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Tips to Successfully Switch Between Projects

Tips To Successfully Switch Between Projects

One of the changes I’ve had to make as a published writer has been switching between projects. I’m not going to lie–it’s been a challenge! Some writers have no problem with this, but jumping from one unfinished task to another is not my strong suit. I’m a systems girl, so I’ve done my best to create a process for successfully switching between projects.

Tips to Successfully Switch Between Projects

  • Plan ahead. Now that I’ve been through the publishing process with more than one book, I understand my publisher’s timetable. I can easily estimate when to expect certain assignments for the book. This allows me to adjust my other goals.

 

  • Decide if you’re going to work on two projects at once or if you’d prefer to set one aside to concentrate on the other. I can squeeze in marketing for one book as I write the draft of another, but my brain cannot handle writing a book while working on edits for another. Obviously, this depends on if both projects are contracted and if your deadlines are looming. Determine what works best for you and try not to compare yourself to someone else who does it differently.

 

  • Adjust your goals. Sometimes things come up earlier or later than expected. That’s okay. Just change the goals on your current WIP to reflect your new responsibilities. For instance, I planned on writing 15,000 words this week on my new book. However, the arrival of final edits for a different book arrived last week, so my goal became finishing the edits and writing 0 words. Next week, I’ll resume adding to my word count.

 

  • Celebrate the small victories.  When I turned the above-mentioned final edits in early, I celebrated by taking a long walk at a local park. Sure, I could have forced myself back in my office to “make up” for my missed words on the draft, but my spirit needed a boost. If we work constantly, we get burned out. NO thanks!

 

  • Get organized. The only way I’m able to juggle multiple projects is by staying extremely organized. I use Microsoft OneNote for all my notes. Each book has five or six tabs and multiple folders. I not only store my research, plot notes, character charts and scene lists here, but I also track my plotting, writing and revising progress as well as important business dates and promotion items. It’s easy to switch between books. All the info I need is right there.

 

  • Say no to distractions. I do not plan lunch dates, long phone calls or any other “optional” fun activities when I’m trying to finish a project. I create room in my schedule for these dates when I finish a draft or turn revisions in or whatever else I’m working on. Remember, it’s not a forever no, it’s a not-right-now no.

 

  • Give yourself wiggle room. If your deadline is October 31, aim to finish it no later than October 29. Hey, we all get sick, we have unexpected visitors, or we have a really bad day when we get nothing done. Life doesn’t go smoothly, so plan for the bumps by building in a time cushion.

 

  • Write down what works and what doesn’t. When you meet a deadline, take a minute to think about what helped you meet it. Also try to pinpoint anything that hurt your progress. Write these down as reminders the next time you have that particular task to do.

 

  • Do the bare minimum in real life. If you’re in the final week of a tight deadline and not sure you’ll meet it, get takeout for dinner, ignore the dust bunnies and do whatever it takes to turn your project in. Pizza and Chinese food might not be the healthiest, but if they give you the time needed to meet your goal, they’re worth it.

 

  • Smile! Multiple projects are a good thing! Much better than NO projects! It’s good to remember our blessings.

What did I miss? What would you add?

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

I’m Not at ACFW Conference and I’m Jealous!

I shouldn’t be writing this. Really, I shouldn’t. Social media posts should be positive, uplifting. I want to be a light in this world, not a dark shadow! But I know I’m not alone on this subject, so I’m putting it out there.

I’m not at ACFW conference this year, and I’m jealous!

The logical part of me can recite the pros and cons list on why I’m not there.

We took our first week-long family vacation (no tent involved!) this year. We have a senior in high school with plenty of expenses, and a son in travel baseball with plenty of other expenses. We’ve put money into house projects ever since buying our current home three years ago. There are many more projects to do, big ticket items to replace, wish lists to fund. You know the drill. You live it too!

On top of that, there’s the time issue. Our kids both have cross country races this weekend, I’m trying to finish a draft of a book, and our church commitments kicked into gear last Sunday.

I’m sure you can relate to all of the above. You have your own expense and time issues. We all do.

So even though my logical brain processes and accepts all this, my insecure heart wails.

