Schedule…or Never Make It

[found on]

“How to Make a Writing Schedule That Works For You

Pull out one of those giant calendars from Office Depot (or use a Google Calendar to sync with your smartphone). Start putting your deadlines in red on the calendar and then place the calendar somewhere next to your writing zone. Consider these deadlines sacred; the world will stop if you don’t make them.

If you don’t have a deadline, get one. Writers wither without deadlines….

Once all the deadlines are on the calendar page, see if there are any recurring themes within the articles. If there are, consider making that your theme for the month. This will not work in every scenario, but if a theme appears, take advantage of it. Think of it as the foundation of the platform you are developing that month.

Creating an editorial calendar may take a few hours, but it will save you time in the end.”

For more great tips on writing from AuthorMedia, click HERE.

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Finish Your Book…Already

[found on; by Joseph Finder]

“1. Just write it. Fix it later. That means: don’t worry about word choice or grammar. Don’t worry about getting your facts right.

2. You do have time — if you really want to do it. You have a full-time job? A family? Carve out an hour or two early in the morning before the rest of the house gets up, or before you go to work. Or at night, if you’re not too wiped out to write. Try to make this a regular time slot — do it at the same time each day, for the same amount of time. Make it a habit. I know a number of writers who finally started making enough money from their writing to be able to quit their day jobs, only to discover that, as soon as they started writing full time, they suddenly became far less efficient. All that time stretching before them in the day — the two hours of writing per day they used to squeeze in here and there now took them eight hours. There’s something to be said for not having a lot of free time to write. It tends to make you more efficient.

3. Writing is a job. Treat it like one. I don’t work at home; I have an office, and I go there to write. If you don’t have an office, you should set aside a place that is just for you and your writing – the attic, the basement, a corner of the laundry room with a screen around it. If you treat your writing like work, your family and friends should do the same, and be more respectful of that writing time. No one thinks twice about interrupting a hobby, so make it clear that it’s not a hobby; it’s work. It’s your time.

4. Be ruthless in managing your time. This is the biggest problem most writers have. I have a big old hourglass on my desk for use on those days when I’m tempted to check my Facebook page. I upend it and don’t let myself get up until the sands of time have run out.

5. No e-mail! E-mail is truly our modern curse. It interrupts our attention span, fragments our concentration. Sign off. Do not let yourself check your e-mail or go online. Use an hourglass or a kitchen timer (if the ticking doesn’t drive you crazy) for 30 minutes or an hour, during which you may not do anything but write. In order to write you really need to get into the zone, and to get into the zone you need to be distraction-free. I love e-mail — but it’s the enemy!

6. Set interim goals. A full-length novel can be anywhere from 75,000 to 150,000 words, or even longer. If you think about having to write 75,000 words – 200 pages – you’ll freak yourself out. But if you write 1,000 words a day, you can finish the first draft of a novel in less than three months, even if you take some weekend days off.

7. Work toward a deadline. Everyone needs deadlines. Parkinson’s Law says that work expands to fill the time allotted; among my author friends, I know only one who regularly turns in manuscripts before they’re due (she was probably like that in school, too). The rest of us need deadlines. My publisher sets mine, but even before you’re published, you will find that your own life gives you natural deadlines: finish that draft before you leave for your next vacation, before you turn 40, before your next high school reunion.

8. Reward yourself. In The Fine Art of Feedback, I write about the challenges of getting and processing feedback – but while you’re writing, it’s not unusual for your brain to second-guess everything you’re doing. Override this by promising yourself rewards for getting work done. “When I hit 5,000 words, I’m going to the movies,” or even, “When I finish this paragraph, I can have another cup of coffee.” It worked in kindergarten and it works for me now.

Go to it, and good luck. Next time someone hears you’re writing a novel and tells you that they have a great idea for one, you can just smile and nod and think to yourself, Yeah, but I’m actually writing one . . .”

For more excellent information on writing from Joseph Finder, click HERE.

