(This post is the third of three in a special series for aspiring authors)
I've covered the issues of finding time to write and overcoming barriers to writing in previous posts. This post will focus on getting started! You've made time to write and you're no longer afraid– now what?
Although it might seem very easy to write a book, I assure you it is not. You must be extremely committed and possess a high level of self motivation because writing is such a solitary task it's really easy to get sidetracked. Once you are absolutely sure you're ready to dive in here are some things to consider:
1. What will the book be about?- This is the most basic question but it is something all writers must answer. What will my book be about? Is it a romantic fiction novel, a self help book, a personal memoir or a children's book? Compose an outline of how you see the story playing out to determine if there is even a story there.
2. Word count- Determining how many words you plan on writing will let you know whether or not you're writing a full length novel (75,000 words MINIMUM) or just a short story. Maybe you only have enough content for an e-book. Be realistic about your goal. If you've told the entire story in seven pages then you have written a very short story that is probably best delivered online maybe via your website. And also keep in mind depending on your monetary goals, you might have to give this story away for free since it is so short. I write free stories all the time, it's another way to build your audience but if you want to make a little money from writing you will have to extend your word count to get an actual book.
3. Set deadlines- If you are writing to give yourself an outlet similar to journaling that's okay. . . .HOWEVER if you are wanting to put out your work commercially or even just online for free, you've got to set a deadline. You've got to start with a finish in mind. I can't tell you how long it should take to write a book, I've written books in as little as 3 months and as long as 6 or 7. But I will tell you taking over a year or longer is a bit too long. Because if you put out your first book and it's an instant hit, readers are going to want more and you need to keep that interest and momentum going. Do you really want to make your readers wait two years in between books? My personal goal is to release a new book every year. That's not to say it takes me a year to write it, because you've got to consider marketing and promotion time before and after the book is released.
4. Don't focus on editing as you go- One of the things I still struggle with is having an "edit as you go" mentality when I write. Instead of just free writing and getting it all out the first time around, I find myself making sure I'm writing in complete sentences, checking for tense, punctuation, etc. It slows down my writing time and it's super frustrating. Your first draft will not be what goes to print. Get all of the story out of you, go back and change it up, make it better, then go back make it even better and then start your rounds of edits. It will probably take at least ten read throughs from you (after the book is done) and a few from your editor before the book is finally ready to be released.
5. Remove distractions- I personally cannot write when the TV is on or my kids are running around the house screaming like banshees. I can write with calming, low music in the background but that's about it. I need the quiet to focus. Make sure before you start writing that you are able to tune out the noise around you or that the noise level is at minimum. Or maybe it's not noise that distracts you. If you're in your room and there is a basket of laundry that needs to be folded and you keep looking at it because you feel guilty then you need to fold it or leave the room. Whatever will help you focus on getting that story/book written!
I hope these blog posts have helped and inspired at least one person on their writing journey. Once your book is done you can sign up for my Self Publishing webcast to find out how to get it into hands of readers! SIGN UP HERE
(This post is the second of three in a special series for aspiring authors)
Most aspiring authors that I meet either tell me they don't have enough time or they don't know where to start. My post last week addressed time and next week I'll address getting started. But this post addresses another common remark that I hear, "I'm scared."
Scared that no one will like it, no one will read it, or it won't make sense. I felt that exact same way before I made the decision to share my work. If I'm being honest, sometimes I still feel that way. But one thing I've learned is that once you put it out there, your audience will come (provided they know it exists, lol! But more on that next week!) For now let's focus on overcoming these self imposed barriers:
1. Fear- Fear is a very strong emotion because you're going up against the unknown. You're putting yourself out there without control over the outcome. But fear will also keep you paralyzed and you'll look around and five, ten or twenty years will pass and you will still be saying, "I always wanted to write a book." So my suggestion is to go for it. Get those ideas, words, phrases and thoughts out of your head and go for it! One thing that I did was to start writing on platforms like Wattpad under a pseudonym, that way no one knew it was me. I got such an amazing response from strangers who had connected with my writing, it gave me the courage to share it under my real name with people I actually knew and it's been an incredible experience.
