How To Be a More Productive and Successful Author

by Victoria Greene, @vickyecommerce

You’ve made up your mind; the ideas are there and so is the drive, but just how difficult is it to become a successful author? After all, so many people set their hearts on writing a book, yet only a fraction of those who begin ever make it to the end. The problem is, writing is all too easily put aside for other things, delayed one more day, or excused due to writer’s block.

Maintaining your productivity levels after an initial burst of enthusiasm is often the biggest challenge. Once your momentum declines, and progress begins to slow, it can be extremely discouraging. Meanwhile, productivity mantras urging you to write every day can quickly begin to feel more like criticisms than encouragement.

Yet there will be other days when writing feels like second nature, and the words will flow readily onto the page. So what can you do to ensure you have more of those days than the other kind? Fortunately, this is easier than it sounds. By identifying the things that are slowing you down, and developing positive working habits, you can dramatically increase your productive potential.

Planning the Path To Success

As with every creative pursuit, if you wish to succeed as an author, you need to approach your work with the same commitment and conviction as you would any other long-term goal. Plan ahead, know your limits, and be prepared for the days when it simply isn’t fun.

Set clear goals for each month, and break those down into manageable weekly targets. This means you always know what you’re working towards, and you can quickly identify where your sticking points are. If there is one project that always holds you back, it may be time to reevaluate how you approach it.

  • Decide how much time you can spare for writing each week, and schedule accordingly
  • Set daily priorities and aim to get the most important tasks out of the way first
  • Schedule time for breaks. Insufficient rest will eventually wear you down, which will ultimately decrease the quality of your writing
  • Reward yourself. Productivity is hugely influenced by your state of mind, so you can reinforce good habits by rewarding yourself for successfully reaching your goals
  • Take some time away from your workspace. When you take breaks, try to leave your work area, even if you just go into the next room
  • Where possible, get some fresh air and exercise. Writing is a sedentary pursuit and it is too easy to find yourself stuck indoors for days at a time, barely leaving your desk

Know What You Want

To give yourself the best shot at becoming a successful author, you need to have a clear picture of what you hope to achieve and why. Think about what you are willing to give up in order to be able to give your writing the time and commitment necessary.

To maximize your productivity, you will need to identify the things that distract you or slow you down. This may mean using web-blocking apps such as Freedom or SelfControl, or even turning off the internet altogether.

Identifying bad habits is also part of this process. Are you the sort of person who can spend an hour worrying about a single sentence? Learn to recognize that your writing does not need to be perfect on the first runthrough. Set yourself a maximum time for dwelling on an individual issue, and when that time is up, you need to leave it and continue writing. You can return to it with a fresh mind at a later date.

Failure Is Part of the Process

Not every day will go according to plan, not every manuscript will be perfect, and not every idea will turn out to be as great as it first seemed. These apparent failures can often be demoralizing, yet they are a natural part of your development as an author.

For every finished work, think how many drafts have been discarded, and for every 1,000 words you have written, how many have you deleted along the way? Yet it is far easier to perceive these alterations as contributing to the creative process.

That is not to suggest you should dismiss your failures, any more than you would ignore a typographical error. The trick is to recognize when things aren’t working, and figure out how to fix them.

Promoting Your Work

Of course, completing a written work is not the end of the journey. To be able to sell your work and raise your profile as an author, you need to ensure that people can find you. Websites such as Goodreads enable you to host Q&A sessions, and even offer physical or digital copies of your book in their giveaways, which can be a great way to get some early publicity. Meanwhile, in addition to turnkey self-publishing platforms like Amazon’s Kindle, you could consider selling your work directly through your own website.

Ecommerce CMS platforms such as Shopify can facilitate this process by handling many of the time-consuming aspects of creating a functional and coherent ecommerce website. This then frees you up to focus your marketing efforts elsewhere, and, of course, to begin working on your next project.

Here’s how to market your book from the inside out.

Be Your Own Boss

Whether you are just starting out, or a developing author looking for ways to refine your approach, the most important thing to remember is to do what works for you. Like every endeavor, writing takes time, energy, and dedication, so you need to make sure that you plan accordingly.