[found on]

Does Your Writing Have YOU?

“There’s one thing your writing must have to be any good at all. It must have you. Your soul, your self, your heart, your guts, your voice — you must be on that page. In the end, you can’t make the magic happen for your reader. You can only allow the miracle of ‘being one with’ to take place. So dare to be yourself. Dare to reveal yourself. Be honest, be open, be true…If you are, everything else will fall into place.” 

― Elizabeth Ayres

How to Not Write a Book in 5 Easy Steps

[found on; by Jamie]

“Step One: 

Tell everyone you are definitely for sure going to write a book. 
Don’t leave anyone out! Include your friends and your family and your neighbors and the people who work at Starbucks (And maybe Target. But, like, only if it comes up organically, otherwise you sound like a douche). Oh. And don’t forget to tell your literary agent. She’ll probably want to know. And if some fancy publishers buy you lunch and give you presents? Tell them, too.

Step Two:

Stare at your computer for a while. Like, at least two years.

Step Three:

Make a list of why you should definitely for sure NOT write a book. It doesn’t need to be long.

  1. Books are permanent. You cannot delete a book. (i.e. If your book sucks, you’re screwed.)
  2. Book writing is hard. Blogs are easy to write because you just take an idea, pare it down to the bare essentials, and – BOOM! – you’ve got a nifty little blog post. But blog posts for books are hard to write because they need a lot more words and stuff. Also? I think they’re called chapters.
  3. You don’t have time. (Ha. I could write fiction!)
  4. The people who promise they’d read your book are all in on the same huge practical joke. But you love jokes! So if you write a book and no one reads it, it’ll be hilarious! And sad.
  5. You’re too… Lazy? Scared? Stupid? Bad at writing? ADD? Tired? Chubby? Silly? Unworthy? Choose one or more, or write in your own ____________________________ .
  6. If you’re distracted by a book project, who will post pictures of the cat on Instagram?!

Step Four:

Lie. Tell yourself you never wanted to write a book anyway. Sip your coffee and feel satisfied. I mean, this wasn’t even your idea...

Step five: 

Repeat steps One thru Four. Until you die.

It’s that easy, friends! I hope you find this guide useful on your journey toward not writing a book. Ever.

Good luck and God bless!

…..           ………         …..

So. How do you not write a book? Do share.  (I’ll be right over here… staring at my computer. *heavy sigh*)”

[found on]

12 Questions for Writers

[found on by Kelly Belmonte]

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” ~ Stephen King, On Writing

I cannot disagree with King on this point. I have been reading a lot and writing a lot my entire life. But only recently have I gotten “serious” about being a writer. To be clear, what I mean by “serious” is really “published” — someone whose written words are read a lot by folks who are not otherwise obligated to do so.

A big shift for me occurred when I realized I could apply my years of accumulated project management experience to my writing. I found that if I treated each written thing (whether a poem, a blog post, a technical document, or any other piece of writing) just as I would a project for a client, I’d get more traction on meeting realistic publishing goals.

This post offers a list of 12 questions that, when answered, will provide a workable project management framework for the “serious” (!) writer.

1. Who is the ideal reader (“end user”) of my piece?

If I want my words to be published, the assumption is I want someone else to read them. Communication 101: speak the same language as your audience. Even if you are thinking, “I want to write things that I want to read,” you still want to identify the key elements of what makes you tick so you can know how to find more people like you to read your stuff.

2. Who is my client?

The client is the person, group, or organization that will compensate you for your efforts, whether through money, copies, publicity, recognition, validation, connections, or something else of value to you as a writer. This is also who is going to connect you with your ideal reader. Unless you’re self-published (in which case you have a direct compensation relationship with your reader), this is usually going to be a publisher with a specific agenda, format, or type of writing they promote. It’s important to know what’s important to them. If you have a fantastic collection of sonnets, you probably don’t want to submit your chapbook to a publisher of haiku, right?

