Sunday, October 16, 2016

Completing your Writing Project with the Same Enthusiasm You Started it With

You know this scenario: you have a great idea, have made good progress with your action plan, but now things are starting to slow down. Your project doesn't have the same appeal, you are getting tired of the strategy, and you're starting to feel like you may never complete it. Is it doomed? No! You are just confusing strategy with outcome. The latter is the focus. The former can be replaced.

Here's how to go about doing just that:

1. Review what you want to accomplish and why you want to accomplish it.

Your writing project, when you first conceptualized it, pitched it, and started working on it; had promise and you were excited to make it happen. The reality of sitting down to write, fighting your inner editor, and worrying about the outcome may have dampened your enthusiasm. Maybe you're even worried that you'll never get it done at this rate. But you can recapture that first momentum by selling it again to yourself and picturing the completed project and what that will accomplish for you and how it will feel.

2. Post a visual representation of the finished project where you can see it regularly.

Designing your cover, author bio, and back cover (even if someone else will doing the real ones down the road) and posting them on your computer desk top or office bulletin board means the project will become more real to you and you will naturally be drawn to making it happen. You don't have to spend a lot of time to make it happen. Make a mock up in Microsoft publisher or canva or delegate the project to someone on fiverr

3. Brainstorm a variety of strategies for making the process enjoyable.

The beauty of the brainstorm is that ideas can be collected quickly. Don't limit yourself. Giving yourself permission to put down the ideas that feel silly at first can help you stumble onto some brilliant ideas (ie. paying yourself $1 for each 10 minute writing session = vacation funds and a finished project) You may find rewarding yourself with a walk, reading, TV watching, socializing etc also works. Maybe it's making your writing session inviting with a new venue, accessories, or favorite food or drink. Try a few strategies and record the results and you'll find what gets you producing.

4. Varying up the approach to execution.

Within the same project, you can take different approaches within your writing sessions. Let's say you have a book outline, several drafts with different tones and points of view, and an imbalance in the attention you have given the chapters. You will need to fill in the book outline, merge the documents and move the project over to the tone that works best, and focus on the chapters that need beefing up. These are all components of the project, but as long as you stay focused on the overall project and outline, you can do them in any order you want. Some days may be better for identifying gaps, others for editing flow, and others for research and developing further content. Having a flexible approach means one of the approaches will appeal on any given day.

5. Adjust the delivery date if necessary, but find a way to overdeliver.

Keep touch with your due date and the amount of work left to do when adjusting your daily goals. If you are far behind, set aside a stretch period where you will overachieve on your usual productivity. This is not a strategy that can work for days, but it is perfect for sprinting within the overall marathon of the project to make up time. You can also adjust your delivery date. Just remember to make your daily goals doable and then hit them consistently with your new approaches. Keeping focused on your project and steadily executing on it means it will be great when you finish up. Pace yourself and have fun.

Remember to stay away from negatives including approaches that haven't worked for you, days you were less than productive on your project, or defeating self talk you may have engaged in. Don't beat yourself up. Learning is part of the process. Review what has gone well, re-engage with your great idea, and go make it happen!

Saturday, October 08, 2016

The Secret That Can Help You Achieve More With Your Writing

Do you ever wonder why some writers manage to execute their word count consistently, learn new technologies and publishing procedures, get their work to market, and build network contacts all in the same hours per day as the rest of us?
Their secret is now yours.
High achievers in every field use a strategy, whether conciously or unconciously, known as speed of implementation.

Here are 5 ways to use it to your advantage:

1. When you learn something new, use it right away. 

Have you ever been in a workshop or read or watched something that was genius and you thought "that would help me" but then you put it away, got distracted, and when it occured to you later to use it, you had to go looking for it and review the process? Research shows that when we use knowledge right away, we retain it better, and will find more opportunities to use it in the future, both cementing our competance and confidence. When you learn, put that time invested to use. Think of the multiple applications it can have and try it -- no perfection necessary. You can always polish up something you've done, but if you wait to execute because you worry you won't have enough time to get it perfect; you'll likely be doing the reverse. Waiting means using the knowledge when you're not fresh from learning it. (If you want to try something new today: think book covers, marketing materials, or blog art, try canva )