Everyone works differently, and only you can determine how often and how much you are prepared to write. Even so, while it may take some trial and error to find your groove, if you keep these techniques in mind along the way, you will arrive fully equipped to be the focused, prolific, and successful author you already knew you could become.


Victoria Greene is a brand marketing consultant and freelance writer. She has her own blog at VictoriaEcommerce, as well as writing for other websites. Victoria is a big advocate of maintaining good writerly habits and using tech to help stay productive.

What’s Your Writing Mission Statement?

by Cindy Sproles, @CindyDevoted

I recently began attending an intense writing class. It’s true that a good writer never stops learning, and I want to always present my best work, so you can imagine my surprise when the first comment from the instructor was a question. What is your mission statement?

A mission statement was never something I considered for my writing. We have one in place for our ministry and for our conference, but a personal mission statement for my writing just never occurred to me.

It’s a nerve-racking moment when you’re put on the spot to answer a question you haven’t pondered. Amid other Christian writers, I wanted to be sure I had the spiritual aspect known, but that’s when the instructor threw me for a loop. It’s a given we are here because we want to write for God in some aspect. So, move beyond that and think deeper. There went my easy mission statement.

In fact, our homework was to devise our statement for the following week. I can’t lie, it wore on me the full hour and fifteen minutes it took me to drive home, but it was one of the best writing lessons I’ve learned in a long time.

What compiling a mission statement taught me:

  • To be prayerful about the work I claim to give to God – It’s easy to be a Pharisee and proudly tell the world we write for God. The question is, do we really? Do we pray over every work and ask God’s guidance or even ask if the work we are doing is within His will? It was definitely food for thought.Learning to listen to the still soft voice that guides us, leads us to a work that makes the perfect impact.
  • To focus my writing on a deeper personal level – Taking time to consider personal experience, more intense learning, and stepping up to the plate to improve my work. It’s easy to fall into a comfortable writing place, never challenging ourselves to take our writing to the next level. This needed to be included into my statement as a commitment to further my skills.
  • To commit to producing work daily – This is a biggie. Life happens to us all, but life at its hardest is not an excuse to stop writing. Often, writers grow frustrated and feel life’s trials have grown too overwhelming. I recently spoke with a friend at a conference who’s penned over 40 books. As we talked about writing despite the things that happen, he told me how he turned out three best-selling books as he walked his mother through hospice and into heaven. “Writing during Mom’s illness, drew out emotion and words, even phrases, I didn’t know I had in me. To this day, those three books are still the most remembered of my works.” Valuable insight. Keep writing, despite . . .
  • To set goals – I’ve never been a goal setter, or one who wrote my goals down, but the one time I attended a business conference and was asked to write down my personal goals, I learned something very surprising. My personal goals were not for the business at all, they were to be a writer. I went home, spoke with my director, let her know my focus would be on writing, and I would be stepping aside. And step aside I did. That spring, I attended my first writers conference. It took writing down my goals to not only visually see them, but to come to grips with what my heart’s desire truly was.
  • To remind me of the race I am called to run – I can see now, writing a mission statement not only helps me focus, but it holds me accountable. Accountability is important for us in every aspect of our lives. Reading this statement daily continually reminds me of the race I run and strive to finish not only in my spiritual life and relationship with Christ, but also in my earthly life.

Who would have thought compiling a mission statement for my writing would be such an important facet to my career?

Take time to think through the real reasons you write. Be it to earn a living, share stories, or something you do as a sideline. Allow your statement to bring into focus the desires of your heart as a writer.

The mission statement of my writing career is multi-faceted. First and foremost, I want to be mindful of the gifts and pathway God has set in place for me. I pray I might write words that impact the lives of others. I choose to place before the Father every work I do, be it large or small, simple or complex, and that the goal remains – to always be a glory to my God. I will have an attitude of graciousness, a teachable spirit, and a heart to continue to strive to learn and challenge myself to be the best I can be in my work – for God asks me to present my best to Him. I commit to use my gifts daily, even when it is hard, knowing that God refines me by the fires through which I may walk and that with continued effort during trials and my dependence on Him, He will fully use me to His glory. I pray He will bless my work. I am called to write, to daily seek the words God has stored in my heart, and to continually strive to complete each task and every story. And I understand that personal accolades are nice, but what is most important is that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart are acceptable to Him. By daily striving to meet the goals of this statement, I will grow in creativity and in skill to produce excellent work, through Him who gives me strength.