I’m missing out on the fun, the fellowship, the wonderful meetings with friends, the chance to meet my editor and the worship time. Waaahhhh!

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to a conference (Yes, I’m blessed that I’ve attended them in the past!). I know how uplifting they can be. No, they aren’t perfect. Yes, they can be draining. But even during the not-great times, I loved spending time getting to know other Christian writers. I forged friendships I treasure.

 

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I miss these people! ACFW 2013

 

So what is really going on with these jealous feelings?

Where are they from, why do I have them, and more importantly, how can I handle them without becoming a jerk?

I spent some time in prayer yesterday morning. 

Where are they from? I’m afraid of being left out. Afraid my friends are moving on to newer, more exciting people. Afraid of being left behind in my career.

Why do I have these feelings? I’m a sinner. Imperfect. Immature sometimes.

How can I handle them without becoming a jerk? As I mentioned earlier, I prayed about it. And I realized that just because I’m not there this year, doesn’t mean God won’t get me there another year. If it really means this much to me, I should be praying all year for Him to find a way to get me to conference. I also have to graciously accept that I will not lose my friends and that I won’t be left behind in my career just because I’m out of sight.

I guess sometimes I just want everything to be easy. I don’t want to have to choose between paying for this or paying for that. I don’t want to have to explain to my family that this trip is important to me and that I’ll be missing their events. I feel selfish for wanting to go to a conference just because it’s  fun and I get to hang out with amazing writers.

Sigh.

I’m not at the conference. I’m jealous. But I’m doing something about it. Prayer, a right attitude and M&Ms work wonders.

 

Have you missed an event and been jealous because of it?

 

Enjoy your weekend!

*My second Lake Endwell book, Unexpected Family, is on sale now! Look for it in grocery stores, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere books are sold. It’s available online, too. Go HERE for the links!*

Come On, Brain! Make Writing Easier for Me!

Yesterday was one of those writing days. No, not a good one where the words are jumping from my fingertips onto the page. Not a delightful one where I’m chuckling at what the heroine just said and swooning over the hero’s grand gesture.

 

 

 

It was a long, slow, painful writing day.

 

Right away I could tell it was going to be dreadful. Within minutes I’d exhausted my supply of Gobstoppers. Ate a fun-sized Snickers without even tasting it. Had a Coke by eleven am. Nothing helped.

 

Why is writing so hard some days? I don’t know, but I have a bad session about every eight or nine scenes. Ugh!

 

Looking back, I knew the problem. I was dealing with an unruly scene–a bridge between story points, if you will. Emotional growth needed to happen, but not too much or too soon. I had to get the details right for the scene to be believable. I doubted my original set-up. Realized I needed to beef up the reasoning behind a key theme.

 

By the time I finally wrote the scene, I felt good, but not great. The scene still lacked tension. So back I went, layering in internal reactions to what was happening. Hours flew by, but my word count stayed low. That’s okay. I’m ready to move forward.

 

Writing, like everything else, is like that sometimes. I want it to be wonderful, but my brain balks. Oh well!

 

Do you have those days when work feels impossible? How do you get through them?

Have a terrific day!

 

 

Is a Writing Shortcut Worth It?

I recently revised a proposal. This particular proposal had already been sent to a valued member of my writing team, who suggested I change a few plot details. I did, and then another person requested a different set of revisions.

No problem!

 

Sure, I get nervous waiting for feedback on my work, but when it’s from my critique partners, my agent or my editor, I know anything they say will make my book stronger and more likely to sell. What a blessing!

Anyhow, I have a revising system, which I pretty much repeat every time changes are needed.

  1. Tackle content (story issues) first by brainstorming how to address them, then apply any changes.
  2. Print a copy of the revised piece, red-line and type in the edits.
  3. Read the book (or proposal, synopsis, etc…) out loud.

This means I already did a content edit, red-lines and read the proposal out loud before it was sent to anyone. Then I repeated the process after feedback from the first person. I gave it another go-round based on the second person’s thoughts.

Reading a novel out loud takes many hours. Since this was a proposal (roughly the first 50 pages), it only takes me two hours. But by the third time I’d revised the piece, I questioned whether I needed to read it out loud.