2. When an idea comes to you, take action.

Taking action on a new idea doesn't necessarily mean bumping the current project. It may been a supporting idea that fits in your current project or something you can use as a side interest like a contest submission or a guest blog post. If it is something larger and something better put off, you want to get enough of the idea captured to come back to it later and start it up without a hiccup. A 1 page synopsis and an outline while it's fresh will do that. Also, if you meet up with an agent in the time between idea conception and execution, you will still have something to pitch. (If you're interested in having the opportunity to pitch to an agent or editor, sign up for the pnwa's annual conference early bird deadline and have pitches included in your registration)

3. When you meet a new connection, reinforce the relationship. 

Even if you don't start a new project with your new connection, introducing them to someone who would mutually benefit from the new contact keeps you in both of their minds. Adding a new contact to your social media outlets like facebook, linkedin, or instagram, or exchanging blog or website addresses also lets you have intermittent contact, making it a natural move to touch base when something arises that would benefit your writing careers. (For example, The Town Crier is accepting applications for a 1 month editor in residence with an honorarium attached -- assemble your list of 8-10 writers you'd draw on and apply here )

4. Use the principle towards your daily word count. 

You've heard me say it before: outcome is what matters, strategies can vary. Pick one and use it until you find a better one. You can reward yourself with any number of motivators. Use a writing prompt if that's what gets you going. Set up a challenge with a friend. Commit to a set number of words or minutes writing a day. Speed of implementation means that your scene concept becomes fleshed out before procrastination kicks in. This is why you'll see established prolific writers turn out a predictable number of books. They have practice consistently producing (and the motivating advances that accompany them). 

5. Fight the fear.

You may be a better writer than many you see in the marketplace, but if others don't see your work, what good is that to you? Bringing your writing to your readers is scary, sure, but it is also rewarding. When you receive constructive critique that improves your project, connect with a reader that really enjoyed your work, or inspire another writer to try; you will know why you're doing this. And yes, your work will not be loved by all, but that's ok. The world has plenty room for a variety of voices, subject matters, and approaches. Take a leap of faith and share yours today. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Writer Quick Tips You Can Use Today

Writing is more than just putting a story to the page. It is also about building author platform and running the business side of your writing. This is a place where writers who want to start sharing their work with their readers often start feeling overwhelmed. And the worry is, will the business of getting your work to your readers impact how much time you actually have to write? But the good news is, you can be productive in both spheres and the momentum in each can feed the other.

Here are some quick tips you can use today across all categories:

1. Social Media

As you start sharing your work on social media, don't worry about coming across as contrived. Writing is what you do. You are just showing more of yourself to your network. Think about it, would you feel odd sharing your love of travelling, crafts, a great meal you made after work, or a book you really enjoyed? No, you wouldn't. Because it's interesting to you and you know others will be interested either because it coincides with a shared interest of theirs or because they like you and want to know more about you. So think of something to share and do it -- a picture of your writing space in your early morning session, a great book you are reading that teaches you more about your craft, or a website other writers would enjoy.

2. Word Count

It helps to think of chapters as just being made up of scenes and paragraphs. And each of those paragraphs is made up of sentences. You can write sentences, can't you? Good. So you can write a book. Have your outline nearby to save yourself time. (If you produce 1500 more words today, but they don't fit with your plot line or character development, you have just completed a writing exercise, but not more of your book) You can grab my free resource -- Take Your Book from Concept to Finished Product in Less Time by signing up on the right hand side bar.

3. Reader Feedback

You don't have to have a book released for sale to get your first reader feedback. You can get avid readers you know to act as beta readers for you -- they don't need to have editing experience to let you know how your work comes across to them. If you feel like they're not getting it, you probably haven't explained the storyline or your character well enough. Ask questions until you see what needs more developing. Then, you'll also have a plan for your next writing session (ie. 2 more scenes that explain why Martha has such a problem with her neighbour)

4. Free Resources

There are so many resources you can access for free to fuel your writing progress from everything from author platform building to the keys to finishing your project. Some of my favorites (other than the one listed in #2 above) are Michael Hyatt's interviews on youtube, the website The Write Life, and scribd, the netflix for books.

5. Writing on the go

To ensure you have access to your writing projects wherever you go, I recommend carrying your jump drive and/or your notebook. Often times ideas will come to you as soon as you take a break and your brain switches modes into the creative. You can take advantage of those spurts of inspiration and spaces in your day by making sure your story is nearby.

6. Office set-up

Keep your work space ready to go. If you're going to stack paper, don't do it where you write. Simple things like keeping your laptop charged up and having a pen and paper handy, and having enough desk space for your coffee cup means you can start writing without having to address all of that. Because while moving back and forth from writing to other tasks works if it's structured on a day you have open primarily for writing; it does not favor production to have distracting tasks to do when you have a small window of time in which to write.