Write your mission statement. Make it personal. Make it a challenge to your spiritual life as well as your professional life, and then place it at the feet of Christ. You will be amazed at the ways you will grow as a writer.

TWEETABLES

What’s Your Writing Mission Statement? @cindydevoted on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2fsOs74

5 things writing a mission statement taught me~  @cindydevoted on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2fsOs74

Write your mission statement. Make it personal.  @cindydevoted on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2fsOs74

 

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Liar’s Winter

Lochiel Ogle was born with a red-wine birthmark—and it put her life in jeopardy from the moment she entered the world. Mountain folks called it “the mark of the devil,” and for all the evil that has plagued her nineteen-year existence, Lochiel is ready to believe that is true. And the evil surely took control of the mind of the boy who stole her as an infant, bringing her home for his mother to raise.Abused and abandoned by the only people she knows as family, Lochiel is rescued by a peddler and given the first glimpse of love she has ever known. The truth of her past is gradually revealed as is the fact that she is still hunted by a brother driven to see her dead. Unsure if there’s anyone she can truly trust, Lochiel is faced with a series of choices: Will she continue to run for escape or will she face her past and accept the heartbreaking secrets it reveals? Which will truly free her?

Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries, a best-selling author, and a speaker. She teaches nationally at writers conferences as well as mentoring new writers. Cindy serves as the managing editor of SonRise Devotionals and Straight Street Books, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is a contributing writer to The Write Conversation and Novel Rocket.com. You can visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.

You Might Need to Wake Up

by James L. Rubart, @jameslrubart

After I won the Christy Award Book of the Year, a Carol Award for speculative fiction, and the ACFW Mentor of the Year last year, my son Taylor came to me and said, “Uh, Dad, do you think maybe it’s time you do more than teach workshops at conferences?”

“What do you mean?”

“You got published, hit the bestseller list, and started winning awards in four years. It takes most novelists ten on average, right?”

“Yeah.”

“So do you think anyone might want to know exactly how you did that? Show them how they can do it too?”

“Um, yeah, maybe.”

“No. Not maybe. Definitely.”

So Taylor and I created the RubartWriting Academy.

I was so close to it, I didn’t see the opportunity. Let this be a challenge to you, to look at where you might need to wake up in your life.

After I told Taylor he was right, I should start something to help frustrated writers, I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it, and did nothing. It wasn’t till Taylor said, “Let’s do it together. I’ll help you,” that it happened.

Now that it’s launched, I realize without Taylor, the Rubart Writing Academy would still be sitting in the “Someday” file in my brain. He has taken care of so many things I never would have gotten around to doing. He’s more organized than I am, more tech savvy, more than me in so many areas.

What I am giving up to have Taylor involved? Money. Fifty percent. Full control, because he gets a 50% vote. What am I gaining? A dream turning into reality that I couldn’t have done without him.

Your Turn

What are the things you’ve been meaning to do? Where do you need to wake up and say, “Yeah, I’m just not good at that, I need someone else to do it or it will never get done?”

It might cost you, yes. But what is the cost if you keep putting it off? I’m a firm believer that 50% of a $100 is worth way more than 100% of nothing.

Find your partner. Go after the dream. Make it happen.

TWEETABLES

You Might Need to Wake Up by James L. Rubart (Click to Tweet)

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The Long Journey to Jake Palmer


What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?

Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.

When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.

Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.

But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes.


James L. Rubart
 is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy BOOK of the YEAR, INSPY, CAROL and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker, co-host of the Novel Marketing podcast, and co-founder of the Rubart Writing Academy. During the day he runs his branding and marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at www.jameslrubart.com

A New Perspective on Goal Setting

 by Susan May Warren

I woke up this morning to a layer of fresh grace on the evergreens, sparkling in the rising sun, Lamentations 2:23 in my mind. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Phew. Because with the relatives gone, the Christmas tree down, the ornaments packed away for next season, I’m sitting on my sofa looking out at the snow-laden trees and beyond, into the new year, realizing that 2016 passed with blink.