I’ve already read this thing over twenty times. I’ve read it out loud twice already! Do I really need to do it again?

I asked myself how I would feel if I sent it as is, only to come across a glaring grammar issue, misspelled word or a phrase that made no sense later.

Sighing, I popped open a Coke, took a deep breath and began reading it out loud again.

A few hours later, the proposal was on its way to submission. And I felt confident I’d done everything I could to make it shine. Could I have sent it without the final read-through? Of course! The things I caught were minor. But my goal is to put 100% into a project. Your 100% will look different than mine. You might never read your stories out loud, and that’s okay! We all have that one thing we do that goes above and beyond our efforts.

For me, taking the shortcut was not worth it.

If I was on a tight deadline, or my editor needed a quick turnaround on revisions or something like that, I would probably not read the story out loud. My 100% would look different in that situation. It’s important not to be too rigid with our own “rules,” but it’s equally important not to get complacent about our writing.

My hope is to become a great writer as time goes on. It takes experience, good advice, working with trusted professionals and a solid work ethic. We only have control over so much, but the things I do have control over, I’m not going to skimp on!

Have you ever regretted taking a shortcut? On the flip side, have you ever taken a shortcut that turned out to be the right thing to do

There are still a few days left in the Goodreads giveaway of Unexpected Family (entry form is in the sidebar)! Also, if you haven’t entered yet, head to my HOME page for a chance to win my August Unexpected Family gift package (US only)!!

Do you have plans September 1, 2015 from 8-10pm Eastern? We’d love to have you join our Multi-Author Love Inspired Facebook Party!! Eleven authors with September releases of Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical are hosting a big Facebook bash! We’re giving away a book every ten minutes. Just click on THIS LINK and hit “join.”

Have a fun weekend!

 

Writer’s Brain and Multiple Projects

Writer's Brain And Multiple Projects

Symptoms of writer’s brain:

1. Overwhelming desire to drop everything and explore a new idea.

2. Inability to focus because five things are clamoring for attention.

3. Disconnect with the world around us due to immersion in whatever we’re working on.

 

I didn’t always have writer’s brain. In fact years went by with me functioning quite well. Before I got serious about getting published, I worked on one idea or project at a time. By the time I signed  with my agent, I’d gotten into the habit of plotting one book while writing and revising another, as well as keeping up with daily social media tasks.

Now that my career has been moving forward, I constantly deal with multiple projects. This causes writer’s brain on a regular basis. For example, this week I’m working on:

1. Initial promotion plan for Unexpected Family.

  • Organizing a group Facebook party for launch date.
  • Emailing bloggers to set dates, guest posts and interviews for blog tour.
  • Setting up a private Facebook group for readers who want to help spread the word about my books (if you would like to be a member, please email me jill(at)jillkemerer(dot)com).

2.  Write the first fifty pages of new book to submit on proposal. I’m 5,ooo words in and plan on finishing the draft this week.

3. Continue working on nonfiction book.

  • Ordered a book on copyrights and permissions.
  • Drafting another chapter.

4. Reading one book I agreed to influence.

5. Write a short piece for my church’s outreach committee.

6. Update the home page of my website (I do this the first of each month).

 

With all these projects, it gets difficult to prioritize.

Should I write another scene of the fiction proposal first? Or type another chapter of the nonfiction? How do I fit in the promotion tasks? How long will it take me to read the book I’m influencing, and when should I start it (I already know I won’t want to put it down!)?

All those thoughts swirl, throwing me into writer’s brain. It’s not pretty. It’s easy to get stuck really quick! Instead of wallowing in a bag of M&Ms, I looked at my week and decided what to work on and when.

  • Mondays are always full of chores and errands, so I fit my promotion tasks in between them. I drafted the short piece for church Monday night.
  • Tuesday brought more time-consuming morning chores/errands, but after lunch, I worked on my fiction proposal until we had to leave for my son’s baseball game. I sketched out the next scene while the boys warmed up before the game.
  • This morning I’ll be updating my home page and writing more of the fiction proposal. Tonight I’ll take notes on the copyrights and permissions book.
  • Tomorrow I’ll continue the fiction proposal and revise the church piece before sending it. We have another baseball game, which means I can read a few chapters of the book I’m influencing before the game.
  • Friday I should be finished with the proposal draft, so I’ll write another chapter of my nonfiction then.
  • And this weekend I’ll read the rest of the book I’m influencing.