Hoping for a great writing weekend for you. Make it count.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Keeping Your New Ideas from Sabatoging Your Current Project

Once you start to work and make progress on your project, it may look like all sunny blue skies ahead. But it is important to make plans for not only in case of writer's block, but also for what to do when that flowing creativity results in too many ideas. The newest idea threatens the one you are slogging through and looks like more fun/easier to execute/more interesting/what have you... If you have been at this for a while, you know following this path means you can land up with a bunch of good ideas and no completed projects.

The siren song of a new idea can spell death for the current project if it is abandoned before it comes to full bloom. That doesn't mean you have to hold off until this project is wrapped and launched before getting into the new idea. You just have to be smart about it. Here is the strategy to both stay the project's course and not lose the new ideas:

1. write it down

Taking the time to sketch it out means you won't lose the inspiration. You can add more ideas as they come up. Just keep the notebook or digital file nearby as more details are sure to come to you as you continue to work on the current project. If you don't get rattled by it, you can just enjoy it as a side benefit of creative juices flowing. And celebrate! You are generating twice the ideas you anticipated.

2. see if you can tie it into a series

Sometimes new ideas arise because you have hit upon a theme that especially resonates with you or the market is timely and references to it keep arising in daily life. Don't worry that you will lose out this opportunity. If it doesn't tie into your current work as a supporting book or series addition, just keep working on your notes. It might be a stand alone series by itself. And given the success model that sees authors of multiple books hit the best seller lists, this is a direction you'll want to develop in.

3. use it as a reward

Working on a new idea when it's hot has the side benefit of feeling like a reward. Working on your current project for a timed set (even 10 minutes) and then switching to develop your new idea for another five or ten is a model that when repeated can have you producing what you need to on your current project while not losing the momentum of the newly hatched ideas.

4. test it out

As you develop it, give your new idea some test runs by writing a short scene, posting an article or blog post on the topic, or discussing it with your fellow writers and beta readers. Taking it for a trial run lets you see if it is an idea worth pursuing and how much interest there is for it.

5. prioritize it

Not every new idea will make the cut and go long term project. That's ok. Keeping a running list with time frames and markets for them (agent submissions, short story contests, guest blog posts, linked in articles... etc) means you will spend the appropriate amount of time on each project according to its purpose. If you use vision boards, mapping out each project on one bulletin board (virtual or not) is a good way to keep an eye on each of them.

Let me know if this touches on your experience with new ideas. Do they help you or harm you when it comes to your production?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Finding Space to Write Even if You Can't Go Away

Before I started going away and investing in time at conferences, writing weekends, and on location writing; I imagined that not having had previous access to them was the barrier that was keeping me from more production.

But I was wrong.

As great as those opportunities are and they are great for networking, connecting with new information that can help propel your writing career forward, learning new skills, being creatively inspired and cementing your identity as a writer; they are not the answer to writing output.

Writing output is the work of snatching time throughout your day, as many times as you can per week, whether it is early morning, during breaks at work, or instead of your favorite TV show at night. It is rewarding yourself with a day off in which to write and guarding it on your calendar. It is setting the timer and making it happen, even if it is in 10 minute blocks.

Here are 5 strategies to try:

1. The Early Morning Silent House 

Set your alarm 1/2 hr earlier than normal. Wear clothes to bed that you will be able to write in and set up your writing instruments on your dining room table or office so that they are ready to go. Take the time to pour a glass of water or run the keurig but no more. Spend the time writing.

2. Breaks at Work

Have your scene ready to go and set a timer. Stand up and write if you want a change of position. You can also get up and stretch your legs by putting away items in your office after your break is over to avoid sitting all day even though you've used up your break.

3. Trading the equivalent of a TV show 

This is another set the timer option. If you want to add the novelty of "getting up during commercials" set the timer for 2 minute breaks every 10 minutes to give yourself a moment to stretch and let the dog out.

4. Alternating chores and writing 

This one has the benefit of having both chores and writing feeling the least like work and is my current personal favorite. Do a fast version of a usual chore. (whatever you are noticing most needs attention) and then write a specific word count (ie 100-500 words) and then go to the next chore alternating until you are out of time, chores, or have hit daily word count.