And with it, my goals. Every year I spend a few days putting together the action plans of My Book Therapy and Susan May Warren Fiction – what do I want to accomplish, how do I hope to touch lives?

Did you spend your weekend looking at last year, and figuring out what you want to do differently in 2017? Did you look at your strengths, areas of growth, of where you are in your dreams?

Maybe you picked one word for the New Year, or a verse for the year. Did you set up goals, projects and plans?

I can admit that sometimes my New Year planning feels a little I’m loading up my year with a pile of to-dos akin to Robert DeNiro’s character hauling around his load of penance weapons in The Mission. (Do you remember that 1986 movie? If not, it’s worth seeing again!)

I’ve been in the publishing industry for over a decade now, and I’ve discovered something that helps me put my sales and projects into perspective…none of it matters unless I am a better person because of my writing journey. If I turn into a frenetic, stressed-out, amazon-obsessed author, always comparing myself to others, I’ve missed out on the point. God doesn’t really care if I’m published, but he does use the journeys of our life to change us, draw us closer to Him.

And maybe that should be the point of goal-making.

So, instead of setting up objective goals about sales and NYT lists (although, yes, we all want that), I could plan from the inside out, with a different perspective:

1. What unexpected thing did I do this year that I loved? Often, our hidden strengths are found in doing something unexpected. For me, this year, it was my swimming and yoga classes. Although I wasn’t a regular, sneaking away for an hour to exercise recharged me. This year, I’ll make a better effort to invest in my “escape” time and let my mind recharge.

2. Where did I find deep contentment? Life seems to blow by faster every year, and I find I don’t have time to invest in things that leave me empty. But I’m often surprised at the things that “fill me up.” This year, my daughter had a baby, our first grandchild. I am CRAZY about being a grandmother. Sadly, two of my four amazing children live far away, so it makes me ever more committed to working hard so I can sneak away and get that quality time. It makes me determined to utilize my time well.

3. How did I expand my reach/skills this year, and what did I learn? For me, this was all about taking a look at my gifting – teaching and writing – and seeing if I could fine-tune this. I love helping people tell their story, and make an impact in their world, so I dove into teaching a series about Impactivity and designing a life that isn’t just productive but impactful. This next year I’ll be honing my skills at helping writers up their game through powerful storytelling.

I also took a look at my writing – and this year I went hybrid. I published a short ebook series (Montana Fire) designed to prep readers for my bigger series (Montana Rescue). My readers responded so well, this year I’m going to respond to a few reader requests and go back to Deep Haven and connect the Montana Fire and Deep Haven series with a few crossover book. What this taught me—listen to your reader base!!

4. Did I fall deeper in love with Jesus this year? I know that feels like a personal question, but it’s something, as a Christian, that matters to me. If not, I need to take a look at why – and is there a way I can pursue God more? This year, I picked a number of books to add to my quiet time reading. (Have you found, Jesus is Better than You Imagined yet?)

5. How did I measure success last year? This question has been the most important I consider as I look back onto 2016…and into 2017. Is success making more money? Upping my sales? Or maybe, success is something more intangible, but produced by asking the questions: Am I a better wife, friend, novelists, teacher…and most importantly lover of Jesus because of my choices this year? And, will I be with the plans and goals I’ve put together for 2017?

Not your typical planning list, I know, but perhaps, if you’re like me and a little tired of the SMART goals, and the Action Plan lists and feeling like you’ve just given yourself a load of luggage to haul around in 2017, try planning from the inside out, with the bigger picture in mind.

It just might set you free.

Have a blessed 2017!

Susan May Warren is owner of Novel Rocket and the founder of Novel.Academy. A Christy and RITA award-winning author of over fifty novels with Tyndale,BarbourSteeple HillSummerside Press and Revell publishers, she’s an eight-time Christy award finalist, a three-time RITA Finalist, and a multi-winner of theInspirational Readers Choice award and the ACFW Carol. A popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation, she’s also the author of the popular writing method, The Story Equation. A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at: www.susanmaywarren.com. Contact her at:susan@mybooktherapy.com.