2. Procrastination- Writing is an escape. Writing is cathartic. Writing is fun. But writing can also be hard work. Sometimes the task of writing can be daunting and because you don't know where to start or how to finish or what to say, you put it off and you don't write at all. You start making excuses or you stop making writing a priority. Meanwhile time is passing and that book isn't getting written. YOU HAVE TO MAKE WRITING A PRIORITY. YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVEN WHEN IT'S HARD. Dedication and self motivation are the only way you will have a shot at that New York Times Bestseller list. To avoid developing a pattern of procrastination, set a daily goal of writing for a minimum of fifteen minutes or set a goal of writing 700-1000 words a day and maybe it won't feel like such a chore.
3. Knowledge- This is one of the biggest issues writers face. When I say knowledge, I'm referring to basic grammar knowledge. Grammar is a learned skill. And it's not easy to remember all the rules regarding sentence structure, voice and tense to name a few. However if you are going to be a writer- you MUST have knowledge of basic grammar. Knowing when to use there, their or they're is a simple thing that can destroy your writing if you do not know how/when to use the proper homophone. Even if you use an editor (which you definitely should), I still recommend buying a reference book or at least turning to Google when you are unsure.
What are some barriers you face when trying to write?
(This post is the first of three in a special series for aspiring authors)
One of the number one questions people ask me when they find out I've written multiple books is, "How do you find the time to write?" Then they usually offer up their own barriers to carving out time. They're too busy, they work full time, they spend all weekend at their kids sports events, etc.
And while these are some very valid obstacles they are also excuses. I believe in the old adage, where there is a will, there is a way. If you are an aspiring author you HAVE TO MAKE TIME TO WRITE. There is no way around it- no magical potion that can help you skip ahead. You've got to make it a priority and if you're committed and passionate, you'll find a way otherwise you'll find excuses because maybe you're actually afraid to write. There are several barriers that keep you from even attempting to write and I'll address those in my blog post next week. But this post is about carving out time to write. Here are some tried and true tips that even the "busiest" individual will find useful:
1. Set an appointment on your calendar- You can get up thirty minutes earlier each day or go to bed thirty minutes later and use that time to write. It doesn't seem like a lot of time but if you do it daily it adds up. You can also make time during your lunch hour a couple of days a week; instead of going to lunch, find a quiet conference room or walk to a nearby park or just sit in your car. Bring your laptop, tablet, phone or even note pad and capture your ideas, thoughts, dialogue, etc.
2. Maximize your time- Every day for almost an hour I am sitting in school pick up lines (two different schools). Some days I bring my laptop and while I'm waiting I write instead of scrolling through social media. If you are at the doctors office or dentist office or getting your oil changed. . .anywhere you will have a thirty minute to one hour or longer wait you can write! Use the Notes app on your phone or Evernote app, email yourself what you've written and just cut and paste it into your manuscript later.
3. Use your voice- Most smartphones have a function where you can talk into your phone and it will convert to text. If you are sitting in traffic or have a super long commute each morning, why not open a Note or email (set this up before you start driving!) and press the microphone icon and start talking. You can speak the words instead of writing them. It will seem weird at first like you're talking to yourself but after a while you'll find a comfortable rhythm. It's almost like you are recording your book in audio form. I will warn you that sometimes the voice command hears words WRONG but they are minor mistakes that you can go back and correct after the fact. Just be sure this isn't a distraction and that you are still paying attention to the road.
4. Find a writing buddy- If you have friends that you normally hang out with on the weekend, grabbing brunch, shopping or seeing a movie. . . find out if anyone in your friend group is also an aspiring writer, if so, instead of simply meeting for brunch make it a "working" brunch. Bring your laptops, tablets, phones or notepads and instead of catching up on the latest gossip just bask in the quite solitude while you work on your respective manuscripts.
5. NaNoWriMo- (National Novel Writing Month) Although this only takes place once a year in November, it is a good way to hold yourself accountable. I wrote the bulk of my first book by participating. Participants sign up and make a commitment to write a whopping 50,000 words for the entire month of November! Let me tell you it's no easy feat, you basically have to be committed to writing 1,667 words per day to reach this goal. But the feeling (and bragging rights) of being a NaNoWriMo "winner" is amazing! Not to mention your book is practically written at the end of it.
What are some of your tried and true tips for finding time to write?
Now that summer is winding down and most kids around the country are back at school, it's time to get back into the swing of things and re-establish routines that may have been interrupted by summer.
