Project ADD: What is it? Do You have it?

Though in denial for years, I recently confessed to
having Project A.D.D. and not being able to focus long enough to finish a
project until there’s a looming deadline overhead. Maybe you can relate? If so,
read on. If not, go ahead and make your New Year’s resolutions, then skip to the comment
section and tell the rest of us your secrets to getting things done.

How do you know if you have Project A.D.D.?

When I was
little, my mom would say I always started things, but never finished them. Now
I see it in my adult life. My office is piled with writing related projects. Outside
my daughter’s room sits discarded toys waiting to be donated or sold, in the
craft room a half-finished scrapbook project waits, and in my computer is a
lonely WIP I have yet to pick up again after a year of two book launches, marketing,
freelance writing, and teaching distractions. And did I mention the novella I
didn’t finish in time for Christmas?

So many things cluttering my mind waiting to
be finished. So why do I do this? Why do you do this? Why do we start projects
and bounce around from one to the other? Why can’t we just focus on ONE and
plow away until it’s done? And more importantly how do we battle this project
A.D.D. and keep our New Year’s resolutions this year? 

Since we’ve identified the symptoms of Project A.D.D., it
might be time to explore the cause and solutions.

No Deadline
When I was a news editor for my college paper,
I had a weekly deadline. I also had a full class schedule and was chaplain to
30 girls. How did I do it? Late nights barely making curfew and catching up
homework on weekends with no social life, but the news section came out on time
because I had a deadline.

Just last this month I turned in two paying freelance
articles on deadline even though it seemed like I waited until the last minute
to write them because of all the other pressing things in my life. I learned
while pressure is not something I love, it does help me finish projects.

Solution: If you don’t have a specific
deadline, give yourself one and stick to it. Then tell someone you can be held
accountable to and send the finished project to them.

No “To Do” List
I know when I make a “To Do” list I spend less
time on social media “marketing” and more time crossing things off my
list. So why don’t I do it more often? Part of me thinks it might take too much
energy or time to make a list, but in reality, it helps clear my mind, and helps
me focus to accomplish the important things, thus saving me time.

Solution: Instead of a “To Do” list I
have a three ring binder where I keep all my ongoing projects. Whenever I think
of something else I need to do on a project, I write it down in the correct
section. With a resource like this, I should never get off task. Then if one
project becomes stalled for reasons beyond my control, I can work on another.
Great advice, right? Now if only I’d be more consistent in using that binder!

No Motivation
Let’s face it, without clear goals, how can I
have the motivation to accomplish anything? Yet, even with clear goals it’s not
necessarily a given the task will get done. For example, I’ve needed to work on
several scrapbooking projects for years, but there hasn’t been a rush. Now with
my son graduating high school, I feel the urgency to finish that scrapbook so
he’ll have something to display at graduation.

Solution: Reevaluate your goals and
prioritize things you want to do in your personal and professional life. What need
to get done in the next week? Put those on the top of your “To Do” list.

When a project takes too long or gets stalled,
I get bored. That’s when I look for another project which isn’t always a
terrible thing. For example, when I get stalled in a writing project and need a
break from the computer, I try and do some laundry or clean my office. I’m
still being focused and productive, but if I start gravitating toward Facebook
without a plan, then it might be two hours later with nothing to show for it!

Solution: Make a “To Do” list that has
different types of projects (remember that “To Do” binder?) and plan for down
time. If you like to be on Facebook when you get bored, then put it on your “To
Do” list and set a time limit. 

We may never be cured of our Project A.D.D.,
but if we remember the things that get us off task and prepare for them, I know
we can be more productive.

How about you? How do you battle
Project A.D.D. and what do you do to keep on task?

Gina Conroy is founder of Writer…Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. Represented by Chip MacGregor, she writes fun, quirky mysteries full of depth. Her first book Cherry Blossom Capers, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012 and her newest mystery, Digging Up Death  is available now.

Considering Time – M. Laycock

“Did having cancer alter your perspective on
time?” My friend waited while I thought about her question. “I’m sure
it has,” I finally responded, “but I’m not quite sure how.” As I
thought about it, I was surprised to realize that I no longer look at time as
rushing by. I no longer get a panicky feeling when I think of all the things I
want to accomplish in my day, my week, my life. I am much more inclined to take
the time to stop and consciously make myself aware of what’s happening around
That surprised me. I would have thought I’d feel more pressure,
knowing that life is short and can end at any time. (waking up on a respirator
in ICU makes you keenly aware of that fact). But, since having cancer, I’m not
so focused on the urgency to do as the desire to be. I stepped out onto a windy
winter street this morning and delighted in the falling snow and stood for a
moment to watch the swirl of brown leaves kissing the gleaming windows of tall
buildings. The urgency to get my Christmas shopping done fell away and time
seemed to settle as softly as the falling snow. 
It’s easy to get caught up in the “tyranny of the
urgent,” especially as we creep closer to the age when death is peeping
around the corner. It’s easy to get that panicky feeling in our stomachs as we
approach the end of the year and know it’s time to make plans for another. But
it’s also easy, I’ve discovered, to “be still and know” that He is
God and that with His hand in ours fear and even the pounding pulse of time,
melts away.
My husband is known for quoting John Piper who said that at
the root of all sin is unbelief. I realized as I stood on that street the other
day that my panicky feelings were just that, lack of faith in God. Knowing that
I was seconds away from meeting Him face to face has restored that faith, given
me peace, and yes, changed my perspective on time.
Time is no longer a task-master but simply the measure of
the journey we are all taking, one that will lead to that face to face meeting
with our Heavenly Father. I know I won’t escape it and neither will you. I look
forward to it, knowing it is not an end but a new beginning.
I will still sit down in early 2013 to make my list of writing
goals and challenges for the New Year, but this time it will be with a smile on
my face, not a frown, knowing that time may stop at any moment and that new
beginning will be a shining reality.
Marcia’s books are available on her website and online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc.

