By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Tag: writer’s block (Page 2 of 2)

Two Life Changing Words

Write conversationally


Image Courtesy of Writing Is Hard Work

How Two Words Changed the Course of My Career

 

by Don Spector

 

Several people who have read my book–Memories of a Mad Man–have given me what I consider a supreme compliment. They said that while they were reading it they felt like I was sitting in the room talking to them. That compliment had its genesis over forty years ago when I was a junior copywriter in a Madison Avenue ad agency.

To break into advertising any way I could I had taken a job in the mailroom, my bachelor’s and master’s degrees be damned. (Neither of them had anything to do with advertising.) The agency’s creative director was on my mail delivery route and one day I got very brave. Along with his ordinary mail, I dropped in his inbox a piece I had written for the night school copywriting course I had just taken.

When he called me up to his office I was terrified. But he surprised me by saying he thought I might just have the makings of a copywriter. And a few days later I was sitting in an office overlooking Madison Avenue as a brand new junior copywriter.

 

Two Words changed me as an Author and changed course of My CareerClick To Tweet

 

My first assignment was to write a radio commercial for our client Redbook Magazine that would entice listeners into buying the next issue. This was during the Kennedy years and in an advance copy of the next issue I found an article on Caroline Kennedy’s life in the White House. I sat down at my typewriter (remember those things?) and painfully wrote and rewrote and re-rewrote the 60-second commercial.

When I got up the courage to show it to my boss, he scowled. It was bo-o-o-oring. As he handed it back to me to try again, he said something that changed my life. “Write conversationally…as if you’re talking to them, not writing to them.” And he meant it for all my advertising writing, not just for commercials.

I went back to my office armed with a whole new way of thinking about writing and I gradually discovered that the words flowed more easily. My new radio commercial made it onto the radio.

I began applying his “write conversationally” advice to everything I wrote. And it worked. I found that writing in that style was easier for me. Even more important, my clients as well as the audiences they wanted to reach tended to like the ads and commercials I wrote. That’s pretty important when we’re asking the client to spend millions of dollars on running them.

That “write conversationally” style led to another important change in my writing. While writing my book, I had hit the dreaded writer’s block. I mentioned this over lunch to a fellow author who gave me some advice.

“Instead of typing your ideas,” he said, “try dictating them.”

I went back to my office and tried it. It worked. My block was broken, ideas flowed more easily and conversing with my computer fit very well with my conversational style. I’ve been dictating a portion of my writing ever since.

I don’t suggest every author write conversationally. That fit my profession which was talking to people via radio, television and the printed page, trying to convince them to buy something. But whatever the style an author chooses, I can’t help but think that dictating can oil the wheels of their creativity as it has mine, especially during those dreaded times of writer’s block.

Write Conversationally. I attribute much of my success in advertising — and now hopefully in book authorship — to those two words.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

About the Author

Starting as a junior copywriter in a Madison Avenue ad agency in the ‘60s, Don Spector qualifies as a genuine Mad Man. Creating advertising for the agency’s high-profile accounts like Smirnoff Vodka and Tareyton cigarettes, he began his ascent up the creative ladder in several New York agencies. His commercials and print ads for advertisers like Xerox, the Yellow Pages and Jaguar ultimately led to an offer of a key position in Los Angeles-based BBDO/West where he was soon named Creative Director.  After moving to a similar position at Foote Cone Belding/Los Angeles, he eventually started his own agency where he served until his retirement.  The advertising he created for dozens of companies like ARCO, Absolut Vodka, Bristol-Myers and S.C. Johnson won numerous awards. But, more importantly, it generated millions of dollars in sales for them.

To find out more about his book and discover retailers, you can visit MEMORIES OF A MAD MAN on Goodreads!

 

6 Tips for Writers to Avoid Procrastination

Procrastination

Image Courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

 

I have a riddle for you.

 

What is the definition of procrastination?
Show Answer

 

It’s the easiest thing in the world to do and hardest thing in the world to avoid. There may be some more universally acknowledged experiences, such as love or loss, but procrastination is something that every person has experience with. I think writers may have a closer relationship with that dreaded 15-lettered demon than the rest of the world.

 

Procrastination is the easiest thing in the world to do and hardest thing in the world to avoid. Click To Tweet

 

It’s no surprise to me that this is the case. Think about it. If I asked you to spend a year starting from scratch to put together something that may or may not be seen by anyone else and you will likely not be compensated very well for it, you would tell me to go jump in a lake. This is exactly the position we find ourselves in as writers, so we procrastinate.

 

We often times find ourselves behind the proverbial 8-ball in our writing endeavors and simply decide, “Ahhh, screw it. I’ll get back to it tomorrow.” Here are 6 Tips and Tricks to Avoid Procrastination.

