Posted in Time Management For Writers, Uncategorized, Writing

5 ReasonsWhy Writers Need A Writing Plan

Is planning an essential part of writing? Is it important to have writing plan?

The short answer to both is YES. This post isn’t a debate over being a planner or pantser. It isn’t about having a book outline. Well, not exactly. I am talking about having a plan for your writing allows you to manage the time that you have to write.

 

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If you want to know why… keep reading. I have answers. 

 

In my early dreams of being a writer, I imagined pounding out a novel on my typewriter. Somehow, that novel would flow out of me in perfect order. The plot, characters, and setting would entwine magically. It took years of novel writing for me to figure out that book doesn’t work that way for most writers or me.

Every step of writing requires time and planning. Sure, there are times that creativity will strike and things will flow like magic. If you wait for inspiration every time, you write it will take you a long time to finish something, if ever.

 

TIME MANAGEMENT FOR WRITERS
Watch the Writing Plan Video Here

 

What is a writing plan? I am so glad you asked. No question is ever to basic.

At its core, a writing plan is a vision with goals, deadlines, and action steps to achieve the goal. It can be as basic or complex as you need it to be. Here are some examples of what a basic writing plan might look like in the first stages of planning:

Example A: A dog groomer wants to supplement her income by writing a Dog Grooming book. Vision: Write and Sell books. Goal: Write, and self-publish two books about dog grooming this year. Deadline: Book one written and published in 6 months. Book two written and published in 1 year. Action Steps: Research, write, publish, & market each book. The action steps break down into monthly, weekly, and daily steps needed to finish the goal.

Example B: Fiction writer of historical romance has written the first draft of the first book in a series. Vision: Wants to improve the book and seek traditional publication. Action Steps: Find critique partners by X date. Begin self-editing and revision process and complete the book by X date. Research markets, agents and begin the query process.

 

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A one size fits all plan is not the best bet.

 

Your writing plan will be unique to you, your market, and your vision. The foundation of your plan is your goals and vision. The action steps are the bricks that transform your goals into being. Don’t let the idea of planning or the things you must do to achieve your goal get in your way. Make a plan and move forward.

Your goals, vision, and plan should grow and change with you. A writing plan is never set in stone but flexible at its core. One way to keep it that way is to always plan for more time for each task than you think is needed. This is your safety net when unexpected challenges arise.

Here are five reasons that every writer needs to have a writing plan.

#1 Writing Requires Time

Do you want to publish a book? Do you want a successful blog? Do you want to share your writing with the world? If so, the first step to make writing a priority your life. How? By making time to write. Taking the time to plan recognizes how valuable time is.

You give value to your writing by making time for it in your life. Planning starts with figuring out how much time you have to devote to writing. Next, you need to decide how to use that time to get the most done.

 

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Do you want to get more done with less effort? Cheak out the entire time management for writers series on my youtube channel. 

 

#2 Planning Helps YOU Work Smarter Not Harder

Do you want to get more done in less time? Do more with less effort? Planning is the key to that. I spent hours writing a fantastic chapter only to discover that I had to cut it because it did not fit my book. It was painful. It wasn’t the best use of my time. If had taken time to plan I would have noticed it before I wrote it. Allow yourself to work smarter by working out as many of the details as you can before you start to write.

#3 Planning Allows You To Do Less

Planning doesn’t mean filling your calendar full of tasks. It isn’t just checking things off your to-do list. Effective planning shows you what NOT to do. You can remove or postpone tasks that do not line up with your goals and priorities.

If your primary goal is to have a profitable cruise blog you shouldn’t spend 6 hours researching fashion trends. Unless those are fashion trends are cruise related.

 

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The better you plan, the better your writing habits become

 

#4 Planning Builds Good Writing Habits

There are tons of ways that planning helps build good writing habits. I will highlight a few. Planning your writing week and sticking to it builds writing stamina. You are spending more time writing and in turn improving your writing skills. Planning your nonwriting life effectively will open doors to extra time to write.

As you work your plan, you will discover that you can’t always stick to the plan. That is okay. Learning when and how to be flexible with your plan is essential.