3. Who is on my team?

Writing is never just writing. There’s research. There’s first and second drafts. There’s proofreading, copy editing, content editing, and fact checking. There’s formatting, graphic design, and packaging. There’s marketing and distribution. Are you good at all of these things and (here’s the clincher) do you have the time to do them all? Do you seriously think you can edit your own words? (Guess what I think about that…) Figure out who can help you, whether for pay, barter, or goodwill. It will be worth it in the end.

4. What is the purpose of the piece?

Do you want to inspire, connect, challenge, relate, instruct, change behavior, anger, illustrate, or simply tell a darn good story? Or some combination? This is both your roadmap and your test in writing. Your purpose keeps you on track.

5. What is the scope?

This is where you describe what you think is being asked of you by your client and what you want to create for your ideal reader. Get a handle on whether you’re writing the entire history of the Great American Experiment or a day in the life of a 21st century Bostonian. Articulate for yourself (and confirm with your client, if possible) the number of words, lines, chapters, pages, required thematic and stylistic elements, and formatting constraints. Only then can you begin to map out a plan for completing your writing project.

6. What is your end state for this piece?

“As a result of my words being read, _________________ [fill in the blank].” This may be easily confused with number 4, the purpose. They are connected — one should lead to the other — but not the same. For example, if my purpose in a piece is to provide instructions for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the desired end state will be “As a result… the reader will be able to make a pb&j sandwich.” If my purpose is to inspire, my end state may be, “… the reader has an ‘Ah ha’ moment.”

7. How much time will it take?

Your scope (and to some degree, your team) will provide you with a good guideline for the amount of time required (the “level of effort”) for each element. While there are some standard estimates for pages per hour, different types of writing require different levels of effort. Get to know your own pace, tracking the amount of time you spend on each project, so that estimating your time gets easier as you go along.

8. When does it need to be finished?

Even if there is no deadline or entry date, make up due dates for yourself. It will give you some basic math to work out the answer to the next question. (Due date – today’s date = number of days left to work on project.) Don’t forget to take into account time for review and editing.

9. When will I work on it?

Many writers like me have day jobs, families, friends, other interests, and need to work our writing in around an already full schedule. If I am going to be “serious” about my writing, I have to answer this in a real and manageable way. I have to recognize my priorities, logistical challenges, and areas I’m willing to sacrifice for the words. This, too, is clarifying.

10. When will I know it’s done?

This isn’t as easy to answer as it may appear on first glance, especially given the independent nature of many writing projects and the varying schedules of publishers. But this is the million-dollar “ship it” question. It can be crazy-making — there’s always just one more tweak, another review, an alternative viewpoint, a bit more white space perhaps. Will that tweak make the difference between rejection and acceptance, between runner-up and winner? You may never know. But one thing you can know for sure: if you never submit your work, you will never be published. Decide what “good enough” looks like for you.

11. How did it go?

Conduct an “after action review,” looking at your original purpose, scope, end state, and deadline. If possible (and if appropriate), engage a reader and the client in evaluating if your piece (and the process for completing it) met expectations. Listen, and learn from the gap between what you said you would do and what you actually did. This is a great opportunity to get better or to pat yourself on the back for hitting it out of the park. It’s also a constructive way to handle the inevitable disappointments that will come with writing, whether it’s negative feedback from your ideal readers, a missed deadline, or a rejection slip. Use those disappointments as fuel for the next project rather than a reason to give up.

12. Would I do it again?

Ah, there’s the rub. Would you go back to that well, that publisher, client, magazine, meta-blog site again for another opportunity to be published? It’s certainly ideal when you’ve found your niche, the exact right space where your words connect with ideal reader and are supported by an influential client-champion. But usually there’s some middle ground between lousy experience and ideal. Know your limits and your ideals. Find the opportunity in that middle ground where the good outweighs the bad.

And here’s my bonus question: Do you take yourself seriously as a writer? If the answer is yes, how many of these questions do you regularly ask yourself, and are there others that keep you moving forward on your own publishing goals?”

[found on]