blog posts and press releases, for example, to make the most of your work.
If you write nonfiction, reslant magazine articles so you can use the same material for more than one publication.
2. Schedule regular writing time instead of just writing whenever you have some free time.
Most people who say they will write when they find the time never seem to get much writing done. Something else always gets in the way.
It's much better to set aside some writing time on your calendar and treat that time like you would a regular business appointment. You'll be much more likely to get some writing done on a regular basis.
3. Know what you need to write BEFORE you sit down to write.
That way, you can get started immediately instead of staring at a blank page.
You’ll also be able to quickly create some momentum.
Think of planning time as different from your actual writing time and schedule time to plan first, then schedule time to write.
4. Block out your time so you allow a specific amount of time for each writing session.
It might take several sessions to complete each writing project, but you'll be less likely to waste your writing time when you know you've only got a certain amount of time for each session.
5. Avoid getting overwhelmed with too many tasks or writing projects to complete at the same time.
This zaps your energy and actually makes you less productive.
Prioritize your tasks and keep just a few tasks on your to-do list each day.
6. Relax and be willing to write awful stuff at first.
You usually need to write the awful stuff in order to get to the good stuff.
Most people only want to write good stuff.
But, ironically, they usually write nothing or very little as a result.
Schedule some time just to write crummy first drafts.
7. Design your writing days according to the way YOU work best.
Some people can switch between different writing projects throughout the day.
Other writers work best if they can spend all day or at least all morning or all afternoon on a single project.
Experiment to see how you work best.
If you start following these tips, my guess is you'll discover even more ways to increase your productivity as a writer.
Visit my blog at www.writebythesea.com for more articles, tips, and resources for writers. Get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge and gain free access to my private resource library for writers.
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by Valerie Allen
Marketing is ongoing, using every means to bring attention to you and your books. “Persistent Perpetual Promotion,” is behind every best selling author.
One of the quickest, least costly and far-reaching marketing strategies is using the internet. Many writers find the electronic highway overwhelming, but there is an entire world of readers who use only social media to find, read and review books. An online presence is a must for writers in the age of social media.
Here are some basic suggestions for smart marketing using cyberspace.
1) Your e-mail signature line should contain the title of your books. Everyone you email should see the name of your book(s). It should also have your contact information, at least your email address and web site.
2) At least once a month go to worldcat.org to see which libraries carry your books.
3) Google your name every week and see where the internet leads people who are looking for you. Does it go to your web site? To your book on Amazon?
4) Each week click on Amazon.com, BnN.com and BAMM.com to see what is happening with your book(s) at those sites. Also for your ebooks on Kindle, Nook, etc.
5) If you have a web page, consider mutual links to the sites of other authors, writer blogs and newsletters.
6) Join with bloggers at writing sites to become known, offer suggestions, find good marketing ideas and writing tips.
7) Create Facebook, Linked In, Google+ and Twitter accounts. Join writer's groups and groups related to your book content. Follow up in discussion groups, book clubs, offer tips, etc.
8) Post a review online for every book you read.
9) Amazon.com has a lot to offer. Take advantage of these features:
Use the Search Inside the Book feature.
Add tags and keywords so those searching by topic will find your book.
Look at the books that have been purchased by those who have purchased your
book; contact those authors, study their web pages, view their tags and keywords
Make a Listmania and put your book titles on it.
Create a profile and post a review for every book you read. Use your real name and book title in your signature line.
Join Goodreads and post your books, books you've read, do book reviews and join in discussion groups.
Remember to do at least one thing every day to market you and your books. Make it a habit!
Amazon.com/author/valerieallen) She assists writers with marketing via Authors For Authors with two major annual events in warm and sunny Florida. Meet the Authors Book Fair in the Fall and the Writers' Conference: Write, Publish, Sell! in the Spring. Vendor tables and presentations encourage networking and marketing to increase book sales. Book Display options are available for authors throughout the USA. Valerie loves to hear from readers and writers! Contact her at: VAllenWriter@gmail.com and AuthorsForAuthors.com
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We've all been there . . . being too busy.
But, is your busyness constructive?
Or, is your busyness, just busyness?
If you're trying to build a writing career, you've got to be busy on things that will move your career forward.
Do you want to become an author?
Well, you've got to decide which niche you'll write in. And, then you'll need to learn the ropes and write until you reach your goal.
Do you want to build a freelance writing career?
Again, you've got to decide on the niche you'll write in. Learn as much as you can about it and then jump.
Do you want to market you and/or your books?
Yep. You've got to put in the work.
No matter what it is you want to do, make your busyness constructive. Make it move you forward to achieve your goals.
Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.
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Want to be the go-to in your field? Here are five places to look for information today to stay ahead of the pack.
1. Find 5 Blogs. If you are in writing or marketing, you already have one blog you like, so do a search and find a few more. Set your RSS feed or make a weekly - or twice weekly - appointment to visit these URLs and read what's happening.
2. Find 5 Podcasts. Podcasts are an excellent source of information. The best part is, you can listen while doing other things, such as running errands or commuting to work. Ask friend in your industry to recommend their favorite podcasts. Then, subscribe, so you get new episodes as soon as they are released.
3. Find 5 Groups. These can be local groups, online, or a combination of both. Whether it's an association directly related to your industry, or one, such as marketing, that can help you improve your business, find places with like-minded people where you can share - and receive - resources and recommendations.