#5 Planning Provides A Map

If the thought of planning stifles your idea of creativity, it helps to think of planning as a map. Would you leave for vacation without a map, plan, or a GPS? I hope not! Take the same approach to your writing. Have a writing plan for when, what, and where you are going to write before you get started is ideal. You will get to your destination quicker and with less energy.
The time you spend preparing will make your writing journey less bumpy and more enjoyable.

There you have it. Five reasons to make a plan today. As you work your plan you will discover that you can’t always stick to it. That is okay. Learning when and how to be flexible with is essential.

Did you miss part of my time management series? You can find the entire series on youtube. Go, check it out and subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss a beat

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Watch more videos in the Time management for writers series.

As always, thanks for watching, reading, following, subscribing and supporting me as a writer as I strive to help you grow in your writing journey.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions.

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Posted in Avoid Writer Burnout, Productitivity, Time Management For Writers, Writing

How To Avoid Writer Burnout: 30 Tips & Tricks

According to PsychologyToday burnout is a chronic state of stress that can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

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I don’t know about you, but I have experienced burnout in the past and it is not something I care to repeat. The good news is that burnout doesn’t happen overnight and there are many warning signs and symptoms that will let you know if you are in danger of burnout. Check out THIS helpful article about the warning signs.

Effectively managing your time is a great way to avoid burnout. I am going to share my personal methods for avoiding writer burn out because I don’t want any writer to reach that state of chronic stress.  As a writer who suffers from anxiety and depression I have had to learn to manage my stress levels and a bit part of that is time management which includes self-care.

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  1. KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR NEEDS

This may seem basic but knowing who you are as a person and a writer is a key to understanding what you need to do to avoid burnout.  I am an introvert. This means that while I love people, being around them drains me of energy. When I am drained of energy I become irritable, snappy. and unproductive.

I require time alone to recharge after being around people. Knowing this about myself allows me to make choices that won’t stress me out. If I have a writers group meeting, a conference to attend, or even a night out that includes socializing I know that I need to schedule in some quiet time to recharge the next day.

Here are a few tips to help you get to know yourself:

  • Journaling
  • Prayer or meditation
  • Take a personality test
  • Reflecting on what made you happy as a child
  • Make a list of things that you love
  • Make a list of things that stress you out
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2. SAY NO. NO EXPLANATION NEEDED

One sure fire way to burnout is to say yes to every opportunity, person, and every idea that comes your way.  I know this because I tend to be a people pleaser who is naturally inclined to (falsely) believe that I am the only one capable of doing stuff.  Learning to say NO changed my life. I still struggle with it at times.  Know that NO is okay and you don’t owe everyone an explanation. Say yes to only the BEST things. Saying yes to the best things is something that I learned from this impactful Christian book. I have provided a link below if you are interested in learning more about it.

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Check out The Best Yes

Tips & Tricks For Embracing Your Right To Say No

  • Accept that you can’t do everything
  • Choose to say yes to the BEST things
  • Don’t feel you must explain your no’s
  • Know what your priorities are and make your choices based on them.
  • Practice saying no

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3. SET YOUR BUSINESS (WRITING) HOURS & SCHEDULE BREAKS

Make time for yourself during your writing. Writing is a creative process. It is important to remember that as you write you are draining your creative well. Take time refill it during the day.  Schedule short breaks in your writing time. Use the breaks to recharge or relax. I keep a list of small simple things I enjoy doing and sprinkle them in throughout my writing work day.

I might spend 5 minutes creating a drawing, organizing a drawer, reading a chapter of a book or watching a short video. Sometimes I spend my five-minute break exercising, sitting on the patio with a glass of tea, or getting ideas on Pinterest. Find what works for you.

Tips for Guarding your time

  • Set business hours for your writing
  • Schedule daily, weekly, and monthly breaks
  • Create a list of small enjoyable things to do on your mini breaks
  • Set a time to check social media and answer emails and stick to it
  • Schedule writing time separate from research, marketing, and editing times.