Even if the week doesn’t go according to plan, I know I’ll meet the majority of my goals. Best of all, none of my current projects will fall through the cracks. Phew!

It’s not easy to prioritize. It’s certainly not easy to make progress on multiple projects! But this is part of my job, and I love my job. I get excited every day (and a little panicky at how to fit it all in) to develop ideas into books and to promote them. It just takes a little planning and a lot of focus. 🙂

How do you deal with multiple projects?

Share your tips! And have a wonderful day!

 

Did Your Brain Shut Down? Brewing Story Ideas

I’m blessed to have an overactive imagination. Yes, blessed! Ideas clang and roll around in my brain all the time. Most of them are tiny snippets, not worth exploring, but some burrow in and won’t leave me alone.

About six years ago, I learned something extremely valuable. If I don’t give my imagination the freedom to go wild, the ideas trickle. My brain has shut down after too many “not nows.” There is nothing worse than wanting to write a new book but having no idea in mind. That’s why I always have the next story brewing in my head while I’m actively writing the current one.

Brewing Story Ideas

Brewing Ideas:

1. Get an idea. It might be the teeniest thing. WRITE IT DOWN! I keep an idea journal, but in a pinch, I type it into the Notes section of my phone.

2. Ask questions about the idea. Ask more questions. Realize the problems with it. Find ways to work around the problems. Let it grow.

3. I DO NOT WRITE the beginning of the story for the new idea. Many writers easily switch between writing projects. I often work on three books at once, but they’re at different stages. I don’t write two books at the same time. If I started writing the new story, I wouldn’t finish the current one. My first rule of thumb is to always finish one book before writing another.

4. If the idea is worth developing into a book, I figure out basic plot points. I also mentally picture the characters and find photos on Pinterest of celebrities they may look like.

5. I bring a notebook or a stack of used printer paper and drive somewhere to jot notes. For some weird reason, I do my best plotting when I’m watching birds, sitting in a coffee shop, or hanging out at a park. I need at least fifteen minutes, and I like to zone out and just feel the possibilities.

6. Struggling with plot issues? I click on the Voice Recorder function of my phone, and I talk through whatever is bothering me. It’s amazing how many dead-ends get bulldozed this way.

7. When in doubt, I get help. If I love a story idea and I just can’t figure out how to work through a major plot problem, I ask a writer friend for advice. Even my husband solved a huge plot problem for me recently, and it took him all of three seconds to do!

8. Write a brief summary of the story. I’m talking three sentences. This will help you keep the overall story in mind as you continue to expand the idea.

 

Now that my brain percolates a new story as I’m writing a different one, I never run out of ideas. I’m also excited to work on the new story when I finish a book. My brain never shuts down anymore, because I’ve found a system to develop ideas as they come. Works for me! What works for you?

 

How do you deal with ideas? I’d love to hear!

Have a terrific weekend!

 

Promoting Your Book: Getting Organized

Promoting Your Book: Getting Organized

To successfully plan a book release, you need an expert level of organization. As I wrap up the plans to promote my debut novel, I realize I had no idea it would be this time consuming. And there are so many details poised to slip through the cracks! That’s why I’m sharing what I’ve learned. This is a lengthy post, but I didn’t want to leave anything out.

Promoting Your Book: Getting Organized

1. Digital Files

Hopefully when you wrote your book, you created a digital folder for it. I highly recommend keeping all of your promotion materials here under a subfolder named Promo. Copy/paste a copy of your book cover and an author photo in this folder. Trust me, you will use them!

If you’re putting a blog tour together, create another subfolder in Promo and name it Blog Tour. Save any guest posts and interviews you write in this folder. I’ll share my tips on organizing guest posts and interviews later.

If you’re sending out a press release, save the file in your Promo folder.