5. Rewards for a Job Well Done

Productivity research is now indicating that rewarding ourselves for something doesn't help us in the long run because it cements in our mind that the habit needs a reward and is a punishment in itself. The way around that (because who wants to give up rewards?) is to connect the reward to the habit you are trying to reinforce (for the writer: new notebook, jump drive, writing session, mug, pen, resource handbook, class or workshop, etc)

So, know you will get things done, even if this is not the season of wide open writing time for you. Your strategy is out there waiting for you to unearth it. Start experimenting!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

10 things to do with 15 minutes of writing time

Having a short amount of time in which to write is often a fact of life. Fortunately there are ways to make the most of your short sessions. Here are 10 things you can do with 15 minutes of writing time. Set that timer and go!

1. Write a character sketch

Everything from physical description to back story to personality traits. Don't worry if some narrative gets mixed up in it. You can take it from the sketch to a scene later.

2. Work from a writing prompt

Writing prompts have often taken me right to a new story and sometimes a book. You can find a long list of writing prompts at the everyday writing coach

3. Pick a scene from your outline.

If you do not have an outline already and are unsure how to get one going, sign up with your email address for the Quick Guide to Take Your Book from Concept to Finished Product on the sidebar. You can also email your questions or a request for the guide to

4. Write up a piece of flash fiction.

As one writer friend says, It is an easy way to feel accomplishment. And it's real. This story can be submitted at its current length to a writing contest or worked into something longer later.

5. Capture setting

Whether it is the scene you find yourself sitting in, or one in your memory or imagination; capture every nuance (run through the senses - taste, touch, smell, feel, and sight -- a time or two) You will be glad you did when your character needs somewhere new to go.

6. Introduce a secondary character

Thinking exclusively about a secondary character gives him time to develop. Why is he interacting with your main character? What is his back story? What is the conflict that will be introduced between the two?

7. Play with words

Making random lists of nouns and verbs (10 each) and then pairing them up into sentences rearranges your writing in a new and fresh way. See if you can work any into a novel scene or short story.

8. Plan a list of articles or blog posts

This gets your creativity flowing at max in a short amount of time. Even if you don't use all of them, it's a worthy exercise. Do not be surprised if a story scene or something else helpful comes to you while your brain is storming. Write it down.

9. Write a short poem. 

You can also make it one of your characters' and work it into your story. If you are not sure to write about, capture what's on your desk or out your window or focus on the last strong feeling you entertained.

10. Write your author bio.

Post it somewhere you see it frequently. You will be glad you have it when the time comes for you to submit it along with your article, book proposal, contest entry, or guest blog post. It also serves you like a vision board -- motivating you before you feel like the author you are.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

5 Things to Consider When Deciding Which Course of Action to Take

Likely, you have many ideas. Concepts for plans and products you could execute, books you could write, and contacts you could make. But how do you decide which ones would be most worth your time and take you the furthest?
By taking fear and paralysis out of the picture (fearing making the wrong move so not making one at all -- which is also a decision of sorts) and replacing them with expectation and purpose, you can make wise choices that will move you forward. Here are 5 things to consider when deciding which course of action to take.

1. Do your homework, and set an action date.

An inexpensive wall calendar is good for this. Take it apart and arrange it so you can see several months at a time on the side of your fridge or office wall. Once you figured out your realistic timeline on paper, plot it on your calendar and start working towards it. 

2. Know that action brings momentum and moves you forward and let go of your worries about failure.

For most decisions, the stakes are not as high as you may think. Keep your research or first drafts safe. Even if you decide to change direction, they can serve you well in a future project. Authors have backlists of books they've previously written they often pull out when the time is right after a few successes. Think of this preliminary work as investment into later into your writing career as well.

3. Don't get married to the plan. That spot is reserved for the outcome.

Each writer is different. Each life circumstance is different. Each season of life is different. Pull together the advice that works for you and make it go to work. If you are losing momentum, energy, inspiration, or time; tweak your strategy accordingly. It's fine to shift to shorter sessions earlier or later in the day or to cram production into a block of time you've been able to set aside. Whatever works for you. 

4. Plot your course by working backwards.

What would you need to achieve your final result? What steps would bring you to that point? What could you do today that would bring you to closer to those steps? Identify content and process you need to research, and contacts you need to make. And keep writing.

5. Enjoy the ride.

Celebrate the steps you take and the tasks you accomplish that get you closer to where you are aiming to go. It is not failure if it doesn't come together immediately. You are setting the stage for future success and enjoying the process along the way. Connecting with why this goal is important to you helps keep this in perspective.