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4.  TAKE TIME OFF AND CELEBRATE

Writing is hard work and it requires a lot of time, effort, and discipline. To avoid burnout you need to realize that as a truth and plan for time off. My first year of treating my writing as a career was a success in many ways but by the end of it I was bordering on burnout. I was always working. In the morning as I took the kids to school I was thinking about what I would write. Then I was writing, filming videos, and building my author platform during the day. At night I would write blog posts, read writing reference books, write and think about writing. The weekends were more of the same.

Now, you would think that meant I got a lot done. But too much work led to working ineffectively. So, this year I have made it my goal to write smarter not harder. This includes not working on the days my kids have off school and planning for days off. I am getting more done and working less. I am also celebrating my accomplishments. Don’t cheat yourself out of your accomplishments by jumping right into the next project. Treat yourself and celebrate the large and small victories.

How To Celebrate:

  • Plan a yearly vacation. It doesn’t have to be a huge trip, just a break from work.
  • Be mindful and fully present in the current moment
  • Have a plan for celebrating victories, big or small.
  • Make a list of rewards or things that you will do to celebrate
  • Enjoy your successes. Don’t just jump to the next task.
  • Keep a journal of your accomplishments and celebrations

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5. ACCEPT THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE AND EVERYWHERE

This tip is specifically geared toward your social media presence. Most writers are aware that having an author platform and being present on social media is a bit part of book marketing. But, trying to be on every form of social media and trying to reach ALL THE PEOPLE is only going to lead to burnout.

Instead of trying to do it all, pick one or two areas of social media and focus on making real connections in them. Find out where your target readers are and focus your time there. Don’t just post everything everywhere and hope for the best. Be strategic. Use tools like HootSuite to manage your social media. Give yourself permission to take a social media break.

Tips & Tricks for Managing Social Media & Author Platform

  • Have a social media strategy
  • Use tools to automate your posts and emails when possible
  • Find out where your target reader is and focus on building connections on that platform
  • Focus on people, not numbers and not yourself.
  • Make real connections and provide value to your target readers.

I hope that you have found these 30 tips and tricks helpful. As always I am here to connect with you if you have any questions or comments feel free to email me or reach out on social media.

You Matter. Words Matter. And your words matter.

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This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from the link I receive an itty bitty commission at no cost to you. I only promote products I find value in and feel you might find valuable as well.

 

Posted in Goals & Goal Setting, Motivation, Productitivity, Writing

5 Tips To Be A Productive Writer

Are you struggling to make the most of your writing time? Do you find yourself procrastinating or losing focus when it is time to write? Do you Want to start writing a book or blog but you are not sure where to start? My new blog and video series, How to Write, will focus on providing tips, motivation, and information that will help you get to get started writing, stay motivated to write, and make the most of the time you have to write.

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Watch The Top 5 Tips for being a more productive writer

I will be covering a variety of writing topics in this series. New Writing videos and blog post will be posted on Thursdays. I will have occasional bonus videos on Mondays.

Here are 5 productivity tips that will help you kick those problems to the curb and put you on the path to being a more productive writer.

 

TIP #1:    Limit & Schedule Your Writing time: 

Limiting the amount of time you have to write may sound like the opposite of productivity but allowing to much time to complete any project promotes procrastination. It is easy to lose focus and waste time when you don’t have a deadline. I find that scheduling 2 writing session per day works for me. Each session is no longer than 30 minutes. I can always write longer or add more sessions after I meet my daily targets. By giving myself less time to finish a task (deadline) I push myself to complete it. I know that there is no time to waste.

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TIP #2: Voice Memos

 Recording notes and ideas via voice memo is a great time saver. I take it one step further and record myself talking about my characters, story, and setting. It helps me move forward with my writing when I am stuck. Referring back to prior recording is a great way to find your passion for the story when it starts to fade.

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TIP #3    Daily Tangible Rewards

Rewarding yourself every day for your progress will keep you motivated. The key to making rewards work for you is to make them tangible. They must be something you can do/have right after you achieve one of your small daily goals. Start by creating a list of specific rewards that you can choose from.

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When I finish one of my scheduled writing sessions I Immediately reward myself by doing a page in my art journal, reading a chapter of a book, having a fancy chocolate, or watching a YouTube video. I chose these things because they are things I love.  They are also things that might find myself doing INSTEAD of writing.