 

1. Block Off Time to Write

I am adamant that this is the most important element for someone that wants to be a serious writer. I’ve said it on Nothing Any Good before. If you want to take your writing seriously, than block off the time to write.

Unless you have no other responsibilities in life other than writing that next book, you can’t just wait around for moments of inspiration to strike. You have to set aside time to sit down and write. If you don’t, you’ll usually find a reason not to.

 

2. Write When It’s Time to Write

Once you’ve become disciplined enough to block off time to write, whether that’s everyday or a number of times a week, the next step is to actually write during that allotted time. In today’s media-at-our-fingertips-age, it’s so easy to become distracted by the latest reality show, or your friend’s pics of Paris, or that blog post about avoiding procrastination. (I know it’s bad business, but if you’re supposed to be writing right now, stop reading this damn article and go write! What are you doing?!)

In my own writing, I’ve found I have to write when I’ve blocked off time to for it. Sometimes the words feel stale and clunky. Other times sentences string together like poetic beauty. It doesn’t matter. When you’re supposed to be writing, just write. Worry about the quality during the editing process.

 

When you’re supposed to be writing, just write. Worry about the quality during the editing process. Click To Tweet

 

3. Set Daily or Weekly Goals

A lot of writers I know set daily or weekly word goals. They decide they want to write 500 words each day, or 5000 words each week. That’s great. It doesn’t work well for me, but if it works for you, go for it.

However, there are other goals that work very well for me. Write one blog post today. Follow up on emails and social media items today. Contact my editor for feedback on a new chapter today. Sit down with the interview questions from that website today.

For indie writers, writing isn’t just about writing. There’s far more to it than putting those words on the paper. In order to manage it all, you need to set goals for what you want to accomplish this week.

 

4. Prioritize

Now that you’re setting goals, make sure you’re prioritizing the right goals. Maybe pinning 25 news posts to your Pinterest board today is high priority, but I doubt it. I suspect you’re probably putting off more important items to get that done.

The highest priority, of course, should almost always be to write. If you haven’t written anything, then marketing your yet-to-be-finished book is not exactly a high priority item. Learn to prioritize.

 

5. Better Manage Your Time

Maybe writing that next chapter is too difficult when your kids get home from school or when your husband is watching a show next to you on the couch. If that’s the case, let’s not block off that time for writing. Maybe consider putting your writing hours midday instead of in the evening.

For myself, I find it impossible to get quality work done if there’s a lot of commotion around me. I can do some mindless tasks–social media, looking in your direction–but I certainly can’t write or edit if there’s activity around me. Since this is the case, I’ve learned to block off time for those tasks when I know I will have a surrounding environment that will allow me to focus.

 

6. Take Time for Yourself

It seems obvious, but you would be surprised how often we don’t think about this. Remember to take time for yourself. If you love to run, go running. If you meditate or pray, set aside time for that. If you love to play an instrument, play.

You will be far, far, far more productive if you take the time to care for yourself. If the only question in front of you is, “Should I write at this very moment or should I take time for myself because I’m too stressed,” scientific research answers resoundingly that you should take time for yourself. It’s not even close.

In Arianna Huffinton’s book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, she presents overwhelming research on how the self-care will profoundly affect your productivity. “If you take care of your mind, you take care of the world,” Huffington writes.

I guess this brings us full circle. The 6th Tip for avoiding procrastination is, in fact, to procrastinate (if you’re taking care of yourself with that time).

 

The 6th Tip for avoiding procrastination is, in fact, to procrastinate. Click To Tweet

 

Keep writing away, friends! Keep at it and you’ll reach your goals! Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter, share on social media, and provide feedback below if you agree or disagree. I love to hear from you!

Looking for more tips to inspire you and kick your writing into gear? Get Dan Buri’s 40 Tips On Creative Writing now. Don’t miss another opportunity to take your writing to the next level.

 

Best book for writers

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

Stuck in Your Head & 7 Other Bad Places for Writers to Get Stuck

Bad writing habits

by Sondi Warner

 

 

writer's block1. Stuck In Your Head

That brilliant book idea will never make it out of your dreams without careful planning and execution. That’s right, it’s a two-step. Whatever is holding you back—whether inexperience, under-confidence or a busy schedule—can be overcome when you plan how, what and when you will write.

For newbies, an outline will be your best friend, helping you answer the how and what, but you need to get acquainted with a calendar so you can pin down an exact ‘when.’ Pencil in dates and times for writing because writing is work. After all, if you didn’t have a scheduled shift at your regular 9-5, would you ever really clock in?