If newspapers contact you with written interview questions or guidelines, save these in a new subfolder of Promo, named Newspapers.

Chances are, you’ll be sending out copies of your book for one reason or another. You might want to create an additional subfolder in Promo and title it Mailing. You can create mailing labels and save them here. Type a list of everyone you’re sending a copy of the book.

If you’re having any author events (book launch, book signing, speaking engagement, etc…) keep all written materials in a subfolder, Author Events.

Here’s what my file hierarchy looks like:

->Small-Town Bachelor

->>Promo

->>>Blog Tour

->>>Newspapers

->>>Mailing

->>>Author Events

 2. OneNote, Evernote or Word Documents

One of the most important keys to a book release is having information at your fingertips. I’ve been using OneNote for years. Many people love Evernote, or you could keep everything in Word documents. It’s really up to you. I have a folder in OneNote for Promotion. One of the tabs is titled the same. In that tab, I have a page called, “Promoting Small-Town Bachelor.” The following are sub-pages.

  • Back cover copy. Copy your book information here so you can easily find it at any time.
  • Purchase links. Copy/paste every link where your book is being sold. Typical retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, etc… You’ll be adding these links to your website/blog for people to purchase your book.
  • Blog tour (if applicable). A table/spreadsheet is your best option here. Make columns with the name of the blog, the title of the guest post/interview, the date you’re being hosted and the date you emailed the information back to the host.
  • Media contacts. List the publications/stations, the editors/producers and the email addresses or physical addresses if you’re mailing information.
  • Author copies. List of how you’re using author copies (giveaways, friends, etc…)
  • Author events. Keep track of any speaking engagements, book launch info, book signings and such here.
  • Giveaways. If you’re using an online tool such as Rafflecopter or Giveaway Tools to run your giveaways, copy/paste the code along with the basic giveaway information. It only takes a few seconds to copy the code, and it’s much less time consuming to resend the info to a blogger on your tour if you know exactly where to find it.
  • Review/Endorser/Influencer list (if applicable). Some publishers send books to review sites; others don’t. If you plan on sending your book out to reviewers, list them and their addresses here. If you need to get endorsements, list authors to contact and their reply. Many CBA publishers ask their authors to submit a list of people willing to “influence” the book. List names and addresses here.

3. Blog Tour

Not all authors schedule a blog tour, but if you do, you need a way to keep track of everything.

a. Scheduling.

Do you use a day planner? A calendar? Your smartphone? As soon as you have dates of your stops, write the dates down! I used my day planner to write the name of the blog on the monthly overview section. In OneNote, I also added the blog, the date and whatever type of post we agreed on to my spreadsheet (see above). If you use your smartphone, consider printing out the month(s) your blog tour is taking place and writing the dates down. It just helps to see the big picture.

b. Guest posts/interviews.

In addition to my OneNote spreadsheet, I kept track of my guest posts in a basic notebook. Yes, this is double the accounting, but, as I mentioned earlier, I worry about something slipping through the cracks.

I wrote the titles, the blog and the date of the stop on a sheet of paper. I numbered them. After I wrote each post, I highlighted it as a way to know the post had been drafted. Later, after I proofed each piece, I emailed the guest post/interview back to the host then jotted the date next to it. This let me know that I not only wrote the post, but sent it too.

As far as the actual documents, when I wrote them, I saved the file in a way to make them easy to find. In the title, I began with a number and included the name of the blog for easy reference. After I emailed the guest post or interview to the host, I renamed the file with an S after the number as a visual that I had sent the post.

Example of digital files for blog tour:

->Book Title

->>Promo

->>>Blog Tour

  1. Interview Jane Doe

2s. Writing Tips John Blank

At a glance, I could see that I’d written and sent the post to John Blank, but while the interview for Jane Doe was written, I hadn’t sent it.

4. Author Events

If you’re planning a launch party, speaking engagement, having a book signing or selling books at an event, you will have a number of nit-picky details to deal with. This is another area where OneNote, Evernote or Word files help a lot.

a. Basic information. List the date, address, time and if it’s an open or closed event. You’ll be accessing this information many times, and it’s helpful to have all the details right there.

b. Practical matters. 

