Showing posts with label Stuck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stuck. Show all posts

Monday, April 22, 2019

When You Hit A Bad Day


By W. Terry Whalin

Let's face it head on. Everyone has a bad day. You know what I'm talking about. 


When you walk out to your car and see the tire is flat—and naturally you are trying to rush off to some important meeting.


Or your computer crashes in the middle of an important rewrite on an article or book and you lose hours of work because you didn't back it up.

Or you get sick and land in bed. Or someone in your family gets sick. Or a dear friend suddenly dies.

Or a friend or a co-worker promises they will do something—and they don't. So it creates huge amounts of unexpected work for you or a project you were counting on completing didn't happen.

These various possibilities that I just listed are a fraction of what happens to everyone. The unexpected happens to each of us with our writing and publishing lives.

Here's the critical question for you: when you meet one of these difficulties, does it totally derail you so you don't complete what needs to be written. Or do you rise to the challenge and continue forward with your writing?

Something derails writing for a day. Do you shake it off and return to it the next day? Or do you set it aside and say, the time must not be right? There is a time and place to persevere.

Several years ago a number of publications celebrated the storied career of journalist Barbara Walters. At 84, she retired from 17 years on The View. I read an article about Barbara Walters in AARP magazine, which claims to have the world's largest circulation at 24.4 million (more than three times the circulation of Reader's Digest). In the AARP article called What I Know Now: Barbara Walters, she shares the secrets of her success saying, “I think the secret of my success is that I persevered. I didn't give up. I didn't say, 'This is a lousy job, and I'm unhappy, and I'm going to quit.' I went through the tough times, and they were tough. And I was fortunate that I came out the other end.” I admire Barbara Walter's perseverance.

Several years ago my agent friend Steve Laube wrote an article What to do when technology fails? I did feel bad for the author who lost the entire manuscript on a computer the day it was due at the publisher. As a result the book was canceled. Buried in the story was the fact the author had missed the third extension. What happened in the case of the first two extensions? This story wasn't told.

About fifteen years ago when I started working as an editor on the inside of publishing houses, I learned that writers are notoriously late. I've often been the editor who the author calls and tells about their bad day then asks for an extension. Publishers know about bad days so they often build some flexibility into the deadline.

Yet writers should not count on that flexibility or extension. Here's how to distinguish yourself as a writer and make editors love you: turn in your writing when you promise to turn it in—with excellence.

It's one of the elements that I've done over and over with my writing deadlines—met them. I recall writing one section of a book where I stayed at my computer all night in order to meet the deadline. At that time, I had a full-time editorial job and I had taken on a book project to write.

When I didn't come to bed, in the middle of the night my wife came down to my office to see if everything was OK. Everything was fine except I had to meet a deadline and did not make it to bed that particular night. I fired off my deadline material to the editor, cleaned up and went off to my full-time job. Yes, I drank some extra caffeine that day and was tired but I delivered what I promised to the editor and put in a full day at work. I've only done it once so I don't make a regular habit of such actions.

How do you handle bad days? Does it derail you so you don't complete what needs to be written or do you shake it off and continue? Let me know in the comments below.

Tweetable:

How do you handle a bad day? Get some ideas from a prolific editor. (ClickToTweet)

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W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 205,000 twitter followers 

 


Monday, October 22, 2018

Five Ways to Get Your Writing Unstuck


By W. Terry Whalin

Throughout my day, writers will email me for help with their writing. One of the key reasons is because of the words in my Twitter profile: “I love to help writers. Let me know how I can help YOU!”  I include my email in my twitter profile to encourage such correspondence.

As an acquisitions editor at a New York publisher, I get a lot of email every day. Yet I make a point to answer each one of the emails from writers who are asking for help. From my 20+ years in publishing, I know it is hard to navigate the publishing world. I've sent my share of emails and letters into the system which have gone into a void—or so they seem because nothing came back from my careful shaping and sending them. It can be discouraging.

Recently a ministry leader wrote me about being stuck. He had started writing a book but gotten stuck at the second chapter. What actions should this leader take to move forward on his dream of writing a book?

Many times writers are stuck and unsure how to move forward. It happens with book projects because they are not simple 30 minute or an hour in length. To write a book takes a great deal of consistent effort and energy. When it comes to writing a book, one of the best tools is to first, write a book proposal. The key portion of the proposal that will keep you writing and moving ahead is the chapter-by-chapter outline. This simple outline is the structure for your book. You can even print it out then cross off the chapters as you write them. 

If you are stuck in your writing, here's five ways to get unstuck:

1. Evaluate Your Goal. Are you committed to this writing project? I've always found if I've made a commitment, then the writing will get handled. OK. I've committed to write a book or a magazine article or an online article or a press release. Think about the type of consistent effort will it take to accomplish your goal. For example, books are not produced overnight but will take a consistent effort.