Here’s a tip:

Join Book-In-A-Week for a tiny donation of $3 by PayPal to set and tackle goals alongside other motivated writers. Become a part of a community where you can set word count goals, check-in with your progress and win prizes when you participate. Sometimes all it takes is a deadline to take a book from idea to start.

 

Sometimes all it takes is a deadline to take a book from idea to start.Click To Tweet

 

Internet writers2. Stuck On the Internet

It happens to the best of us. Chances are, you’re writing on a desktop or laptop with the internet constantly at your fingertips, and sometimes you can’t avoid going there. You might search the web for your book. You might hop on to do some platform building or to handle marketing. Whatever the lure, once you’re sucked into the world wide web, getting out can be tough. Therefore, you need help to kick your internet addiction. Luckily, there’s an app for that.


Here’s a tip
:

Author Jane Friedman curated a list of 10 Apps to Help You Stay Focused on Your Writing. Some of her top choices include Anti-Social, an app you can set to block you from social sites for a prescribed amount of time, as well as the diabolical Write or Die, which will either gently prompt you to keep writing, play an annoying sound if you stop writing or unwrite what you’ve written if you pause for too long. If that doesn’t motivate you to get to work, then I don’t know what will.

 

 

Writing a draft3. Stuck On Your Draft

It’s been said you should ‘write fast, edit slow.’ What that means from one writer to the next varies. According to “The Daily Word Counts of 39 Famous Authors” from WritersWrite.com, Anne Rice of Interview with the Vampire reportedly wrote about 3000 words a day, while Ernest Hemingway of The Old Man and the Sea only cleared about 500 words in the same timeframe. Whatever your numbers, what will definitely slow you down is trying write, rewrite and edit all at once. It’s a common mistake, but there’s a way to avoid it.


Here’s a tip:

Get in the zone and go with the flow state. When you achieve flow, your productivity increases and you tap into almost superhuman abilities with an influx of norepinephrine, dopamine, anandamide, serotonin and endorphins. This practice teaches you to leave the editing for later as you hammer out your word count goals. I tell you how to induce this miracle state in my article, “The Ultimate Guide to Addictive Flow,” including how to create an environment free of distractions with the right conditions for writing.

 

Don't try to write, rewrite and edit all at once. It’s a common mistake, but avoid it.Click To Tweet

 

 

Editing4. Stuck Editing

Although some of us mull over a draft for what feels like forever, others breeze through the writing only to get stalled editing. We add a word, take a word out, change a name, reconsider the murder weapon, delete a kiss, add a description—but the heavy lifting of content and line editing gets put off in favor of nitpicking with minor details. Editing involves correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling and formatting, as well as fact-checking. However, it also involves checking for plot inconsistencies, weak characterization, stilted voice and under-developed setting. Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is. So, you don’t have time to get hung up on the words instead of the story.

Here’s a tip:

Whether you’re an indie author or publish traditionally, while your final draft will likely head off to a professional editor, you should make sure your manuscript is as clean as possible with a good self-edit. Writer’s Digest guest columnist Mike Nappa provides this helpful advice, “How to Edit Your Book in 4 Steps.” Thank you, Mike. You’re welcome, writers everywhere.

 

 

self publish5. Stuck Unpublished

As hard as it is to write a book, the work isn’t over after you type The End. It’s only beginning. You either have to search out an agent or shop your book around to publishing houses that accept unagented open submissions. You could self-publish. All you have to do is click publish, right? Wrong. You need a professional book cover and a catchy book blurb, and you have to choose a platform: CreateSpace, Amazon, Smashwords, IngramSpark? Being swamped with options isn’t necessarily a good thing. If you’re having trouble getting your newly written book published, there’s hope.

Here are some tips:

 

It's hard to write a book, but the work isn’t over after you type The End. It’s only beginning.Click To Tweet

 

Marketing your book6. Stuck With No Marketing Plan 

Be you self-published or traditionally released, these days every single one of us needs an author platform, and we each have to take a hands-on approach to promoting our books. However, few writers double as marketing gurus. When I became an indie author and released Jonquille, I had no idea I should start promoting my book well before hitting publish and continue advertising it for the long haul. I didn’t know having an email list was a best practice or that getting reviews to boost my visibility would be a lot like pulling teeth. If this is where you’re stuck, too, you have to come out of obscurity and sell your book.

Here’s a tip:

89 Book Marketing Ideas in a comprehensive list that covers writers with and without a platform, although none of the tips are extensively explained. In short, in order to learn the ins and outs of marketing your book, you’ll have to do your homework. But, you’ve gotta start somewhere, and this is a great place to start.

