Posted in books, writing, writing tips

Improving organization and productivity for writers

Staying organized as a freelance writer can be very challenging! Here are a few tips for improving organizational skills, as well as some apps you might find useful for keeping your writing life on track.

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  1. Remove distractions. A writer may have all the talent in the world, but if they can’t stay focused and meet deadlines and actually complete projects, it skill won’t matter. Silence your phone, put your computer in airplane mode to limit trips to Facebook and other distracting sites, makes notes about what you may need to look up or attend to later.
  2. Plan your day according to priority and physical needs (and BE REALISTIC). Deadlines come first, but how you reach them can make a big difference in your productivity and stress levels. Make a list of the task (writing and life) you need to complete that day, order them according to priority, and set realistic goals. Be realistic with your schedule and don’t overbook yourself. Then, consider when you work best and will have the least amount of distractions or interruptions. Create a schedule and make others aware of your schedule. Working from home doesn’t mean you’re not “at work.”
  3. Prepare ahead of time. Before you sit down to your scheduled writing time, make sure you have everything you need. If a story element needed to be researched, that should be taken care of in its own time slot prior to writing time. If Laundry needs to be started because you have to attend an event that evening, take care of it and schedule breaks to switch loads as needed. Reading assignments (with notes) should be scheduled during downtime when it doesn’t interfere or disrupt writing time. If something comes up during writing time that should have been done beforehand, make a note to schedule it for later and don’t switch tasks unless absolutely necessary.
  4. Wait to edit. Writing time and editing time need to be kept separate. Editing while writing slows down the process and keeps the focus on small details rather than character or story development. Make a note if you need to come back to something, but keep writing in the moment/
  5. Keep notes and refer back to them. Instead of breaking from a task because you remembered something or had a new idea, keep a notebook or note app on hand and make a note about new tasks or ideas. Review them at the end of your work day or writing session and add the new items to the schedule for the next day or week ahead.
  6. Keep a consistent schedule. Research has shown that we can train our minds to better focus on specific tasks if we do them at consistent times. Life happens, of course, but the more you can routinize your writing schedule, the easier it will be to get into “writing mode” and the more productive you’ll be.
  7. Schedule breaks. Don’t forget to give yourself time to clear your mind and breathe. Even if it’s just ten minutes to refresh your coffee or walk to the mailbox and get some fresh air, you need to give your mind and body an occasional rest. The longer your mind focuses on one task without a break, the more tired it gets. The longer your body stays stationary, the more it affects your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Research recommends at least a 10 minutes break every two hours, with longer meal breaks.

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Apps to try

  • MindNode (iOS) $10: visually map out thoughts/storylines
  • The Brainstormer (iOS) $2: exercises to help with writer’s block
  • Pomodoro Timer (iOS and Android): time management for writers to boost productivity
  • Evernote (iOS and Android) Free with premium features: note keeping app with text, audio, photo, handwriting notes and reminders
  • Lists for Writers (iOS and Android) $3: Inspiration for a variety of writing related sticking points (names, settings, jobs, grammar, etc.)
  • WordOne (iOS) $2.99 or Writer Tools (Android) Free: track daily writing progress and plan stories
Posted in books, writing

In some ways I’m like a zombie

Or at least I have been for the past year.

cross in fog at the cemetarySome of my readers probably think I’ve died, or at least been serious maimed and unable to write. I’m not dead. My hands are a bit messed up, but for the most part, still functional.

Where have I been for the last year?

The short version is that I went back to work full-time. The money was great, the physical and psychological stress was not. I was too exhausted after work to focus on writing. Marketing…yeah right. Cleaning the house…bare minimum, and the kids helped a lot. Dinners…my hubby Ryan was a champ and did a ton! Having a few hours in the evening to spend with the Ryan and the kids was about all I could manage.

Zombies go through the motions, are motivated by basic needs, and aren’t capable of much in the way of creativity.

doomsday

Unless you’re R from “Warm Bodies.” But that’s another story…a really good one. You should go watch it if you haven’t.