  • Questions to address: Do you need to order books to sell? Or will the event purchase them for you? If you need to purchase them, how many will you need? How far in advance should you order them?
  • Invitations, Fliers, Notices: Who is advertising this event? Do you need to create and send invitations, a flier or other notice? If you’re holding a book launch, consider contacting the editor of the local newspaper about the event and attach a press release for your book.
  • Promotional items: Are your business cards current or should you order new? If the event provides a table, do you have a nice tablecloth? Will you need a professional sign? An easel to display it? Are you providing bookmarks, pens, magnets? Will your publisher help with any of these, or will you need to design and purchase them yourself? If you choose to give a raffle basket, what items will you include? Also, print tickets for the raffle.
  • Newsletter/Mailing List sign-up: Either purchase a guest book or create and print sign-up sheets to collect names and addresses.
  • Speaking:  Write an outline of the agreed topic and practice it.
  • Entertainment: If you plan on having entertainment, contact and book everyone involved.
  • Taxes: Keep ALL receipts for anything you purchase. Track your mileage to and from the event. Deductions, deductions!

c. Online Events

If you’re planning a digital launch party (Facebook, Google Hangout, etc…), you’ll have to plan the following.

  • Decide the date and time of party.
  • Create an infographic with your book cover, the party information, and any prizes you’re giving away.
  • Advertise the event on your social media sites.
  • Purchase items to giveaway.
  • Invite your contact list.
  • Moderate the event or have a friend help moderate it.

5. Website

If you’re a debut novelist, the one thing I recommend more than anything to promote your books is having a website (or free blog that functions as a website) in place well before your release date. Readers who enjoy your debut will want to learn more about you and find out when your next book comes out. Your website is your online home. Make it welcoming, fill it with information readers want (author bio, book info and purchase links, ways to contact you, and your social media links) and it will work for you for years to come.

You do NOT need to hire a designer, pay thousands of dollars, or become a design expert to have an online home. If you don’t currently have a website or blog, buy your domain name, create a free site using Blogger or WordPress and have it directed to your domain name. Make pages with your author bio, contact page and your book (with the cover, back copy and links to purchase it). You don’t have to blog! Just make sure you have a hub for readers to find you and buy your books.

6. Getting it all done.

In mid-February I was in the process of writing twenty-five guest posts and working out the details of three author events when I sold my third book, which needed immediate revisions. The next day, I received final edits for my second book. Yes, I was stressed out, but I was also thrilled. I’ve wanted to be published for years!

Working on three very different book tasks at once forced me to take my organizing efforts to the next level. For three weeks, I worked all day, nights and most of each weekend.

I made the decision to promote my debut as heavily as possible. Any blog tour I do in the future will most likely be pared down, and I’ll only have a launch party for my first book. However, promoting books is a part of the writer’s life. I expect I’ll be using this list for years to come even if I’m not doing everything on it.

7. Celebrate.

I take time often to celebrate where I’m at. When I wrote and sent my very first press release? Terrifying! I mentally high-fived myself all day. And author events? I’m blessed to have family and friends who are making it easy on me. Their support has been a big boost during a busy, emotional time.

I never want to get so caught up in promoting that I forget why I’m doing this. I’m not writing for good reviews (although I want them), family approval (although I want that too), or to be the most popular girl on the block (never have been, never will be).

I’m writing to enrich readers’ lives, the way my life has been enriched by the books I’ve read and continue to read. I consider my books a ministry, and if someone is touched by my writing, I’ve succeeded.

As Mark Batterson says in his wonderful book, The Circle Maker, “Work like it depends on you, pray like it depends on God.”

This post is full of information, some of it overwhelming. If you have specific questions on anything I listed, please don’t hesitate to ask!!

What would you add to this list?

Have a terrific day!!

The March Gift Basket Giveaway for Small-Town Bachelor is still going strong! Go to my HOME page and scroll down for the easy entry options!

Writing a Good Book Doesn’t Happen Overnight

One of the more daunting tasks in the writer’s life is revising a rough draft. It’s not that I don’t like revising–I actually enjoy it–but it’s a lot of work.