 

 

indie author7. Stuck On Your First Book

Well, did you know that the best way to sell your book is to have more books to sell? Over at the Author Marketing Institute, at the top of the list of “5 Things You Can Do to Sell More Books on Amazon” is Publish More Often. Although writers should market, market, market, sometimes the best marketing is having more than one book under your belt to increase your visibility and credibility as an author. So before you settle in for the long haul of promoting your one great book for the next twelve months after you hit publish, remember most books have a “90-Day Cliff,” meaning you have about 90 days before your sales begin to taper off, no matter how much marketing you pour into it.

Here’s a tip:

This one’s simple. Do what you do best. Write another book.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

About the Author

Sondi Warner of Wrought Iron Reads is author of indie published contemporary romance, Jonquille. Please feel free to follow her blog Writer People Problems, where she delivers quality content covering all things #LifeAsWriter. When she’s not writing, she enjoys family time with her four children and partner in picturesque Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sondi welcomes readers who want to connect on Twitter and Facebook.

 

6 Tips for Writer’s Block

Writer's block

 

Writer’s block plagues every writer. It is a right of passage for the serious writer. If you have encountered it, then you know you’re doing something right. Whether you’re writing a novel, a white paper, a memoir, poems, or music, every writer suffers from writer’s block. Here are 6 Tips I have found useful for writer’s block.

 

1. Shut Down

Distraction is the enemy of the writer. I personally find it difficult to write while other webpages and apps are open. I shut them down–email, Twitter, Facebook, all of it. I turn them off and focus on the task at hand–writing.

 

2. Have Multiple Projects

Having more than one project that you can focus on is extremely beneficial when faced with writer’s block. You may be tired of writing about a particular character in your novel. Or you may be writing a memoir and you’re finding a certain event in your life is emotionally taxing. That’s fine. Put that project down for the day and move on to another project that you’re pursuing. Joan Axelrod-Contrada, author of fifteen books for young people, attributes her success, at least in part, to having multiple projects underway at any given time. If you’re stuck on one project, put it down for a day and focus on something else.

 

Always have multiple projects going at once. This will help avoid #writersblock.Click To Tweet

 

3. Jump Around

There’s a tendency to think that as writer’s we have to write our story the way our readers will read it–from beginning to end– but we don’t have to follow a linear progression. Jump Around. (No, this is not a recommendation stripped directly from 90s hip hop group House of Pain.) If you know your novel needs to get from point A to B, but you’re not quite sure how to get your characters to that point and you’re stuck, don’t worry about it. Move on to point B and come back to fill in the details later. This will provide you with the creative luxury of being able to explore different parts of your story on any given day. It will free you from the burden of being stuck on a particular scene or plot point. You will be heavily editing your writing later on in the process anyway, so you can fill in holes later.

 

4. Block Off Time to Write

There are always dozens of reasons that keep us from sitting down and writing. Since my wife got pregnant with our two-year old daughter, I have found my writing time has decreased considerably, (as I’m sure you fellow parents can commiserate). I needed to block off time to sit and write. It is small blocks of time–30 minutes to an hour–but it has been necessary for me. Early morning, nap times, or late at night have been my primary writing hours. Even if you don’t have young kids, or a day job, or other time commitments at all, we are all still prone to procrastination. Blocking off time to write forces you to create a writing habit, which will help longterm if you want to take writing seriously.

 

5. Just Write

Once you have time blocked off, just write. You may be excited and have a creative spark, which makes writing easy. Most often, however, we need to force ourselves to just write. Again, a lot will be changed or tossed out during the editing process. I have pages upon pages from Pieces Like Pottery left on the cutting room floor. But I would have never found the pages of my book that were actually published if I didn’t force myself to just write when I had time blocked off.

 

Once you have time blocked off, JUST WRITE. The best way to be a #writer is to actually write.Click To Tweet

 

6. Decompress

Sometimes powering through writer’s block is the solution–the old write you’re way out of it philosophy–but often times what is needed is to disconnect from your writing completely. Going for a long walk or socializing with friends can help. If the goal is to “unblock” your creative mojo, though, I find doing something else creative can do the trick. Maybe you like painting, or arts and crafts, or cooking. For me, I enjoy music. I find listening to or playing music is often just what I need to release my creative ideas from the shackles of writer’s block.

 

Hope these tips help as much as they’ve helped me! Keep writing away, friends! Keep at it and you’ll reach your goals!

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter, share on social media, and provide feedback below if you agree or disagree. I love to hear from you!

Looking for more tips to inspire you and kick your writing into gear? Get Dan Buri’s 40 Tips On Creative Writing now. Don’t miss another opportunity to take your writing to the next level.

Best book for writers

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

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