I’ve recently left my full-time job behind and am now looking for a new opportunity. I’m not sure what will happen at this point, but while I’m in between life moments, I’m trying to catch up on everything that’s been neglected for the last year. Kids. Hubby. House. Friends. Writing. Marketing. Basically, everything.

I’m hopeful 2019 will be a great year. I’m working on freelancing, tutoring, writing more, maybe  starting graduate school, and possibly starting my own business. Scary, but exciting. I’m really blessed to have a husband who’s supportive and understanding. Making a big change is stressful and downright terrifying at times. He’s carrying a huge portion of the load while I reset and figure things out.

I’m hopeful to have more books out next year for my readers who’ve been hanging in there with me, but if I’m slow getting back into things, I hope you’ll all understand. At the very least, “The Catalyst” reboot (post Kindle Worlds) should be ready soon, and I’m almost done with the next Eliza Carlisle book. Those waiting for The Ghost Host #3, it’s next on the list, I promise. I truly appreciate everyone in my life (family and readers) who support me in so many ways.

Thanks for always being there!

Hands Holding Hearts

Posted in books, writing

Who’s ready for 2017?

2017-fireworks

It seems like everyone is happy to say goodbye to 2016. It was a weird year, to be sure. I know for myself, going back to college made things a little crazy, as did a few too many writing deadlines.

A hectic year has pushed me to reevaluate a few things, get organized, and set more realistic goals and deadlines.

So…you’ll see a few changes this year, and yes I’ll explain why.

1This first big change is that I’ll no longer be offering free ebooks on retailer sites like Amazon and iBooks. I’m already in the process of changing free, first-in-the-series books back to their normal prices. Amazon will be the slowest to change, so if you want free books, go get them now.

Why no more freebies? Basically, because it no longer works as a marketing tactic. There are too many free books to have good discoverability any more. It will be more effective for me to offer short term deals on books than to keep them perma-free, so that’s what I’ll be experimenting with this year.

If you want free books once all the price changes go into effect, the only way to do that will be through my newsletter. The plan is that each monthly newsletter I send out will have a coupon code for a free book. If you’re not already signed up, sign up now. All you need is an email address.

Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/C35Q5

2The next big change is that I will be pulling my books from the Kindle Unlimited program. I’m doing this for 2 reasons.

  1. I’ve struggled to ever find success with KU in the various times I’ve tried it out. I just can’t figure out how to really market for KU well, and I have a strong enough reader base on other platforms that it makes more sense to distribute my books wide.
  2. From the beginning, I’ve had my doubts about the fairness of the KU program in how it rewards and pays authors. Recent changes have only increased my dislike of the ethics of the program. While it’s a great deal for readers, it devalues books, and authors often get paid less than half the listed price for a book that is read 100%. I’m just not doing it anymore.

So, most of my books will be out of KU by early spring. The Oblivious Girl’s Handbook will stay in a bit longer because of contractual obligations with a box set it’s part of, but after that I’m out of KU for good.

3The last major change is that I’m scaling back. What does that mean? I can’t say exactly, except that means I’m going to stop overloading myself by saying yes to too many things and setting unrealistic goals. I need to be able to focus on school this year so I can finish my degree in December and start looking for a new day job, while still having time for family and occasionally cleaning my house.

For sure, I’m done with box sets for the time being. The two I’m currently in and the one I’ve committed to for 2017 will be it. They’re a great way to cross-market, but they take a ton of time and effort. As do comic cons, teaching, author events, school visits, etc. As much as I love doing all that stuff, I just don’t have the time right now.

As far as my writing plans, I really can’t say. I tend to write when I’m stressed out, so I may keep on as usual, lol. What I won’t do is push myself into corners where I’m struggling to meet pre-order dates or publishing deadlines. I’ll be writing on my terms and my deadlines. That may mean fewer books or no pre-orders or longer spans between books. I don’t know. I just ask that readers are patient as I finish my last year of undergrad classes. Encouragement is always appreciated, but if you’re waiting longer than usual for a new book just remember that even authors have day jobs, families, laundry, dishes, homework, and those other day-to-day things going on.

I hope everyone’s 2017 is starting off well, and I hope you all have a great year of reading ahead of you 🙂