Yes. These are the things that I might find myself doing as a form of procrastination. Instead of setting myself up for failure for doing these things I am setting myself up for success.

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I flip my guilty pleasures and turn them into rewards instead of possible forms of procrastination.  I still get do the fun thing but only after I meet my goal.  Make the reward fit the goal and make the reward something you want and can reward yourself with.

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TIP #4  Remove Distractions

Now that you have set aside a time to write the last thing you want to do is set your self up for failure. Before your writing session takes a few moments jot down the things that are racing through your mind. Know what your potential distractions are and remove them. Do the things you need to do to stay focused. It might mean turning off your cell phone, disconnect from wifi or shutting yourself up in a quiet room. You only have a limited amount of time to write. You don’t have time for distractions.

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Bonus Tip #1: Is to clear your mind by spending a few moments before you session getting everything that could distract you out of your mind. A great way to do this is to use voice memo to record or simply grab a sheet of paper and jot down all the things that are cluttering up your mind. This will free you to be more creative and focused.

 

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TIP #5  Prepare in Advance

Knowing what you are going to write before you sit down to write is key. Staring at the blank screen, waiting for inspiration, or rereading the last 2 chapters is a waste of your precious writing time. I end each writing session by rereading what I wrote and planning what I will write during the next session. I jot down those plans in my writing software. Some writers will end their writing day by stopping mid-sentence or in the middle of the scene so that it easy for them to jump into writing the next day. Experiment with different methods until you find what works for you.

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Having a great outline will make your writing easier. This will help you do the thinking and planning before you start to write. New ideas may come in the writing process and that can be a wonderful thing but anyone who has ever gotten stuck while writing knows that you can’t count on it. Planning in advance and solving the plot issues before you write will save you time and effort.  There is nothing more painful than having to scrap a beautifully written chapter because you discover later that it doesn’t fit with your plot.

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Thanks for reading and watching. Do you struggle with productivity? Do you have a tip or question? Please comment or reach out to me on social media.

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Posted in #justcreatechallenge, art journal prompts, Creativity

Week #1: Just Create Challenge Update

The first week of the #justcreatechallenge was a blast to create and participate in. Like any new thing, It had a few hiccups and bumps. I confess that I love to plan. I am good at planning. Does this mean I carefully planned this challenge and took time to put it together before throwing it out to the internet world?

Heck no.

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At times my impulsive nature takes over and I just dive into things.  Headfirst, with a passion but only the vaguest idea of what I am doing. That is exactly how this idea and challenge came to be. I had an idea that ignited passion in me. I put it into action with a tiny bit of thought and little preplanning.

This is not always the best way to do things but it is a great way to learn as you go.  Here is what I learned the first week of the challenge.

  • I love creating prompts
  • Instagram does not love my prompts & I did not like the way they looked on my photo feed.
  • Twitter chats are fun but need more planning, promotion, and participants to be worth the time.
  • People used my prompts to create and if even one person benefits from one of the prompts then I accomplished what I started.
  • Creating the prompts daily was fun but left me little time to participate in my own challenge.

Overall, I am happy with the challenge. The changes I will be making this week are as follows:

  • On Monday I will post a week’s worth of challenge prompts on my website. I will still tweet and share each daily prompt on Facebook and Twitter.
  • For Instagram, I will share one post linking to the prompts each week and share some of my own writing and art related to those prompts.
  • Twitter Chat.  I am going to give it another go this week. I hope you will join me. This weeks topic will be Creating Characters using Prompts.
Posted in Goals & Goal Setting, Life, Motivation, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Tips, Truths, & Encouragement

Are you a writing a book? Dreaming about it? Just finished your first draft or planning to write 50,000 words during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November?  I want to offer up a bit of my journey, a few tips, some truths and encouragement to you.  Much of this is writing advice I wish I had known when I started. Some of it is writing advice I ignored and wish I had not.

Watch My Writing Advice Video Here (As always, my video and blog content coordinate but they are not identical content. You will want to read and view!”

