It’s October and the chant “Deadlines and Edits and Bills, OH MY!” can be heard ringing from the rafters of every writer and author I know. Even a few publishers are squawking as the harvest moon rises. Why do we get this way? And more importantly, how can we manage the dreaded forth quarter scary stuff? Here are 5 Tips to help writers and authors get through to the New Year.
NaNoWriMo has been a fantastic phenomenon. Many writers find it a fantastic challenge, but for as many writing a new book or finishing a work in progress who find it a successful process, there are just as many who find it to be far less productive. My theory is that timing may be the issue. To participate in NaNo, the writer must commit all their time during the month of November to reaching a word count goal. Granted, writing 50,000 words in 30 days can be a great thing, but writing the RIGHT 50,000 words is what really matters. If you’re able to do NaNo – meaning if your life allows you to block off 30 days and nights for nothing but writing – by all means, go for it. But most writers and authors I know have many, many other responsibilities in their lives, They are mothers or caregivers, hold down full time jobs, take care of the house and cook meals and they have outside commitments to their community or church or clubs and friends.
Don’t get me wrong, NaNo can be a wonderful tool, but if this is your first time on the NaNo speeding train, I have a few suggestions. Before you sign on, take an inventory of your life. Determine what’s most important to you in the month of November and carefully evaluate the stress level you’ll be adding to your load. Stressed writing is never the best, but if after thinking it through you discover that you’re the kind of writer who thrives under tight, heavy deadlines, rock and roll with it. I’ll be looking for the NaNoWriMo logo on your social media and cheering you on!
Platforms are the pumping, heated life blood for your book. Your website, twitter, Facebook and blog entries are how you tell the world – prospective book buyers, fans, literary agents and publishers – that you are writing a book. It’s how you get them excited about it.
This final quarter of the year is fraught challenges, the holidays, the changing weather, and that all-important self-imposed deadline. We’ve all done it … “I’m going to finish that book before New Year’s Day!” (Never mind that we might have decided to write that book LAST New Year’s Day, LOL.) It all adds up to pressure and ignoring your platforms to carve out more writing time is simply COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. Your book may get finished, but no one will know about it. A disappearing act by any writer or author can set things back drastically.
Plan your platform activity time carefully. Twitter 2X every day for 10 minutes each morning and 10 minutes each afternoon. Facebook once every day. Post a question or fact of the day that pertains to your book’s unique elements. Blog at most once every two weeks, and at least once every month. Be sure to blog about your book – the story, subject and unique hooks within your book. Don’t blog about the process of writing, it gets boring and basically is nothing new. Your blog subjects should be interesting to your prospective book buyer and reader fans … not other authors. Update your Website at least once every month. These updates can be adding the newest reviews for your backlist, interesting subject explorations related to your work in progress, where you’ll be speaking or signing books. A great way to handle website updates is to embed your blog into your author website. Every time your blog entries are made, your website is also updated. Cool, huh?
Keep your platforms alive and hopping so that readers, prospective book buyers and established fans will be excited and waiting for your next book. (Even if this is your first book, keep those platforms sparking!)
I see you there, sitting at your computer, wearing sweats and a pair of ugly fuzzy bunny slippers. Time to look around! Put on your shoes and go for a walk. Go out and do your grocery shopping. Take an hour to walk around the mall. JUST LOOK AROUND! Who knows? That old man strolling from his car to the dry cleaners just might be the basis for a great character. The colors and weather you see might play a critical role in your plot. Passing conversations may inspire dialog you didn’t expect. Go on. Get out of the house. Enjoy. It’s good for the writer’s soul, especially as we face this time of year.
Oh the Holidays! How crazy can those get? Family, parties, gift giving, baking, cooking, entertaining – it all adds up to a stressful time of year for anyone, especially the writer working on a deadline. It’s still early enough to plan a low-stress holiday season. Take advantage of the lay away programs for your gift shopping. It gets the names on your gift-giving list checked off, keeps the gifts out of your space and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Do a little bit every week.
Talk with your friends and family now and find out what they’re planning. Will you be going to a party or ten? Will you be responsible for bringing a part of the menu? The beer? Flowers? Keep this simple and plan ahead.
Are you a holiday card sender? Writing holiday greetings isn’t exactly writing. I honestly know people who send out hundreds of holiday cards every year, each with a sweet personal note in them. If you’re like that, get those cards early, write 10 of them every week then set them aside. This way you’ll have them all done before it’s time to drop them into the mailbox.
Above all, remember to take in and cherish the holidays. They only come once a year and we deserve a little frivolity and joy.
Yes, sleep. If you’re like me, sleep is that elusive thing that everyone else seems to enjoy. My mind spins with what has to be done, what isn’t done yet, what I want to do and how much I don’t want to fail by not finishing something … especially my book.
There are tricks for getting sleep. Drink chamomile tea instead of coffee after 7 p.m. Avoid stimulation like exercise, computer games or reading that wonderful horror book beside the bed. Do Yoga. Relax and breathe. Yeah, right, like any of those actually work. The only real advice I can give is this … when I honestly feel that I’ve been productive that day, I can actually sleep. Sleep is replenishing. It’s healing and healthy. Anything that works for you to make sure you get the rest you need is a good thing. And remember, real, deep sleep brings fantastic dreams that can easily find their way into your book. Nothing is more important than creative ideas, right? So why risk giving up 1/3 of your creative life to stress and fretting over everything that needs to be done? Get your fair share of dreams!
There you go, 5 Tips to help writers or authors get through this scary, stressful final quarter of the year. Happy writing!
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