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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!

 

How I’m Making Writing Work This Summer

I have always struggled with disruptions to my routine. My dedicated writing hours during the school year dwindle to snatched minutes with the kids home for summer. My kids aren’t even young! It’s just different having them home. They have places to be, stomachs to feed and various activities during the day and at night.

Taking the summer off from writing is not an option. In fact, scaling back in the summer horrifies me. I have goals, and by golly, I will meet them!

 

 

Here’s how I’m making writing work this summer.

1. Set the alarm.

I refuse to get up at 6:15am the way I do all school year, but 7:30 works just fine. This gives me quiet time to sip my coffee, read the Bible and pray before hitting the office.

2. Accept that the days will be chopped up.

This week my son had baseball activities two mornings and two nights. Both kids had running club. My daughter is in charge of getting to her own activities, but I still plan my writing around their schedules.

3. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals.

I set the monthly goal first, then break it into weekly goals. I look ahead at my calendar to figure out how to meet the weekly goals before setting daily goals.

4. I track my progress.

Last week I plotted a romance novel and wrote the synopsis for it. I also fleshed out two chapters of a nonfiction book in progress. This week I plotted another romance novel. I’m writing the synopsis this afternoon. I also spent hours researching and wrote two chapters. All the little tasks you do add up, but if you don’t track them, you might miss the feeling of accomplishment you deserve.

5. Switch tools.

My romance novels are strictly laptop only. I do everything there–plotting, research, drafts, revising. However, I work on short stories and nonfiction using Google Docs. Believe it or not, I do a lot of writing on my iPhone at odd places. Waiting in the car for baseball practice? Write a few paragraphs. Sitting on the couch at night with nothing on TV? Draft another chapter. Switching tools has made a HUGE impact on my productivity. It’s given me the freedom to make progress on pieces I’d been putting off.

6. Let go of guilt.

My family understands that writing is my job. We don’t have special activities every day. My daughter drives and makes her own plans. My son’s friends live nearby, and he can walk or ride his bike to see them. We take advantage of the fun things our area offers, but not constantly. If my kids are bored, oh well. Life is what you make it. What better time to learn this than as a teenager?

7. Take breaks and get enough rest.

If I’m exhausted in the afternoon, I enjoy a cup of tea and rest on the couch, or I might take a brief nap. Exercise has become vital for me. All the sitting takes such a toll on our bodies. Even a 10 minute walk makes a big difference to my body. Rather than cramming writing in all at once, I set mini-goals throughout the day.

8. Enjoy life.

Summer is the best! I love having my kids home, a less-stressful schedule, hot days, yummy summer food and outside time. I dream more in the summer. I read more, too. I don’t want to remember these precious weeks as being perpetually stressed out, so I try to approach each day with a good attitude. Whatever I get done is enough.

We’re all at different stages of life, with different responsibilities. You may have a full-time job, a part-time job, toddlers at home, no kids, a sick loved one–I don’t know! What works for me might not work for you, but that’s the point. You have to find how to make summer writing work for you. I’d love to hear how you do it!

How do you make summer writing work for you?

**There’s still time to enter the giveaway of Keli Gwyn’s historical Christian romance, Family of Her Dreams. Click on her post HERE and leave a comment before midnight Saturday, June 13 to be entered! US residents 18 and older only.

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!

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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