4. Find 5 Events. Once you discover your groups, finding events will be a snap. These can be conferences, workshops, or continuing education. Some of these may also be all of the above. Btw, don't need to actually attend all of these, tho it's great if you can. Many organizations have e-learning options. Plus, some live events have Twitter feeds you can follow as the next best thing to being there.
5. Find 5 Books or Authors. You know the trendsetters in your industry. And if you don't, find them. Do a search. Then, follow them. Get their newsletters, connect on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. And regularly read what they have to say.
Look for places that offer the kind of information that will allow you to improve your level of knowledge, so you can excel. This will help you, as well as your clients, no matter what your field.
What do you do to stay on the top of your field? Please share in the comments.
For more on Career Development, drop by my Twitter chat #GoalChat tonight at 7pm PT to discus or read the recap on Write On Online.
* * *
The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group. She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.
You have a wonderful idea for a story.
Maybe it’s a mystery novel, a children’s middle grade story, or a picture book. Maybe it’s a young adult. You know what you want to say. You know what you want the reader to ‘see.’ You start typing away.
This is the beginning of every story.
But, we should backtrack a moment and go back to the idea.
The idea: your protagonist has a problem or conflict. Delving a little deeper, you can see how each chapter or section will be worked out.
You are sure you can bring your idea to full fruition—without the use of an outline. Okay, that’s fine. Many writers use the by-the-seat-of-your-pants (pantser) writing method.
So, off your mind and fingers fly . . . creating something from nothing . . . well, not exactly from nothing, from an idea.
You type a draft of your story. How long this process will take depends on how long your manuscript will be—whether a novel, short story, or children’s story. It also depends on your writing schedule and/or if you encounter any road blocks.
Take note though . . . even if your story is as short as a children’s picture book, you will need focus in your writing.
Focus is the path from point A to point B. It’s the path from beginning to end that keeps the story together and wraps it neatly up.
An example might be an ice skater whose goal is to become good enough to get into the Olympics. His focus will be to train vigorously to accomplish his goal. Barring any injuries or other sidetracking, he's focused on and moves toward that end goal.
A better example might be that of a school bus on its route to pick up children and bring them to school.
The bus depot or shop is where the bus begins - this is point A.
It will end up at the school, point B.
But, between point A and point B, the bus must deviate from a direct path in order to pick up each child. If the bus doesn’t keep on schedule, if it doesn’t keep focused, if it deviates too much from its intended path, it will get the children to school late.
The same holds true for your story.
There is a path the story needs to follow to accomplish its goal. If you deviate too much from this path your story will become diluted or weak.
This is not to say you can't have subplots, it means everything needs to be tied together moving forward on the same path toward the same end.
Using an outline can often help with maintaining focus, even with a short story.
It’s kind of a writing GPS that guides you from point A to point B. It allows you to stray here and there with the comfort of knowing that you need to be at certain points throughout the manuscript. It’s a reminder to help keep you focused.
For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact her at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.
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Have you ever been down about something and then something serendipitous happens and you’re like, wow, that’s the exact message I needed?
Isn’t it cool how life can happen like that? It’s as though some giant loving force is working in the universe. Whether you’re religious or not, these things happen to all of us and it’s pretty darn special when it does. Recently, I had a serendipitous thing happen to me and I'm so thankful. It changed my outlook completely.
You see, I have had a particularly rough time lately. I think it happens to every writer. We feel like our message isn’t being heard or that no one really cares and we want to just give up.
Us, writers, we’re a pretty insecure bunch on the whole. We sit alone writing and we absolutely love it, don’t we?! It feels so good as the words just come pouring out of us from the voices in our head or the passion in our heart. We think, ‘man, the world is going to love this!’
But, then, we have to get out there and actually sell this great masterpiece and that’s pretty hard for introverts. We love people, no doubt. But, talking to them, well, that can be intimidating. We might be better able to post our stuff all over the internet because that’s a little safer, but most of us feel like that’s a lot of stuck-up-ness when we do it. ‘Hey, look at me, my book is awesome, buy it!’
That doesn’t feel natural and well, it isn’t natural. Nothing about selling an intimate piece of art is. It’s like taking your heart out of your body and showing it to everyone in the world and saying, ‘hey, love this.’
So, after doing what is an incredibly unnatural thing for a while and not seeing the results we’d like (maybe we didn’t win the award, or make the sell, or land the book deal), we want to just give up.
That’s exactly how I had been feeling.
The questions swam in my head. ‘Why am I doing this?’ ‘Who am I doing this for?’ ‘What if I never succeed?’ ‘What if no one ever cares?’
Have you ever felt that way?
I’m sorry if you have. I’m truly sorry. No artist should ever have to question their art’s worth. You don’t create because you want to be great and famous and rich. Okay, all those things would be nice, but that’s not why an artist creates.
An artist creates because they can’t NOT create.
And you know why? Because there’s a force at work inside each artist pushing them to express their unique message in a creative manner in order to touch other people’s lives on this planet and help them in some way—whether it is to entertain them, make them laugh, make them cry, inspire them, help them not feel alone, etc.
So, if today, you are feeling discouraged as I had been feeling, I want to encourage you to not give up! Stand firm in your gift. You are special and you have a unique voice that the world needs to hear. Don’t let anyone rob us from hearing what you have to say. Don’t let the lack of something, keep you from pouring your heart and soul into this world. Give your gift to the world anyway. We need YOU!
And today’s message is my serendipitous gift to you!
www.wandaluthmanwordpress.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wluthman.