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First, let’s start with celebration.  I want you to celebrate every step of your journey.  Deciding to write a book is a big thing. Celebrate that. Celebrate your first draft. Embrace it for what it is, you telling the story to yourself so that you can shape it into a story for readers.  It will be a mess and that is okay. Writing is a craft. It will require practice, constant learning, and a lot of emotions. Be prepared for that but don’t look at your first draft as a failure. It is your teacher. It is the first step in your book’s journey. Celebrate.

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When you finish celebrating your first draft your next question might be the same as mine.  Now what? It is time to revise, self-edit and begin shaping it into something a reader will love.

BUT FIRST… I want you to put it away. That’s right. Put it away for at least two weeks.  Don’t read it. Don’t edit it. Just don’t. I ignored this advice and it was awful. You need to distance yourself from the story. Trust me. If you don’t trust me, you will understand why you should have later. ( I won’t say I told you so, I will send a hug and tissues.)

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If you are unsure what to do next, I recommend finding a few good critique partners to take a look at the first draft or your outline. You are not looking for someone to correct your punctuation and grammar you are looking for writers who will provide feedback on your story, plot, characters, and settings.

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Outline. Outline. Outline.  I recommend a great outline before you ever write your first draft. I recommend knowing everything you can about your characters and story before you start writing. You may be the writer who has to write the first draft and then dive into an outline. You are only going to find this out by trying different methods. It is never too late to outline.

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Research, listen, know your genre, and learn from other writers. Try out new writing and outlining methods. If it works, keep it. If it doesn’t toss it ( the advice or the method, not your book)  or tweak things to fit your needs. Don’t stay with a method that is not working for you.  Try something else. As you evolve as a writer, you may want to try the things that didn’t work for you in the past.

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Experiencing an emotion doesn’t make it true. You may feel HATE your book. You may feel love your book. There is a good chance your emotions will swing between the two and give you motion sickness.  That is normal.  But, feelings don’t always point to truth. The important thing is to remember that feelings shift. The truth is that you will have strengths and weakness in writing. Find out both. Embrace the good and improve the bad.

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Don’t Judge your 1st draft by someone else’s published work. Do you know how many times the story was written, edited and revised before it hit the shelf?  Do you know how many people had their hands on it, shaping it before it was published? If you think you are the only one who will shape your book or should shape your book, I encourage you to reach out to published authors and find out what goes into that book on the shelf.

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Don’t give up. You have a dream. A passion. A desire. An idea. You and your story matter. No one can tell it like you. I want to see you make it come true.

Have a blessed and bookish day my writing friend!

Posted in Apps for Writers, Free Apps, Life, Motivation, Uncategorized, Writers ToolKit, Writing

Need writing motivation? Love kittens?

I found a fun website that combines writing motivation and kittens. I couldn’t resist filming a quick video to share it with you.  I came across the website, written kitten while searching for tangible writing rewards to help writers stay motivated.

Watch the video here

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I admit this isn’t exactly what I was looking for but it served its purpose. It motivated me to write. The moment I stumbled onto it  I jumped in and started writing and earned myself a couple of cute kittens.

Of course, they weren’t real kittens but the next best thing, adorable kitten photos! The website is simple to use.  Just set a word writing goal for yourself, type into the provided text box, and get rewarded with kitten photos when you hit your goal. You can select 100, 200, 500, or 1000 word goals.  The kitten photos are pulled from flicker.

Write words and get kittens!
Need writing motivation? Love Kittens?

Not a kitten fan? No worries, you can select puppies or bunnies for your reward.  Yes, this is a simple concept but if it helps you write it is certainly worth its weight in kittens. The best part? This is completely free. You write words, get kittens, and make progress on your writing.

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My Experience:

When I was finished earning kittens, I simply cut, copied, and pasted my writing into my Scrivener file. Unfortunately, you can’t take the kittens with you but you can come back anytime and write for more kittens.  I recommend this website if you enjoy baby animal photos and enjoy setting small goals with instant rewards.  I doubt I will be using this daily but it is a fun way to mix up your writing routine and rewards.

So, how about you? Do you love kittens, bunnies, or puppies? Have you tried written kitten? Did it work for you? Do you have any writing motivation tips to share? Let me know!