Anyway, I got to thinking about my very first manuscripts. I laugh now, but back then I honestly didn’t have a clue what revising meant. I thought my it meant you go in, make sure everything is spelled correctly and the commas are where they need to be. Done!

How wrong I was…

I didn’t know that what I’d written was the basic story pouring out of my head. It wasn’t fully formed. Dialogue took over. Introspection suffered. Scenes felt choppy. Key story elements arrived too soon or too late or not at all. The voice was there, but a book isn’t just voice.

Writing a good book doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s easy to assume talent is all you need. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it’s just as easy to assume you have NO talent when your first book gets rejected. Studying, writing book after book, revising over and over, getting rejected on your fifth, seventh, thirteenth book–that must mean you don’t have talent, right?

Wrong.

It takes time, practice, studying, analyzing, and revising to write a good book. Talent is developed by these habits. Just as elite pianists practice day after day, writers must too. Don’t assume talent is all you need.

I spent three and a half hours revising two chapters today. Yes, it’s a slow pace, but I don’t take shortcuts anymore. I want my books to be the best I can possibly make them. It’s okay to learn the hard way like I did. But to grow as a writer, you need to accept that writing is a process. When I accepted it, I felt so free. The weight of “talent” lifted, and I embraced myself as the writer I really was–raw, eager and ready.

What did you learn the hard way?

There’s still time to enter the Valentine’s Giveaway! Entry form is below!!

Valentine's Giveaway

 

Have a terrific weekend!!

Are You in a Time Management Rut?

Time Management Rut

Nothing throws me into a tizzy faster than a big project gone wrong. Who has time for that? No one!

Most of January was like that for me. A big project consumed all my time and frustrated me in the process. Then the project ended (it turned out terrific!), but the backlog of items on my to-do list overwhelmed me.

I was terribly embarrassed to realize I missed my scheduled day on the group blog I contribute to. And I’d dropped the ball on a few emails I’d promised. Enough was enough. I had to get my workday under control. I promptly ordered a time management book I’d seen reviewed in a magazine.

Work Simply by Carson Tate came into my life at just the right moment.

Every year brings different challenges. And, unfortunately, my old time management system wasn’t working for me.

I was in a time management rut.

I’ve only read half of Work Simply, but I’ve already incorporated several suggestions with good results.

1. Approach email in a new way.

I had a bad habit of reading an email and telling myself I’d take care of it later. This resulted in me not writing down important dates, forgetting to respond to two people, and leaving me in a constant state of feeling that I was missing something (which I was!).

New approach? Deal with email as I read it. Write down any important dates. If a response is necessary, respond promptly. Move important emails to a special folder for safe keeping. I also created folders for key emails to automatically be delivered to. This way I know if my editor, agent, or group blog administrator emailed me. No more wading through dozens of emails!

2. Identify themes in my daily tasks.

As soon as I read this concept, it grabbed me. The bulk of my day is always spent on a writing project, whether I’m plotting, writing, revising or whatever. But I also spend a lot of time on promotion via social media and administrative details like emails and planning. I also write short stories to submit to publications, but I struggle to find time to do this. I value keeping my creative-well filled, yet too many weeks go by without me taking much-needed restorative time.

So I brainstormed my typical week and saw that several themes stood out.

1. Books

2. Promo

3. Administrative

4. Other Writing

5. Family (chores, sports, errands, homework, etc…)

6. Creative Time

My schedule NEVER lacks 1, 2, 3, or 5! But 4 and 6 slip by all the time. I’m designating a few hours a week to them, and I’m writing them on my calendar!

3. Always make the commute to my office.

I’ve been doing this for months, but it’s worth repeating. If you work from home, find the place where you feel most professional and do your work there. My commute is up a flight of stairs. Not hard! But it makes all the difference in my attitude.

Now that I’ve made these adjustments, I’m back in control of my day. I’m still overwhelmed at times. I still have a to-do list way too long, but it no longer makes me nauseous. Important things aren’t slipping through the cracks anymore, and I’m spending my time where I should.

Have you ever been in a time management rut? Do you have any tips on how to make your work life smoother? I’d love to hear them!

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