Here are some tips for getting over summer:
1. Sleep- Your sleep routine was most likely affected by summer: going to bed later than normal and perhaps waking up a little later too. It is important to try and get 7-8 hours per sleep per night and start your day EARLY. At night put your phone in a different room to charge, so that you won't be tempted to lay in bed scrolling. Set your alarm to get up an hour to thirty minutes earlier than the rest of your household and when the alarm goes off, DON'T SNOOZE! Get up and start your day enthusiastically and full of energy. You'll be surprised at how much you'll get done.
2. Exercise- I am probably one of the few people in the world who doesn't drink coffee. So to get my blood pumping and energized, I get moving. It doesn't have to be a full blown Zumba routine but make sure you move throughout the day. Take the stairs, do 20 jumping jacks, walk to the corner. Do this whenever you feel sluggish and it's guaranteed to get your blood pumping and make your endorphins happy. This will allow you to focus on getting work done instead of daydreaming about the beach (or your bed).
3. Plan- Do not discount the effectiveness of handwritten to-do lists! Get a bright colorful note pad (just for fun, white plain paper will do!) and do a bulleted list of everything you need to do for the day. If this is too old school for you, create a list in your Notes app. The point is just to make sure you have a plan and you prioritize your daily tasks so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment.
4. Establish a routine- Work all three of the above into your daily schedule until they become a routine. This will help keep you from wandering aimlessly through your day. You need a purpose to keep you focused and on task!
5. Keep a positive attitude- Every morning you wake up is a blessing and none of us are promised tomorrow. So stay positive and think of it as a privilege to leave your mark on each day. And don't wish away the days for days of summer past. . . .time is fleeting and summer will be back in nine short months!
This my last post for the Summer Blog Series! I won't be consistently blogging after this post but may pop in from time to time. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for more information, tips and updates.
I get a lot of compliments about my Instagram feed. And people often ask what kind of camera I use. I actually use my iPhone 6S Plus. The camera isn't even the best camera phone on the market (although the Portrait feature on the iPhone 7 is a game changer!) I've just learned some tricks for taking Instagrammable (yeah, that's a word!) photos:
1. LIGHTING, LIGHTING, LIGHTING- Did I mention lighting? Lighting is everything when it comes to taking good photos. Whether you're taking a selfie or a book photo (my fave) you need to make sure your lighting is good. I usually leave my flash off and take photos near my back door because there is a large window nearby that brings in natural light.
Very Basic Shot to Show My Super Simple Set up!
2. Focus- As a lover of photos my biggest pet peeve is a blurry or grainy picture. Especially if you didn't do it for an artistic reason. Most (if not all) camera phones have a focus feature. You can tap the screen and make sure the focus is on your subject. If you don't have this feature there are several apps that can take over your camera and add this function. My favorite is the Camera+ app. Pictures that are in focus provide more visual interest AND we can actually see what you snapped!
3. Background- If you are doing a prop or product shot or even a selfie be mindful of the background. You don't want something so busy it takes away from your primary subject. I prefer a solid background when I'm taking book photos. I purchased a white foam poster board from the dollar store and I take the majority of my still shots using this background. I also splurged ($7) for a distressed wood plank from Walmart to take photos on as well, mostly food shots.
More basic shots just to show my background example
4. Content- Choose something of interest to take a photo of and provide a clever caption. It might seem cheesy or fake to stage a photo but that is what Instagram is all about (to some degree) taking CREATIVE photos. If you want to take a photo of your cup of coffee, add a muffin or book/magazine that you're reading. Light a candle or put a flower in a vase. . .so many options! Check the #proptoit tag on Instagram for inspiration. Or if you just want to capture sunsets or birds or flowers do it in an interesting way- zoom in, zoom out, take the photo off center, blur the background just make it interesting and visually pleasing! (Bonus tip: to get some different ideas for content try a photo challenge like the Fat Mum Slim Photo A Day Challenge #fmspad. It's a month long challenge (every month) with different fun daily prompts!)
5. Edit- I'm not really a big fan of filters. Not unless you plan on using a special filter for ALL of your photos and creating some sort of uniformity for your feed. I've seen this done before and it's pretty cool. However I just like to edit my photos using the Camera+ app. I'll back light them, add or remove shadows, add some clarity and turn up the saturation. Whatever makes the photo pop without looking overdone.
What are some of your Insta tips? | Follow me on Instagram @traciemomie
Writer. Reader. Designer. Creative Spirit.
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”