2. Set a Goal You Can Accomplish. Be reasonable with yourself and set a writing goal that you can achieve. From my experience it is often a certain number of words such as 500 words a day or 5,000 words a day (which is a lot of intense writing to reach 5,000 words a day but it can be done). 

3. Move Consistently toward Your Goal. To accomplish any goal you have to move forward. I like what one of my writers friends told me about creating a 400+ page novel, “No little elves come out at night and write my pages.” No one else can do the work for you. You have to find the time and simply do it. If it means getting up an hour or two earlier or staying up late at night or skipping some television, then you have to work at it to meet your goal.

4. Periodically Evaluate Your Goal. If you are having success, then take moments to celebrate. Each of us will celebrate differently. It is important to evaluate and celebrate if you are moving toward your goal. If you measure how you are doing with your goal and you are not making progress, then possibly it is time to readjust your goal and make it more reasonable or something that you can actually accomplish. Don't beat yourself up that you have to readjust. Simply acknowledge it and keep moving forward.

5. Get an Accountability Partner. Yes maybe you could accomplish your goal on your own. From my experience, it is better if you have someone else asking you periodically about your goal and how you are moving toward it. This person can be someone that you speak with periodically on the phone or email or best physically see often. 

I know I was only going to write five ways to get your writing unstuck. I'm throwing in a bonus sixth method. Maybe you are stuck in your writing because you have been trying to accomplish a long piece of writing such as a book or a novel or a workbook. If you have been chipping away at completing a longer work, here's something to consider in this process:

6. Diversify Your Writing. While many people want to write a book, there are many ways to get published—outside of books. Often books take a long time to get into the market—especially if you go through a traditional publisher. 

Magazine articles are short and fun to write plus you can get them published a lot quicker than a book and it will reach many more people than the average book.

People like me who are in publishing want to see that you have been published. Your magazine publishing credits will help you attract the attention of a literary agent or book editor. My updated version of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams has a great deal of information about publishing to help you get unstuck.

Use these five methods to get unstuck and move forward with your writing. Take action today. 

When you are stuck in your writing, how to you get unstuck? Let me know in the comments below and I look forward to reading your tips.

Tweetable:

Are you stuck in your writing? Read five tips from this prolific writer and editor. (Click to Tweet)

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W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success.  He lives in Colorado and has over 210,000 twitter followers.
 




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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

5 Ways to get Unstuck


It happens to everyone, whether you are a working writer or someone who writes for their business. You get stuck!

There is little more frustrating than being on deadline and at literal loss for words. The trick: find something else to write and prime your engine. Think of it like writing warm ups. You'll be writing what you need to in no time.

Here are 5 quick things you can do to get the writing engine going.

1. Write a Review. Did you just have a terrible experience at a store or restaurant? Or a particularly awesome one? Take five minutes and write a review Whether or not you post it or send it to the establishment is up to you. But usually if you are passionate about something - and have something to say - the words just flow.

2. Make a List. This can be a grocery list, plot points, future article topics. Anything. 
Just start writing. Lists are so easy. You can even make a list of types of lists to make when you get stuck in the future.

3. Rant. Is someone or something bugging you? Did your neighbor do something incredibly rude? Is a client being extremely difficult? Get it out of your head and onto paper. You may be stuck from being preoccupied. The sooner you release that energy, the more likely you will refocus and get writing.

4. Rave. If you are having a bad day, it takes a little extra effort to look at the bright side. So, go ahead and look ... even it requires squinting. Think about something that makes you happy (or something for which you are grateful) and write about it. It will put you in a better mood and help change your perspective on your "stuck" project.

5. Write a Letter. This can be a real live snail mail letter or a quick email reply. Writing is writing. Do a few have-tos or want-tos to get in writing-mode.

If you need or have more than 5 minutes to get unstuck, try these bonus tips.

Bonus Tip #1: Journal. Kind of like ranting and raving, get the extra thoughts out of your head and down on paper. It will help you clear your mind, so you can be more productive. Journal for 5 minutes or 15. Whatever it takes to get out of your head and back into writing.

Bonus Tip #2: Take a Break. Walk around the block. Or walk around your home. Meditate. Exercise. Do something to give yourself a jolt and refocus.

Bonus Tip #3: Work on Something Else. I generally recommend people have more than one project to work on simultaneously. That way, when you get stuck on one, you can move forward on the other. Put some effort into another project. Once you are motivated to work on one, allow that momentum to move your other project forward.

The most important thing to remember when you get stuck is you are not alone. Take a breath. Shake it off. And move forward. You can do it!

How do you get unstuck? Leave your tips and tricks in the comments. 

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Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. 

She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. 

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


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