Publishing Options—What Kind of Publisher is Right for You?

marketplace has turned the publishing world into a new version of the Wild
West. In some ways that’s good. But in other ways . . . well, not so good. For
those wanting to publish book-length manuscripts things are especially rough.
And the main reason is, even if the terms haven’t changed, some of the definitions
this post I’m going to give you an up-to-date review of all your current options—from
traditional print publishing to online to self-publishing. So it’s easier to
understand, I’m breaking down the comparisons into several categories:
  • Author Investment
  • Author Advance
  • Royalties
  • Rights (who owns the work in question)

Traditional Publishers, (including print and eBook)—This option has always set
the standard within the industry. There are many reasons for this, but the
biggest is the fact that someone else judges your work to be so good they are
willing to back the idea with money.
Author Investment – None. The publisher pays all the costs of publishing, warehousing and
distributing the book. Generally print runs will be around 1500 or more. The
books are warehoused in the publisher’s space.
Author Advance – Varies by publishing house. In addition to paying for the book to be
published, the author is given an advance. This can vary in when the author
receives it and how big it is. It’s called an advance because the author must
earn it back in royalties before they receive additional money from royalties.
Royalties – This is the percentage of the purchase price given to the author. It
also varies from house to house, but generally ranges between eight and fifteen
percent of net for print and twenty-five to fifty percent on eBooks.
Rights – In traditional publishing, the publisher owns the rights. Frequently the
contract contains a clause that allows for the right to revert back to the
author or be purchased by the author when the book is no longer in print.
Important Note—It’s never considered a traditional arrangement if the author invests
ANY money in the publishing of the book. This means if the publisher requires
the author to buy books up front—even at a discount—it is NO LONGER a
traditional agreement and has drifted into the murky realm of self or subsidy
Publishers, (including print and eBook)—
This is a new breed on the publishing frontier and
one that I personally believe is long overdue. The changes from traditional
have more to do with the size of the house and publishing model or niche.
Author Investment – Still none. The publisher pays all the costs of
publishing. A lot of independent publishers use a POD (Print-on-Demand)
publishing model. This means they print the books as they’re ordered and not
warehoused anywhere. Many independent also specialize in publishing eBooks.
Author Advance – This varies widely by publisher. When advances are offered, they’re
generally much smaller than those offered by traditional publishers.
Royalties – These also vary by publisher, but on print books are generally around
fifteen percent and as high as fifty percent or more on eBooks.
Rights – These are generally the same as traditional publishing.
Self Publishers, (including print and eBook)—This category is the most difficult of all to
quantify. The publishers using this publishing model call themselves by various
names—and seem to come up with new ones almost daily. One derogatory term occasionally
still used in the industry is Vanity Press. Here are two of the
more common ones you’ll see:
  • Subsidy Publishing
  • Partnership Publishing

Author Investment – With this publishing model, authors are expected to
contribute to the cost of publishing their book. This can be required in many
different ways, from an outright investment cost, to being required to purchase
a set number of books in advance. Any time an author is expected to contribute
to the publishing of their manuscript it’s some variation of self-publishing.
Author Advance – None. See reasons stated above.
Royalties – If the self-publisher retains the rights to the author’s manuscript, the
author will be offered royalties and these can vary widely. But my thought is
if I’m investing money, I should get the lion’s share of the profit.
Rights – This depends. But this is a very important thing to consider if you
choose to self-publish.
important for you to know that I am NOT against self-publishing—quite
the contrary. There are many times when it’s the best option for the
circumstances.  But I do think authors should be informed when they make a decision. 

What about you? Have
you had any experience with any of the above models? What did you like/dislike
about your experience?

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the social media columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and social media coach for My Book Therapy. Connect with her through Twitter and Facebook.

Goals Can Get You There

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, is one of my favorite books.

An exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat perfectly illustrates the importance of goal setting. Alice asks:

“Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?”

The cat replies, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t much care where—”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

“—so long as I get somewhere.” 

Here at Novel Rocket, we recognize the value of goal-setting. We’re here to help you get to where you want to go as a writer.

Here are my writing and editing goals for 2013. Why don’t you post yours, too? Sometimes just getting them out there for others to see provides the impetus you need.

  1. Revise my current manuscript and research the next.
  2. Start writing my new manuscript.
  3. Read The Art of War for Writers and one other craft book.
  4. Deepen my relationships with God, family, friends.
  5. Increase the traffic on my editing site,

What are your resolutions—goals, if you prefer—for the coming year?

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor at, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Cat image courtesy of digital art /